Food Hacker: Triple Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
by blue midget
Photo courtesy of Epicurious
In a cookie book, the chapters are usually divided by type of cookie. A chocolate chip cookie is your basic drop cookie – there is no rolling or pressing needed, just scoop up some dough and drop your rounded spoonful on your cookie sheet. Anyone who has been able to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch can make 9 out of 10 other drop cookie recipes. Don’t be fooled by the list of ingredients or the length of the recipe or the recipe’s source: what I love the most about drop cookies is that they’re all made the same way as your chocolate chip cookie. Most of them do not require a lot of fuss and they’re really difficult to screw up. Just like your chocolate chip cookie, the important thing is to make sure it’s mixed really well.
Keeping in the spirit of the approaching holidays, I have a new one for everyone. This one comes from Bon Appetit – don’t be nervous because of the source. It’s a drop cookie called “Triple Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies”, and just as easy as your basic Toll House recipes.
Now before we begin, my disclaimer about cranberries is this: I hate cranberries. There’s something about the acidity and tartness of the berry itself that I just can’t stand. However, because this cookie has three different kinds of chocolate and also some oatmeal (mixed with a mere ½ cup of cranberries), it is a very sweet cookie and the tart cranberry flavor doesn’t take over, instead the cranberries make a very nice contrast to the chocolate. When I made them last year, I brought them to work and even people who did not care for cranberries really enjoyed this cookie. If nothing else, this is a great looking cookie, and they make fantastic gifts. And you know how I get about creating attractive cookies – plain and simple, people won’t eat things that don’t look good.
Triple Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup double chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
2 ounces milk chocolate or white chocolate, chopped (for drizzling)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the four corners of your cookie sheet, dab a little bit of butter. Lay your parchment paper on top (the butter will keep the parchment paper from sliding around).
In a large bowl, mix your butter and two sugars. Just like the chocolate chip cookie recipe from last month, the butter and sugars should blend together to look as much like a single substance as possible. If you are using a hand mixer, clean out your sink and put your bowl in it. That way if you get a little excited with the mixer, you can keep the batter contained to the sink area. (I know I said that in my last cookie column, but it never hurts to remind anyone.) If your butter is too cold, there will be butter chunks and it will not blend – let it sit for ten minutes and then come back to mix it up some more. Take your spatula and scrape around the bottom to make sure that you’ve mixed everything up.
Beat in the egg and the vanilla – again, use real vanilla. Just like the chocolate chip cookies, the two things you don’t want to scrimp on are the vanilla and chocolate, so use real vanilla. When you’re done beating this up, it should look like a single, runny substance. Take your spatula and scrape around in there to make sure you’ve gotten everything mixed up. If you find some chunks, mix it a little more – just until you’ve gotten everything looking like a single substance. Don’t mix it until eternity.
Again, I always cheat when it comes to the dry ingredients. The true recipe marks the first step as putting all of the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and whisking them to combine. The thing that I hate about doing that is that it’s one more bowl that I have to wash. That probably sounds lame, but with all of the dishes I’m going to have to do after this, I don’t want to add the bowl and the whisk to the wash list – even if I’m just going to throw it into the dishwasher. So we’re going to have to add the dry ingredients but we need to make sure that it all gets mixed in here evenly. The best way to do that is add the 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt with only ½ cup of the flour. Mix that around and use your spatula to scrape everything off of the sides and, most importantly, the bottom. If you find stuff on the bottom that needs to be mixed, don’t worry about it – throw in the last of the flour (½ cup) and your oatmeal and mix it around with your mixer. As for oatmeal, I prefer to use regular oatmeal, but if you only have instant on hand, that’s fine as well – as long as it’s not the flavored crap that you find in little packets. You can pick up a small canister at the grocery store for just a couple of dollars. If you want to use a generic brand, feel free. (I’m sure culinary snobs everywhere are grinding their teeth at me, but I really don’t see the problem with using a generic brand in this case.) Don’t forget to take your rubber spatula and scrape that around to make sure everything is mixed. If you find chunks, mix it for another few seconds – just mix it long enough to make sure everything is combined. You don’t need to go at it for five minutes, just another 15 – 20 seconds should do. The important thing is to make sure that the oatmeal is pretty evenly worked through your bowl.
Stir in the chocolate chips. Now, again I’m going to be a stickler on the chocolate because, to be honest, most of the brands you see at the grocery store sell absolutely awful white chocolate. I am completely convinced that anyone who hates white chocolate has never had good chocolate. Go pick up a bag of assorted Lindt truffles and help your self to a white chocolate truffle – it will change your mind. The problem is, most people have tried Nestlé’s or Hershey’s white chocolate, which is absolute crap. In all honesty, it tastes like plastic. I’m not a huge fan of Ghirardelli’s white chocolate either, but it’s the best of what is usually found in the grocery store. If you can get better, get it, otherwise go with the Ghirardelli’s. You only need ½ cup of each (white, milk, and double chocolate), so just toss whatever is left over into separate freezer bags and store them in your freezer until you need chocolate chips again… which, if you’re following my cookie columns, will probably be in the next two to three weeks.
Before you start mixing, you also need to add a ½ cup of chopped cranberries. If you absolutely do not want to use cranberries because you’ve got a huge aversion to them, use raspberries. I prefer cranberries because they are more festive for this time of year, but whatever – it won’t make too big of a deal. If you aren’t going to eat them because they’re cranberries, don’t get your pants in a twist; obviously you should make whatever you will eat. For the cranberries, you will need to chop them – I just cut them in half and toss them in. Don’t bother with fancy cranberries; just grab a bag of Ocean Spray cranberries in your grocery store’s produce section. Using a spoon, mix your batter. Make sure you’ve mixed everything so well that your chocolate and cranberries are worked evenly through the dough – otherwise, what happens is the first half of your cookies are loaded with cranberries and chocolate, and the last half are practically naked. Say no to naked cookies.
Take a tablespoon and scoop up some dough – a nice size now, because no one likes a wimpy cookie. There is a time for bite-sized cookies, but that isn’t right now. Drop them onto your cookie sheet a couple inches apart and bake them for about 16 minutes. If your cookie is smaller it will bake faster, if it’s too big it will need a lot longer to bake – duh. The point of this is that this is another cookie I try not to over-bake because I like having a crispy edge and a soft center. If you aren’t too sure about your cookie size, try baking it for 14 minutes to see what happens. I use the same method as the regular chocolate chip cookies – when the outsides are baked and the very center is a little white, I take them out. The heat from the cookie will keep them baking just another couple of minutes so you don’t want to overdo it in the oven. So, bake them with the same thoughts you had about the Toll House chocolate chip cookies.
Ok. Once your cookies come out and are cooled down, it’s time to make them look attractive. If you noticed in the picture, there is a little bit of white chocolate over the top. Take a pot, put about an inch of water in the bottom. On top of the pot you want to put either another pot that fits right on top – it should not touch the water in the bottom, it should rest nicely on top – or a metal bowl of some sort. Turn your burner on medium low (the dial should point to 8:00 or 9:00). You can use a bit of your white chocolate chips if you want – toss those into the bowl and let them melt. They will take a few minutes to melt, so be patient. Do not turn the heat up. Also, do not put the pot with the chocolate directly onto the burner because it will scald it. This indirect method melts chocolate very nicely. Once the chocolate is melted, take it off of the burner, off of the boiling water pot, and let it cool for two or three minutes – until it feels okay to the touch and is not burning your skin off.
The original recipe instructs you to take a spoon and lightly sprinkle chocolate on top of the cookie. Unless you’re skilled at this, I wouldn’t recommend it. I’ve tried this before and no matter what I do, huge chunks will fly off my spoon, plop large, unattractive blobs of chocolate onto the cookie, and I end up spattering crap everywhere. I think it’s all the coffee I drink – I get the shakes! And then the spasms and the voices! …maybe I’ve said too much. Anyway, here is what you should do: take a cheap, plastic sandwich bag and put a few spoonfuls of chocolate into one of the bottom corners (this is why I said to wait until it’s cool enough to handle – especially if you’re doing this with your kids, because you don’t want them to get burned). Close up the bag and snip a very smallcut into the corner of the bag. (It’s the poor-man’s pastry bag!) If your cut is too big, then your stripes will be too thick. So try to make the tiniest incision. Twist your bag so that the chocolate is forced into the corner. Applying a light amount of pressure to the bag, you will be able to evenly draw zig-zag lines across your cookie, similar to the picture. If you find that your cut is too big, just work your chocolate into the other corner of the bag and try making another cut into that corner. Before you apply the chocolate to your cookies, practice a couple of zig-zag lines on a piece of parchment so you can get the hang of it. Actually, I always do this before I start on a cookie because I want to check that my incision is the right size. I prefer this method because it’s cleaner and easier. It’s also fun to do with kids, because they really enjoy doing this decorating part. Once the chocolate is applied, let it cool, and you’ve got yourself a tasty, festive-looking cookie for either Thanksgiving or whatever holiday in December that you celebrate.
Comment below or email me at with any questions.