Indulging My Inner Bake Sale Fanatic! Soft, Chewy Cranberry Cookies With White & Semisweet Chocolate Chips

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It feels like forever since I last baked cookies!  I know it’s only been about two and a half months, but I have a constant baking itch that makes it seem like eons between batches.  I go through phases where I’ll bake cookies five times in a row, jump over to muffins, daydream about cake pop flavours and cupcake frosting, and then come back to my beloved cookies.  October was filled with apple baked goods and fall flavours and it was so much fun baking cute little tea muffins stuffed with juicy apples.  I’m sad that I didn’t get any pumpkin baking in, but November is still young so I’m crossing my fingers that I can still get some pumpkin baking in alongside all the holiday goodie recipes dancing in my head.

I got this recipe from my November issue of Food & Wine magazine and I was ecstatic to find holiday cookie recipes in their article “How Baking Can Change the World”, which highlights the fusion of bake sales and charitable causes.  I have cookie cookbooks, yes, but it’s always exciting to find random cookie recipes in magazines since they don’t always have them.  I’m crazy about bake sales and I go crazy for cookie articles and recipes in food magazines because there’s so much inspiration to gain from them: ways to package them, pretty decorative paper packaging, and all the different types of cookies you can try your hand at baking!  Bake sales have always been special to me because along with craft and artisan sales, I really enjoy supporting independent businesses and homemade/handmade things. 

I’ve been thinking more and more about holiday cookie exchanges and I love the idea of cookie exchanges in general.  Swapping cookies is a heck of a lot easier than trading cake!  And sure, many of us are cupcake lovers, but not everyone has the fancy tools and supplies to make frostings and decorations.  Cookies can be simple in composition and taste amazing though, so it’s win-win.  Baking batches of cookies to trade with your friends?  FUN!  Coming home with a dozen different cookies to nosh on?  EVEN MORE FUN!  I’ve never actually done a holiday cookie exchange before but I really want to, so we’ll see if anything pans out over the next and a half during the holdiays! 

Given how the holidays are nipping at our heels, I felt that baking with tart cranberries would be the perfect way to straddle both the fall and upcoming winter seasons.  I love cranberries, both fresh ones and dried ones.  I know some people find cranberries way too fish-face sour, but I love cranberries and cranberry juice (and I do mean juice, not the oversweetened cocktail variety!) and I take advantage of cranberry juices and flavoured things whenever I can.  If you love chocolate chips and fruity flavours, you have to try this recipe!  These cookies are so super soft and chewy and you get such a such a beautiful flavour contrast between the cranberries and the chocolate.  The tartness of the cranberries and the rich sweetness of the chocolate don’t overpower each other so you get the best of both worlds.  They are delicious!

Recipe for Dried Cranberry and Chocolate Cookies from Food & Wine magazine (yields 3-4 dozen cookies)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2½ sticks unsalted butter (10 ounces), at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups semisweet or white chocolate chips (*Deb’s Note: I used both!) 
  • 1½ cups dried cranberries

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (*Deb’s Note: My batch of cookie dough made 39 cookies so I actually ended up reusing one of the two baking sheets to bake the extras after the first batch came out of the oven).
  • In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (*Deb’s Note: I didn’t use the mixer for this step, I just used a large spoon to mix everything together).
  • In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter and both sugars at medium speed until creamy.  Add the egg followed by egg yolk and vanilla, beating well between additions and scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary (*Deb’s Note: I don’t have a standing mixer so I used a handheld).
  • Beat in the dry ingredients, then add the chocolate chips and cranberries and beat until incorporated (*Deb’s Note: I don’t prefer beating chocolate chips and dried fruit, so I used a large spoon to fold everything in instead).
  • Spoon heaping teaspoons of the dough onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until the cookies begin to brown at the edges.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely (*Deb’s Note: I rolled my cookie dough into balls a little smaller than golf ball size and placed 15 on each baking sheet.  Mine took about 14 minutes in the oven).

*****

Recipe taken from Food & Wine magazine.  Sampson, Sally.  “How Baking Can Change the World.” Food & Wine November 2011: 130.

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Baking is No Monkey Business – Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies!

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Happy Monday everyone!  It’s the start of another busy week, so I’m kicking it off with some good old fashioned chocolate chip cookies.  But they’re not just any ordinary chocolate chip cookies.  Oh no, they’re BANANA chocolate chip cookies!  I don’t know about everybody else, but there are always bananas in our kitchen.  For those of you who know me well or who’ve been following the blog, you know that I have pretty bad allergies to a number of different fruits.  I’m allergic to the raw fruit flesh of apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, honeydew melon, and pineapples.  And those are the allergies that I’m currently aware of – there could be others lurking around! 

Thus, bananas are a staple in our household because it’s one of the few fruits that 1) I can eat without swelling up like a blowfish, 2) are pretty much available in good condition all year-round, and 3) won’t make baked goods and foods like pancakes soggy.  Bananas are one of my favourite thickening agents, not to mention it soothes an achy stomach.  So in the words of Ralph Wiggum, “Go banana!” 😀

I baked two sets of cookies over the weekend for my grandpa’s birthday (chosen from my foodie murder mysteries by Joanne Fluke) and these were definitely the winner between the two kinds I made.  I chose the Pineapple Delights recipe from Key Lime Pie Murder and Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies from Plum Pudding Murder.  These are SO INCREDIBLY SOFT.  Like melt-in-your-mouth soft.  Handle with care soft.  You get the idea.  I’m pretty sure the softness of the cookies is due to the combination of butter and icing sugar.  The resulting batter is practically like whipped cream, so airy and fluffy.  These cookies are thin, delicate, flavourful cookies and I love them.

I had to tweak the oven temperature after the first batch came out though because the edges were too charred for my liking (I’m picky, what can I say?) and they were teetering on the edge of burned.  Had I not taken the first batch out when I did, they definitely would have been crispy to say the least!  So what you see in the photos is the second batch, which I adjusted by 50 degress fahrenheit.  Perfect cookies!

Recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies (yields 3 dozen large or 5 dozen small cookies)

Ingredients

  • 2  sticks (1 cup, ⅟₂a pound) softened butter
  • 1 and ⅟₂cups powdered (confectioners) sugar (only sift it if there are lumps)
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅟₄teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour (pack it down when you measure it)
  • 6 oz. package (or 1 cup) semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • ⅟₂teaspoon lemon extract

Directions:

  • Beat the softened butter and the powdered sugar together until they look light and creamy.  Add the half teaspoon of lemon extract and mix it in.
  • Peel the banana and break it into chunks.  Mix them in until they’re thoroughly mashed and the powdered sugar and butter mixture is smooth again.
  • Sprinkle in the baking powder and salt, and mix them in thoroughly.
  • Add the flour in half-cup increments, mixing after each addition.  When the cookie dough is thoroughly mixed, mix in the chocolate chips by hand until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  • Line with your cookie/baking sheets with foil (**Deb’s note: I used parchment paper and it worked fine).  Use a teaspoon to drop cookie dough 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets, no more than 12 cookies to a sheet.  (**Deb’s note: you can always use a larger spoon to make larger cookies, or scoop as little or as much dough as you want to get the desired size.  The cookie dough does spread, so just keep that in mind when dropping the dough on the cookie sheets).
  • Bake the cookies at 400 degrees F. for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.  (**Deb’s note: 400 degrees was way too hot for mine so I decreased the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. and the cookies turned out perfect.  I also just baked them for 8 minutes).
  • Remove them from the oven and let the cookies sit on the cookie sheets for 2 minutes.  Remove the foil (or parchment paper) and cookies from the sheets, foil/paper and all, to a wire rack to cool completely.

*****

Recipe taken from Joanne Fluke’s Plum Pudding Murder.  New York: Kensington Publishing Corporation, 2009.  Photographs taken by me.  The recipe can be found on page 178.