Chocolate chip cookies can be a pretty controversial thing for something so simple. Is the perfect cookie crispy, chewy, or cakey? Or is it chewy and crispy? Is the center doughy or is it dry? Should the chocolate be in chips, chunks, or wafers? Brown sugar, white sugar, or a mix of both? Hours-long debates could be held among cookie lovers about what qualifies a chocolate chip cookie as perfect.
This may or may not be the perfect chocolate chip cookie to you. I can’t make any guarantees other than it’s delicious and that’s all that might really matters; after all, you’re still eating a cookie packed with chocolate. What’s to hate? This cookie base starts with browned butter, a mix of brown and white sugars, gets a good dose of orange zest and vanilla, and then, for a touch of festive flavor, a big handful of fresh cranberries - and yes, of course, lots and lots of good dark chocolate…..chunks. I prefer buying a good bar and chopping it myself and throwing it in the dough - irregular sized chunks and tiny shavings alike. You can choose whatever form of chocolate you like, though. And, if cranberries aren’t your thing, leave them out or try a different fruit. Blueberries - yum! Dried chopped apricots - send me some!! Black raisins - okay, maybe we should talk…
An important note about this dough: It’s easy to make but it’s important to be patient. The dough requires a rest time of at least 30 minutes before shaping and baking. I know, it’s hard to wait for fresh baked cookies, but trust me, let the dough take a cat nap. This rest time allows the flavor to develop and it hydrates the flour, creating a better textured cookie.
Oh, did I mention this recipe makes huge cookies that are chewy on the inside (but not doughy) and crispy/caramelizes on the edges? You could call it perfect, but we won’t start that debate right now….you’ve got cookies to bake! The dough also freezes great and can be baked straight from the freezer. So, make a big batch, scoop it, and freeze the dough balls. Want to make smaller cookies to stuff holiday goodie boxes? Those instructions are included, too. Happy baking!
CRANBERRY-ORANGE CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES
Makes: 15 (5-inch) cookies // 40 (2.5-inch) cookies
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chunks
Add butter to a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the milk solids separate and brown (about 10 minutes starting with cold butter). Transfer to a bowl and let cool while you prep the remaining ingredients, or 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and ground ginger. In another large mixing bowl, beat browned butter, sugars, and orange zest at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, beating for another minute. With mixer on low, gradually add flour until fully combined. Stop to scrape sides and bottom of bowl.
Fold in chocolate, cranberries, and crystallized ginger. Let dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350º. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, shiny side up, and lightly spray with cooking spray.
For large cookies: Using a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop, scoop cookie dough into balls. Arrange dough balls on lined baking sheet 4 inches apart. (Bake in batches.)
Bake for 14 to 15 minutes. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes. Remove and finish cooling on a wire rack.
For small cookies: Using a 1.5 tablespoon spring loaded scoop, scoop cookie dough into balls. Arrange dough balls on lined baking sheet 2 inches apart. (Bake in batches.)
Bake for 9 to 10 minutes. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes. Remove and finish cooling on a wire rack.
Freeze the dough
Freezing cookie dough is a great way to prep for busy baking seasons or to always have cookies on hand - because that’s obviously the best reason.
Scoop dough onto a wax paper lined pan. Freeze overnight. Frozen dough can then be transferred to freezer bags. (This works for both cookie sizes.)
When ready to bake, Preheat oven. Arrange fully frozen dough balls on prepped baking sheet 2 to 4 inches apart.
Bake as directed, adding 2 to 3 minutes to the baking time. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes. Remove and finish cooling on a wire rack.