Friday, 18 November 2011

White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies

These started life as Nigella Lawson's chocolate chip cookies. Which look very nice, except that I didn't have any milk chocolate chips (or even milk chocolate) in the house. What I did have was white chocolate chips. And dried cranberries.

I'm not sure the results really bear much resemblance to Nigella's cookies, but they've got rave reviews with everyone who has tried them. I haven't been feeling well enough to eat, though I did try a bite of Richard's. I think they could be improved by leaving out the mixed spice and adding some orange zest, and maybe swapping the Cointreau for Grand Marnier. I'll let you know how the new ones turn out - I plan to give people a few days to recover before making the next batch!

I am often asked why I bother to cook, and especially why I bother to cook things that I can't eat. I have gastroparesis, which means that my stomach empties too slowly, leaving me feeling nauseous (with or without vomiting), bloated and in pain after eating even just a small amount. There is no cure, but symptoms can be improved by eating smaller meals more often (large volumes empty from the stomach more slowly), increasing liquid calories (liquid empties more easily than solid food) and cutting down on fat and dietary fibre, both of which slow stomach emptying. These cookies are very definitely not on the list of gastroparesis-friendly things to eat.

Having said that, I can have a bite of cookie and enjoy it. I could even have a whole cookie if I thought it was worth the consequences! I enjoy the process of baking and find that it relaxes me. My husband and friends (and Richard's colleagues at work, who are often the recipients of large baking sprees) enjoy the results of my baking, and I don't usually feel bad about not being able to eat. I have a cup of tea and enjoy the company.

An unexpected bonus of spending pleasurable time in the kitchen is that I don't resent taking a bit of time out of my baking schedule to prepare tiny gastroparesis-friendly meals (or large meals that can be split into small portions and frozen). My freezer is full of healthy, flavoursome, gastroparesis-friendly meals and snacks - it is wonderful to be able to grab something out of the freezer on a bad day, or when I'm a bit pushed for time.

If I'm not already in the kitchen, I am more likely to snack on less nutritious foods, so I try to plan my meals carefully each week - it's very easy to pop a tray of butternut squash or sweet potato into the oven while it's hot, or boil some potatoes while I'm waiting for something in the oven. Good use of time, good use of electricity to put the oven on for more than one thing at a time, and good for my nutrition to be able to eat pureed butternut squash with rice,or a tiny bread roll with tahini instead of yet another bowl of cereal!

So here is the recipe:

Ingredients (makes about 16 large cookies):

125 g (1/2 cup) butter, softened
150 g (3/4 cup) soft light brown sugar
100 g (1/2 cup) golden caster sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
300 g (3 cups) plain (all purpose) flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tsp ground mixed spice
200 g (1 cup) white chocolate chips
50 g  (1/3 cup) dried cranberries
45 ml (3 tbsp) Cointreau or Grand Marnier (or orange juice, for a non-alcoholic version)


Preheat the oven to 170 C (375 F) and line a tray with baking paper.

Soak the cranberries in the Cointreau, Grand Marnier or OJ for about 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Cream together the softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and egg yolk, followed by the flour, bicarbonate of soda and mixed spice. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and cranberries.

Using a 1/4 cup measure (or 60 ml ice cream scoop), measure out a tray-full of cookies, leaving plenty of space between each one. I got two trays of 8 cookies each out of this quantity.

Bake for 13-17 minutes, until the tops are starting to crack and the edges are starting to brown. Leave the cookies alone on the tray for 5-10 minutes to recover from the ordeal of having been in the oven, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days:

1 comment:

  1. These look marvelous, Jo!! I love to cook and bake. I have always preferred salty/savory foods until too many years on prednisone gave me diabetes. Now that I need to watch my fat and sugar intake, I crave the sweets that I shouldn't have.:-(

    But like you I enjoy the process itself! I usually have a tiny bit of whatever I make and take the rest to work. Programmers will eat anything!;-)

    Lately I have taken to cutting up the cake or bars or dividing whatever into 2 person servings and freezing them! Apparently great minds think alike!

    Thanks for the recipe! I Just happen to have some Grand Marnier left over from a citrus trifle I made this summer...unless of course Wonderful William remembered it is there!;-)