Last week, one of my favorite people, a childhood family friend and adopted Aunty, died. My Aunty was old, frail, ready to go and join her husband in the great beyond but it was an occasion filled with the sadness of a passing of an era, the knowledge that you will never see or hear that beloved person again. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the funeral, so (as you do), I baked up a storm of cakes and biscuits to send up up the coast with my brother and sister for the funeral and wake. For these kind of occasions, you can never have too many sugary baked goods. I made my favorite tea dunking biscuits – Graham crackers, knowing copious amounts of tea would be drunk and biscuits dunked; old fashioned date and walnut rolls, because my Aunty loved a good date loaf; banana bread, because a good loaf of banana bread never goes astray; pear, pistachio and chocolate cake, simply because it’s awesome… and these – Laura Bush’s Texas Governor’s Mansion Cowboy Cookies, because they are one of all time great cookies with the best name ever.
I’ve had a long time interest in American politics and, even though I could never imagine myself ever, ever, in my wildest nightmares, voting Republican, I’m completely fascinated by Laura Bush – the Democrat-voting librarian who married a party boy scion of the Republican Party and ended up becoming an enigmatic and elegant first lady. Although George W. would become one of the most maligned and ridiculed presidents ever, somehow, everyone still loved Laura. Despite George W.’s bad press, I could never write him off completely because he had the good sense to marry Laura, and he was also besties with Condoleeza Rice, another smart, charismatic woman. So, he couldn’t be all bad could he?
This recipe comes in its original Texas Governor’s Mansion proportions, which makes a massive amount of cookie dough. I have to mix it in my giant stainless steel bowl that I use for bread and pizza dough. If you want a more sensible amount, halve the recipe, but there is something fun about the excess of the original recipe. For funerals, birthdays and other important occasions, it’s important to overdo it on the cooking front – nothing says ‘I love you’ like making a ridiculous amount of food.
Farewell Aunty Ruth.
Laura Bush’s Governor’s Mansion Texas Cowboy Cookies
Adapted from Simply Recipes
Makes 4 to 6 dozen cookies
- 3 cups flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 teaspoons bicarb soda (baking soda)
- 3 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 350 grams (3 sticks) butter at room temperature
- 1½ cups white sugar
- 1½ cups brown sugar
- 3 eggs (beaten)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3 cups of rolled oats
- 2 cups flaked or shredded coconut
- 2 cups of chopped pecans. (Optional I always leave the nuts out)
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line baking trays with baking paper.
- In a large a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, bicarb soda, cinnamon and salt.
- Beat butter until creamy, then slowly add sugars and beat to combine (about two more minutes). Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined, then add vanilla extract and beat again.
- Transfer butter and sugar mixture to a large mixing bowl, add flour mixture and mix until combined. Add chocolate chips, oats, coconut and pecans, mixing until just combined.
- If you want really large Texas style cookies, drop a quarter of a cup of lumps of dough on baking sheets about 8 cm (3 inches) apart. Bake for about 14–18 minutes, turning the baking sheets half way through baking. For smaller cookies, use about two tablespoons of dough per cookie and cook for 13–16 minute, turning the trays halfway through. If you like your cookies chewier, bake them for the shorter amount of time.
- Cool on the tray for about five minutes, before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.