Once I was at Murray’s Cheese with David Lebovitz and he stopped to admire the butter from Vermont.
I’ll confess, up to that point, I hadn’t given butter that much thought. For years I’d been buying Breakstones–you know, the kind that comes in the red box–and using it pretty universally. But then, after David talked about baking with Vermont-style butter, I began to wonder: “What would happen if I switched up the butter in my baking? How would that change things?” It took a few more years before I put that question to the test.
That, there, is Plugra, European-style butter. Unlike conventional butter, its fat content is much higher. As someone pointed out, either on Twitter or in real life (I get the two confused) it has a bit of a sour edge to it.
When I told my friend Josh that I was going to make cookies with Plugra, he was dubious. “I saw something online,” he said, “that it only makes sense to do that when you’re making plain butter cookies or shortbread. Otherwise, it doesn’t make that big a difference.”
“We’ll see about that” I thought, though I didn’t say it out loud.
And so the other night, when Craig and I had our cookie craving and I had to soften the brown sugar? I decided to put Plugra to the test and to try it with a batch of Martha Stewart’s Oatmeal Raisin cookies.
Very moist cookies with a richness and a tang that was notably different. The cookies tasted fuller, somehow; rounder, like the thing that normally holds a cookie together was more present here, more active in the cookie conversation. All-in-all, if you have a chance to make cookies with Plugra (or another high butter fat butter), I say give it a go. It’s a worthwhile experiment that results in very excellent cookies. And now for the recipe.
European-Style Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Based on a recipe by Martha Stewart
Makes 24 Cookies
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut (I left this out because I didn’t have it, but if you do have it, throw it in!)
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature (here’s where I swapped in the Plugra: one packet of Plugra = 2 sticks of regular butter.)
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 325 and, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the cinnamon, the baking soda and salt. Stir in the coconut and set aside.
2. In a mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy (just a minute or two).
Add the maple syrup, then the egg, then the vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you do so. Let everything get incorporated.
3. Then, on low speed, add the flour mixture in two batches. Add the oats and raisins and mix just until combined.
4. On to parchment lined cookie sheets scoop the cookie dough (I like to use an ice cream scoop, though mine broke recently so I used two large spoons).
Wet your hand and flatten the cookies slightly before they go into the oven. (If you don’t want 24 cookies right away, stick one of those cookie sheets in the freezer and, in an hour, transfer the cookies to a freezer bag. You can bake them whenever you want them!)
5. Bake your cookies for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown and fragrant. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly and serve ‘em up!