Rye-Cranberry Chocolate-Chunk Poppy Seed Cookies

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Now that it’s officially fall, it means that turning on the oven to cook is no longer an unwelcome prospect. I came across this chocolate chip cookie recipe on the New York Times and was intrigued by its unconventional additions. It contained rye flour (of which I still had some remaining from my Nordic bread-making experiments), but also dried cranberries and poppy seeds.

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The cookie was invented by Moko Hirayama, who runs a bakery called Mokonuts in Paris, and she was very precise about why each ingredient is included:

The cranberries are a bit sour, and they offset the cookie’s sweetness; the chocolate is bitter, another guard against the cookie’s being too sweet; and the rye flour, well, it makes the cookie a little more tender, but it found a place in the mix because Hirayama was attracted to its beautiful gray color. [The poppyseeds] speckle the cookie, look tweedy and autumnal and taste just this side of knowable — there’s a mystery about them. Hirayama says she added them to make the cookie crunchy, and they do.

I’ve not seen these ingredients in combination before, but it makes so much sense now that I’ve tasted these cookies. Poppy seeds also have a special place in my heart. I had mohnkuchen – or poppy seed cake – in Austria for the first time last Christmas, and it’s not like the sparsely populated application that you see in lemon poppy seed cake – the poppy seeds in mohnkuchen was packed to density and made the cake look nearly black.

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Mohnkuchen, or poppy seed cake in German

But back to these cookies. I really enjoy how sweetness isn’t its primary feature: the nuttiness from the rye flour, the textural complexity from the poppy seeds, plus the generous sprinkle of flaky sea salt definitely makes these a gourmet chocolate chip cookie that you should try making this fall.

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Rye-Cranberry Chocolate-Chunk Poppy Seed Cookies
Makes 15 large cookies
From NYTimes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (130 grams) medium rye flour
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (85 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter at cool room temperature
  • ½ cup (100 grams) sugar
  • ½ cup (100 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  •  cup (50 grams) poppy seeds
  •  cup (80 grams) moist, plump dried cranberries (I did this by steeping my dried cranberries in hot water for about 15 minutes)
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
  •  Flake salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling

PREPARATION

  1. Whisk together the rye flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, sea salt and baking soda; set aside.
  2. Working with a mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment, if you have one), beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed for 3 minutes, until blended; scrape the bowl as needed. Add the egg, and beat 2 minutes more. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients all at once, then pulse the mixer a few times to begin blending the ingredients. Beat on low speed until the flour almost disappears, and then add the poppy seeds, cranberries and chocolate. Mix only until incorporated. Scrape the bowl to bring the dough together.
  3. Have a baking sheet lined with parchment, foil or plastic wrap nearby. Divide the dough into 15 pieces, roll each piece into a ball between your palms and place on the baking sheet. Cover, and refrigerate the dough overnight or for up to 3 days. (If you’d like, you can wrap the balls airtight and freeze them for up to 1 month. Defrost them overnight in the fridge before baking.)
  4. When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven, and heat it to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Arrange the cookies on the sheet, leaving 2 inches between each cookie (work with half a batch at a time and keep the remaining balls of dough in the refrigerator until needed). Sprinkle each cookie with a little flake salt, crushing it between your fingers as you do.
  5. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, pull the baking sheet from the oven and, using a metal spatula, a pancake turner or the bottom of a glass, tap each cookie lightly. Let the cookies rest on the sheet for 3 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a rack. Repeat with the remaining dough, always using cold dough and a cool baking sheet.
  6. Serve after the cookies have cooled for about 10 minutes, or wait until they reach room temperature.

Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies

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You may think a chocolate chip cookie cannot be improved upon, but what if I told you it could just have a little bit of pizzazz by adding tahini paste? Tahini is sesame ground up, until it reaches a creamy consistency. It adds a bit of nuttiness and savoriness to your standard chocolate chip cookie without a distinct sesame taste.

This recipe should be followed as-is with no substitutions and changes – even the size of the cookie and the timing has been perfectly calibrated to give the cookie a soft, chewy interior. Beware if you use silicone baking mats like I do – your cookies won’t get to a golden brown but they will be done after the designated amount of time.

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Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies
From the NYTimes
Makes 12-18 3-inch cookies

4 ounces/113 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
½ cup/120 milliliters tahini, well stirred
1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons/150 grams all-purpose flour, or matzo cake meal (See tip)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ¾ cups/230 grams chocolate chips or chunks, bittersweet or semisweet
Flaky salt, like fleur de sel or Maldon

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, tahini and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla and continue mixing at medium speed for another 5 minutes.

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt into a large bowl and mix with a fork. Add flour mixture to butter mixture at low speed until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to fold in chocolate chips. Dough will be soft, not stiff. Refrigerate at least 12 hours; this ensures tender cookies.

When ready to bake, heat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick baking mat. Use a large ice cream scoop or spoon to form dough into 12 to 18 balls.

Place the cookies on the baking sheet at least 3 inches apart to allow them to spread. Bake 13 to 16 minutes until just golden brown around the edges but still pale in the middle to make thick, soft cookies. As cookies come out of the oven, sprinkle sparsely with salt. Let cool at least 20 minutes on a rack.

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies by Ocean Spray

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This is the third oatmeal cranberry white chocolate cookie recipe I’ve posted on my blog, the others being Cooks’ Illustrated and Serious Eats, and I think this one is one of the more successful ones. (Got my coworkers’ stamp of approval!) I usually have little faith in corporate recipes and I don’t believe them to be as rigorously tested as other baking blogs, but I decided to give this one a shot because it had a surprisingly low sugar-to-cookie ratio and it also looked really easy.

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And it turned out great! I loved that it wasn’t too sweet, and it felt almost healthful in certain bites. I feel like most cookie recipes tend to be overly sweet, and I usually have no problems reducing sugar by 1/4 cup or so to no ill effect. The other perk of this recipe is that it bakes at a slightly higher temperature of 375F than the standard 350F, so it didn’t spread out too much, had a crisp edge but still retained a chewy center.

Since it is an Ocean Spray recipe, I found that the 5 oz portion of cranberries that was listed was excessive and I only used about 3 oz, or until the cookie dough looked sufficiently studded with cranberries.

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Ocean Spray
Makes approximately 40 two-bite sized cookies

2/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 oz dried cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Homemade Tim Tams

It’s been so long since I last updated my baking blog! But this comeback recipe would be well worth your time – it is a homemade version of my most favorite cookie ever (and I don’t use superlatives lightly) – the Tim Tam!

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Tim Tams are chocolate overloads in a little package. You have a chocolate biscuit sandwich with a malty chocolate buttercream filling, which is then dipped into creamy chocolate. Chocolate3! My next favorite cookie are probably Loackers and I enjoy it for the same reason I do Tim Tams – that textural contrast, mmm. Note that Tim Tams and Loackers are from Australia and Italy respectively. America, can you please step up your cookie game?! Happy to take any recommendations.

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Here’s a close-up cross-section of the cookie. I think what really elevates the cookie is the malted chocolate filling. I don’t even know how to describe the taste of malt. I just spent five minutes Googling it and it looks like the Internet doesn’t know either. To me, it tastes like nostalgia and afternoon snacks composed of Milo drinks and Hup Seng cream crackers.

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These guys know what’s up!

Anyway, Whoppers (or Maltesers, for my Commonwealth folk) have a malt interior.

Now that I have expounded upon my love for this cookie, let me nerd out about the recipe I tried. The cookie made surely wasn’t perfect, but I’ve analyzed what exactly to watch out for to ensure utmost approximation to the original cookie.

  • I tried both a dark chocolate and a milk chocolate coating. I used Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Dark Chocolate for the other half batch and I would recommend using more coconut oil than recommended to compensate for the lower fat content in the dark chocolate. The coating on the dark chocolate Tim Tams were more of a crisp shell than a creamy coating, which is not ideal.
  • Use good quality  chocolate to better approximate the high quality chocolate that Commonwealth countries get, i.e. not that sour chalky Hershey crap. I used American-produced Cadbury milk chocolate and that tasted decent.
  • Try as much as possible to roll the cookies to a 1/4 inch. It’ll also help with ensuring cookie crispness. You want that nice contrast between crunchy cookie and creamy chocolate.
  • Dip the cookie sandwiches sparingly into the melted chocolate. Otherwise, the chocolate coating ratio goes all awry.

Enough talk, on to the recipe! I made very minor edits to the source.

Homemade Tim Tams
Adapted from Elizabeth LaBau, originally from The Sugar Hit Cookbook
Serves: 14 Tim Tams
Ingredients
For the Cookies:
  • 4 oz (115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup, or 115 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 oz (1/3 cup, or 30 g) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 5½ oz (1 cup, or 150 g) all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
For the Filling:
  • 4 oz (115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz (1 cup, or 115 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp malted drink powder (like Ovaltine or Horlicks)
For the Coating:
  • 10 oz (280 g) milk or dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (if using dark chocolate, use 1.5 tbsp)
Instructions
To Make the Cookies:
  1. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and cream until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl, and add the egg and continue beating until the egg is incorporate and the mixture lightens in color. Add the cocoa powder and beat until there are no lumps. Finally, fold through the flour and salt until it is all incorporated. The dough will be very soft.
  2. Scrape the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper. Add a second sheet of paper on top, and roll out the dough between the two sheets until it is a rectangle about ¼-inch thick. Place the dough on a tray and freeze it for 30 minutes, or refrigerate it for 1-2 hours, until firm.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  4. Cut the chilled dough into 28 small 1¼ in x 2½ in rectangles. Place them in evenly spaced intervals on the baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet.
To Make the Filling:
  1. Cream the butter until soft, then sift in the remaining ingredients and beat until light and fluffy. Spread a heaping teaspoon of filling on half of the cookies, or transfer the frosting to a piping bag and pipe an even layer of filling on half of the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies, then put in the refrigerator to chill while you make the coating.
To Assemble:
  1. For the coating, place the chocolate and coconut oil in a heat-proof bowl and melt them together in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating. Once the chocolate is mostly melted, remove and stir gently until smooth.
  2. Using a fork or dipping tools, dip a chilled cookie in the melted chocolate and place it back on the baking sheet. If you want to create a wavy pattern on top of the cookies, lightly press the tines of the fork or dipping tool to the top while the chocolate is still wet. Repeat until all of the cookies are dipped. Chill in the refrigerator, then devour!

Chewy-Crispy Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These are the second oatmeal cranberry white chocolate cookie recipe on this blog, the first being a Cooks’ Illustrated version I posted five years ago. Wow, has it really been that long? Anyhow, the cranberry-white chocolate flavor combination is very fall/winter, but it finally feels legitimately like spring in New York – I think my cookies must have chased the cold away. These cookies weren’t quite what I was hoping them to be. They turned out a little flat, but they did have crisp edges and a chewy centre as promised by the recipe. It’ll serve to please both crisp and chewy cookie-lovers alike. The caramelized flavor is strong on the edges, but tempers out when you encounter wholesome rolled oats and tart cranberries in the middle.

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Chewy-Crispy Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes approximately 40 cookies
From Serious Eats

Ingredients

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cups (about 6 1/4 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
3/4 cup (about 6 ounces) light brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips

1
In a small bowl, combine oats and water; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt; set aside. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. As soon as it’s melted, remove from heat and stir in sugar and brown sugar. Add egg, stirring quickly until incorporated. Add flour mixture to the pan and stir to combine. Stir in oats, cranberries, and white chocolate. Cover dough with plastic wrap and put in freezer for at least 2 hours.

2
Adjust oven rack to lower and upper middle positions and preheat oven to 350°F. Drop cookies by the rounded tablespoon (I did 20-22 grams) onto prepared cookie sheets and bake until brown on top, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely before moving.

Chocolate Speckled Salted Shortbread

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I wanted to get back into my baking groove, and instead of being paralyzed by the wide variety of recipes at my disposal, I decided to keep it sweet and simple: a bare bones shortbread recipe. It was also easy to shape – all I needed to do was press it flat with my hands and cut it up into little rectangles. Sometimes, even balling cookie globs can be quite tedious when all you want to do is just end up with a finished product.

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I’m actually really surprised by how tasty these are for the amount of effort. The texture is light and crumbly, and the cookies truly melt in your mouth. Taking care to actually shave a bar of semi-sweet chocolate down into little flakes adds so much more dimension to an otherwise standard-issue butter shortbread cookie – it fulfills chocolatey cravings but imparts more flavor than cloying richness to the cookie. The cookie is also on the salty side, so you may want to skip the coarse salt topping.

Overall, this would make a great tea-time snack.

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Chocolate Speckled Salted Shortbread
From Bake or Break

Ingredients

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 & 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 ounces dark chocolate, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon water, if necessary
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, such as fleur de sel

Instructions

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until fluffy.

Reduce mixer speed to low. Sift flour, add salt to flour, then add to mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate.

Dough will be crumbly but should hold together when pinched. If dough is not holding together, mix in 1 tablespoon water. Don’t be afraid to dig your hands in to mix it all up if it’s not coming together properly in the mixer.

Form dough into 2 balls and flatten into discs. Wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disc of dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut dough into 1″x 2″ strips. Carefully transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake 18-22 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool on pans for 10 minutes. Then, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Light and Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These cookies were inspired by a mom’s homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that she had sent to her (adult) children. When I was vacationing in California and visiting a friend, he opened up a package he had just received from his mom and inside was a big tupperware of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Having felt deprived of honest-to-goodness homemade food for a while, those cookies were manna for my hungry soul. Oatmeal cookies tend to get a bit of a bad rap because of those darn raisins that fool you into thinking that they are chocolate, but those cookies were all oatmeal chew with the deliciousness of chocolate and none of that raisin deception. I did a bit of research on the Internet for a recipe that would replicate those cookies’ chewy yet light texture, and I struck gold with this one. Just look at the alluring crackly tops in these cookies!

I’m typically all for a chewy cookie, but chewy cookies tend to be a little denser, and I wanted something that had some levity to it. This Cooking Light recipe seemed like it might be a good fit, and the 1/3 cup of butter confirmed my intuitions. The cookie itself has a crisp exterior, and a chewy interior due to underbaking it just a touch.

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Baking soda and baking powder lent volume to the cookie, while oatmeal added bulk and texture without the density of flour. Pecan pieces added just a right touch of crunch. Instead of using chocolate chips, I used semisweet Trader Joe’s Pound Plus chocolate, chopped it up into small, almost flaky pieces, which adds subtle chocolate flavoring here and there, with an occasional melty chunk. I used 1/2 cup less sugar than the recipe recommended and it was still sweet enough. Since these cookies are meant to be light, use a weighing scale to measure out your ingredients as far as possible.

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In the vein of Louis CK, you don’t stop eating these cookies when you’re full – you stop eating when you realize you have just eaten 7 of these at a go and nothing else for the day.

Light and Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Cooking Light
Makes 3 dozen

1 1/4 cups (150g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (80g) old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (100g) packed brown sugar
1/3 cup (75g) butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/4 cup (60g) chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 cup (48g) semisweet high quality chocolate, chopped

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt), stirring with a whisk; set aside.
Place sugars and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add vanilla and egg; beat until blended. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Stir in pecans and chocolate. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until edges of cookies are lightly browned. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.