Jumbo Cranberry-Oatmeal Jumbles

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Though I have already leaked my favorite cookie recipe, this is a very VERY close second place. In addition to being highly flavorful in a subtle ‘what is that?’ sort of way, the other fabulous thing about these cookies is that they are modifyable. In fact, last night was the first time I have made them according to the directions! I have, in various iterations, left out the pecans because of a nut allergy, substituted cherries and/or orange-flavored Craisins for the dried cranberries, swapped in maple syrup for the corn syrup, and, almost always, I have ignored the call for cake flour and just used 1/4 c. regular all-purpose with 1 1/2 tsp. of cornstarch. Replacements, swap-outs and eliminations of any of the solid additives (dried fruit, chocolate, coconut, pecans) are fine so long as you maintain the 2 cup total. And I wouldn’t mess with the oats, since they are the structure and the texture of the cookie.

I should note that as cookies go, these involve fairly lengthy prep: toast the coconut, toast the pecans, chop the pecans, mix the all-purpose flour and the cake flour separately, form the dough into two-inch disks blah, blah, blah. There’s even a note suggesting that the cookies are better if you weigh all the ingredients rather than measuring with a cup. However, I can tell you that I have assembled these many times with far less attention to detail then I did last night and I haven’t yet been struck by lightning.

As I said, I’ve been making minor changes to these cookies each time I bake them based on people’s dietary restrictions and taste preferences. Honestly, though, this recipe is pretty incredible as written. The coconut is hardly noticeable unless you are sniffing for it, but it adds a distinct type of sweetness that isn’t just hum-drum brown sugar. The nuts are not overpowering, and they add a nice savory element to the bite. The white chocolate seems to be a natural continuation of the cookie batter, not a glaring sore thumb, and the cranberries are a far superior (and more universally appealling, I’ve noticed) alternative to raisins.

I made these this week for a cookie swap at work – if any of my friends from the museum are checking in, please let me know what you think of the results in the comments section!

Jumbo Cranberry-Oatmeal Jumbles, from Fine Cooking magazine, November 2005, Issue 74.
(makes 16-18 big, er, jumbo cookies)

cookie-mise6 oz. (3/4 c.) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 Tbs. light corn syrup
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 c.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 oz. (1/4 c.) cake flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/2 c. sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 c. rolled oats (old-fashioned, not quick-cooking)
1/2 c. pecan pieces (or coarsely chopped pecan halves), lightly toasted
1/2 c. sweetened coconut flakes, lightly toasted
3 1/2 oz. good-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Position two racks near the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Line three baking sheets with parchment.

cookie-batterIn the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl. Add the egg, corn syrup, and vanilla; beat for 1 minute on medium speed. Mix in half the all-purpose flour on low speed until thoroughly combined, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Scrape the bowl. Briefly mix in the remaining half of the all-purpose flour. Sprinkle the cake flour, baking soda, and salt into the bowl and beat on low speed until well blended, 30 seconds to 1 minute. With a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula, stir in the cranberries, oats, pecans, coconut, and white chocolate.

Cranberry white chocolate oatmeal coconut pecan cookies

Using your fingertips, shape 2-oz. pieces of dough (about a scant 1/4 cup) into 2-inch-diameter disks that are 1/2 inch thick. Space them at least 2 inches apart on the parchment-lined sheets. Bake until the cookies’ edges and bottoms are golden and the centers feel dry on the surface but still soft inside, 15 to 16 minutes. When baking two pans of cookies at once, switch the position of the pans after 8 minutes for even browning. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for at least 1 minute before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. These cookies will keep for three or four days at room temperature or for several weeks in the freezer.

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies

A Tart for the Holidays


This year I had two Thanksgivings – the formal one, on Turkey day, with my husband’s family, and a second one with my family over the following weekend.  As this is the first year RJ and I are going into the holidays as a married couple, there have been many discussions about how best to handle the division of our time and pay proper homage to each family.  Our solution involves a lot of shuttling around the greater Boston area, but we think we have found a good balance of time spent, meals shared, and presents exchanged. 

A colleague said to me last week that Thanksgiving is what Christmas should be – a day of fun feasting, collaborative cooking, and quality family time without the stress of holiday shopping and credit card debt.  RJ loves Thanksgiving but dreads Christmas for all the aforementioned schlepping to fit everything into the 2-day window of official Christmas.  It was nice to see that we could do a second (smaller) Thanksgiving on Saturday, November 29th without a loss of sincere holiday feeling.  Plus we had twice the turkey, twice the pies, and twice the family face time.  Perfect!  I think for once we made it through a holiday with everyone happy!

I had such a great time on (proper) Thanksgiving, cooking with my mother-in-law at her house.  When the boys went to sit in the freezing cold at a high school football game they were sure to lose, we basted the turkey, prepped the vegetables, and armed ourselves for the onslaught of relatives that would come through the door at 2.  Unfortunately, as I’ve already confessed, we did not take photos on that day, and I regret that.  Thankfully the internet has provided many of them for us, as you can see here.  On Saturday, however, I remembered to pull out the trusty Panasonic and snap away, bringing you the beauty that is the “Festive Cranberry-Pear Tart.”  I would very highly recommend this delicious tart for your next holiday meal or potluck party.  It was a huge hit, and tastes just as good at breakfast as it does for dessert.  Then again, I’m a pie-for-breakfast kind of girl.

Festive Cranberry-Pear Tart in a Walnut Shortbread Crust, from Fine Cooking Issue No. 74

For the Shortbread Crust:Shortbread tart crust

1 large egg yolk
1 Tbs. half and half
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/4 lb. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/3 c. walnuts, toasted and finely chopped 

For the Cranberry-Pear Filling:
3 large ripe pears, like Anjou or Bartlett
2 c. fresh cranberries, picked through and rinsedRaw Cranberry Pear Tart
1 Tbs. brandy
2/3 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground ginger 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. table salt

For the Buttery Brown Sugar Streusel:
1/3 c. plus 1 Tbs. unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1/8 tsp. table salt
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Make the crust: Position a rack near the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400 degrees F.  In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk, half and half, and vanilla.  Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse until combined.  Add the butter and pulse until the butter pieces are no longer visible.  With the processor running, add the yolk mixture in a steady stream and then pulse until the moisture is fairly evenly dispersed, 10 to 20 seconds.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl.  Using your hands, mix in the chopped walnuts to distribute them evenly.  The dough will be a mealy, crumbly mass.

Cranberry-Pear Tart

Pour the crumb mixture into a 9 1/2 in. round fluted tart pan with removable bottom.  Starting with the sides of the pan, firmly press the crumbs against the pan to create a crust about 1/4 inch thick.  Press the remaining crumbs evenly against the bottom of the pan.  Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork and freeze for 10 minutes.  Bake until the sides just begin to darken and the bottom is set, 15 min.  Transfer to a cooling rack.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Make the filling: Peel the pears, quarter them lengthwise, core, and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices.  In a food processor, coarsely chop the cranberries.  In a medium bowl, mix the pears, cranberries, and brandy.  In a small bowl, mix the sugar, flour, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and salt; add to the cranberry-pear mixture, tossing to combine.  Spoon the filling into the par-baked crust, leveling the filling and packing it down slightly with the back of a spoon.


Make the streusel and bake: In a small bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, and salt.  Add the melted butter and vanilla.  Combine with your fingers until the mixture begins to clump together in small pieces when pressed.  Sprinkle the streusel over the filling, breaking it into smaller pieces if necessary.  

Bake at 350 degrees F until the fruit is tender when pierced with a fork and the streusel and the edges of the crust are golden brown, about 50 minutes.  If the tart begins to get overly brown at the edges, cover with foil.  Let the tart cool on a rack until it’s just barely warm before serving.  The tart will keep, covered and at room temperature, for two to three days.

**The issue from which I pulled this recipe, the October/November 2005 issue, is a very strong one – it contains one of my favorite cookie recipes (white chocolate, cranberry and oatmeal), a great pot roast recipe, and a mushroom soup with sherry that I love!  You can buy back issues of Fine Cooking here.

Cranberry Pear Compote

Making this recipe I had plenty of leftover cranberries in the bag, as well as leftover spiced pear-cranberry mixture.  I put both of these, maybe 1 1/2 c. of fruit total, in a small saucepan and added about a 1/2 c. of water and 1/2 c. of ruby port.  I cooked the fruit over medium-low heat until all of the cranberries had popped and the pears were tender.  The final product was sweet and flavorful – I can see it would be good over ice cream, but we used it as a second cranberry sauce with our turkey.

Cranberry Pear compote

Magazine Review: “Saveur” and Roasted Cranberry Sauce

roasted cranberry sauceThis is the second installment of my series of Thanksgiving magazine reviews.  You can see my evaluative criteria here.  My second food magazine review is of SAVEUR — a publication I became aware of through the Orangette blog, where several great recipes from Saveur have been featured.

112 pages total : 37 pages of ads (33%)
32 Recipes
News-stand price: $5.00
Price per recipe: $0.16
# of ads pretending to be articles: only one, and it’s very hard to spot.  It has the heading “The Saveur Chef Series” and includes a recipe for cauliflower with pine nut and current bread crumbs.  But for the miniscule “Advertisement” written across the top of the page, I would not have known it was advertising anything.  Come to think of it, I still am not quite sure what it is an ad for, except perhaps Bill Telepan’s eponymous NYC restaurant.
Recipe Index? Two indexes are provided – one, at the beginning, lists the recipes by article; the second lists them by category.  Both are ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-em’ small.

Photos: Good, large pictures are scattered throughout the magazine, but are not labeled by recipe and are often separated by a page or two from the recipe they depict.  That’s fine for green beans with hazelnuts, but not so good when it comes to Kasespatzle.

Best Sections:
• The pantry – This section gives you resources to locate the esoteric ingredients used in some of the recipes.  Perfect for all of those “wait, where do I find Thai palm sugar?” moments.
• Source – a short feature story on a specific retailer or product.  This month it was Happy Girl Kitchen Co.’s pickled vegetables, including carrots, squash, and Italian beans – I am intrigued…
• In the Saveur Kitchen – “Discoveries and Techniques from our Favorite Room in the House”, including unusual uses of common ingredients and illustrated technique lessons.

Best Features:
• Within certain articles a little call-out box refers the reader to the web for more ways to use a specific ingredient or for similar or complementary recipes.
• This magazine’s content centers around articles on specific cuisines and their locales, always giving a list of “where to stay”, “where to eat” and “what to do” if you decide to follow in their footsteps.  This issue alone featured New Orleans, the Auvergne region of France, and Laos.
• Rather than always publishing in the traditional recipe format of serving size, ingredient list, then instructions, throughout the magazine you will find short blurbs called “Methods” which condense a recipe into a short prose paragraph – very much like your mom would relay Grandma’s Apple Pie to you over the phone.  The overall impression given is that you can adjust any of the methods to your own taste preference.

Thanksgiving at the Saveur house:
•Two separate sections deal with Thanksgiving – one about classic side dishes, and a second about how the holiday is celebrated in Louisiana.  Sweet Potato Casserole, Oyster Stuffing, Whipped Mashed Potatoes with Celery Root, Oyster stew, Leah Chase’s Roasted Turkey.  Ruling?  Very traditional.

Particularly Unappetizing:
• Traditional Mincemeat Pie (dried and fresh fruit plus rum and beef fat – shudder!!)
• Steamed Fish Mousse
• Pounti (Auvergne-style meatloaf with prunes)

I’m looking forward to cooking:
• *Roasted Cranberry Sauce
• Spinach and Artichoke Dip
• Brussel Sprouts Salad

In Summary, Saveur is a very interesting mixed bag.  The list of recipes, at least in this issue, ranged from a Chile con Queso dip made with Velveeta, canned Ro-Tel tomatoes and Corona beer, to Laap Moo (a Laotian minced pork salad) with chopped fresh galangal, toasted rice powder, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass.  I recommend this magazine for the adventurous and ambitious chefs of this world – those who want to experience unique flavors from around the world or who want to teach themselves the authentic techniques of food preparation before the advent of the microwave or ready-made pie dough.

Make cranberry sauce*Roasted Cranberry Sauce, cited from Saveur No. 115

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Using a peeler, remove peel from one orange, taking off as little of the white pith as possible.  Cut peel into very thin strips about 1 1/2 inches long.  Squeeze juice from orange; strain and reserve 1 Tbs. of the juice.  In a bowl, combine peel, 1 lb. fresh or thawed cranberries, 1 cup sugar, 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 4 smashed green cardamom pods, 4 whole cloves, 2 sticks cinnamon, and 1 small stemmed and thinly sliced jalapeno. Toss and transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Roast until cranberrries begin to burst and release their juices, 10-15 minutes.  Transfer cranberry mixture to a bowl; stir in reserved orange juice and 1 1/2 Tbs. of port.  Let sit for at least 1 hour so that hte flavors meld.  Remove and discard cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon before serving.  Makes 2 cups.

Plated cranberry sauceResults:  I don’t know about your feeling on this, but I found the prose-recipe method really frustrating.  I didn’t see that I needed a jalapeno until too late (so I left it out), and I had to keep rereading the whole recipe over and over to make sure that I only needed to save 1 Tbs. of the orange juice.  Though I know I’m supposed to follow these test recipes exactly, I used ground cardamom and ground cinnamon and omitted the jalapeno.  The results, however, were absolutely delicious.  The sauce was quite tart, which I liked, and the port gave it such a wonderful flavor without making it taste ‘alcoholic’ at all.  The texture was like a thick and chunky chutney, so if you like a more saucey version, this is not the recipe for you.  For me?  Yum yum yum!  This might become an annual feature of my holiday table!