What happens when a sweet lil’ chocolate chip meets a tart cranberry from the wrong side of the tracks? Cranocolate Bars! And a made-for-TV movie. I adapted this recipe from the Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook, which I haven’t used much yet. It’s no fault of the cookbook mind you – I just don’t tend to use cookbooks except when baking. But use it I did and loved the (extremely) modified results. I’m a lil’ skeptical as to whether the original recipe would have produced actual cookies since it called for the weirdest combination of ingredients I’ve ever seen, but I figure they must have tested it before publishing… right?
I first tried this recipe as a cookie, but no matter what I did I ended up with one ginormous cookie that did NOT enjoy being removed from the baking sheet. So after 4 failed attempts and some advice from fellow chefs (thanks guys!), I turned this labour of love into bars and man oh man are they yummy (if I do say so myself). And actually one last tweak allowed cookies to be created, so I leave it to you whether you want to walk on the cookie or bar side of this particular recipe. I’ve categorized this recipe as >30 minutes for the bars and <30 for the cookies, so you can let that be a deciding factor for you if you can’t decide which version to try. I know, I know, I’m so helpful!
Anyhoo, without further ado… (or as I’ve been thinking for the past couple of weeks: “it’s about friggin’ time!”)
I think Patsy Cline’s Walkin’ After Midnight suits these cookies just fine, but if you want to stay mainstream, go for Crazy. Oh, and don’t let the wheat germ fool you: these AIN’T healthy. But as the lil’ chocolate chip said to the cranberry: “Everyone’s gotta be bad every once in a while…”
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup unbleached white flour
- 1/2 cup wheat germ (feel free to sprinkle in some Red River Cereal – surprising but yep – I’ve tried it and it was great!)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1.5 cups organic sugar
- 1/2 cup vegan EarthBalance butter or veggie shortening (see “staples”)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup coconut milk or soy milk
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries (you could pretty much use any dried fruit here, but cranberries contrast nicely with the chocolate chips)
Optional: 3/4 cup chopped nuts (pecan, walnut or almonds would suit this recipe best)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease up an 8×8 baking dish (set aside). Combine the flours, baking soda and sea salt in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, cream together the sugar and veggie butter, then add the maple syrup, coconut or soy milk and vanilla. Once that’s well mixed, slowly fold the dry mixture in. Stir in the chocolate chips and cranberries (and nuts if you’re so inclined).
Pour the batter into the baking dish and toss it into the oven for 45-50 minutes. It’s sort of hard to tell when they’re baked all the way through because the top tends to crisp up at about 30 minutes – don’t be fooled – the inside’s still squidgy. They’re ready when a toothpick comes out clean (ish… it’s hard for the toothpick to come out spic-and-span with all the chocolate chips). Remove them from the oven and let them rest for a few minutes, but not so long that they get cold because you want to cut them into bars while they’re still warm. Cut it into a series of squares as small or as large as you want and transfer to a pretty serving plate.
If you choose to try the cookie route, spoon the batter onto cookie sheets, leaving lots of space between each cookie (they’re spreaders). Cook for 15-20 minutes (depending on your oven) or until golden brown. Let them rest for a sec once out of the oven, then transfer to a cooling rack for a bit.
Serve and enjoy! I know my friends and family have, though I’m sure they’re looking forward to me bringing them a different dessert now that the kinks have been worked out of this recipe!