Thursday, January 4, 2018

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Toasted Pecans and Dried Cherries

One of my New Year's resolutions is to make sure that my family is eating less processed foods this year. I admit it, I have fallen into a bad habit of buying convenience foods in the last 2 years. As a new mom and then a mom of two under two, it was just so much simpler. But I am determined to rid my house of prepackaged cookies, skillet meals, and frozen pizza.

Much to my husband's dismay, the junk will NOT be getting replaced in my pantry. Once it is gone, it's gone. Not only will the processed foods be vanishing from our home, I am also committing myself to a $500/month food budget.

As my family dives head-first into this healthier eating plan on a budget, I will be sharing my meal planning and any helpful tricks and tips that I come across.

As we have finished off the last of the Christmas cookies and my fridge is still stuffed full of leftovers from various family holiday celebrations, my first recipe to share is cookies.

I also needed an excuse to test out my new Nordic Ware baking sheets ( that are highly recommended in several cooking communities as being the best for even heating/browning. After years of using Wilton baking sheets, one batch of cookies on these beauties and I'm sold! (As an added benefit, these also have an optional lid that will be extra useful!)

These are one of my favorite cookies, packed full of good things that are even relatively good for you. The recipe was sent in an email from America's Test Kitchen quite a while ago. I've changed it just a bit to suit my personal preferences. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Toasted Pecans and Dried Cherries
Modified to America's Test Kitchen
Makes Approx 3 dozen cookies

3/4 cup chopped pecans
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups packed brown sugar, preferably dark
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped, or chocolate chips

1 1/4 cup dried cherries (I use unsweetened to avoid the added sugar)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; preheat oven 350.

2. Toast pecans. Set aside.

3. In bowl of stand mixer, cream butter and sugar at medium speed. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula; add egg and vanilla and beat on medium-low speed until fully incorporated. With mixer still running on low, gradually add dry ingredients; mix until just incorporated. Gentle fold in
pecans, cherries and chocolate chunks.

4. Using dinner spoon place blobs of dough on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about 2 inches apart. Bake for approximately 11 minutes for chewy cookies or 13 minutes for more crisp cookies at 350. The cookies will not be brown when done, but will have flattened out and may be a tad shiny yet. 

5. Cool cookies on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and cool to room temperature.

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