The Daley Question

Holiday cookie recipe sought

Contest entry contained white chocolate, cranberries, oats

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Cookie recipe

Photo of Cynthia McKinley with her white chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries. (Chicago Tribune file photo)

Q: Some years ago the annual holiday contest had a white chocolate cranberry cookie winner. It's one of my favorites, but unfortunately. I misplaced the recipe. Can you help?

--Charlene Jernegan, Flossmoor

A: Yes, I can! I thought at first that the recipe you wanted was a brownie-like bar submitted in 2001 by Elizabeth Holmes. It won third place in the contest. You'll find Holmes' recipe below.

But a subsequent e-mail exchange prompted me to go back through the archives because you described the recipe as creating a drop cookie and using ground oats white chocolate chips and dried cranberries. That led me to this 2003 recipe from Cynthia McKinley, the second place winner that year: White chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries. Dried cranberries can be substituted. That recipe is below, too.

Looking to do some more cookie making and baking this season?

Recipes from the 2013 Holiday Cookie Contest are available on the Chicago Tribune website.  Some of the winning cookie recipes from previous years are available in a Chicago Tribune ebook, "Good Eating's Holiday Cookies." Chicago Tribune DigitalPlus members receive complimentary access to all ebooks; visitors and DigitalLite members can purchase titles individually.

White chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries

Prep: 25 minutes.

Cook: 10 minutes per batch

Yield: 5 dozen

Cynthia McKinley's recipe won second place in the 2003 Holiday Cookie Contest.

2 1/2 cups uncooked old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon each: baking soda, baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (1 cup) butter

1 cup each: granulated sugar, packed light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 package (12 ounces) white chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

1 cup dried cherries or cranberries

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees; process oats in a food processor to a fine powder. Combine oatmeal, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

2. Beat together butter and sugars in bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until combined; beat in eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients, about 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in chips, walnuts and dried cherries.

3. Drop by tablespoons on greased baking sheets. Bake in batches until golden, about 10-12 minutes, rotating baking sheet after 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool.

Cranberry-swirled white chocolate cheesecake bars

Prep: 30 minutes.

Cook: 55 minutes.

Setting time: 1 hour.

Chilling time: 2 hours.

Makes: 32 bars.

This recipe earned Elizabeth Holmes third place honors in the 2001 Holiday Cookie Contest.

Crust:

2 1/2 cups gingersnap crumbs

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon orange zest

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted

Cranberry swirl:

2 cups fresh or frozen, thawed cranberries

3/4 cup fresh orange juice

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons orange zest

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Filling:

1/2 cup whipping cream

12 ounces white chocolate, chopped

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

6 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons each: cornstarch, vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sour cream

3 eggs

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. For crust, combine gingersnap crumbs, sugar, orange zest and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Pour melted butter over; mix well. Pat mixture into the bottom of a 13- by 9-inch baking pan. Bake crust 10 minutes. Remove from oven; set aside to cool.

2. For cranberry swirl, combine the cranberries, orange juice, sugar, orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until cranberries pop and mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Transfer mixture to a food processor or blender; puree until smooth. Strain into a mixing bowl. Cool to room temperature.

3. For the filling, place the cream in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; heat to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in white chocolate. Stir until melted. Let cool. Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until smooth. Add cornstarch, vanilla and salt; beat until well combined. Mix in sour cream. Beat in eggs one at a time. Fold in chocolate mixture.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Pour filling over crust; spread evenly. Drop cranberry mixture in dollops over filling. Draw swirls of cranberry mixture through filling with a knife.

5. Place a pan filled with water on the lower rack of the oven. Place cheesecake on middle rack. Bake until center of cheesecake is set, about 45 minutes. Turn off oven; let cheesecake sit 1 hour. Remove from oven. Let cool. Chill at least 2 hours before cutting into bars.

Do you have a question about food or drink? E-mail Bill Daley at: wdaley@tribune.com. Snail mail inquiries should be sent to: Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611. Twitter @billdaley.

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