When I was a freshman in college at the University of Florida, I sat in lecture halls with hundreds of other students. I had a hard time paying attention to my professors. I stashed Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines in my back pack to read during the 90 minute blocks. I came across a recipe for Cowboy Cookies that looked appealing. It was an oatmeal cookie that had chocolate chips in place of raisins which sounded amazing. I went home from class and baked a batch that day. The recipe called for walnuts which I replaced with pecans because they were a staple in northern Florida. I modified it to make it vegan (yes, I was a vegan once - it didn’t last long).
The cookies became so popular with my friends, I took them to a few local coffee shops and lunch dives to see if they would purchase from me to sell to their customers. Before long, I couldn’t keep up with Cowboy Cookie production in my tiny apartment sized oven. There would be a line of people waiting for me to deliver the cookies each week at one popular lunch spot, Steamers, where the owner, Art, labeled them “Rachel’s Treats.”
A local vegetarian joint, The Book Lover’s Café, caught wind of my treats and offered me a job baking in their kitchen. Although I spent many years working in restaurants, this was my first baking job. I baked cakes, cookies and bars using their recipes. I had keys to the space so I could come in early to start baking. Many nights I would leave the bar at last call and go straight to the café to start baking. I listened to NPR to keep me company while I worked.
After college, I moved back to Maryland where I helped my friend Diane bake for her catering company in the wee hours of the morning before I went to teach at the local high school. Diane made a similar cookie to my cowboy cookies only she added cloves. I liked the idea and I stared incorporating both cloves and cinnamon in my cookies. The flavors reminded me of Mexican chocolate, which I adore.
The cookies remained unchanged until after I graduated from culinary school. I was working at The Patisserie in Milford, PA. I started baking them to sell again. This time I made them with all the butter and the eggs as I had long outgrown my vegan phase. I also added raisins, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds to make them a true Cowboy Cookie. They were meant to be the original PowerBar. Cowboys took them out on the trails for nourishment throughout the day because they kept well and were easy to carry.
I’ve been baking Cowboy Cookies ever since, both for Montclair Bread Co. and for my family & friends. Here is the most current iteration of my recipe. Happy Baking!
2 cups flour
2 cups oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup pecans
3/4 cups raisins
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
Cream butter & sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until mixture becomes smooth. Stir in dry ingredients: flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt, until just combined. Add chocolate chips, pecans, raisins and pumpkin seeds until incorporated.
Scoop into tablespoon sized-balls. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. Flatten balls into 1/2” thick rounds, 12 per cookie sheet.
Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies start to brown.