Lactation Cookies Recipe

The ingredients may take some special effort to find, but the result is a wonderfully thick and hearty lactation cookie that nursing mothers will love.

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Photograph: Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Commercial oat flour minimizes the need for all-purpose flour, translating to a higher dosage of oat per cookie.
  • A blend of chocolate chips in varying cocoa percentages and styles gives the cookies a perfect balance of sweetness and intensity.
  • A high proportion of vanilla and spice helps to mask the taste of brewer's yeast.

While lactation cookies remain untested by clinical trials, leaving us without any sort of hard and fast guidelines for dosage or effectiveness, nursing mothers have long turned to ingredients like oats, barley, brewer's yeast, flax seed, and ginger to boost their milk supply. Meanwhile, ingredients such as cinnamon and macadamia nuts have been anecdotally reported to be galactagogues as well.

Whether or not these ingredients work as intended may be up for debate, but there's a delicious logic in bringing them together in a buttery cookie. Anyone could enjoy these hearty malted oatmeal cookies by another name, as they're loaded with macadamia nuts, chocolate chips, and spices. But by calling them "lactation cookies," nursing moms can rest assured that there's one treat in the house no one else will steal.

Recipe Facts

Active: About 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Makes: 40 cookies

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Ingredients

  • For the Dry Mix:
  • 7 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, not instant or thick-cut (about 2 cups; 200g)
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips (about 1 heaping cup; 170g), preferably a blend of percentages and styles (see our list of favorite supermarket chocolate chips for recommendations), plus more for garnishing
  • 5 ounces toasted macadamia nuts (about 1 heaping cup; 140g), roughly chopped
  • 3 ounces commercial oat flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill (about 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon; 85g); not homemade (see note)
  • 3 ounces non-bitter brewer's yeast powder, such as BlueBonnet (about 2/3 cup, spooned; 85g)
  • 2 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal (about 1/2 cup, spooned; 70g)
  • 2 ounces flax meal (about 1/2 cup, spooned; 55g)
  • For the Cookie Dough:
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter (about 16 tablespoons; 225g), soft but cool, about 65°F (18°C)
  • 7 ounces white sugar (about 1 cup; 200g)
  • 2 ounces barley malt syrup, such as Eden Foods (about 3 tablespoons; 55g)
  • 1 ounce vanilla extract (about 2 tablespoons; 30g)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt, or more to taste; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
  • 1 large egg (about 1 3/4 ounces; 50g), straight from the fridge

Directions

  1. For the Dry Mix: In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, oat flour, brewer's yeast powder, all-purpose flour, and flax meal, tossing with a flexible spatula until mixture is completely homogenized. Proceed immediately to the next step or transfer the dry mix to an airtight container and store at cool room temperature until the date stamped on the package of macadamia nuts.

  2. For the Cookie Dough: Set oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350°F (180°C). In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter, sugar, barley malt syrup, vanilla extract, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Mix on low speed to combine, then increase to medium and cream until soft, pale, and light, about 5 minutes. Along the way, pause to scrape the bowl and beater using a flexible spatula.

  3. While mixing on medium speed, add egg and continue beating until smooth and homogeneous, scraping bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low and add dry mix all at once. Continue mixing until thoroughly incorporated, with no visible patches of dry mix. Scrape bowl and beater with flexible spatula, then fold dough a few times by hand to be sure the texture is even.

  4. Using a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop, divide dough into approximately 40 portions. If you like, top each piece with a few extra chocolate chips for garnish. Arrange up to 12 portions of dough on a parchment-lined half-sheet pan and transfer remaining dough to a heavy-duty zipper-lock bag for cold storage. The dough can be refrigerated for about 2 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months, then thawed to about 70°F (21°C) before being baked as directed.

  5. Bake portioned freshly made or thawed dough on parchment-lined half-sheet pan until cookies are puffy and golden brown and firm to the touch around the edges, but a little soft and fragile in the center, about 14 minutes. Enjoy warm, or let cookies cool and transfer to an airtight container, where they can be stored for up to 1 week at room temperature.

Special equipment

Stand mixer, 2-tablespoon cookie scoop, flexible spatula, half-sheet pan

Notes

Commercial oat flour is made from whole, raw oat groats milled to a texture as fine as that of traditional flour. Homemade "oat flour" generally starts with rolled oats ground in a food processor; not only does this produce a coarser texture, but the composition is different as well, as rolled oats are made from steamed husked oat groats, which reduces their thickening power and nutritional value. Commercial oat flour thus provides a higher "dose" of oats than rolled oats alone, while also acting as a better thickener for the cookies.

Make-Ahead and Storage

In a heavy-duty zip-top bag, the dough can be refrigerated for about 2 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months, then thawed to about 70°F (21°C) before being baked as directed. Once baked, the cookies will keep for about 1 week in an airtight container at cool room temperature.

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