No one knows the provenance of cowboy cookies for sure, but it seems likely that they originated in a test kitchen. Cowboy cookies are essentially oatmeal cookies loaded with chocolate, coconut, pecans, and cinnamon. One of the first recipes for them was published in a 1948 Quaker Oats cookbook. Westerns were all the rage at the time, so the name would've been an apt way to make the recipe more appealing. Former First Lady Laura Bush brought cowboy cookies back into the national conversation when she shared her recipe during the 2000 presidential election, which might be why so many Texans lay claim to them.
Martha has been making cowboy cookies for years, even turning them into potluck-perfect bars or using them as a next-level base for s'mores. In the latest episode of Martha Bakes, she's keeping the flavors classic but going big, literally. The easy-to-make dough is formed into balls with an ice-cream scoop, flattened, and baked until golden. Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, the cookies are utterly irresistible. And they're not the only intriguing recipes Martha's making with oats this week: there's also a rustic Swiss-chard-and-ricotta galette, and the ultimate baking project, pressure-caramelized oat bread.
Giant Cowboy Cookies
While it seems unlikely that cowboys ever carried these cookies in their saddlebags, the treats do keep well. They can be made up to three days in advance.
The combination of oat and cream cheese yields a rich, toothsome crust for this freeform tart. The filling is added in three layers: onions amped up with balsamic vinegar and golden raisins; Swiss chard wilted with anchovies and thyme; and ricotta enriched with Parmigiano-Reggiano and nutmeg.
Pressure-Caramelized Oat Bread
Steel-cut oats are caramelized in a pressure cooker before being incorporated into this white sandwich bread, an ingenious twist from the mind of molecular gastronomist and Modernist Cuisine head chef Francisco Migoya.
Martha Bakes season 11 airs on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings).