A favorite cookie at every altitude

Molasses can turn a regular chocolate chip cookie into something more special.

Joanne Ciccarello/Staff
Tasty snack: Because of their everyday ingredients, oatmeal cookies are popular with kids and adults.

Once upon a time in Denver, a young woman with shiny dark hair hanging straight to her waist came into our home. She was a high school senior who had come to work as an intern for my husband, a self-employed landscape architect. Her name was Kia. She was quiet and lovely and a careful draftsman.

One day when she came to work, she brought in a plate of cookies. Kia said they were made from her grandmother's recipe and a family favorite. They were amazing, the best. My husband and two boys and I ate them up. Would Kia's family be willing to share the recipe?

Graciously, Kia returned the next day with a neatly printed three-by-five-inch recipe card in hand. It was headed "Raisin – Choc. Chip – Oatmeal Cookies." Right. But that couldn't be the full story. What was the secret to their taste? Glancing quickly down the list of ingredients, we discovered it: molasses. Raisins, chocolate chips, oatmeal, and molasses – a winning combination. From that day forth, "Kia's cookies" became a favorite with our family, friends, and relatives.

The instructions on Kia's recipe card began, "Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees (350 in lower altitudes)." And lo and behold, the day arrived when we found ourselves living not in Denver but in the "lower altitude" region known as the Finger Lakes, in central New York. And one fine winter weekend, our beloved Denver Broncos were in the playoffs. A good-hearted, friend offered to host a playoff-viewing party at her home.

As I was happily whipping up Kia's Cookies to take to the big event, I discovered that the oatmeal we had on hand came to three-fourths of a cup rather than the two cups called for. Hmmm. As our dry cereal selection is always extensive, I decided to look it over. My eyes fell on Product 19 and I thought, "That's it. If I crush it so it's sort of oatmeal size, the cookies will never know." And they didn't. They just tasted crispier and very nice.

No, the Broncos didn't win that one. But a new version of our favorite cookie was born – Kay's Crispy Kia's Cookies. We love them both. (And the Broncos, too. )

Kia's Cookies

1 cup vegetable shortening

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 tablespoons molasses

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 cups sifted flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 cups oats

2 cups raisins

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (375 degrees F. in higher altitudes).

In a large mixing bowl, beat together shortening, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, molasses, sugar, and eggs. Add flour and soda and mix until combined. Fold in oats, raisins, and chocolate chips. Dough will be very stiff.

Place fairly big blobs on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, but remove from oven while dough is still very soft – it will firm up. Best eaten right from the oven. After that, the cookies are good microwaved 20 to 30 seconds to enjoy warm again. Makes about 4 dozen.

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