Thursday, April 1, 2010

Orange Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

What a mouthful! Years ago, I was a leader for a girls' church group. I had just 4 girls, ages 8 to 11. I was always trying to think of activities to do with them, and many of them centered around food. What can I say? I have always been a sucker for treats. In order to make it more service-oriented, I decided to help them make cookies in a jar as gifts that they could give to people they appreciated. Naturally, most of them chose their moms...but, through that activity, I inadvertently found a cookie recipe I have made over and over. (Just not as jar cookies)

After I moved, I lost the recipe. I was pretty bummed. Periodically, I would scour my pathetic and disorganized recipe file, always hoping I had somehow overlooked it, but I never found it. About a week ago, I decided to Google it; I had initially found the recipe online anyway, I should be able to find it again, right? Right!

I did find it, right on Conveniently, I still had a bag of Trader Joe's Orange Flavored Dried Cranberries (I don't live near TJ's anymore and I'm so sad!). TJ's are better than Craisins in my opinion, and way cheaper, if I remember correctly! Of course, I'll be using Craisins from now on, so I guess I shouldn't complain; and they are good, too...just not as good. I do miss Trader Joe's.

The thing is, I wasn't as knowledgeable about cooking and baking back then. And your memory is not always as accurate as it could I remembered them way better than they actually are.

BUT. The premise is there, as is the flavor. They are an oatmeal cookie stuffed with goodness. I love how the orange flavoring from the dried cranberries infuses the cookies. And white chocolate chips complement it perfectly. As I mixed them up, I recognized some problems immediately.

First: it's designed as a recipe for cookies in a jar, which is cute. But it's not a good way to make cookies. Because the recipe is a cookie jar, I followed the recipe and dumped all the dry ingredients in my mixer bowl and stirred them before adding the liquid ingredients. I don't have any proof this was a bad idea, but I believe that if you use the traditional creaming method, you could use unmelted butter and not need to refrigerate it before baking.

Second, it uses all butter, which is great for taste and mixing, since you can melt it, but not great for spreading. Now, this is a personal preference, but it's my blog, so I can speak authoritatively without feeling bad. I like my cookies to be thick and chewy, with only moderate spreading. I like the cookie to be substantial. To get that texture, you need to use shortening, or at least a mixture of shortening and butter. Butter is great for flavor, don't get me wrong. But to prevent super flat and crisp cookies, you need some shortening. Just trust me. It has to do with the melting point of the fat.

Less importantly, and third, the recipe calls for quick-cooking oats, which are smaller and more broken up. I think regular rolled oats would be fine, and would possibly provide more substance. Again, not super important, but a personal preference.

So, on to the recipe! I have doubled the recipe, and when I do it again, I will use half shortening and half butter, so I have written the recipe to reflect that. Feel free to use all butter if you like. I have also written the recipe how I will do it next time, using the traditional creaming method. Trust me, the flavor is there!

Orange Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from
Printable recipe

2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups oatmeal
2 cups orange-flavored dried cranberries
2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.

Cream the sugars and the fats together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and oatmeal, and mix well. Stir in the cranberries and chocolate chips.

Drop by spoonful onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges brown and the middles look dry.

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