Chocolate Cranberry Oat Cookies So Good They’ll Stop Your Kid From Crying

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Parents of three year-olds, I salute you!

We have house guests this week, our friend Celia and her three year old daughter, Johanna. And while I’d been told that the terrible twos are nothing compared to the terrible threes, that really had no significance for me since I don’t have children, I just have a cat and she’s 14. But Johanna is three and very adorable and fun (last night she tried to read me a bedtime story and confessed, midway through, “I don’t quite know how to read”) but also prone to screaming tantrums. And when she arrived at our door on Saturday, she was in the middle of a fierce one. “She just woke up from a nap,” explained Celia. Thankfully, I had cookies on hand to sooth the savage beast.

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

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The other night I was very cold so I made a hot chocolate. My method for a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants hot chocolate is pretty simple: I warm milk, whisk in unsweetened cocoa powder and a bit of sugar. I taste and allow it to thicken a bit at a simmer. Then, at the last minute, I add a quarter of a Ghiardelli Bittersweet Chocolate bar. Suddenly it’s like you’re drinking a hot melted chocolate pudding and everything’s wonderful. Now imagine sprinkling in some cayenne pepper and cinnamon and turning that hot chocolate into a cookie. Say what? Allow me to explain.

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Apple Pie Cookies By The Seat Of My Pants

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It’s considered a hard and true fact in the food world that baking is a precise discipline and that cooking–sauteing, roasting, salad-making–is looser, freer, more of a vehicle for personal expression.

Why does that always have to be the case? Isn’t it possible that, if you know a thing or two in the kitchen, you can whip up a batch of cookies with as much freedom and joie-de-vivre as you might employ while making am omelet? I decided to challenge the status quo yesterday by making a batch of cookies without following a recipe.

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Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Until I get a cease and desist letter from Kim Boyce, whose book “Good To The Grain” inspired me to buy six different kinds of flours last week (that led to a spelt olive oil cake with bittersweet chocolate), I’m going to keep blogging my experiences cooking from her book. The good news is that this particular recipe–a recipe for whole wheat chocolate chip cookies–has already had quite a life on the web. Molly blogged about it, as did Heidi (who made hers in a skillet!). And there’s a reason this recipe is so popular; Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies may sound wholesome, but the results are anything but.

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European-Style Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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Once I was at Murray’s Cheese with David Lebovitz and he stopped to admire the butter from Vermont.

I’ll confess, up to that point, I hadn’t given butter that much thought. For years I’d been buying Breakstones–you know, the kind that comes in the red box–and using it pretty universally. But then, after David talked about baking with Vermont-style butter, I began to wonder: “What would happen if I switched up the butter in my baking? How would that change things?” It took a few more years before I put that question to the test.

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Eric Wolitzky’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Tomorrow (as you’ll see in the next post) I’m hoofing it to Baked in Red Hook so I can do a live-streaming interview with Eric Wolitzky, everyone’s favorite contestant from the debut season of “Top Chef: Just Desserts.” You probably didn’t know this, but I met Eric years ago at my friend Jimmy’s apartment. It was a holiday party and I remember Eric brought these divine chocolate truffles and I thought, “This guy’s got talent!” Even though he was just eliminated, Eric’s performance on “Just Desserts” was truly remarkable; he had fancy pants three-starred Michelin pastry chefs wowed with his “humble” (humble? hardly!) bakery treats. One such treat was this chocolate chip cookie.

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Rainbow Cookies

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Neighborliness isn’t a word you hear much in New York City. Sure, we’ve met our neighbor neighbors a few times (the man right next door asked me to stop playing show tunes on the piano at 3 AM; can you believe the nerve?) but I’d never call our relationship with our neighbors neighborly. No, I haven’t experienced much neighborliness in N.Y.C. until, last week, when a food writer named Deobrah DiClementi, partner of Rebecca Charles (chef/owner of Pearl Oyster Bar) responded to a mention I made about my favorite cookie–the rainbow cookie–by messengering me over a homemade batch. Isn’t that the most neighborly New York story you’ve ever heard? And not only that, she included the recipe.

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Momofuku Milk Bar’s Compost Cookie Recipe

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My mom loves Regis Philbin. Growing up, she’d watch Regis & Kathie Lee religiously; she even once went to a shopping mall, somewhere on Long Island, to get Kathie Lee Gifford to sign a copy of her book. These days, she and my dad Tivo Regis and Kelly in the morning and watch it at night. I’m a View man myself (though Whoopie is no Rosie; I miss the compulsively watchable hysteria of Rosie vs. Elizabeth) but once I went to a taping of Regis & Kathie Lee, almost ten years ago, because my friend Dana was Harrison Ford obsessed and he was the featured guest.

Why am I telling you all this? Because if you’d asked me last week, “Who are the last two people you’d expect to have the key to unlock the mysteries of one of New York’s greatest cookies” I would not have said “Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa.” And yet, thanks to this post on Eater New York, it became evident last week that if I wanted to make Momofuku Milk Bar’s compost cookies at home, the recipe was right there on Regis & Kelly’s webpage.

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