Even though it's been many years since I've gone back to school, this time of year always gets me feeling a little nostalgic about three-ring binders, walking to school under piercingly blue September skies, and fresh pink pearl erasers.
Oh, and after school snacks. Namely, COOKIES.
Now, when I was a kid (and I realize that phrase instantly makes me sound old), there wasn't a whole lot of concern about preservatives.
We were fed Chips Ahoy and Pop-tarts and Dunkin' Donuts (on special occasions) after school. And it's not because our parents were neglectful. It was just kind of normal.
These days, snacks need to be healthy, wholesome, locally sourced, and preferably gluten-free. Because, you see, we're smarter now. We realize that processed foods Are Not Good For Us. Therefore, we feel better when our cookies have expensive whole wheat flour in them. Both physically, and mentally.
OK, I was a little bit tongue in cheek in that last paragraph. Fact is, I still love Pop-Tarts and Chips Ahoy. But I have no delusions that they're "real" food.
Perhaps as my own snacking check-and-balance, I have developed a love for what I call "vaguely healthy cookies".
You know, the ones they sell at Whole Foods that have oats and stuff in them. They're actually very good, and often a little heartier and more satisfying than the sugar-and-not-much-else varieties.
SO this is a long way of telling you that on the days when you feel the need to be morally superior, this is a GREAT cookie recipe to get you there. It's made with olive oil instead of butter, homemade dried cranberries, and contains whole wheat flour. You're winning already!
These cookies may be vaguely healthy, but their deliciousness is not up for debate. They're sweet but tart, they're a little nutty, they have a great crisp on the edges. They're the perfect grown-up after school treat.
Olive Oil Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes, plus cooling
Makes about 24 cookies
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 bar (3.5 ounces) dark chocolate, finely chopped
Place your dried cranberries in a bowl. Pour the boiling water on top of them, and let sit for several minutes, or until the cranberries have become soft. They will also slightly expand in size, too--that is totally fine. Drain the water, and pat the cranberries dry with a towel. Set to the side for the moment.
Position two racks in the middle of your oven; preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
In a large bowl, sift together the two types of flour, sea salt, and baking soda. Set to the side for the moment.
In a separate large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), mix the eggs until they are lightly frothy. Add the olive oil, and mix until combined.
Add the two types of sugar and the vanilla extract, and stir to combine until everything is wet yet cohesive.
Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, pausing to mix in each addition. The mixture will progress from quite liquid to a firm and solid dough.
Fold in the chopped chocolate and dried cranberries, mixing until evenly dispersed in the dough.
Form the dough into approximately 1 ½ inch balls, and place with about 2 inches around on all sides on your baking sheets.
Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven, and let the cookies rest for a few minutes so they can set. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
Pro tip: for an even more developed flavor in your cookies, make this cookie dough a day ahead. Form into balls, and place on the baking sheet, then cover and let it chill overnight. Preheat and bake in the morning; while the dough rests, the flavors can combine, making for a slightly more complex finished flavor.
What's your favorite after school treat?