There's just no way to make these look good. I tried. Artfully lit or not, they look like little piles of brown poop.
If you make these cookies, it will not be because you are holding a food photography workshop. Or a fancy tea party where people wear linen pants. When you are hoping the local news just might be covering the charity bake sale, do not make these cookies. First time having a potential life partner over for a gourmet meal? Ix-nay. If there is any chance at all that there will be a lasting visual record of your dessert course, for heaven's sake make something else. These are not for public consumption.
No. These are private cookies. Lick the beaters when you're done because no one is home to catch you kind of cookies. Make the whole house smell like cookies kind of cookies. Warm and cozy and homemade in the best possible way kind of cookies. Grab a handful fresh from the oven kind of cookies. A whole glass of milk kind of cookies. Hearty and substantive and meaningful kind of cookies. Close your eyes and sigh happily kind of cookies*.
My kind of cookies.
Visually Unimpressive But Otherwise Outstanding Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
When you've had a great oatmeal raisin cookie, straight out of the oven, it'll haunt you for the rest of your days. There is a nearly two-year old thread on chowhound where converts continue to seek this elusive holy grail. I don't claim to have found it. The recipe below is a mash up of one from my sister, ideas from that blog thread, and my own instinct for what molasses could do in a cookie like this. The quest will go on. But these are very very good. Try them (in private) and see for yourself.
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tb. molasses
2 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. quick-cooking oatmeal
1 1/2 c. raisins, or a mix of raisins and other dried fruit**
Pre heat oven to 325.
Combine butter and sugars in a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla and molasses, and mix again.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add to the butter/sugar mixture, beating a low speed just until combined. Gently stir in oatmeal and raisins by hand.
If you have time, chill the dough for an hour or so before baking.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat, and scoop dough by rounded spoonfuls on to the prepared sheet, placing a few inches apart. Gently pat down the centers of the cookies with two fingers, so the tops are flat, but the cookies aren't squished.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until edges are golden brown but centers are still pale brown***. Share with people who don't care what you or your cookies look like.
* BTW, if your eyes are closed, you will by definition not give a damn about appearances.
** If your raisins are very dried up, soak them in a little warm water for 30 minutes or so before using.
*** Will look just like little pools of crap.