Trying Out A New Recipe: Half Baked Harvest’s Chocolate Chip Espresso Oatmeal Cookies

Athena ScalziI made cookies! And if you couldn’t guess from the title, they were oatmeal cookies. With chocolate chips. And espresso powder. And other stuff, but for some reason only those ingredients are included in the title.

Anyways, as I’ve mentioned before, Half Baked Harvest is one of my favorite food bloggers, so I was excited to try this cookie recipe, despite not being a huge fan of oatmeal cookies.

I actually had all the ingredients for these cookies on hand:

Ingredients laid out on a counter. There's Domino brand light brown sugar, Kerrygold brand salted butter, Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate bar, two brown eggs, vanilla extract, King Arthur brand espresso powder, baking soda, flour, Quaker old fashioned oats, and Crown brand maple syrup.

So my first mistake can be found in this ingredients photo. There’s maple syrup in the photo, but there is no maple syrup in the cookies. There is maple syrup in the optional vanilla glaze you can make to go with the cookies, but I forgot to make the glaze entirely so at no point did I use the maple syrup pictured here. So just pretend like it’s not there, okay? Great.

Moving on, the first thing I did was brown the butter. One thing I love about Half Baked Harvest’s recipes is that she always calls for browned butter. If you aren’t familiar, brown butter is just where you take regular butter and heat it up in a skillet to the point that the milk solids begin to brown.

A blue skillet on the stove, the contents of which is melted butter. The milk solids have separated from the liquid butter, making the butter have a layer of white on top.

As you can see here, once you melt the butter, the milk solids separate from the liquid. The white stuff is the part that browns. Eventually, you’ll end up with what I like to call liquid gold:

A glass Pyrex bowl of melted brown butter.

Here’s what it looks like right off the stove!

And here’s all the solid, browned goodness that makes browned butter so damn good:

The browned milk solids from the brown butter sitting in the bottom of the glass bowl.

So what’s the point of browning butter? Is it really necessary? Not really, you definitely don’t have to go through the extra effort, but it adds so much more depth and rich flavor to whatever you’re baking! I promise you can really taste the difference. The best butter brand I’ve found for browning is Kerrygold. It browns unlike any other butter. I highly recommend using that brand if you know you’re going to be browning butter for a recipe!

Anyways, I put all the browned butter in a mixing bowl, and added the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and espresso powder. One thing I found interesting about this recipe was how much espresso powder is in it. Every time I’ve seen espresso powder in a recipe, it’s usually only about a teaspoon, and usually it’s listed as optional. This recipe, however, called for 2-4 tablespoons of the stuff. The amount between 2 and 4 tablespoons feels like a lot to me, so I went with 3 just to keep it in the middle.

It made my batter DARK:

A white mixing bowl filled with dark brown liquid.

I thought surely the flour, oats, and baking soda would lighten it up, and it did a little:

A white mixing bowl filled with dark brown cookie dough. Lots of oats can be seen in the dough.

For the final step, I added one 4oz bar of semi-sweet chocolate, and half a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, both Ghirardelli brand.

A white mixing bowl filled with the final form of cookie dough. Oats and tons of chocolate chunks can be seen throughout the dough.

Honestly, this dough was super easy and quick to throw together. It took longer to brown the butter than it did to measure out the ingredients and mix the dough together. There was nothing too difficult about this dough, no chilling, no whipping eggs for long periods of time. It was all in one bowl, and all super standard ingredients, and no stand mixer or even hand mixer required!

This dough is actually pretty wet for a cookie dough, so I wouldn’t recommend working with it with your bare hands. I used a cookie dough scooper and just scooped out some onto a baking sheet. (The recipe says to use parchment paper on my baking sheets, but I always use parchment paper anyways because my baking sheets are busty crusty dusty musty rusty.)

Twelve dark brown, oaty, chocolatey chunky cookie dough dollops spread apart evenly om a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

At this point in time, they looked a lot like no-bake cookies to me.

I threw them in the oven for eight minutes, rotated them, and let them go for another three minutes. And this is what I ended up with:

A beautiful photo of perfectly baked chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies, displayed nicely with flowers all around them.

Just kidding! That’s what they’re supposed to look like (photo from Half Baked Harvest). This is what mine actually looked like:

The twelve cookies, now fully baked. They are dark brown, wonkily shaped, and look extra oaty.

Not quite twins, are they? And if they are twins, mine look like the evil twin the parents hide in the attic, like that Simpsons episode of Treehouse of Horror.

I’m not sure what went wrong here, so I looked to the comments on her recipe. Apparently tons of people had the same problem, and complained about them coming out way darker than hers. If I had to guess, I’d say the wild amount of espresso powder was the culprit. I was willing to bet it that the tablespoon measurement was actually a typo, but saw no mention of it being a typo from her in the comments, so maybe it isn’t. They are espresso cookies, after all.

Ugly or not, I still tried to get a glamour shot or two of them:

Me holding up one of the cookies. It's dark brown, full of oats, and the chocolate chips are melty, as they are still warm from the oven.

A small black plate sitting on the counter. It has two of the cookies on it, and I'm holding half of a cookie so you can see the inside. There's a glass bottle of milk next to the plate.

Enough about the looks, how about the taste?! Well, they’re pretty decent. I mean, they have chocolate in them so they can’t really be bad, but they’re not super stellar either. Though I am biased because of the oats, so if you actually like oatmeal cookies you’d probably enjoy these. Not the worst thing I’ve ever made, at the very least. I ended up with 24 of these bad boys, so if you want to make this, but don’t want so many to come from it, I’d recommend halving the recipe.

Do you like oatmeal cookies? Do you often brown your butter for baked goods? Would you give these cookies a try? Let me know in the comments and have a great day!

(Also, someone asked me in my last post what the M in AMS stands for. I think this is the second time I’ve been asked, actually! It’s Marie.)


20 Comments on “Trying Out A New Recipe: Half Baked Harvest’s Chocolate Chip Espresso Oatmeal Cookies”

  1. Those look amazing.
    I’ve seen some of your other efforts, and, well, you’ve done some bad things.
    Those cookies are nom-nom able.
    Keep up the good cookie work, and stay away from the breads- those are not your forte.

    Hugs and Kisses,

  2. Thanks for sharing that recipe and results. In my experience, if you want that “melted chocolate” look on the finished product, you’ll need to add a few pieces of chocolate directly to the surface of the cookie after you scoop them onto the baking sheet. That way, they aren’t covered by batter. Regardless, my baked good seldom look like the recipe pics. They CHEAT! lol

    I agree, Kerrygold is the best butter. It comes from grass-fed cows, so not only does it taste better, its healthier too!

  3. You mention the wild amount of espresso. Did the finished product have a strong espresso flavor?

    Also in regards to your middle initial, I’d have enjoyed reading “Middle Initial” or “Myob” at least as much as your actual name.

  4. What with the maple and the espresso, these are not for me. But another member of my household would love them for exactly that, so I may have just found someone’s next birthday treat– thank you!

    I am intrigued by all the love for Kerrygold. (I mean, for myself I’m not sure I can justify the food-miles of having butter brought in across an ocean when Wisconsin is almost literally a stone’s throw from me.)

    It makes sense to me as a chemist that grass-fed milk would have some differences from grain-fed. But what are the particular traits that show up in the browning process? Would be very interested in your observations!

  5. @Zelda

    Here is an article that talks about the superiority of Kerrygold.

    I admire your stance on reducing “food miles” though. I bet if you searched for “Wisconsin grass-fed butter” you could find some local options that were just as good.

    Did you know that until 2018, Wisconsin was the only state that banned the sale of Kerrygold?

  6. Other than the quantity of espresso powder, I wonder if the difference in appearance is related to the directions in the original recipe to flatten the cookies before putting them in the oven? When you rotated the cookie sheet, did you also bang the pan on the counter a couple times before returning it to the oven? I think these techniques just make the cookies a little flatter and chewier with crispy edges. The suggestion to press a chunk of chocolate on top of each cookie before baking is exactly right to get that melty pool of chocolate. Sarah Kieffer’s Pan-Banging Chocolate Chip Cookies are a good example of a similar recipe.

  7. I liked the description of your baking sheets as “busty crusty dusty musty rusty”. Accurate and evocative, especially for old baking sheets with decades of service, like mine and, I assume, your household’s.

    (You can also go the opposite way from that description, and brag about the fine “patina” and “seasoning” [like on properly cared for cast-iron cookware] on your baking sheets.)

  8. Sounds delicious! I love oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips, so may try this. I appreciate all the pictures showing the progression of browning the butter.

    Not sure what Jay W. Is talking about saying bread is not your forte, because you’ve had some really great bread recipe posts!

  9. What a terrific thing to find on a Friday afternoon – another baking post from Athena!

    I love your candor about your experiences, the bad along with the good, Athena. That is so much more reflective of reality as I know it, in a real person’s kitchen where things like dropping a full sheet of cookies fresh out of the oven happen (it happened to me three days ago, in fact).

    I do very much like oatmeal cookies, and in fact they are my favorite of all cookie types. If you are not as much a fan of them, you might try using one-minute oats instead of the old-fashioned variety if you try an oatmeal cookie recipe another time. The rolled pieces of oat in minute oats are smaller and thinner, and they will do a better job of disappearing into the cooked batter.

    I will say that the hands-down BEST cake I have ever eaten is an oatmeal cake with a broiled icing that has been a favorite in my family for close to seven decades now. The oatmeal totally disappears as a discrete ingredient in the batter, but it adds an amazing depth to the flavor. That’s a recipe I’ll only make if I know we’ll have a crowd over to eat it up and/or take it all with them, because if I am in the house with that cake, I’ll eat the whole flippin’ thing. Not a healthy choice.

    I have heard a lot about the Kerrygold brand of butter but, as I live in Wisconsin and can get grassfed butter locally, I have never tried the imported variety. I will say that butter from grassfed cows has a better flavor than the run-of-the-mill variety, but it’s pricey even for the local stuff and I don’t often spring for it.

    Thanks for letting us vicariously follow along with you as you bake, Athena – I really enjoy watching you try new recipes this way!

  10. While I like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, I can’t stand coffee. I’ll stick with my usual recipe, though I really should try browning the butter sometime and see how it goes.
    Considering how dark the cookie dough was, I don’t think they had a chance of turning out as light as the demo photo. You may be right about the quantity of espresso powder being a typo.

  11. scientist ==> dark matter

    mad scientist ==> dark matter in weapons of mass destruction

    howling mad scientist ==> whipping up a dark batter for desserts of messy delectability

    DMD ==> Chocolate Chip Espresso Oatmeal Cookies

    such evil must be destroyed… pass the plate and refill my milk glass

  12. I think theirs looked different because they they used some flour too.

    Almost all of the oatmeal things I make have flour in them. The exception is an oatmeal pie crust where the flour is removed for an almost gluten free crust.

    My favorite oatmeal cookie is Black Forest Oatmeal Drops, but yours look good to me.

  13. Would I give these cookies a try? I would positively give these cookies a try if someone else baked them. The older I get the lazier I get, and I was plenty lazy to begin with.

    I agree that the source’s picture looks like it had some flour in it.

  14. All the ingredients in the cookies sound delicious. If your batter was wetter and darker than in the picture it seems like the picture involves more flour somehow, but if the texture of the finished cookies was good it makes no difference. The cross section of the cookie showing the chocolate chunks looks extra yummy. Darker cookies would also look that much more dramatic with vanilla glaze.

    I’m about to try making oatmeal apple cookies.

  15. Recipes with melted butter are often easier to adapt to oil, so while that would not get you the browned butter flavor, it would make it possible to make them dairy free. Hmmm.

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