Sunday, January 22, 2012

Homemade Cranberry Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies (sort of)

Snow.  It's pretty.  But it's also cold.  Very cold.
Did I just haiku?
One of the big changes I made when I moved to New York is that I'm now car-less.  While there are perks (no more gas bill! no more oil changes!), sometimes I really miss my car.  Especially when I'm running errands.  Why?  Because now, I literally run errands.  Combine that with the cold, and I can easily talk myself out of doing anything.  "Um, the hardware store is 7 blocks away. I didn't really need lightbulbs, right?  I mean I can go another week without any light source in my kitchen."

This is a true story, by the way.  I have fancy (read: really really old) lights that burned out on Day 3.  It took me 3 months to figure out how to get these effin vintage lightbulbs out of their sockets so I could take them to the hardware store.  The hardware store guy seriously marveled at them.  I'm pretty sure he's taking them to the nearest museum.  But I digress.  

I miraculously got all of my errands done this morning, despite sloshing around in the snowy, bone-chilling 18 degree weather.  So, what to do with the rest of my chilly winter Sunday afternoon?  Why bake, of course!
I made these.  No need to wonder--yes, they were really, really good.
Since today is a Very Important Football Day, I wanted to do something rather quick so I could still catch the games.  I visited my local organic grocery store, because it's the closest store to my place (again, I'm cold).  I was intrigued by an organic chocolate chip cookie mix so I dropped that in my basket. But I like to add my own twist, and I love superstuffed, full-of-awesomeness chunky monkey cookies, so I also chose organic walnuts and plump dried cranberries. 

Sweet, luscious cranberries and crunchy walnuts
The mix was very easy to follow, and just required butter and eggs, along with my pizazzy additions. 

All of the ingredients, in my now brightly lit kitchen.
Step 1: I first beat the softened butter and eggs with a blender.  Note: I don't eat a lot of eggs so Egg Beaters tend to come in handy. I keep it in the fridge all the time for cookie emergencies. 

Blending the butter and eggs.  We're off to a good start.

Step 2: I added the chocolate chip cookie dough mix, massaged it into the wet ingredients with my hands.  This is a great mixing method because the warmth of your hands helps to melt the butter and gently adheres the dough together.  But more importantly, I get to eat whatever dough ends up on my fingers.  
I love cookie dough.  Sometimes I stop at this step.
Step 3: Add awesomeness.  This can be absolutely anything (I briefly considered almonds and apricots), but I was in a cranberry and walnut mood.
Crammed full of cranberries and walnuts.
Step 4: Make little round balls and place them on your greased cookie pan.  I eyeballed them.  I like my cookies huge and chunky, so instead of the recommended 24, I doubled up and made 12.  

Perfect little cookie dough balls.  About to be ruined in the oven.
Step 5: The mix recommended baking them for 9 minutes, but because I doubled their size, I baked them for 12 and then watched them carefully.  They needed another 3 minutes or so to be lightly browned.  I hate overbaked cookies, so I tend to pull them earlier than recommended so they remain soft and not overly crispy.
Sweet, crunchy, soft and warm= cookie heaven.
Step 6: Let them cool.  Please.  I've always found this rule hilarious.  If you actually wait for them to cool, my hat goes off to you, my friend.  I like them best when hot out of the oven.  And I needed to test them, so I picked one up and took a bite.  Oh wow.  Warm and a bit crumbly, the creamy chocolate chips combined with the crunchy walnuts and the spike of sweet and plump cranberries were a perfectly delightful mix.  

Note: these are somewhat healthy, because of the fruit (antioxidants!), nuts (good fat!) and chocolate (more antioxidants!). Another note: Yes, I know I'm grasping at straws. 
I may have tried 2 more.  Then I waited for them to cool (See, I can follow directions.  Sometimes), and gently placed them in a ziplock bag.  

I always bake with someone in mind--it's amazing how something as small as a homemade cookie can bring someone so much joy.  Also, while I probably could, I should not eat an entire batch of cookies.  So tomorrow, the rest of the Cranberry Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies will be given to my super, Jose, who is one of the hardest working, nicest people I've ever met.  He also lights up whenever I bake for him.  We both win. :)

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