My dear friend Jessica recently received the exciting news that she is going to have a baby girl, and since I know she loves cookies I figured whatever is inside her would probably love them too. Jessica is from Michigan and stubbornly insists it has qualities superior to Massachusetts (go easy on her, she’s just loyal like that), so I thought her cookies should include that traditional New England staple…cranberries!
Cranberries are one of the few fruits native to North America, where Native Americans used them as a staple as early as 1550. They ate them fresh or mashed with cornmeal and baked into bread. Maple sugar or honey was used to sweeten the berry’s tartness. By 1620 European settlers had learned the Native American way with cranberries, though they originally called them “crane-berries” because the blossom resembles the head and neck of a crane. They were first cultivated in Dennis, Massachusetts in 1816 and are still widely grown and harvested here today…and in Wisconsin.
So I knew I was using cranberries, but because Jess likes her food on the healthier side, I turned to the KAF website for a recipe with whole grains and less butter and sugar than most cookie recipes. My friends, they did not let me down.
Sparkling Cranberry Gems
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 cup King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries (I used a bag of Craisins)
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pats
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup coarse white sparkling sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
- Place the flour and dried cranberries in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the cranberries look like they are broken down into fourths.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour/cranberry mixture, confectioners’ sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the vanilla and butter, and combine with 2 knives or a pastry cutter until the butter is thoroughly distributed, but pieces (pea-sized) remain. Slowly add the milk while you are mixing and the dough will start to stick together.
- Place the coarse sugar in a large zip top plastic bag.
- Using a teaspoon cookie scoop (or a spoon), scoop the dough into munchkin-sized balls and place into the bag, 6 or 8 at a time. Close the top of the bag, and gently shake to coat the balls with sugar. Place them on the baking sheet, and use the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to flatten them a little. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, and check on them. They are done when they’re set and just beginning to brown around the very edge.
- Remove and cool. Eat!
The overall message of these cookies was:
- I made them healthy so you could eat them all in one sitting and not feel bad.
- By using cranberries I am already subtly instilling New England pride into your baby so you will stay here and never move back to Michigan! You can’t blame me for trying…