Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Oatmeal Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

These used to be my favorite cookie. (They only got knocked off the top spot because I have since fallen in love with my Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies With Toasted Walnuts and my Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies.) But that doesn't mean that this cookie doesn't still hold a special place in my heart. In fact, I still close my eyes and let out a satisfied "Mmm" every time I eat these. They are crisp and chewy. A little tart from the dry cherries and there is some always welcomed lusciousness from the melt-y dark chocolate. Yes, I'm still a big fan!
   I first discovered the original version of these cookies while reading a young adult book called Scrambled Eggs at Midnight. Throughout the fictional book there are recipes that the characters cooked. One of those recipes are for "Cal's Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies." I looked all over the Internet to find the recipe, but ended up having to get it from my mother in law. She copied it directly from the book, and I wanted the original to work from.  The other ones out there are all variations on this cookie (that I've found at least). So, of course, I changed the recipe a little too; and this is what you have. (If you want the original recipe you should check the book out @ your local library!) A new twist on an old favorite (the chocolate chip cookie), and a cookie that I always make sure to have on hand in my freezer stash. :)

I start by getting my "mix-ins" ready - in reverser order. So when the time comes, I can just pour them into the cookie batter and all will be well . . . and easy!
Start with the chocolate chips. I prefer to use dark chocolate chips, but whatever you like would work. (Sorry, the picture is tilted. Tilt your head to the right . . . See? All better now.)

Next come the dried cherries. You can chop them up if you wish, but I kinda like the big chew pieces.

Next come the pecans. Don't skip this step! It's important to toast the nuts to bring out their full nutty potential. You can do them in either the oven (spread out evenly on a cookie sheet for about 5 minutes @ 350F) or in a dry skillet like I show here. Just toast them over medium heat, stirring occasionally until you can smell them and they are warm and slightly darker in color (no black please!).

When the pecans are toasted, just chop them up,

and add them right on top of the cherries.

Lastly, we have the oats. I use old fashioned rolled oats.

See the pretty layers?

Now for the batter. Some butter goes into the bowl of a stand mixer - or just a large mixing bowl if that's what you have. 2 sticks please (I just cut my 1 lb brick in half, that's why it looks like my 1 stick is on steroids.)

The sugars come next. Both dark brown and white sugar.

Cream the butter and the sugars together for a good 4-5 minutes.

When the butter and sugars are creamed (lighter in color and almost smooth) add an egg,

some pure vanilla extract

and just a touch of pure almond extract.

Mix it all together with some baking soda,

(scrape down the bowl)

and the flour.

When the batter is well combined, it's time to start adding the "mix-ins" we got ready earlier. Now you'll see why we needed to put them in reverse order. (To tell you the truth, the only ones that matter much are the oats and the chocolate. You want the oats to go in first and the chocolate to go in last.)
In go the oats, while the mixer is running.

Then go the nuts,

the cherries, and then finally the chocolate chips.

I stir the batter a few extra times with my spatula to make sure it's all mixed well.

This is the batter when it's complete. Pretty thick looking, huh?

Now, as a rule of thumb, unless I am baking for a crowd I always only bake one batch of cookies. The reason being that if I bake more than one batch I will eat more than one batch . . . by myself.
So, the solution is to scoop out the batter onto a cookie sheet or plate (shown here) and stick the cookie balls into the freezer. When they are rock hard I put them into a labeled zip-lock freezer bag for later use.
I started this method to keep myself from eating more cookies, but it all honestly, it also makes it easier to have cookies anytime I have a craving and my oven is hot. I also get to have multiple flavors baking at the same time! I don't even remember the last time I bought the pre-packaged, store bought cookie dough. I just always have homemade on hand. I usually keep anywhere from 4-8 different types of cookies in my freezer at all times. The 4 that I always must have are these Oatmeal Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies, my Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies With Toasted Walnuts, my Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies, and my Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. In case you were wondering. ;)  (Anyone have a fantastic CHEWY peanut butter cookie recipe? I'm always on the hunt!)

OK, so these are the ones I baked. Just scoop them onto a cookie sheet and they go into a 350F oven. I use my smallest scoop that's about 1 inch and the cookies take 10 minutes exactly. You're scoop and oven could be different.

This is what they look like when they come out.

Let them cool on the cookie sheet for a minute before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
Or at least, let them cool enough to not burn your mouth. (I usually can't wait even that long.)

Just plate and eat. (Or share if you are feeling generous.)
Here's the recipe:

Oatmeal Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter (salted), softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup oats
3/4 - 1 cup dried cherries
1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg, vanilla and almond extracts. Mix in the flour, baking soda. Stir until well combined. While mixing, add in the oats, pecans, cherries and chocolate. When everything is thoroughly combined, scoop out into 1 inch balls and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes (until the cookies are set and slightly golden around the edges). Let cool on the cookie sheet for a minute before moving to a cooling rack. Depending on the size of your cookie, it makes about 3 dozen.

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