Tuesday, May 28, 2013

oatmeal pecan cherry chocolate chunk cookies.

With the unofficial arrival of summer, I've found myself in the kitchen a lot this past weekend, whipping up batches of cookies and dishes of fruit crumble.  I'm one of those people that if you invite me to your home or over for a BBQ or to spend the weekend with you at your awesome beach house that you can pretty much guarantee I will show up with a large container of sweets.  It's my way of expressing gratitude and my way of (hopefully) ensuring I always get asked back.  I have recipes for cookies I can whip up in my sleep, recipes that have never ever done me wrong, recipes that I can throw any random dried fruit or chunk of chocolate into and I will always end up with something satisfying which is exactly why I love this recipe.  This is the kind of cookie that makes you nostalgic for childhood and the lunches your Mom would pack for you as you headed off to camp.  It reminds me of beaches and pools and the scent of sunscreen.  It reminds me of summer and the treasures one can find in the cooler after an afternoon of swimming.  This cookie is soft and tender with wonderfully crispy edges and a soft chewy interior.  While it's perfect with just the oats, pecans and chocolate chunks, I find that the addition of the dried cherries is what takes these cookies from good to wonderful.  The cherries add a level of tartness that balances out all the other components and also makes them a little more interesting and a little more special.  And special is always good when you are showing up with gifts.  

Oatmeal Pecan Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Recipe from Martha Stewart but adapted with the dried cherries from Dinah Baken

Makes about 30 4-inch cookies 

This recipe is as adaptable as can be.  I've thrown pretty much anything and everything into these cookies including toffee bits, raisins, and walnuts.  As long as you keep the ratio the same you can add in whatever you want.  This dough also freezes rather well so I love to make a batch, form them into balls, and throw them in the freezer to bake up as needed (or to eat raw straight from the freezer which I have no shame in admitting I've done before.  Numerous times.).  You can also halve it easily but that would be a foolish thing to do.  

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk
2 large eggs
3 cups old-fashioned oats
12 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or a bar cut into chunks
1 1/3 cups (5 ounces) toasted pecans, coarsely chopped 
3/4 cup dried cherries

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set dry ingredients aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter with both sugars; beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, milk, and eggs; mix well. Add reserved dry ingredients, and beat until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer, and fold in oats, chocolate, pecans, and cherries. Place dough in the refrigerator until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. Remove dough from refrigerator. Using an ice-cream scoop, shape into 2-inch-diameter balls. Place six balls on each baking sheet, spaced 4 inches apart.

Transfer to oven. Bake until golden, but still soft in center, 15 to 16 minutes. Remove from oven, and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Store in an airtight container up to 2 days.

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