Love Me, Love Me...

When I first started working at the museum, I was confronted with a rather unwelcoming corporate culture. I quickly discovered that people did not socialize with people outside their department, and since I work in a department that consists of me and my supervisor, I would go days at a time without talking to anyone all day, since my officemates, Irene and Mireya, only worked part-time. In order to ingratiate myself with my peers, I embarked on an ambitious cookie-baking plan. I figured that if all else failed, I could break the ice with my coworkers, and maybe even bribe them into befriending me. So, for the last few months of 2008, I brought cookies into work once a week, usually on Fridays, and got into a routine of baking Thursday nights while watching Grey's Anatomy.

I became known as the "cookie fairy of the first floor," because I often dropped off my treats in the break room early in the morning, before anyone else showed up to the office. To a certain extent, my plan worked. People became friendlier, and I certainly became popular with the security staff, which is a good crowd of people to have on your side. Eventually, I became closer with Mireya and made friends with Natasha from the gift shop.

However, when I moved up to the administrative floor in 2009, I found myself facing the same problem that had plagued me before -- nobody ever talked to me. As a result, I revisited my cookie strategy, and started regularly baking for my new set of coworkers. Eventually, I earned a small following for my baked goods, and people were talking to me again, even if it was mostly to compliment my baking prowess. At least they knew my name, and most of them figured out I wasn't an intern.

My coworkers have become an invaluable part of my baking hobby. They provide a source of feedback for new recipes, and more importantly, a place to dispose of my experiments so that I don't end up eating all those dozens of cookies myself.

Today, I brought in a new batch of cookies that I baked last night, building off my new-found sense of inspiration from Martha Stewart's Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and Share. (I have other cookie cookbooks, I swear. I just happen to find this one the most inspirational.) This time, I decided to tackle a recipe that has long been on my radar, for Iced Oatmeal Applesauce Cookies. Since apples are among the short list of fruits that I enjoy eating, I had long wanted to give these a try, but the recipe calls for chunky applesauce, which I hate and was reluctant to purchase and leave sitting around the house indefinitely. Now that I have a boyfriend that is less of a picky eater than I am to eat the leftovers, I set about trying the recipe at last.

The results were pleasing, with a nice balance of softness and chew to the texture, and a subtle hint of maple flavoring from the glaze. The applesauce was not a dominant flavor at all, but I was still glad that I added cinnamon to the batter. I had thought that it would pair well with the apples, and even though the apple flavor isn't noticeable, I think the finished product would be a little bland without the extra spice. After less than an hour in the staff kitchen this morning, the cookies were gone -- always a good sign, and I received some good feedback from my coworkers, who found them comforting and homey.

They might not be the fanciest cookies I've made, but the maple icing provides a bit of a flourish that elevates them. I see these as a perfect "mom cookie," something to have on hand as a snack for your kids when they get home from school. They were astonishingly quick and easy to make, which makes them perfect for such a purpose. If you're a mom, or would just like to recreate some of the comforts of home in your own kitchen, I'd certainly recommend giving these a try.

Iced Oatmeal Applesauce Cookies
adapted from Martha Stewart

For the cookies:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. sugar
1 large egg
1/2 c. chunky applesauce
1 1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 c. raisins (optional)

For the icing:
1 c. powdered sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350.
1. Put the melted butter and both sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and stir together on low until combined. Add egg and applesauce, and mix until well-blended, 2-3 minutes. Mix in oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix in raisins, if using.
2. Spoon tablespoons of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake cookies until golden and just set, about 13-15 minutes. Let cool on sheets 5 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely before icing.
3. Whisk icing ingredients together in a small bowl and drizzle over cookies. Let set completely before eating.

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