[91] Cranberry Crunch Cookies

The Complete Book of Cookies, edited by Deborah Grey

Note: This entry will have significantly more photos than most, so the structure will be more like the “Thanksgiving Day Photos”:http://www.metacookbook.com/archives/138-A-few-Thanksgiving-photos..html entry than most recipe entries.

I’ve mentioned at least once before that my friend Grace has been spending some time with me learning to make cookies. Mostly she’s asked to learn cookies that I have already made for the challenge, so I don’t think that many have come up here.

This was a new recipe to both of us though. I think I picked it out because I wanted something new, it sounded delicious and (as is so often a factor in my baking decisions) I had all the ingredients easily on hand.

Grace and I had a good time baking them, and they tasted decent, but the truth is that they were ugly little cookies. The dough didn’t come together the way I expected, and looking at the ingredient list originally, I wondered if that was going to be an issue. So after she left for the day, something in me kind of “snapped” and I decided to try again. I was going to try again until these cookies were just perfect.

I didn’t get “just perfect” before I became interested in trying new recipes. I did, however, get two batches of cookies baked and I figured out some of the issues. So, if you are interested in these cookies, make a note of what I changed. You’ll have a better cookie baking experience if you change it up too. That said, please read the whole entry when you go to bake them, because you’ll want to know where I think I failed as well as where the original recipe failed. The photo below is a hint as to the problem, if you want to try to guess before clicking through.

h2. Ingredients

1/2 c lightly salted butter

1/2 c packed light brown sugar

2 tbsp honey (I happened to have cranberry honey on hand, so insisted we use that. Fun!)

1 egg yolk

1 1/2 c self-rising flour (I don’t keep this on hand, so substituted via this site’s recommended ratio.)

2/3 c rolled oats

1/2 c dried cranberries

1 c butter

1/2 c packed light brown sugar

2 tbsp honey

1 egg yolk

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour

1/8 + 1/16 tsp salt (Seriously, I have measures this small. I think most people do not. Just use a scant 1/4 tsp salt.)

Scant 2 tsp baking powder

2/3 c rolled oats

1/2 c dried cranberries

h2. Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two cookie sheets or line with parchment paper (if necessary – my sheets do not require either).

Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in honey, egg yolk, flour and oats until combined. Stir in cranberries, then divide the dough into 14 equally-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a ball with your hands, then place two to three inches apart on the cookie sheets and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, until golden and just firm. Cool on the sheets for one minute, then transfer to wire cooling racks and cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

h2. Cooking and Consumption Notes

h3. Cooking

As I mentioned in the introduction, the original recipe was a pain. It was super crumbly and did not hold together well at all. It certainly could not be rolled into balls to bake. Indeed, Grace and I ended up just kind of mashing together dough to make a cookie, then baking. They looked terrible! (In the second picture below, the log-shaped cookie on the right is from the first batch.)

I was half-expecting some issues from the recipe, because my inner baker was saying, “That doesn’t look like the right ratio, but I’m not sure why.” So it was nice to have that validated, but I think I’d rather just have had good cookies!

I made another batch much later in the evening (hence the difference in lighting between the two batches), and tried again with more butter. I was fairly confident the recipe needed more butter, but I was unsure how much. I eventually settled on doubling the butter, basically because I had to make a choice.

While mixing, the dough looked a lot better.

However, it was a bit too sticky to roll into balls well. I used my dough scoop to get “balls”, but my two dough scoops are actually not a great size for cookies. I need a size in between the two.

The first set of cookies from the second batch were small, and slightly burned on the bottom. Still fairly tasty, but not great. For this batch, I used the smaller-sized dough scoop and baked them for 7 minutes.

The second set was a larger amount, cooked for a bit longer. I thought they would need longer, as they were much bigger. They didn’t. They were more burned, so that’s a problem. It was more nicely browned on top, though, which was a plus.

The third set came out about perfect (and thus all subsequent sets were made the same way), but it used a cookie sheet I hate using. I baked these for about 10 minutes on very large insulated cookie sheet. Insulated cookie sheets are something of a dream to use, because they bake things more slowly and evenly than a normal cookie sheet. However, mine is huge and doesn’t fit in my sink or dishwasher. Thus I try not to use it unless I really need to, because it is a pain to wash. The final set of cookies was pretty delicious, though.

In the future, I’d use 3/4 c of butter, rather than the 1/2 c of the first batch or the full cup of the second batch. I suspect that would reduce the stickiness of the dough while still promoting cohesion. Furthermore, since my experience indicates that butter is what tends to make cookies burn more quickly, it should reduce my need for insulated cookie sheets, and reduce cookie spread.

I would keep using cranberry honey, because it’s fun. Unless I didn’t have any and wanted these cookies. Then I would throw principles to the wind and just use whatever honey I had on hand.

h3. Consumption

All in all, this is actually a fairly tasty cookie. Every try came out such that I wanted to eat cookies, even the misshapen ones and the burned ones. I think that’s why I was so gung-ho to try to perfect them.

They’re perfect with a cup of tea. Especially if they are misshapen, and thus slightly drier.