anatomy of a cookie – chewy maple-walnut cranberry cookies

by hungryrabbit on November 20, 2012

Chewy Maple-Walnut Cranberry Cookies

I often work on the multiple possibilities of a flavor, texture, or combinations of the two. After last week’s post on Maple-Walnut Cranberry Tart, I want to explore more of this same flavor profile.

For that tart, cranberry played the starring role–walnuts and maple syrup were simply the supporting cast. While drizzling the maple syrup into the cream filling and toasting walnuts for the tart crust, the scent lingered long enough for me to think about variations.

Now, it’s time for role reversal.

The caramel tones of maple syrup take the spotlight, while a chorus of brown butter harmonizes with them (as well as taking on the extra role of providing nuttiness). There’s another play on caramel, and that’s the pliable, chewy texture. Oatmeal can help there. To contract with the chewiness, toasted walnuts add crunch . . . and they add, well, more nuttiness.

While this story sounds like a direct, logical path to  Chewy Maple-Walnut Cranberry Cookies, it actually took some research and testing to get the  right results. Frankly, I wasn’t convinced that my experiment would yield the desired result, but when I tasted the fifth batch, I knew I had something worth posting.

I hope you’ll make a batch of these to share with your friends and family during this holiday season, as I have already done so. 

Chewy Maple-Walnut Cranberry Cookies

yield: about eighteen 3-inch cookies


1-1/2 cups (4-1/2 ounces) old-fashioned oatmeal
1-1/3 cups (6-3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup (6 ounces) packed light-brown sugar
8 tablespoons (4 ounces/1 stick) unsalted butter
6 tablespoons pure grade B maple syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (3-1/2 ounces) walnut pieces, toasted and chopped
1 cup dried cranberries


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300℉. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment, set aside.

2. In a large bowl, add oatmeal, flour, salt, and sugar, whisk to combine and make sure there are no large lumps of sugar in the mixture. Set aside.

3. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter until it turns golden brown, about 5-8 minutes; remove from heat, stir in maple syrup and extract.

4. In a small bowl, add baking soda and boiling water, stir to fully dissolved. Immediately pour into brown butter mixture, stir to combine. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, stir with rubber spatula until only a few white streaks of flour remain. Fold in walnuts and cranberries.

5. Using a 2-1/4 inch scoop or about 2 tablespoons of dough, form balls and place about 3 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets, 6 per sheet. Flatten each of the balls slightly.

6. Bake each sheet until golden brown and set, about 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.


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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

thelittleloaf November 20, 2012 at 8:40 am

I’ve been looking for a cranberry cookie recipe to make and adore maple syrup so this might just be it! Would white chocolate chunks be sugar overkill? I’m tempted…

hungryrabbit November 20, 2012 at 8:43 am

You might want to save the white chocolate for another recipe, you really don’t need additional sweetener.

claire November 20, 2012 at 12:16 pm

have all ingredients at the ready for these, and every one of them wants using -towards what looks to be one delicious cookie! But the oatmeal: what is meant by “old-fashioned” please? Coarse pinhead, medium or fine? Once that’s cleared up, I can jump to it!

Karen November 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm

These cookies look so good and I want to get started on them, but I noticed that there isn’t any egg in them. Should there be?

hungryrabbit November 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Nope, no eggs necessary. Happy baking. -Ken

hungryrabbit November 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Hi Claire, old-fashioned oatmeal means regular rolled oats, not instant nor steel cut. This link should help clarify it. Happy baking. -Ken

Karen November 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm

I just made these cookies and – holy cow they’re delicious! I was a bit skeptical about the low temperature and no eggs, but I just jumped in and am soooo glad I did. Bake these cookies exactly as the recipe reads – you’ll be glad you did!

Lori @ RecipeGirl November 24, 2012 at 9:55 am

These look perfect. Can’t wait to get started on baking my Christmas cookies!

Jamie November 26, 2012 at 1:08 pm

5 test batches? Wowee these must be good! They are now on my holiday baking list. They look scrumptious! I love the flavors….

Emily December 5, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Hi HR – I have a batch baking in the oven right now and was wondering if it was hard to get the balls to stay together! Perhaps I jammed too much in but I wasn’t able to “roll”, rather “smush” each cookie together while minimizing the cranberries, oats and walnuts falling out. Smells amazing though. Maybe i left something out? Help!

hungryrabbit December 5, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Hi Emily, that happened to me the first time when I was developing the recipe. The key seems to be the warm brown/maple syrup mixture. Don’t let it cool off too much. The warm liquid will soften the dry ingredient and helps the binding of the dough. Hope you’ll try them again. -Ken

Emily December 5, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Just realized I may have left out 1 of the 2 tbsp water, that must have been it! They seemed to hold together more or less while baking though, and taste great. Thanks!

Liz December 20, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I have just stumbled upon you via Pinterest – …….. definitely going to bake these cookies up tomorrow to take to a Christmas visit! They look delicious …..

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