Cowgirl Cookies

The ubiquitous cowboy cookie might seem like a silly one for me to bother posting, but it’s worth sharing just for this upgrade. Most recipes are already chock-full of extras – oats plus coconut plus nuts plus chocolate chips. What? No caramel chips? Fixed that. But as my husband has noted, my favorite breads are full of things too. No plain white bread for me, thanks. A dinner plate with plain meat, steamed veggies and a pile of mashed potatoes? Boring. Food is meant to be enjoyed, and recipes are meant to be guidelines. To highlight independent spirits I’m calling these Cowgirl Cookies instead of cowboy cookies.

I started with the cowboy cookie from the New York Times, riffing on the the recipe from ex-First Lady Laura Bush. Don’t get me started on why somebody thought it was appropriate to ask the wives of presidential candidates to submit cookie recipes in 2000, or even goofier, why they went along with it. Hillary Clinton had already addressed cookie baking in 1992. Even though I chafe at the idea of women aka cookie makers and domestic goddesses, I love a good cookie myself and the best way to get that? Bake it yourself.

A story from my past might illuminate my resistance to being thought of in a certain way. Confined to bed after some surgery, I decided to try knitting to pass the time. Even though the only thing I had ever knit was a practice piece of plain stitches, I found a pattern for this sweater, fancy stitches and all, and set to work. I was busily working at it one day when my doctor came in. His first words upon seeing me were “Wow, I never knew you were so domestic!” I liked him though, so I didn’t throw it at him but those words were a warning, letting 19-year-old me see how many people view things that to me are simply creative endeavors. Freak flag flying at all times became my mantra.

My first and only real knitting project, still in perfect condition because it was so itchy I rarely wore it, despite the lovely blue color
– Joan, 26 March 2021

Cowgirl Cookies

  • Servings: About 30-36 3-inch cookies
  • Print

  • 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (114 grams) butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (170 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup (192 grams) caramel bits
  • 1 cup (80 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup (50 grams) unsweetened coconut
  • 2/3 cup (75 grams) pecans, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Toast pecans by putting halves in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350ºF for about 15 minutes. Allow them to cool before chopping with a knife. If you make more than you need, extras can be stored in a ziplock bag in your freezer.

Stir together dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt. Set aside.

Use a paddle attachment on a stand mixer to beat butter with the sugars until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and beat till completely combined. Mix in about half of the dry ingredients just till no flour is showing. Stir the remaining ingredients into the rest of the flour and mix on low just until combined.

A #40 scoop will yield 30-36 3″ cookies. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Slightly flatten each scoop with the palm of your hand. Bake at 350ºF for 10 minutes. They’re fragile while hot, so move them off the baking pan but leave them on the parchment for 5-10 minutes before moving them off to a cooling rack.

These are so good right from the oven, while the caramel and chocolate are still warm, that you might not have to worry about the next day. But if you plan to keep them around or freeze them, be sure not to bake them too long. Overbaked cookies will dry out and get hard and then you’ll have to dip them in coffee or milk to eat them…wait, that’s not a bad thing.

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