Saturday, January 9, 2016

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies With Cranberries and Salty Tops #mysteries #cookies @AbbottMysteries

By Victoria Abbott aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini

Our story begins on a bleak January day with a storm swirling. There was not much chance to venture out to the store, even once the plow came. So very many stories start out that way, but this tale stars heroic and delicious cookies and so you readers may anticipate a happy ending. 

I love and I mean LOVE The Barefoot Contessa’s cookbooks and own most of them. As a rule, I don’t make changes to them.  Ina Garten gives us tasty and beautifully presented recipes that are not impossible to do.  I had been planning to make these very fabulous Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies from her Make It Ahead cookbook, to take to lunch at our cousins’ new home the next day.  But we hardy Canucks had been advised to stay off the roads because of the storm (many accidents!) and I didn’t have Fleur de sel or bittersweet chocolate. 

So I had no choice but to make a few changes to the recipe or go without cookies the next morning.  You know, by this point I had my heart set on them.  With a bit of improvising, we were all very happy with the results.  Under the circumstances, we think the Contessa would forgive us!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies With Cranberries and Salty Tops

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1¾ cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1¼ cups old-fashioned oats (NOT INSTANT)
¾ pound (12 ounces)  semi-sweet chocolate.  We used Baker’s because that’s what we had.
5/8 cup dried cranberries (We love dried cranberries, so added a bit to the original)
Pink Himalayan salt or other special sea salt 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 4 sheet pans with parchment paper. Or two and then freeze or wait to bake the rest.  We only have three pans, so used two at a time.  

Chop the chocolate into nice chunks.

Beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. 

Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl again. 

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Mix in the oats. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture (low speed on mixer or by hand) Don’t over beat it! Stir in the chopped chocolate and cranberries until the dough is well mixed. 

With a 1¾-inch ice cream scoop (or two spoons), scoop round balls of dough onto the prepared sheet pans. 

 Keep them well apart as the cookies spread when baking. (SEE OUTTAKES BELOW!) Our second batch was spaced further apart than the ones shown here. Sprinkle lightly with the Himalayan or sea salt.  For those of you who can't have much or any extra salt, take heart. These are great cookies without the extra salt too.

 Bake for 13 minutes, until nicely browned.  You may have to experiment with timing. Our oven seemed to take longer and one batch took fourteen minutes. The original recipe said twelve. 

We took Ina’s advice and kept some of the ‘balls’ in the fridge, in well-sealed plastic bags. We waited a couple of days before we baked them.  We froze a few of the baked ones and they ‘performed’ very well after freezing. According to the recipe you can freeze them baked or unbaked. They do smell great baking, so next time we’ll freeze some of the balls. 
All in all, a tasty success!  Here our adorable cousin, Gabi, is taste-testing the results, in a suitably dramatic way.  Like all of us, she was bundled up against the cold.  Brrr! But the cookies helped.

Hope you can also enjoy these special treats on a blustery winter afternoon.  Or any time really.  This afternoon, I'm enjoying mine with a nice cup of hot tea.

Speaking of treats, we're thrilled to see the new cover for our forthcoming fifth book collector mystery, THE HAMMETT HEX!  We'll let you know as soon as it's available for pre-order!


We love the outtakes on movies: so here is an outtake from our first batch of cookies, the ones that were too close together.  They tasted great but would never win a beauty contest.

Have a happy reading January, everyone!


  1. The cookies look delicious! Thank you for the recipe.

    1. You are welcome! Happy New Year, Jen. Hugs, MJ and Victoria

  2. They sound yummy! I think Ina will forgive you. I love her recipes too!! I'm going to try your version!

    1. Hope you like them, Dee! They were certainly fun to make.


      MJ and Victoria

  3. I have almost the exact same recipe, except that sonetimes I add toffee chips to mine! They're very yummy, and always a big hit around our house. :-). Thanks for posting the cover of the next book, I'm really looking forward to Jordan's next adventure. :-)

    1. Nicole, we have taken note of the toffee chips. Wow, that would be great. Glad you like the cover. We'll let you know when it's available for pre-order.


      MJ and Victoria

    2. Yes, this has definitely always been one of my favorite cookie recipes. As a matter fact, it's the recipe I submitted for Duffy's Christmas Cookie Exchange! I just love the cranberries, the tartness is such a nice little punch of yumminess!

  4. Please feel free to drop over with some! !!! I will admit I have never looked for sea salt or otherwise. What sort of store should I look for it (blushes at my ignorance)

  5. Jody, we find it in our village grocery store in the salt section. There's a whole range of prices. Our Himalayan version was a gift. I think you could get it in any of the 'bulk' stores too. I'm not sure Let me know if you don't find it and I'll do a bit of research. Hugs, MJ and Victoria

  6. It never hurts to make a small sheet of outtakes for the cooks ;-).

    1. LOL! These looked like genetic mutations, but were just as delicious. Hugs, MJ and Victoria

  7. LOVE the cookies. And LOVE the title of your next book. So clever! I'm reading MARSH MADNESS now. :)

    ~Daryl / Avery

    1. Thanks, Daryl! You're the one with the clever titles so we're very glad you like our latest. Hope that Marsh Madness is entertaining for you. XO MJ and Victoria

  8. These sound yummiliferous!

    Did you see any difference in how the fresh from the bowl, vs chilled, vs frozen cookies cooked? Did they all spread about the same? Often chilling the dough allows the ingredients to come together more, thus causing l