Cranberry white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies: Learning to love the unexpected

Cranberry white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies ... fresh from the oven!

Cranberry white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies … fresh from the oven!

One of the best things about marriage – and dating in general, I suppose, but marriage tends to make you work harder at this and make it stick – is getting to love the things your spouse loves. You learn how to do things you would have never tried; for me, that’s been chopping wood, for instance, which is really quite exciting and a good upper body workout. You go places you might have avoided if traveling on your own; I’d not have taken a cruise, and my husband would’ve never visited France on his own. You taste new foods and learn to enjoy something you thought was just so-so previously.

For us, this last point has been a biggie. I’m constantly trying to get my picky-eating husband to try new foods he’s never eaten before, from something as commonplace as s’mores to the less common silken carrot soup. He keeps surprising me by listing foods he’s simply never tried; I don’t know if his family never ate them or if they just never looked appetizing enough to bite into (in the case of sushi, one can understand). But sometimes he surprises me by what he does like.

Such as white chocolate …

Oh, he likes milk chocolate, like most Americans, but he doesn’t really enjoy dark chocolate – which I crave, and crave, and crave…. But white chocolate? It’s definitely his chocolate of choice; bring on the Hershey’s white chocolate cookies-n-cream bars! But me? I admit to being a chocolate snob. Evidence:

“White chocolate? That’s not chocolate – it’s just cocoa butter, sugar, and vanilla!”

Yeah, I’m a snob. I admit it and I apologize. But I am right that it might be technically considered chocolate since it doesn’t contain any cocoa solids; the FDA actually says it must contain at least 20% cocoa butter to be called “white chocolate” (as opposed to being made of cheaper forms of solid fat – eww), else it’s a “candy.” But fine white chocolate can be deliciously mellow and subtly sweet; think Lindt and Godiva. After all, who doesn’t like vanilla? (Nobody, that’s who.) I just didn’t used to appreciate white chocolate’s quiet appeal; I’d rather have 60%+ of cocoa solids screaming at my taste buds, peppered with notes of mint, salted caramel, orange peel, you name it. But until my husband urged me to bake cookies with white chocolate chips, I really didn’t go near them until I had to. Which was never.

A pile 'o cranberry white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies ... one for me, one for you, one for....

A pile ‘o cranberry white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies … one for me, one for you, one for….

These cookies are great to bring to a party – which I first did to some sort of in-law family function years ago, I believe – because they’re benign enough to please everyone. Yes, white chocolate and cranberries are a “standard” combination nowadays (where are the pistachios, you ask?!), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good. These cookies are delicious: chewy yet full of texture thanks to the oatmeal, sweet due to the chocolate and cranberries, and buttery smooth while still tasting light.

But the best thing about these cookies? My husband likes them – loves them. He may choose Nestle Tollhouse-like chocolate chip cookie over this, but only for the first cookie. I enjoy watching him eat these with relish – something he rarely does with food (unless it’s pastrami or pizza). That makes it all worth it.

And you know what? Now, I like these, too, white chocolate and all. I hope you and your loved ones like them also.

Cranberry white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed (light brown would work also)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

In a large bowl or the mixing bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment fitted, beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add the sugars and salt, then beat until fluffy. It’s really important not to skimp on the beating, because that incorporates air into the dough improves its texture. Add the eggs and vanilla, and continue to beat the batter until pale yellow and fluffy.

Add half the flour, stirring gently with a large spoon; I hand-mix my dry ingredients to minimize gluten chain formation in the dough, as I think electric mixers have a tendency to toughen cookie dough. Stir in the remaining flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix until just combined, then add the oats by hand. When those are just barely incorporated, add the chocolate chips and cranberries by hand. Again, stir until just barely incorporated.

Preheat the oven to 350F and refrigerate the dough while the oven heats. Prepare a baking sheet with a Silpat liner or parchment paper. Drop spoonfuls of dough (I use a 1″ scoop) onto the prepared sheet and immediately place in the oven. Bake for 12-14 minutes; you don’t want the edges to brown, but the center should just be past the point of wet. Leave on the baking sheet for one minute before removing to a wire rack to cool. When the cookies are cooled (you’ll only know by testing them…), store in an airtight container. I’d tell you a “best before” date, but mine have never been around long enough to worry about that.

Note: These cookies are best when still chewy, so stick a small heel of bread in the storage container to pass its moisture on to the cookies. 

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