Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies / by Chelsea Zwieg

One of my favorite stores that we visited in Traverse City a few weeks ago was called Cherry Republic. Traverse City is known for their cherries and even though we arrived a few weeks after the season was over, this store definitely filled the void. They had cherry EVERYTHING. Cherry wine, bbq sauce, syrup, salsa, jam, mustard, sausage, chocolate covered cherries. Basically the cherry version of any and all foods. And while I'm still a little skeptical about some things, (cherry summer sausage, anyone?) I can confirm that mostly everything is better with cherries. 

And that includes oatmeal cookies. In these cookies, dried cherries take the place of raisins and I can tell you one thing, the raisins will not be missed. I know quite a few people that are a little iffy on raisins to begin with, and when I compare raisins to the tart and juicy bite of the cherries in these cookies, I'm not so sure where raisins and I stand anymore either. The tartness of the cherries is balanced out with huge chunks of dark chocolate (because no one understands cherries quite like chocolate) and the chewy, deep brown sugar flavor of oatmeal cookies. 

And while we're talking about brown sugar, do you know how easy it is to make brown sugar at home? All you have to do is combine 1 cup granulated sugar with 1 tbsp. molasses, grab a fork or a whisk and stir it up. The best part (besides not having to make a trip to the grocery store for just brown sugar) is that you can add as much molasses as you want depending on how light or dark you want the brown sugar. I am a firm believer in dark brown sugar for all things, especially when I'm looking for that deep molasses flavor and chewy texture that I love in oatmeal cookies. In baking, molasses hangs onto moisture, so the more molasses you have (or the darker your sugar), the more chewy and moist the cookie will be. 

 

And if you're going to be buying some oatmeal for these cookies, I would recommend buying the jumbo Quaker tub because your girl is on a serious baked oatmeal bender and I don't think it will be too long before a post about that comes up. Enjoy!!

Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

Makes 1 dozen cookies

| Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened 
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (the darker the better, in my opinion)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup dried cherries

| Instructions |

  • Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. 
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix until smooth. 
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add this to the butter/sugar mixture and beat until it is fully incorporated. 
  • Stir in oats. Add dark chocolate and dried cherries and mix until just combined. 
  • Chill dough in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. After the dough has chilled, use a large scoop (or your hands) to portion dough into 2" balls. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes, until golden around the edges but still slightly pale/underdone in the center. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.