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Coconut Cranberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I’m laughing at the title of this post!  These cookies are made with coconut oil instead of butter.  I have become lactose-intolerant, and butter really bothers me.  I wanted to see if I could substitute coconut oil for butter in my favorite cookie recipe.  I did a little research first on baking with coconut oil and making substitutions, and then I tried a batch.  Success!  I made these first for Thanksgiving and posted them on my Facebook timeline.  I had several calls for the recipe, but I wanted to test it one more time before I posted it.  I thought I might make some tweaks.  However, when I took the cookies to my daughter’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, everybody said, “Don’t change a thing!  They’re perfect as is!” My son-in-law’s brother couldn’t stop eating them.  He said, “These are the best cookies I have ever tasted.”

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So here they are.  I did make one small tweak. I increased the amount of white chocolate chips slightly.  I only had ½ cup of them when I made the cookies the first time.  I should note that this recipe is just an adaptation of another recipe, my favorite basic cookie recipe which I use for chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, white chocolate and pistachio nut oatmeal cookies, black and white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, M & M oatmeal cookies, raisin and spice oatmeal cookies, and other variations.  For that basic recipe, see my previous post, Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Variations. The beauty of this recipe is that variations are endless.  It produces a thin cookie with a soft chew when warm that crisps up as it cools.  With coconut oil instead of butter, the crisp is instant.

These directions are for using a stand mixer.  Alter as needed for a hand mixer and wooden spoon. It is also necessary to weigh the coconut oil on a kitchen scale.  If you don’t have one, get yourself one for Christmas!  I love mine.

Coconut-Cranberry-White Chocolate-Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

(Makes 3-4 dozen cookies)

10 ounces room temperature coconut oil (softened)

4 tablespoons buttermilk or milk kefir (See note)

¾ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

1 egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups of old-fashioned oats (See note)

1 ½ cups dried cranberries

½ cup flaked coconut

¾ cup white chocolate chips (or vanilla baking chips)

1 cup chopped pecans

In the stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the coconut oil until smooth and creamy.  Beat in the sugars until well mixed.  Beat in the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Add 1 cup of flour and beat.  To the other ½ cup of flour, add the salt and baking soda and mix together with a spoon.  Mix well into the cookie mixture.  Add the oats one cup at a time, mixing on low.

With the mixer on low, mix in the cranberries, coconut, baking chips, and nuts.  This will be a pretty stiff mixture, so if you don’t have a stand mixer, you will probably be mixing with a wooden spoon at this point, because a hand mixer won’t do it.  (And that’s why I asked for a stand mixer for Christmas one year!)

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Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Using a soup spoon (we called these table spoons in my day, which led to some confusion), gather a spoonful of dough and press it against the side of the bowl as you draw it up the side.  This presses the dough together, and you get a more uniform load.  You want a slightly rounded spoonful.

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These cookies don’t bake quite the same as those made with butter, so you don’t want to make big cookies with this recipe.  Scrape the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet and press down on the cookie dough with the back of the spoon to flatten the dough ball a little.  Leave about 2 inches of room between cookies.  I have large cookie sheets, and I get a dozen cookies per sheet without them running together.

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Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are browned, the cookies have flattened out, and the centers look set.  (They’ll puff up as they are heating up, but should flatten when done.)  Pull the cookies out and leave them at least a minute on the cookie sheet to cool slightly and set before you remove them with a flat spatula to a cooling rack.  These cookies need to be completely cool before you store them.

Some things to note:  My original cookie recipe uses butter and baking soda.  The baking soda reacts with the butter to give a little rise and a good texture.  Coconut oil is not as acidic as butter, and it doesn’t contain the water that butter does.  I read that when subbing coconut oil for butter, it’s good to use a little milk to add moisture the butter would otherwise provide.  But as I looked at my recipe, I realized that I needed also to replace the acid the butter would provide, to react to the baking soda.  So instead of regular milk, I used milk kefir or buttermilk.  Both are acidic, so they work properly with the baking soda.  I have not tried to figure out a substitution of baking powder for the baking soda, so that regular milk could be used.  I like them as they are, and I always have either buttermilk or milk kefir (a fermented milk similar to buttermilk, just different cultures) in my fridge.

Another thing to note is the use of old-fashioned rolled oats.  This kind of oat gives the best texture in the cookie.  You can use quick oats, I have, but they change the texture, and you get a cookie that’s not as thin, flat, chewy in the middle, and crisp around the edges.  Quick oats make for a stodgier cookie.

For storage, I recommend placing the completely cooled cookies into a paper towel-lined container with a lid.  Lay the cookies out on the paper towel, and cover each layer with a layer of paper towels, with a layer of paper towels on the very top, before securing the lid.  The paper absorbs the coconut oil on the outside of the cookies. If you eat them warm, they will leave a film of coconut oil on your lips, but if you cool them completely and layer them on the paper towels, this won’t happen.  I’ve found that leaving them overnight on the paper towels in the container takes care of any excess oil, and I think the oats, since they are tough, need a little time to absorb the coconut oil. The first time I made them, I was surprised that they were “dry” to the touch after their little sojourn on the paper towels, and there wasn’t a lot of oil on the towels.

As for any of the additions–coconut, cranberries, white chocolate chips, pecans–you can leave out any you don’t like or come up with your own substitutions.  Just remember, when you’re using coconut oil, you’re going to taste coconut, so make sure your additions will match up well with the flavor of the coconut oil.  This particular combo was a big hit.  I can’t wait to try some other combinations.

 

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