I’ve always dreamed of hand-delivering immaculate boxes of holiday cookies to friends and family, all tied up with a bow and with every crumb in its rightful place. When I was in college I arranged two kinds of homemade macarons in little cartons lined with tissue paper and gave those away, which was as close as I’ve gotten to my holiday cookie giveaway dream.
This year I was determined to carve out some time to bake holiday cookies. So, the Saturday before Christmas, I started baking at 4pm. Six hours later, our little kitchen was covered with dishes and cooling cookies. I ended up using three recipes from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh: speculaas biscuits, soft gingerbread tiles with a rum-butter glaze, and my version of their oat and cranberry cookies. After listening to countless baking podcasts about way more intensive efforts than mine, I didn’t realize how “extra” my own cookies were until I plopped a tray down at a party the next day along with a handwritten note card explaining what they were. The cheers for what was described (not by me) as a mic-drop moment made me realize that I had accomplished what I’d set out to do. Maybe I wasn’t dropping off personalized, beribboned boxes to friends’ houses, but I’d certainly made people feel happy and festive, and that was the point! Maybe next year I’ll make those picture-perfect boxes. Then again, maybe not.
Each cookie had fans, but these Oat, Chocolate, Cranberry, and Almond Cookies were the hero of the bunch. Filled with chunks of differing textures—chewiness from the cranberries and oats, crunch from the almonds, and softness from the chocolate—and warm holiday flavors, these cookies are like a hug for your mouth. (Is that weird? Regardless, it’s true.) Jonji and I nibbled on the extras for days after the party, and we never tired of them. Christmas is over for this year, but they’d make fantastic New Year’s cookies. Or they can be an any-day cookie since they’re not super sweet and, if you really think about it, they’re probably even a little healthy for you. Just a little.
We had a thoroughly enjoyable Christmas Eve and day, filled with family, thoughtful gifts, good food, laughs, and the last of these cookies. Happy holidays, everyone!
Sidebar soap box moment: I’m giving most of these measurements by weight because you truly get much better results if you weigh ingredients for baked goods. I provided rough guidelines if you simply must bake by volume, but you may not get the best results. Sweet called for ingredients by weight and therefore I made my tweaks based on those in order to retain the correct ratios within the cookies. Digital kitchen scales are around $20 (and some are less) and entirely worth the investment.
Oat, Chocolate, Cranberry, & Almond Cookies
Makes 25–30 cookies using a 2.5in round cutter
Adapted from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh
100g (2/3 cup) whole almonds
150g (generous 1 cup) all-purpose flour
75g (1/2 cup) whole wheat flour
125g (around 1 1/4 cups) old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 tsp salt
100g (about 1/2 cup) dried cranberries, chopped and soaked in 25ml (2 tsp) orange juice
225g (1 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 1-inch cubes
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 1 tbsp)
100g (2/3 cup) dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Roast the almonds on a baking sheet or in a baking dish for about 10–15 minutes, until they smell lightly toasted (or you can break one in half to see if the white part looks lightly browned). Set aside to cool. Once they’re cool enough to handle, roughly chop into pieces (don’t leave any whole—make sure each is at least cut into two). Add the chopped almonds to a large bowl and mix in both flours, oats, and salt.
Increase the oven temperature to 375°F. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.
In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, and orange zest for about 2 minutes, until light. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until the dough comes together. Add the soaked cranberries (with the juice) and chocolate chips and mix just until everything is combined.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a couple of times until you form a ball (use more flour to prevent sticking). Cut the dough in half and roll out one half until it’s 1/4 inch thick. Use a 2.5in round cookie cutter to cut out the cookies and transfer to your prepared baking sheet (you can keep them pretty close together as they won’t spread in the oven). Reroll the dough scraps to get as many cookies as possible, then repeat the rolling and cutting process with the second half of the dough. Bake the cookies for about 18 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through, until lightly browned on the edges. Set aside to cool for about ten minutes, then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Enjoy!