These Bourbon and Thyme Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are packed with brown butter, old fashioned rolled oats, and raisins soaked in bourbon. These cookies take the classic to a whole new level. Smash some good quality vanilla bean ice cream between two of them for a truly gourmet treat.
In January of 2010 I was all moved out of my college apartment and on the road, making the long drive from Lawrence, KS to Austin, TX. I had taken an internship at the state hospital in Austin in order to finish my music therapy degree. As I traveled from the -4 degree winter day we were having in Kansas into the 40 degree day that felt like summer in Austin, I was filled with excitement and anticipation. I expected a lot of things. I expected to be challenged and to work really hard.
I expected to learn. To learn all kinds of things, about myself, about the profession, about the real world, about mental health, and just about life. I expected to have days when I loved what I was doing and days when I hated it. And I expected to build relationships with my co-workers to help me through. All of this, and so much more, happened. But what I did not expect was to discover my true passion while I was there. Discover a passion that would take me down a completely different road than the one that I was on. And I found this in cookies.
I had already been interested in baking, but while living in Austin I got REALLY into it. I thought at the time it was my way of coping with my homesickness. But really, I think it was a natural draw to a passion. In times of big changes we tend to feel a bit lost in the world- not like ourselves. And I think it is a natural tendency to focus time and attention on what makes us feel most at home. Focus on what makes us feel most like ourselves- our passions. Even if we aren’t really aware that it is a passion yet.
Somehow cookies just became my thing. I connected to cookies. I understood them in the baking sense. Cookie dough was a blank canvas with which to create flavors. I saw classic cookie recipes as an opportunity to do something new yet still familiar. Cookie creating helped me get my footing in a new and unfamiliar world. And the people around me noticed. They encouraged me to keep creating, keep sharing, and even start selling my cookies. Which I did do for some time.
These days I am really interested in baking science and learning and teaching proper baking techniques. But I still always go back to cookies. When I’m feeling a little uninspired I can always find inspiration with a cookie creation. And I tell you all of this so that you will understand that I take my cookie recipes seriously! I say all of this so you will believe that the process of making this recipe is so worth it. The soaking of raisins in bourbon, the browning the butter, the careful process in which all of the ingredients are mixed. It all comes together to create these incredibly complex flavors. Toasty notes from the brown butter, herbacious notes from the thyme, a bit of brightness from the lemon, and oh yes, the bourbon. It is all, every last bit of it, worth it.
I’m sure most of you are longing for the heat of summer. My solution is ice cream. Always, ice cream. Cookies are obviously great on their own, but cookies with ice cream is perfection. I paired these with a really good quality vanilla bean ice cream. You could make the ice cream yourself, but the cookies are enough of a project that it is definitely reasonable to use a store bought ice cream. I made the sandwiches one by one as needed, just adding a scoop of ice cream to the soft room temp cookies. But if you want to make them ahead of time, set the sandwiches on a baking sheet in the freezer until firm and them wrap them in parchment paper and freeze for up to a few weeks (though they won’t last that long!)
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