Sunday, June 04, 2006

Chocolate Cranberry Spice Cookies

Something strange happens around June first in Lower Manhattan: everybody moves.

New York is a transient place already; there's a lot of coming and going. Additionally, between CUNY, NYU, the New School, and Pace University, there are a lot of students living in this neighborhood - all of whom have leases that expire on June first. In fact, I imagine that many normal (ie., not-student) people have leases that end June first too, left over from their student days.

Advantages to the Great June First Exodus:

1. Getting rid of crappy miserable kid neighbors you hate because they pee off the roof onto your herb garden;

2. Sidewalk-scavenging for move-out household items such as a snazzy new pullout loveseat for your book nook, featured at right;

3. Getting new and potentially better neighbors;

4. Baking cookies to take to them.

I know - didn't people stop bringing their new neighbors cookies in like, 1959? Well, friends, the cookies are all part of a strategy to:

a) Get on good terms with new neighbors so they'll feel guilty about engaging in activites such as those of my neighbors directly upstairs, who play what I can only assume is a game of Race the Heavy Furniture Across the Floor and See Who Collides with the Wall Hardest;

b) Get a chance to bemoan the old tenants ("Oh man, everybody in the building hated them. They *list atrocities committed by previous tenant/imply guidlines for how not to behave in the building*...I'm so excited to have you here! You fellas seem very sweet and way more mature than that rabble");

c) Eat cookies;

d) Impress new/not-your-boyfriend audience with culinary ability;

e) Be nice! C'mon, people, why all the cynicism? What's the world coming to these days?

I took a plate of these flavor-packed cookies to pretty much everyone I could think of (because I need "about 66" delicious cookies in my apartment about as much as I need to be introvenously fed sticks of butter). They're easy-to-make drop cookies that have impressively sophisticated, complex flavor pairings.

Chocolate Cranberry Spice Cookies


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon groad cloves
Pinch of salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanuilla extract
3/4 cup dried cranberries
7 oz. good quality white chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped


(To toast walnuts, simply chop them and toss in a hot saute pan just until fragrant; set aside.)

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter and sugars at medium speed until light, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla extract. Reduce speed to low and add the dry ingredients in three additions, mixing just until combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the cranberries, white chocolate, and walnuts. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least three hours (or up to three days), until firm.*

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.

Pinch off pieces of the dough and shape into 1-inch blls. Arrange them on prepared sheets, spacing them two inches apart. Bake the cookies, once sheet at a time, for 9-11 minutes, until just set but very soft. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Makes about 66 cookies.

*Three hours may seem like a long time, but it's really important. If you don't chill the dough for long enough, it won't be firm enough to take the heat in the oven and your cookies will come out flat.

This recipe comes straight to you from
The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle.

I upped the amp on the flavors in these cookies by using fresh-ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves (bless you, mini-Cuisinart food processor!). The tart cranberries are the best part - they stand out against the smooth, buttery white chocolate and the medley of spices.

Now go bake yourself some cookies. And save some for your neighbors.


Mom said...

I've baked cookies for my children and grandchildren for 40 years. Nothing like it to make the house feel and smell friendly and warm...then yesterday, in a hurried moment, I put a pan of slice n bake in the oven for Emily and Andrew...I am so ashamed. Thanks for reminding me why I bake them in the first place.

I'm proud that you are a Good Neighbor. You could be the neighborhood Mrs. Oliver!

Ivonne said...

I love your list! Glad to see you got rid of those neighbours ... and of course the cookie are too delicious!

ThursdayNext said...

I hope you get a great new "batch" of neighbors! :) Thanks for the recipe! Though I have no new neighbors, I am going to visit friends in their new house this weekend! Perfect timing for this post! Cheers!

Nic said...

Good plan - and good-looking cookies, Kate. I give my neighbors stuff all the time. They love it, and so do their kids.

Jennifer said...

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who bakes cookies for new neighbors :) I always feel a bit like I should have on pearls and heels when I do, but so far, it has won me the good graces of neighbors I like, so I'm not complaining. Yours look delish!

Emily said...

Hi Kate, I love your blog, and those cookies look amazing. I wish I had a neighbor like you. I don't give away many of my cookies because I don't think my neighbors would truly appreciate my organic, gluten free dairy free baked goods.
It's awesome to see someone else my age in NYC who is so passionate about all that is local, sustainable and organic.
p.s. What kind of stuff are you getting at Tompkins Square now? I go to Union Square usually.

Anonymous said...

OH those look SO yummy! If I could just get my hands on cranberries in argentina I promise I would make those. They look foodgasmic!

Ali said...

I found your blog whilst searching for new baking ideas and was intrigued by this recipe. I made these cookies (minus the walnuts) at least a dozen times over the holidays and they were a *huge* hit with everyone. Rave reviews. I've also impressed many with your blueberry crumble cake. love your recipes and your blog - thanks!