Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies - Cookie Baking Tips

With winter upon us I like to make cookies, especially when it's snowing outside. So today I'm making a simple, no fail recipe that most everyone enjoys.

Julian's Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies
The flavors are holiday related with cranberries and white chocolate. These have an oatmeal base and so they are also a bit chewy and not as sweet as some cookies, which is another reason I like them.

Today I also wanted to share some common cookie tips, as I'm often asked why cookies don't come out the way you expect them to.

Test Cookies:  My number one suggestion is to always bake a test cookie first. I know it takes an extra 10 minutes, but it's worth the time. A test cookie lets you know what the rest will be like when you bake them. It tells you how much they are likely to spread so you know how much room you need between them. Don't skip this. I do this on every cookie I make, even if I've made it many times before. After you bake the test cookie, you'll know what, if anything you need to do from the list below to improve the outcome. If you do make a change from the list below, remember to test again before you put in an entire tray.

Flavor and Shape:  The other top suggestion is to make your cookie dough at least a day in advance. Once made, refrigerate or freeze. Chilling the dough for at least 24 hours before baking improves flavor and and helps them keep a nice shape. You can freeze dough months in advance and then let it thaw in the refrigerator before use. This is actually an easy way to have cookies ready at a moments notice, letting you make the dough when you have time, then just thawing and baking when you need them.

Thicker:  If you didn't make ahead and chill and your test cookie has spread out too much and you want them thicker, freeze the cookie dough for 30 to 60 minutes before baking. This solidifies the butter, which will spread less while baking.

More Brown:  Set the oven to 360F-375F rather than the typically 350F degrees. Caramelization occurs at 356 degrees or so.

Lighter/Fluffy: If your cookies seem to dense and you want to lighten them, increase the amount of baking soda to double what is noted in the recipe.

Thick and Chewy: Substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour in your recipe if you want your cookies to be more chewy than crispy. It has a higher gluten protein content and will also spread less when baked.

Sugar Options: White sugar makes a crisper cookie than those made with brown sugar. A brown sugar based cookie will also absorb moisture after baking, helping to ensure that they stay chewy. Most chocolate chip cookie recipes contain both brown and white sugars for flavor and a middle-of-the-road outcome.

Thin and Crisp:  A tablespoon or two of water  or milk added to the cookie dough will help your cookies spread into flatter and crisper rounds.

Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

This original recipe came from OceanSpray, the makers of the dried cranberries. My version makes about 42 large (#20 scoop, slightly mounded) cookies. You could of course make smaller cookies for a larger yield count.  

1 1/3 cups butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups old-fashioned oats
3 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
10 ounces Craisins (sweetened dried cranberries)
4 ounces white chocolate, chunked
11-12 ounces white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth and mix in sugar 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 and chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoons or use a #20 cookie scoop onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silicon pads. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet for five minutes and transfer to wire rack until cooled completely.

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