The Blackout of '06

Chocolate cranberry oatmeal cookies = Chewy Goodness!

Confessions of a cookbook junkie: gearing up for Holiday baking, I realized a deficiency in my cookbook collection. Happily perusing Amazon, ordered myself several books dedicated to cookies....and waited with delicious anticipation!

And then my power went out.

For days.


On December 14th, the weather forecasted severe gusts of wind with advisory precautions. I cranked up the heat, set my travel alarm, and went to bed. As predicted, I woke up with no power.

My area was hit especially hard and within miles of my home, only a small pocket remained functional.

I'd never experienced anything this severe, but figured we'd get power by the end of the day. Then I waited over an hour in line for gas. Things would not return to normal anytime soon.

I learned later that 80 transformers were damaged in the storm and over a million people in the Seattle metropolitan area were without power.

As the temperature inside my home approached the winter temperatures outside, I tried to find a place to stay for the night. The problem was, most of my friends were also in the dark.

Finally, a chef friend of mine invited me to stay with her. We made cookies together and I hoped for power the next day.

No such luck.

I ended up not having power for a total of 8 days.

Every night, I'd come home to check on the cat and grab more clothes by candlelight. As the days stretched on...the cookie books started to arrive. Vagabonding from one friend's home to another, I'd lie in bed and earmark all the wonderful cookies I'd make when I FINALLY got power again.

I'm now back in my home and things are beginning to return to normal. The grocery stores have all replaced their meat, dairy & frozen food sections, gas supplies have stablized, and nearly everyone has their power restored.

In spite of the delay, I'm starting my baking frenzy....and this chocolate cranberry oatmal cookie was first on my list. Deliciously moist and chewy with just a hint of spice...I must admit...they were worth the wait!

May you have a wonderful and warm holiday...enjoyed with treasured friends and family....and a fistful of these cookies!


Author's note: These are extra chewy due to the melted butter. Browning the butter gives them a very rich flavor.

Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from Dede Wilson's "A Baker's Field Guide to Christmas Cookies"

2 2/3 cups rolled oats (use old-fashioned, not quick or instant)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup dried cranberries

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli chips)

1/2 cup walnut halves, finely chopped

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with Silpats or parchment.

2. Whisk oats, flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Stir in dried cranberries, chocolate, and nuts.

3. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Continue to simmer over medium-low heat until the milk solids turn golden brown, about 4 minutes. (The foaming will subside when you are about 3/4 of the way there....) Take care not to burn.

4. Pour browned butter into a large bowl and whisk in brown sugar until combined. Whisk in cinnamon, then whisk in eggs and vanilla, beating well after each addition.

5. Add dry mixture to wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Mixture will be thick. Using a 2 tablespoon capacity ice cream scoop, drop 2" apart onto cookie sheets.

6. Bake until light and golden brown and just dry to the touch, but still a little soft inside, about 10 minutes (no shiny spots in between the oatmeal). Immediately remove them from the baking sheet and let cool on a rack.