Choosing to eat REAL food doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun of the holidays. Yes, finding the role for treats in our lives can be a challenge, but I think it’s totally doable. If you’re eating treats all the time, every day, it’s going to start taking a toll on your health. But once in a while making a batch of cookies is totally cool—especially when you share them with friends. That way it’s just about having a taste of something sweet for a day or two. After all sugar isn’t evil … it just can become a very bad habit.
So when I am looking to indulge, I try to make sure it’s really worth it! Why eat really processed, store-bought cookies when I can enjoy a treat I baked at home from wholesome, real ingredients. And that’s exactly what my Cherry Almond Chip cookies are all about—they’re truly a delightful, special occasion indulgence! Made with whole wheat pastry flour (an easy, no-brainer replacement for all purpose flour in most recipes), pastured butter, and high quality dried cherries, almonds, and chocolate chips, these cookies are amazingly delicious. So whip up a batch and keep a dozen for your family and give a dozen away. You’ll enjoy the treat and have a wonderful holiday gift to boot!
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature (we recommend grass-fed, pastured butter)
- ½ cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
- ¾ cup coarsely chopped dried cherries (see notes)
- ½ cup slivered, blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped (see notes)
- ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Equal Exchange organic, semi-sweet chips or Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips)
- Cream butter and sugar, then stir in one egg.
- Mix together flour, cinnamon, and salt and add it to the creamed butter.
- Add the vanilla and almond extracts slowly until well blended.
- Using a spoon stir in the dried cherries, chopped almonds, and chocolate chips.
- Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a log. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Center the oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Take the dough from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap, and cut it into 24 slices.
- Arrange 12 pieces of sliced cookie dough on a baking sheet, about 1-inch apart.
- Bake until the edges start to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven, let sit for one minute, then transfer to a rack to cool.
- Repeat for the second tray of cookies and enjoy!
For the dried cherries I used Peeled Snacks Cherry-Go-Round dried cherries. I love Peeled Snacks dried fruits, and I always keep some of their dried cherries on hand for a quick snack or to garnish a salad. For these cookies make sure you chop the cherries into relatively small pieces (about the size of half of a raisin)
To toast the slivered almonds cook them in a single layer on a baking sheet at 350F until lightly brown (about 5-7) minutes. Watch them closely since they can overcook very easily! Let cool and then coarsely chop.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to treats? Do you have some special recipes that you bring out for the holidays? Have you tried to make them healthier over the years or do you go “all in” when you choose to indulge?
Kitchen Resources and Tips:
- A high quality baking sheet is indispensable in the kitchen. Here’s one from NordicWare that’s similar to what I have.
- A handy kitchen mini food processor like this one from Black & Decker is great for chopping the dried cherries or almonds.
- If you’ve never baked with parchment paper, you should definitely give it a try. It’s so simple to use, and it makes clean-up a breeze. Here’s an unbleached parchment paper that is Green Seal Certified.
- When you’re baking a couple batches of cookies it’s easy to run out of room to cool your baked goods. That’s why I love these tiered cooling racks that can save you some real kitchen real estate!