Today is November 4th. Election day here in America. The day we vote – Hooray! The day the political commercials stop – double hooray! I have mentioned my feelings on the subject in the past, so let’s skip the political commentary and get to the important stuff: cookies.
Background. Every presidential election, Family Circle magazine has hosted a cookie contest between the two potential first ladies. They hold a giant taste testing, and in all the elections but one, the husband of the first lady who won the cookie contest has also won the Electoral College. In 2000, Tipper Gore entered her recipe for gingersnaps, while Laura Bush offered up what are now known as Texas Governor’s Mansion Cowboy Cookies. To read the recipe, you’d think it was a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie with some random stuff mixed in. But oh, oh, ohhhhh, they are so much more. I was first served these at a fundraiser at a country club, no name attached. They were just extra good chocolate chip cookies. Before I knew it, I had eaten three and was back in the catering kitchen pestering the staff for more.
Could I take a couple extra home to share? –“No.”
Could I buy the dough frozen? — “No.”
Could I ask for the recipe? – “No.”
What do you call them? –“Laura Bush cookies.”
Of course. What would they be serving at a fancy Republican country club other than ol’Noxema face Laura Bush cookies. Typical!
Well. Two minutes of furious phone googling in the parking lot later, I found this recipe. And let me tell you, it is magnificent. Regardless of how you feel about Laura Bush or her husband or politics in general, this recipe is a knockout. I have made these multiple times, and they always come better than I expected. Maybe even better than I want them to. Part of me really doesn’t want to admit that Laura Bush might be a better baker than me. But you know what? I know a winner when I see it.
Laura Bush Cowboy Cookies Recipe
(Original, as it appeared in Family Circle, September 2000)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened flake coconut
2 cups chopped pecans (8 ounces)
1. Heat oven to 350 degree F.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl.
3. In 8-quart bowl, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 1 minute. Gradually beat in sugars to combine, 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Beat in vanilla.
4. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Add chocolate chips, oats, coconut and pecans.
5. For each cookie, drop 1/4 cup dough onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart.
6. Bake in 350 degree F oven 17 to 20 minutes, until edges are lightly browned; rotate sheets halfway through. Remove cookies to rack to cool.
Aunt Peaches recommendations…
- You are going to need a HUGE bowl. I have a jumbo mixer, and it barely handles the wet ingredients. Don’t be ashamed if you need to resort to a bucket. Some of the best cookies come from buckets.
- Swap out the white sugar for all brown sugar. It’s just better.
- Swap one of the cups of chocolate chips for butterscotch chips and/or milk chocolate chips. Butterscotch and oatmeal combo is a winner (in fact, the only time the Family Circle taste test prediction was wrong was in 2008 when they predicted Cindy McCain a winner by way of her butterscotch oatmeal cookies. There is a lesson in that!)
- The original recipe calls for HUGE cookies. The bigger they are, the chewier the center. Which is awesome. Personally, I like a crispier oatmeal cookie, so I stick to the traditional tablespoon size cookies. Matter of taste. But the big cookies are impressive. For real. People are going to think you are a master baker. Or trying to make them fat. Or both. No judgments.
- This recipe makes a ton of cookies, but unless you own a commercial grade oven, I would not load more than two sheets at a time – it slows down cooking time and the dough dries out.
That’s it folks! A cookie recipe offered up in the spirit of bipartisanship. Chocolately, chewy, melt-in-your-mouth, bipartisanship.