Where this Recipe Came From
Each December, if I’m lucky, I get to enjoy cookies made by my sister-in-law. Of all the cookies she makes, my favorite is her Scottish oat cookies. They are thin, round cookies with a gentle crunch and a delicately sweet flavor. She makes them around the holidays using a recipe passed down to her from the generations of family cookie bakers that came before her – a simple recipe scratched onto a piece of paper that she has taped into a book of recipe gems (see below).
I asked her if I could play with that recipe this year and come up with my own version of her excellent cookie and she eagerly obliged. Because I can’t help myself, I added flecks of dark chocolate to the cookies and I’m really pleased with how they turned out. In fact, I wish I had one right now, but alas… I’ve eaten them all!
What is a Scottish Oat Cookie?
If you google “Scottish Oat Cookie”, you’ll see many references to Scottish oatcakes, which is considered the national bread of Scotland. These Scottish oat cookies are not oatcakes, although they do bear some resemblance to the traditional oatcake. Oatcakes are a flat biscuit-like bread, made mostly of oats and eaten as a replacement for toast at breakfast or with some cheese at lunch or as a snack. These Scottish oat cookies are also flat and have a crisp texture, but instead of being a savory snack, they are sweetened with sugar (and in this version, chocolate) and definitely eaten as a sweet treat, alone or dunked in a cup of coffee.
The nice thing about these Scottish oat cookies is that you can probably make them with what you have in your kitchen right now. All you need is sugar, oats, flour, butter, baking soda, salt, dark chocolate and a little buttermilk. If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, you could substitute yogurt or whole milk with a little lemon juice added.
Cutting in the Butter
There’s not much to mixing these ingredients together and you could do it very quickly in a food processor, but I prefer to make these by hand. If you make them by hand, you’ll be hard pressed to over-mix the dough. Pinch the butter cubes into the dry ingredients until you get a mixture that looks like coarse crumbs or little pebbles.
Then, moisten with the buttermilk and add the chopped chocolate. Squeeze the ingredients together with your hands until it sticks together and forms a dough. It’s not hard or complicated. If you need to add a little more buttermilk to get the dough together, go for it. If it feels a little wet, add a few more oats or a little more flour. Don’t over-think it.
Roll out the Dough
Use a flour duster to gently flour your surface area and roll the dough out until it is ¼-inch thick. You don’t want to add an excess of flour, so the flour duster makes it easy to add just enough flour to prevent sticking. Your only goal here is to try to roll the dough out evenly.
Cut the Cookies
You can use a straight edge or fluted edge cookie cutter to cut these cookies into 3-inch rounds. Then, transfer them to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and pop them into the freezer for 15 minutes or so. Ensuring the cookies are cold as they go into the oven helps to keep them crispy and stops them from spreading.
How Long to Bake
These Scottish oat cookies are very thin and bake at a relatively high temperature for cookies (400˚F), so the timing matters and a minute does make a difference. I like to bake them for 10 minutes, straight from the freezer. After they cool, they have a gentle crunch to them. If you prefer your cookies more crisp, give them another 2 minutes (no more). At 12 minutes, they start to brown more and have a very crisp texture when cool. I wouldn’t turn either version down!
How to Store
You won’t have to worry about this for long, but store the cookies in an airtight container on your countertop. Enjoy them after a meal or as an afternoon snack with a cup of coffee. They are perfect dunking cookies. One more thing… don’t only make these in December, unless you limit your cookie intake to one month a year. They are an all-year favorite.