One of the things I miss about Christmas is having an excuse to bake a lot. I don’t cook that much anymore (which I’m vowing to change in the near future), but I truly do love it and baking is one of my favorite things to do. It’s meditative to me, and I just love spreading a little cheer with cookies. I can’t eat as much of my baked goods anymore due to my suspected gluten sensitivity, so while I like to make these things, I often don’t want them in the house! Especially because I have the world’s worst sweet tooth. Come January, for three whole weeks, I’m going to be doing an elimination diet–so I won’t be eating gluten, eggs, sugar, and a whole host of things. I’m actually looking forward to it! It’s not forever, and I need to figure out what’s happening with my body.
It’s the holidays, so I decided to make cookies. Lots of cookies. But I came down with an evil mutant cold, which delayed cookie-making until the very last minute. I ended up just making my extra special chocolate chip cookies that are really my favorite cookies–intending to send some along with my roommate for his trip back East.
I decided to share the recipe with y’all since I can’t give most of you a cookie personally. They’re a bit of work, and you could probably do them gluten-free. But since I am not much of a gluten-free baker, I am making no attempts to try that now. Try this recipe when you have about an hour to kill and it’s snowing outside.
This is really just a standard chocolate chip cookie dough recipe with a few twists snuck in. The trick to this is more in the technique and super-high-quality ingredients. A good insulated cookie sheet is helpful as well. You can adjust the “goodies” to taste–as long as your total doesn’t exceed 2 cups.
Three-Way Chocolate Cherry Chunk Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen small-ish cookies or about 2 dozen big ones. I prefer the big ones. Or you can just dump some dough in a big pile on a cookie sheet. Those are good too.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a small bowl, dump about 1/2 cup of dried cherries–aim for the tart ones rather than the sweet ones (or up to a cup, if you like them a lot). You could do this with any dried fruit. Apricots and cranberries would be really nice.
- Add some amaretto liquor to the cherries (not too much–1/4 cup), microwave for about 30 seconds, and let sit. You can dilute this with water if they’re too boozy. Let them sit and soak up the liquid.
- In a big bowl–one much larger than you need, preferably glass–dump 2 sticks (1 cup) of the very best butter you can find. I like Kerry Gold. Make sure the butter is super-soft–softer than you think it should be. If it’s not soft enough, let it sit a bit longer or microwave it in 15 second increments until the right temperature.
- Whisk the butter in the bowl until aerated and smooth. Add 1 cup of white sugar and 1 cup of packed light brown sugar to the bowl, in increments, stirring with the whisk so that there are no lumps. You could use vanilla sugar or dark brown sugar or any number of specialty sugars you like. I don’t recommend using a mixer for this. It’s easier, but there is a real difference. Your arms will get a nice workout making these cookies.
- Once that’s all combined and smooth, add 2 eggs, one at a time and beat really well after each addition. Add 2 tsps of really good vanilla extract. You could use almond extract or any other flavoring you’d like. Orange might be yummy, too. Beat well.
- Add 1 tsp of kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp of normal salt). Stir well. You can adjust the salt to your taste to increase the salty-sweet thing–up to you. Stir well.
- Add 2 tsps of hot water to a small bowl. Add 1 tsp of baking soda to the bowl and stir. Add this mix to the butter mix and stir really well. This helps create a crispy exterior with a chewy interior.
- Add 3 cups of all-purpose flour, in 1/2 cup increments, to the butter mix. The dough will get really stiff, and you’ll probably think you’ve added too much flour. Keep stirring. It will be just fine.
- Dump your cherries (and any remaining liquid) into the dough. Add 1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts or macadamias or almonds–anything that floats your boat, really). Add 1/2 cup of dark chocolate. Add 1/2 cup of white chocolate. Add 1/2 cup of milk chocolate. The three chocolates really make these special. You don’t have to add all of them if you don’t want to. I prefer to buy big candy bars of the best chocolate I can find and then chop them up myself. But it’s totally fine to use chips. Just splurge for the good stuff.
- Stir up until well distributed. You will build some muscles.
- Place on cookie sheets. It’s helpful to kind of make them into a ball and then pile up a little more dough on them. It makes your cookies more three-dimensional. These cookies won’t spread that much, but give them some good room.
- Bake for about 10 minutes. You want the cookie tops to be just slightly browned. Let cool completely before moving them, or they might fall apart. Serve with ice cream or milk. 🙂