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.

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.

No Bake Homemade Cranberry Chocolate Oat Clif Bars

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I’m a big fan of Clif chocolate brownie bars. They’re only a dollar at Trader Joe’s, taste like a brownie, and unlike Luna Bars, don’t have rice crispies in them. I might have discovered the holy grail to making no-bake, gluten-free sweets that taste very similar to Clif bars – Medjool dates. By themselves, they are sweet, chewy, and have a rich caramelly flavor that makes me think of chocolate. However, I do find them a tad bit dense, and they are fairly caloric (about 60-70 calories per date; for context, an average apple is about 90 calories). However, their sticky nature means they act as an effective binder when blended in with oats and other nuts.

I browsed around for some recipes, and it is really great how flexible this recipe is. Some combination of dates and oats along with almond flour and other berries would work well. I think this would be a pretty good hiking mix since it’s so compact and easy to eat, but note that there isn’t a ton of protein in it compared to the Clif bars. I made my version with cranberries and cocoa powder, but I imagine you can switch up the flavors as you like, using dates (to bind) and almond flour (for protein) as a base. I imagine raisins, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, maple syrup, and honey would work well here too. I also used a Vitamix to blend the ingredients since I don’t have a food processor, but that seemed to work out fine.

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No Bake Homemade Cranberry Chocolate Oat Clif Bars
Makes 6-8 snack-sized bars

120g Medjool dates, pitted (10-12 dates)
3/4 almond flour (or 1 cup raw almonds)
1/2 cup cranberries
1 cup oats
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup water

Put everything in a food processor and blend till it is reasonably mixed up. You still want some chunks, so no need to puree it up. Mold it with your hands into balls or bars, and either eat right away if you’re hungry, or refrigerate so it hardens up.

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies


One of the best recipes I’ve found. Right amount of cragginess, crispy and chewy, great texture. The use of brown sugar adds a pronounced molasses flavour. I overbaked them a little, but chilling them before baking helps to preserve height and cragginess.

Cooks’ Illustrated Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Cookie
Adapted from Cooks’ Illustrated
Makes 8 cookies

5/8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
5/8 cups rolled oats , old-fashioned
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/8 cup white chocolate chips
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
3/4 cups packed brown sugar , preferably dark
2 tbsp large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions; heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 1 large (18 by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. In second medium bowl, stir together oats, cranberries, and white chocolate.

3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until no sugar lumps remain, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula; add egg and vanilla and beat on medium-low speed until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl; with mixer running at low speed, add flour mixture; mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. With mixer still running on low, gradually add oat mixture; mix until just incorporated.

Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.

4. Divide dough evenly into 8 portions, each about 1/4 cup, then roll between palms into balls about 2 inches in diameter; stagger 8 balls on each baking sheet, spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart. Using hands, gently press each dough ball to 1 inch thickness. Chill for 30 minutes. Bake both baking sheets 12 minutes, rotate them front to back and top to bottom, then continue to bake until cookies are medium brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will seem underdone and will appear raw, wet, and shiny in cracks), 8 to 10 minutes longer. Do not overbake.

5. Cool cookies on baking sheets on wire rack 5 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.