Heather's Florida Kitchen

Seasonally inspired easy recipes for the home cook.

12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk: Let’s play 3 cookie catch up!

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Cranberry Walnut Cookies

I’ve been counting down the Florida Dairy Farmers’ “12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk.” With this busy holiday weekend I need to play three cookie catch up quick. Here’s Friday’s (12/16) Today we’re celebrating with Cranberry Walnut Cookies, Saturday’s (12/17) Santa’s No-Bake Thin Mints and today’s (12/18) Rosemary Polvorones. Here’s the first of the three recipes:
The combination of rich walnuts and tart cranberries creates a wonderful profile and both are ingredients associated with the season.
I prefer to mince the dried fruit, which gives the dough flecks of color and avoids pockets of unbalanced flavor. Chopping the dried fruit can be problematic for novice cooks. For expert results, carefully wipe the knife blade with vegetable oil to prevent sticking.
Walnuts and other hard shell nuts have been part of holiday traditions for generations. The ruffled flesh is relatively high in tannins, which give walnuts a bitter, dry finish, according to Epicurious.com. It’s this astringency coupled with the richness of the natural oils that make walnuts a good complement to sweeter flavors.
These two recipes were inspired by a store-bought treat from a popular mainstream supermarket chain.  I had experimented with several variations settling on this duo. I like them both. The second recipe produces a chewier, softer cookie. It was given to me by a friend a couple of years ago, and she couldn’t recall the source.
At the end of the recipes you will find another treat: A chance to win a KitchenAid Mixer and a $250 Visa Gift Card. I think Santa is a farmer.

Cranberry Walnut Cookies
Yield: About 3 dozen

3/4 cup butter flavor all-vegetable shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup minced dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Heat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. With mixer, beat shortening, granulated sugar and brown sugar until blended and creamy in texture. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in small bowl. Mix dry ingredients with whisk to evenly distribute ingredients. In batches, mix dry ingredients into shortening mixture until smooth. Stir in oats, cranberries and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoons about 2-inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
3. Bake 10-12 minutes or until light brown. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Place on cooling rack to cool completely.

Cranberry Walnut Cookies
Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup walnut pieces, toasted and chopped
1 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Combine oatmeal, flour, salt, and sugar. Whisk to evenly distribute ingredients.
3. In a saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter and cook until it turns golden brown, 5-7 minutes; remove from heat, stir in maple syrup and extract.
4. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water. Stir into browned butter mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until only a few streaks of flour remain. Fold in nuts and cranberries.
5. Using a small dough scoop, place dough about 1 to 2 inches apart on baking pans. Flatten each of the balls slightly. Bake until golden brown and set, about 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer to rack to cool. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Baking tips

  • Tools that operate like ice cream scoops are the key to a nice round shapes for cookies. The come in several sizes. In addition, the scoops use dough efficiently and uniformly, keep yields consistent.
  • If cookies are too tough, try substituting pastry flour for the all-purpose flour. Pastry flour has less protein, so it develops less gluten when worked.
  • To toast walnuts, preheat oven to 350F. Arrange whole walnuts on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, checking frequently. Cool completely. Chop as needed for recipes.

Enter to Win a KitchenAid Mixer & $250 VISA Gift Card in the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk!

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