Cranberry chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies are dad approved to be sweet, but not too sweet, with just the right combination of tangy dried cranberries, dark chocolate chunks, and chewy oatmeal. I’ve taken a classic oatmeal cookie and a chocolate chip cookie and mashed them together with dried cranberries to make the perfect cranberry chocolate chunk oatmeal cookie. While the name may be a mouthful to say, these chewy, buttery cookies are a mouthful worth eating. At our house, we just call them Dad’s Cookies. Read on for my tips on getting them just right, then try the recipe for yourself. Be warned, if you share them with your dad across the country, you may end up shipping them as often as I do!
When it comes to knowing a good cookie, I look no further than the expertise of my dad. He is a cookie lover and his favorite has always been oatmeal chocolate chip. For his 62nd birthday I shipped him 62 cookies, including the very first batch of these cranberry chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies. Upon receipt of them my dad requested more, so I told him the recipe was still a work in progress and he happily volunteered to be my chief taste tester for the project.
In the year since I created the recipe, I have made adjustments in both ingredients and method and shipped every batch off to my dad for final review. While some batches made the journey better than others, every cookie got analyzed and eaten. What we came up with is a soft, chewy cookie, with just the right amount of everything. I knew we got it right when my dad confessed that these cookies had ruined him for any store bought substitute.
Now that the recipe has been perfected it’s time to share it with you. Read on for a little bit about what I did right and what I got wrong to get this cookie to be the best possible cranberry chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies. I’ve also included a few tips and tricks for shipping, for when nothing but homemade will do, no matter how far away your loved ones may live.
The oatmeal is arguably the most important ingredient in these cookies. It’s responsible for getting the perfectly chewy texture, which in my opinion can make or break a good cookie. To attain that perfection, you need to use old fashioned rolled oats – not steel cut or instant oats. What’s the difference?
- Steel cut oats are oats that have been cut into 2 – 3 pieces, resulting in a fairly unprocessed product that tastes delicious in a bowl of oatmeal, but provides way too much chew for these cookies.
- Old fashioned oats have been steamed and rolled out, flattening the oat to make it cook faster while still retaining most of the texture. This is the kind of oat you typically want to bake with and it’s ideal for these cookies.
- Instant oats are oats that have been steamed, rolled, and cut into smaller pieces. The small, thin pieces, means that they make a quick breakfast, but the texture is closer to a bowl of slop – there isn’t much to it. In cookies, instant oats get absorbed into the cookie kind of like an oat flour. Not what we are aiming for with these cookies.
There is a reason these are called chocolate chunk cookies and not chocolate chip cookies. While the oatmeal is the most important ingredient in these cookies, the supporting role of chocolate should never be played by a less than stellar ingredient. So when it comes to the chocolate, instead of chocolate chips I chose chocolate chunks.
My recommendation is a Ghirardelli premium baking bar 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate. You can find them in the baking aisle next to the chocolate chips. While this chocolate percentage is factored into the sweetness of the cookie overall, you can swap out the 60% cacao bar for darker chocolate, milk chocolate, or even white chocolate. Remember, the lighter your chocolate, the less intense the flavor is, resulting in a sweeter cookie overall. The perfect amount is 2.5 ounces, which happens to be 5 of the 8 squares. What you do with the rest is completely up to you.
The size of the chocolate chunks totally depends on you. I aim for chunks of all sizes, including some big chunks and some thin slivers. Those thin slivers help to ensure the chocolate flavor is throughout the cookie and the big chunks provide the occasional mouthful of chocolate. I call that a chocolate lover’s win/win situation.
Raisin vs. Craisin
Oatmeal raisin cookies are classic and loved by many, but they aren’t a staple in my household. Dried cranberries, aka craisins, however, are used often in my house. I had just bought a big bag of them on sale before testing these cookies, so I tossed them in and asked my dad if I should change them. He didn’t complain, so the dried cranberries stayed.
Now that they have become a staple in these cookies, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have them any other way. The cranberries add a beautiful pink pop of color and their added tartness means the flavor stands out in a way that a raisin never could. By comparison, an oatmeal raisin cookie now seems to be lacking something. That said, if raisins are your thing, by all means toss out the cranberries and use raisins instead. Afterall, you are the one who gets to eat it.
Tips and Tricks
In all of my testing I took lots of notes about what did and didn’t work. Here are the things that stuck out the most to me. I hope they help your cookie making process, and ensure that you get gorgeous cookies every time.
- Sit out the butter a few hours in advance so that it can soften. To get the dough to the right texture, the butter has to be the right temperature. If you forgot, you can speed things along by cutting the butter into smaller pieces or running it through a coarse grater, but please don’t melt the butter. The butter should be soft and creamy, but still hold its shape.
- The butter and sugar needs to be creamed together. You’ll know it’s done when it’s light and fluffy, almost like buttercream icing.
- Measure your flour by using the spoon and scrape method. Use a spoon to stir your flour, then spoon scoopfuls into your measuring cup. Be careful not to compact the flour and use a straight edge to scrape off the excess. Do not shake it off or tamp down the flour.
- To get the cookie size in the photos, roll them out to balls that are about an inch and a half wide, then press them flat to be about an inch tall and two inches wide. You can fit 6 of them onto a baking sheet at once.
- Line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat baking sheet. It not only reduces clean up time, it works much better than a baking spray ever will. I’ve used the same piece of parchment for multiple batches of cookies without an issue.
- The recipe makes 20 cookies. Why 20? It includes the local toll charge for cookies: one for me, one for my husband. Dad gets the other 18. So far he believes the recipe makes a dozen and a half. I guess my secret is no longer so secret.
Shipping the Cookies
When shipping homemade treats you don’t want it to take forever, but you also don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to get them there. I am a huge fan of the post office’s two day flat rate shipping boxes. The medium box easily holds a batch of these cookies, it comes with insurance and tracking information, and at less than $14 it’s much better than the prices I’ve been quoted elsewhere.
Before you ship, make sure the cookies have had a chance to cool and are packed in an airtight container. You want them as fresh as possible when they arrive and controlling the moisture level in the cookies makes a difference. Also, don’t forget proper packaging materials. Cookies without cushioning will arrive as cookie bits, which aren’t nearly as fun to eat. Bubble wrap does a good job, but it’s a lot of plastic to throw away. My favorite wrapping material ao far is crumpled paper. It’s biodegradable and provides a fair amount of cushion. Whatever you use, let the person at the post office know it’s breakable so they can mark it with the “fragile” stamps.
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Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies Recipe
These cranberry chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies have become my go to cookie recipe. They are soft and chewy, without being too chewy. With dark chocolate chunks and bits of dried cranberries they have the perfect balance of sweet and tart. They have already become my dad’s favorite cookie and I hope they will become yours as well.
Like most cookies these cookies will store best in an airtight container and should last 10 – 14 days at room temperature, longer if you can somehow keep your hands off of them. For longer storage, place the properly wrapped cookies in the freezer. They will thaw at room temperature in a couple hours.
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Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup butter softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 TBSP milk
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2.5 ounces dark chocolate
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- Measure the 4 dry ingredients into a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the softened butter with the white and brown sugar. Cream together until light and fluffy - about 3 - 5 minutes in a mixer on low.
- Add the vanilla, egg, egg yolk, and milk to the butter and sugar mixture and mix to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two parts, stopping between additions to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The cookie dough will be very soft.
- Chop up the chocolate into smaller chunks using a straight edge knife. Chunks can be any size you want, but I aim for 1/4" or 1/2" pieces. Add the chocolate (don't forget all the crumbs!) and cranberries to the mixer and mix on low until just combined.
- Cover dough with plastic wrap or place into a resealable container and refrigerate at least 60 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees - convection oven to 325 degrees.
Roll cookies into 1 1/2" balls. Line a 12 x 17 baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat liner.
- Place 6 cookie balls onto the baking sheet and press down to make 1" tall by 2" wide cookies. Bake 18 minutes, or until the edges have turned golden brown.
- Prior to storing, allow the cookies to cool completely on a cooling rack.