This cookie is pretty much like your favorite chewy chocolate chip cookie, but with dried cherries and pecans.
I have both unsweetened dried Bing cherries and unsweetened dried tart Montmorency cherries; either would make a good cookie, but with all the sugar and vanilla, I felt the cookie could stand the tartness—and it does. I don’t think my pictures do the cookies justice, but maybe a picture never does. My chocolate-loving husband thinks they are great, but he warns you that if you eat too much dried fruit, you’ll get a tummy ache!
Dried tart cherries
Thick batter and 2 oz scoop
Chewy Cherry Pecan Cookies
Preheat oven to 350°; line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- 2 cups dried tart cherries—pour boiling water over cherries to cover. Wait 5 minutes, then drain.
- 1 stick butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar or equivalent sugar substitute
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar or equivalent sugar substitute (sugar substitutes may affect final cookie texture)
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
- Beat butter and sugars in bowl of stand mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla until until well combined.
- Slowly beat in dry ingredients—flour, soda, and salt—until well combined.
- Mix in pecans until combined, then add drained cherries. The cherries will be moist and soft, so overmixing could break them up; it’s better to mix them in with a large wooden spoon.
- Scoop dough with a 2 oz scoop onto lined cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. I put 6 on each sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes until browned. Cookies will be soft and mounded. Let cool on cookie sheet about five minutes before removing to cooling rack to cool completely.
I’m not sure where I copied this recipe from, but it’s on a post-it note, so it can’t be older than the late 70s. I just know that this whole wheat cake is an old favorite; it’s dense and moist and full of all sorts of fall flavors. Better yet, it improves with age. I didn’t include the pan size or preparation on the note, but luckily I remember that it fits the 9″ x 13″ pan, and just for good measure I buttered and floured it first.
Today, I used golden delicious apples, but the recipe doesn’t specify a type, so you could try your favorite. I kept the apple chunks and walnuts cut in larger chunks to add to that homey, rustic feeling. Of course, you could gild it with whipped cream or ice cream or hard sauce, but it is great as is. Note that the batter will start out seeming too thick, but keep mixing after the apples are added and they will release moisture into the batter. Trust me. That’s why I use the stand mixer.
Someday, I might try a few changes, like substituting agave syrup for some of the sugar or adding oatmeal for part of the flour.
The gathered ingredients
The old recipe
The moistened batter
Moist and chunky cake
Chunky Apple Walnut Cake
Preheat oven to 350°; grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ baking pan (I used whole wheat flour here, too)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cups apples, peeled, cored, and chopped in large chunks (mine were Golden Delicious)
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- Mix the sugars, eggs, vanilla, and oil until combined.
- Stir in the dry ingredients. The batter will be thick at this point, but keep stirring until combined.
- Stir in the nuts and apple chunks and keep mixing until the apples have moistened the batter.
- Spread the batter in the prepared pan.
- Bake for about 50 minutes, checking to make sure the edges don’t get too browned (I hate that).
- Let cool in the pan on a rack. You can eat it when cool enough to cut, but I find it even better the next day.
I know it won’t last, but I’m wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt today, and declaring it fall. I’m combining two fall flavors that I love in this dessert—apples and gingerbread—but not going in the typical direction of muffins or nut bread. Why not put them together in a cobbler, where both the apples and the gingerbread shine on their own, but work even better together?
I’m using Annie Somerville’s “Gingerbread” from her Fields of Greens (1993) cookbook, with two changes. I’m using agave syrup instead of corn syrup and sour cream instead of buttermilk. I like this recipe because the focus is on the fresh ginger. There is only a small 1/4 cup of molasses, a little brown sugar, but no other spices. No cinnamon, no cloves, no nutmeg. Just lots of grated ginger—1/2 cup! With all that ginger and only a little molasses, the batter is much lighter in color than a traditional gingerbread. I did add a half teaspoon of cinnamon to the apple mixture, but that was a small amount for five apples.
Chopped apples and walnuts
Topping the apple layer
Browned and cracked gingerbread
Apple-Walnut Gingerbread Cobbler
Preheat oven to 350°; butter a 9 inch square or round baking dish with at least a 2 inch depth.
5 medium-large apples, pared and cut in chunks or slices
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup white sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
Optional: 1 tablespoon flour, if your apples are very juicy
Adapted from Annie Somerville’s “Gingerbread,” Fields of Greens (1993).
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated fresh ginger
- Pare and chop apples. Keep apples in bowl of acidulated water while making batter. Roughly chop walnuts and set aside with the rest of the filling ingredients.
- Beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Beat egg, molasses, and agave syrup. Add to creamed butter and brown sugar, beating well.
- Beat in sour cream.
- Mix dry ingredients and slowly mix into batter.
- Lastly, mix in the 1/2 cup of grated ginger.
- Strain apples, then mix with melted butter, nuts, cinnamon, salt, and sugar (and flour, if using).
- Pour apple mixture into prepared dish.
- Pour batter over apples, lightly spreading almost to edges of dish. It will spread out more as it bakes, and will be less likely to burn on the edges if you don’t spread it all the way.
- Bake until the gingerbread is browned and cracked and the apples are bubbling around the edges. That took about 45 minutes in my oven. Unlike baking gingerbread in a baking pan where it touches the pan all around, the bottom of the gingerbread cooks with the apples, so it takes a little longer.
Do try some warm with whipped cream.
I was wanting a bar cookie with fresh fruit in it, since, after all, this is summer. I kind of knew that I wanted a crumbly top on the fruit, but I didn’t want to go through that mess of one recipe for the bottom crust and another for the filling and yet another for the top. I settled on a recipe for date bars from my old Betty Crocker cookbook, but made a few changes to use fresh blueberries, quite a difference from the thick date paste in the original recipe. I personally love oatmeal date bars, but they seem more like a fall treat to me.
The date bar uses one crumb or streusel mixture for both the top and bottom, pressing it into the dish for the bottom crust, but just sprinkling the rest of the mixture on top of the filling. I didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t do it with blueberries, but I wouldn’t be cooking them first, as you do with the dates. The blueberry version turned out just what I wanted, a sandy brown sugar top and bottom with the extra chew of oatmeal, and a juicy blueberry filling. I think they need to be refrigerated both for handling and because a chilled filling is nice in the summer. They can be eaten out of hand or with a fork.
Aside from using a blueberry filling, the only change I made to the crust was to use all butter, instead of a combination of butter and vegetable shortening.
Half of streusel pressed in bottom
Sugared fresh blueberries
Half of streusel on top
Baked until browned and bubbly
Cut in 24 squares
Cool summer squares
Blueberry Oatmeal Bars
Adapted from the “Date Bars” recipe in the Betty Crocker New Picture Cook Book (1961), p. 197.
Preheat oven to 400°; reduce to 375° after 10 minutes baking.
Butter a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
3/4 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and brown sugar until blended.
- Add the dry ingredients, except oats, mixing until combined.
- Stir in oats. This will be a crumbly and what I would call a sandy mixture. Just make sure that the butter is evenly distributed.
2 pints fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried, stems removed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 generous tablespoon cornstarch
- Combine sugar and cornstarch.
- Stir in blueberries to coat.
Put it all together:
- Press half the streusel into the bottom of the buttered dish.
- Top with the sugared blueberries.
- Sprinkle the rest of the streusel over the blueberries.
- Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375° and continue baking for about 20 more minutes. The streusel should be browned and you should see some of the filling bubbling around the edges. I was concerned about using the baking recommendation of 400° for a full 30 minutes. In the original date bar recipe, the filling is cooked to a thick paste first and then cooled. In this recipe, you are cooking the filling in the bars. I was concerned that the streusel could brown too much before the filling was cooked. It’s possible that you could use the lower temperature for the entire time or for a longer time.
Cool on rack, then in refrigerator for about 10 minutes, before cutting.
What other fruits would you try in these bars? I think cherries would be good, if you could Tom Sawyer someone into doing the pitting.