Tag Archives: chocolate chips

Dark Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies

Dark Chocolate, Dried Cherries & Toasted Pecans – all in one cookie!

Years ago, during a visit to Seattle, I fell in love with Chukar Cherries. More specifically, I fell in love with their dried cherries. So much so, I may have been gently escorted away from the free sample basket at the Pike Place Market.

Since then, I have tried to incorporate more dried cherries into my life, especially (it seems) when paired with dark chocolate. I made these cherry chocolate chip scones back in 2010. They were really tasty.

But the tide took a turn last year when my friend Kirsten sent me a box of Michigan cherries. Dried cherries. That’s when I took a step back and said, “Hold on. Michigan grows cherries, too?” That’s when Kirsten confirmed that yes, Michigan does indeed grow cherries. Really spectacular, gorgeous tart red cherries. And I fell in love all over again.

My first box of Michigan cherries – from The Cherry Republic

Last month, as part of our One Kitchen Many Hearts box exchange, Kirsten struck again by including another bag of dried cherries from Shoreline Fruits. They’re from her neck of the woods. Have mercy! They are world class – with a perfect balance of tart and sweet, dried yet plump. Now I’m not trying to start a war between the states, but I think Michigan cherries may just edge out Washington state cherries. Granted, it has been a few years since I’ve had a Washington dried cherry, and if the fine folks at Chukar want to send me a box just to settle this once and for all, I’m open to a side-by-side tasting. Until then, here’s my latest ode to the dried cherry. Paired with chocolate; as it should be.

NanaBread’s Dark Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies:
(makes approximately 36 cookies)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup good quality cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup extra-dark chocolate chips (I prefer Guittard)
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 cup dried cherries, chopped

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Using a mixer, beat the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts until fluffy. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating until well combined. Reducing the mixer to low speed, blend in the chocolate chips, toasted pecans and dried cherries. If you’re using a hand mixer, you may want to stir them in by hand, as the dough will be thick.

Oh, that dough… this would be great as brownies, too.

I like to bake cookies on those silicone baking mats, but if you don’t have them, line your baking sheet with parchment paper. I also like to use a medium-size ice cream scoop to shape my cookies. I absolutely love how perfectly uniform they turn out with a scoop. Don’t worry; you can also use a spoon. Drop golfball-size dough balls onto prepared sheets, approximately 3″ apart.

The key to perfectly uniform cookies – an ice cream scoop.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, depending how ‘done’ you like them. For soft chewy cookies, bake closer to 10 minutes. For cookies that are soft in the center and crispy around the edges, bake closer to the 12 minute mark. Remove from the oven, allow to cool on the pan for 10-15 minutes, then remove to parchment or waxed paper to finish cooling.

From there, you’re just a cold glass of milk away from a perfect cherry-laden fudge bliss cookie coma.

Do you have a favorite dried fruit you cook with? Coconut, blueberries, pineapple, figs, prunes or something tropical? I’d love to hear what inspires you. Feel free to include links to recipes in your comments. I’m always looking for something new to try or Pin. Please do share!

Recipe adapted from: http://zestycook.com/a-taste-of-heaven-double-dark-chocolate-cookies/

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Rocky Road Cake Mix Cookies


Cake mixes are on sale at my grocery store. That’s a bad thing. Bad, bad, bad. Did I mention they were only 50 cents a box? Yeah. It’s not just bad, it’s dangerous. I bought six. Okay, I bought eight, but that does NOT make me a cake mix hoarder. Funny thing is, I’m not really a cake eater. In an effort to rationalize the irrational, I was thinking the kids love cupcakes, and I could bake them when they come to visit or vice versa. But then I started doing the math. Each box makes at least 20 cupcakes. I have 8 boxes. There’s a good chance that 160 cupcakes might just be too much for two small children. Way too much.

So now I have eight cake mixes that I got for the low, low price of 50 cents a box and I have to think of something to do with them. That’s when a light went off and I remembered seeing recipes for cake mix cookies on the internet. “I like a cookie!” (Name that movie…if you have young children and enjoy animated films.) With a little quick research, I found that you can covert a cake mix into cookies with a few simple ingredients. And that’s exactly what I done did.

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 chocolate fudge cake mix, 18.25 ounce box
3 large eggs
1/2 stick of unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (not pictured)
1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup pecan pieces

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract. This will start out very dry and take several minutes of hand mixing to get it to come together. I recommend using a heavy-duty wooden spoon, because this dough will be very thick. Once you’ve got it mixed together, stir in the chocolate chips, marshmallows and pecans. Using a cookie scoop or your hands, place golf-ball size dough balls onto cookie sheets lined with silicone baking mats or lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake at 350F for 14-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on the cookie sheets for at least 20 minutes. Why? Because those marshmallows are going to be melted, gooey little napalm bombs and cooling them completely on the cookie sheets will allow you to remove them more easily. Would you like one? I’m happy to share. I’ve got a lot more cake mix where this one came from.


This recipe makes approximately 30 cookies. One last suggestion – make sure you have milk in the fridge before you mix these puppies up. Or a cup of coffee. Or a Slim-Fast.

RECIPE UPDATE: A reader on the Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen site tried this recipe and said hers came out too dry on the outside. I’m guessing her oven may get hotter than mine, since my batch came out soft and chewy. If your oven runs hot, you may want to reduce your baking time to 11-12 minutes instead of the 14 recommended. These don’t brown, so it’s hard to tell if they’re done by looking. The other option is to touch test them. If they’re relatively firm and dry on the outside, take them out of the oven. If they’re still sticky to the touch or too soft, leave them in a little longer. I appreciate your feedback!

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Things I Love, Volume 4: Guittard Extra-Dark Chocolate Chips

Get Yourself Some Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Chips - 'Nuff Said

Holy schmoley…this here’s some world-class chocolate! It would be criminal not to share this information with chocolate chip lovers everywhere. These really rocked my world. Bake them into cookies, mix them into brownies, or eat them straight out of the bag, but you have to try them. They are that good. I’m a dark chocolate gal, and these babies are right up my alley…not too sweet, but not bitter at all. I would rate them a 99.9 out of 100, five out of five stars, two giant thumbs up, and an enthusiastic “hell, yeah!” I’m not a fanatic chocoholic, but I am a huge fan of these chocolate chips. They’re just better than all the others. I swear on a stack of cookbooks. I would never joke about chocolate. Ever.

My favorite chocolate chips used to be the American standard – Nestle Toll House semi-sweets. It’s what I grew up on. It’s probably what most of us grew up on. Then I discovered Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips, and they became my new favorite for the past few years. This February, I stumbled onto a grocery store clearance rack and found Guittard extra-dark chocolate chips. They were marked down to 99 cents a bag (post-Christmas), which was more than I could resist. I grabbed 6 bags and for 99 cents each, I felt like I was stealing them. Now I wish I’d bought them all. I should have bought them all. I had no idea they would be life changing. Or that they would all be gone the next day. Or that I would dream of chocolate chip cookies (not usually my favorite). Or that I would struggle with the compulsion to eat them straight out of the bag. For me, that’s the mark of a great chocolate chip. If I can eat them plain right out of the palm of my hand and be completely satisfied, it’s a winner. I could put these in a bowl and eat them with a spoon (hypothetically, of course…wink, wink).

If you’re a chocolate lover, get to your store and pick up some Guittard chocolate chips as soon as you can. Run if you have to. If you don’t love them, I’ll be stunned. Then I’ll probably e-mail to ask if you have a cold and your taste buds are impaired. If your store doesn’t carry them, go straight to the manager and ask for them. Don’t take no for an answer. I’d throw around the idea of a hunger strike, but who on earth could pull that off in a grocery store? I’d be sneaking Bugles and Ding Dongs or green olives and Guittard chocolate chips after the lights went out. I’d make a terrible hunger striker. I have no will power, which explains my love for chocolate chips. Man, I could use a cookie right now.

Disclaimer: NanaBread is not an employee of Guittard or any other chocolate company, which she deeply laments. In fact, she’s not an employee of any company right now, which The Complete Package deeply laments (hi, honey). While she would make an excellent chocolate taste-tester, travel show host or personal shopper, she has never been approached by any company to promote any product known to man or beast. She is simply an opinionated Texan who feels compelled to share her innermost thoughts with her readers. End of story.

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