by Amy Bradley
Several years ago, we were introduced to these fabulously thick, crunchy oatmeal cookies made by Mazzaro’s Italian Market bakery located in St. Petersburg, Florida. These are cookies that you can’t find anywhere else. So unique, yet simple. I vowed that I would find a way to recreate them and thus I recently embarked on my first real in depth recipe test effort.
The original base recipe I found was from Genius Kitchen – it tasted fantastic, but the cookie was not thick nor was it crunchy. I took this base and tweaked 1 or 2 ingredients per test batch. In my first recipe test, I tried the following variations and got the following results:
- Increased flour and decreased oats – resulted in a pale, flat and soft cookie
- Eliminated the granulated sugar and replaced with 1:1 brown sugar – resulted in a flat, chewy and dark colored cookie
- Reduced baking soda and added baking powder – resulted in a crunchier cookie (getting close to what I wanted!)
I baked at temperatures ranging from 300°F to 350°F and achieved varying results. I read that baking at a lower temperature may help to keep the height and shape of the cookie – that was a big lie! I did find success in refrigerating the dough prior to baking, though.
On to recipe test number two, where I used the altered version (less baking soda, added baking powder). Prior to starting my next test, I did research to try to find out how to keep my cookies nice and thick and crunchy. Turns out shortening can help! I have never made cookies with shortening before so this was a first for me.
I tried the following variations from the winner of test number 1:
- Extra baking powder
- Replaced half of the butter with butter flavored shortening
- A combo of both of the above
This time I tried baking at a higher temperature of 375°F, which resulted in well-formed cookies that were crispy on the outside but super soft on the inside. In the end, I found that the recipe containing shortening and extra baking powder, baked at 350°F, yielded the closest possible result compared to those coveted Floridian cookies.
The other secret to success here was longer refrigeration time. In the first test phase, I only chilled the dough for about 3 hours. In the second test, I chilled it overnight. I also used a smaller cookie scoop, along with the cone shaping method to help keep my cookies nice and high. Most cookies expand and spread at least slightly – the high cone scoops help to keep a nice, thick and round shape.
Roughly 26 variations later and probably a few extra pounds on my waistline, I finally got the result I was looking for. I don’t know that these are an exact match for Mazzaro’s, but they are darn close and very tasty!
Thick and Crunchy Oatmeal Cookie Recipe
Yield: about 3 dozen (36) cookies
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup butter flavored vegetable shortening
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- Optional: sifted powdered sugar, to sprinkle on top
- Place butter, shortening and both sugars into the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the beater attachment, cream together until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Add eggs and vanilla and beat together until combined.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and oats. I used a spoon to gently stir the ingredients until the oats were well-coated.
- Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. You may want to add about a third of the dry ingredients at a time, mixing between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the raisins, cranberries and pecans, stirring on low speed until distributed evenly throughout the dough. You could fold them in by hand, if preferred.
- Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 8-12 hours. (I made the dough in the evening and allowed it to chill overnight.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line baking sheets with silicon baking mats or parchment paper.
- Using a medium cookie scoop (1 1/2 tbsp), scoop dough in slightly heaping spoonfuls. Once scooped, use your hands to create a cone-like shape for each ball of dough before placing on the cookie sheet. Place the cookies at least 2 inches apart from each other on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. I found the best time for me was 14 minutes to achieve perfect crunchiness – bake for less time if you want a softer cookie.
- Allow cookies to sit on the cookie sheet for 1 or 2 minutes, then use a spatula to place them on a wire cooling rack. Let the cookies cool completely.
- Optional: Using a fine mesh strainer or sifter, lightly sprinkle powdered sugar on the tops of the cookies.
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