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Chocolate Cherry Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

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What did you give your mother for Mother’s Day? My new-ish tradition is baking cookies (I know, shocking for someone who professes to hate baking cookies, but I make this sacrifice for some). Cookies have won out over other gifts because they’re easy to ship, and who doesn’t like a cookie? Really. Can you think of even one person that you know who doesn’t like cookies? If so, they are possibly not human. Check on that.

This year I made these cookies from Cooks Illustrated. I like the tart cherries and bittersweet chocolate…combined with chewy oatmeal, caramel-y dark brown sugar, and toasted nuts. The original recipe calls for pecans, but I didn’t have any on hand. I might like walnuts better, anyways…

It’s a pretty easy recipe and at least there’s no rolling and cutting involved. A little of this, a little of that, and bada bing, bada boom… cookies.

Actually, the cherries I used in these tasty cookies aren’t bing cherries. Those are a sweet eating variety. This recipe calls for sour or tart dried cherries – and they do make your mouth pucker. In a good way.

Just make sure you chop up the dried cherries into smaller pieces before adding them to the dough. I forgot to do this for about half of them in the batch that I made. So, when you bite into the cookie, you definitely know you’ve hit a cherry! Smaller bits might have been better (sorry, mom!).

About sour cherries: After doing some reading, it seems the majority of the sour cherries in the U.S. are of the Montmorency variety (also the name of a French duke who was viceroy to New France in the 1600s and then I suppose the reason behind the name of a county in Michigan and a waterfall in Quebec). They ripen in late July, later than most sweet varieties. California grows mostly the sweet variety; the sour ones are grown primarily in Michigan, Utah, New York and Washington.

However, I did find a farm listed for pick-your-own sour cherries in Brentwood, CA, about 55 miles from San Francisco. If you go, bring a picnic, it makes for a fun day (peaches, plums, cherries, blackberries, strawberries and more). Just be prepared to bake a mountain of pies and do a lot of freezing later (fruit for smoothies and fruit sauces all winter long!).

Chocolate Cherry Walnut Oatmeal Cookies
- about 30 small-medium cookies -

(adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

1 ¼ c flour
¼ t baking powder
½ t baking soda
½ t salt
1 ¼ c oatmeal
1 c walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 c dried sour cherries, chopped
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (either chop up bars or get chips; Ghirardelli is good)
12 T unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ c packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixer, beat butter and sugar until lump-free and fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl and add the egg and vanilla. Beat about 30 seconds until incorporated.

In a separate large bowl, mix together dry ingredients (flour through oatmeal). In another bowl, mix together nuts, cherries and chocolate.

With mixer on low, slowly add flour mixture until just incorporated. Then add chocolate/cherry/nut mixture, again, just until combined. Turn off mixer and scrape down beater, sides and give it a stir with a spatula to make sure all is mixed in.

Refrigerate the dough at least an hour (or overnight).

With a teaspoon or tablespoon (depending on how large you want the cookies), scoop dough and then roll a ball in your hands. Place on parchment paper. Press dough slightly flat with your fingers. Make sure you give them about an inch of space on each side, they spread quite a bit. On a large cookie sheet, I got about 3 across.

Bake about 8-10 minutes; switch cookie sheets (top rack to bottom rack; bottom rack to top rack) to ensure even cooking (depends on your oven). Cook about 3 minutes more, or until cookies are just starting to brown around the edges. Centers should still look soft.

Remove from oven; let sit 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Repeat!

Cookie should be bendy and chewy when cooled, not crispy.

    2 Comments

    1. Beth says:

      Quaker makes a granola bar version of this cookie named, aptly, “Quaker Chewy Granola Bar – Dark Chocolate Cherry.” I’ll bet the cookie version is far superior. ;)

    2. S bonz says:

      I’ve been the recent lucky recipient of these cookies and I can tell you that they are delicious. They are a bit chewy which I love and you are not quite sure if there are cranberries or something a bit more tart. It turns out that they are sour dried cherries and they mix so well with the chocolate and the nuts. I hope that I have time to make them but if I don’t I hope that someone will send me more someday!

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