Cranberry and Dark Chocolate Cookies

Today I’m taking a break from the Italy posts and telling you about these rather wonderful, amazing, addictive cookies. They’re perfect for an afternoon snack – especially when you get home exhausted from the day and are even better late in the evening, past the hour of acceptable consumption, eaten on the couch, with a trashy movie. I was also going to make a pear tart tomorrow but some of the children I’m working with at the moment are baking bread and I’m going to have to go into school so I figured I’d share these with you today instead.

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I made these on Sunday in a fit of energetic inspiration and they’re still good, two days later. I suspect they last a while. They’re dense and bitter with dark chocolate which is broken by the sudden, unexpected sweetness of the cranberries. I think it’s a bit of a take on Christmas cookies made with white chocolate and cranberry and being that my current state of mind is a bit like a child on Christmas eve, I feel they’re appropriate. These are adapted from Bouchon Bakery, a book with which I am slightly obsessed. It’s Thomas Keller’s latest book. I have referred to The French Laundry Cookbook before. I am obsessed with the way they make brioche. The man is a genius. I want to make pretty much everything in the book and have already been converted to his shortcrust pastry, which I will tell you about at some point. But first, these cookies.

I adapted the recipe from Chocolate Chunk and Chip cookies. I couldn’t find any recipes that called for white chocolate and cranberry so I gave up and decided to do my own thing with one of the recipes that looked like it would take a lot of dark chocolate and some dried fruit. I never have chocolate chips in the house, mostly because I prefer to use chocolate that I can chop, so I used all regular chocolate, chopped roughly. Keller says that the chips hold their consistency whilst the chunks of chopped chocolate melt. I find they melt a little but overall hold quite well in the cookie. There’s enough dark bitter chunk for me to be satisfied. Keller’s recipes are extremely precise (60g of egg for example) so mine is an adapted version of his recipe. I did weigh everything (including the egg!) but I used golden caster sugar instead of granulated, black treacle instead of molasses, chocolate chopped into chunks for the entire chocolate amount required, and finally, I added in 100g of cranberries. This makes quite a few cookies. The instructions are to divide the dough into 6 equal portions, at 150g each and then cook three on a tray. 150g seems a tad excessive to me so I weighed them at 50g and cooked six on a tray and still had them spread together slightly (in a totally manageable way) so I feel like 150g is way excessive a weight for a cookie.

Cranberry and Dark Chocolate Cookies

Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery

240g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

135g dark brown sugar

15g black treacle

105g golden caster sugar

120g dark chocolate, 70%

170g butter, unsalted, room temperature

100g cranberries

60g egg (I weighed the egg and filled to 60g with buttermilk)

Place the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a bowl. Stir and set aside. Beat the butter in a warm bowl (Keller says until it looks like mayonnaise) but I think it’s better described as thick and fluffy. (I heated the bowl with hot water and dried it before adding the already partially softened butter. I didn’t feel the need to reheat the bowl, although he says you can.) Mix the two sugars and treacle together as best you can. (I think the aim of this is to be rid of the lumps that sometimes arise in very dark sugars). Roughly chop the chocolate and then the cranberries.

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Add the sugars to the butter and beat until lighter and fluffy – about four minutes. Then beat in the egg (if necessary weighed to 60g with extra buttermilk). Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

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Add the flour mixture in two additions. I switched to a spatula here, to fold the flour in. Lastly fold in the cranberries and dark chocolate pieces. The key thing is to not over mix.

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Now cover the bowl in clingfilm and refrigerate for half an hour. (Gives you time to wash the dishes…)

Line two trays with baking paper and preheat the oven to 160C.

Using an ice-cream scoop, weigh the mixture into 50g portions. Roll these between your palms and then squish them down onto the baking tray, lightly.

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Bake for about 15 minutes, until they’re golden brown. (The thumb test doesn’t work with these cookies). Remove from the oven and cool on the trays for 10 minutes before cooling completely on a wire rack.

I made about 24 cookies and they’re still good at the end of day two…

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