The never-fail, ever-popular, go-to cookie: for the time-challenged potluck baker/parent

You’ve been there, right?

Your teenage son comes home, dumps his backpack on the kitchen floor, opens the refrigerator, drinks from the milk carton with one hand while grabbing a box of cereal, bag of chips, and fistful of cookies with the other, and somehow, through his full mouth, manages to mumble, “Remember the team dinner tonight—you have to bring dessert.”

Team dinner… tonight?! When… where…

“Hey, wait a minute, buddy, you NEVER told me about any team dinner. What do you mean, dessert? It’s 4:30! What time is this dinner?”

But you’re talking to his back as he exits the kitchen, basketball in hand. “I-told-you-you-never-listen-it’s-at-the-school-at-6-o’clock-see-ya-there.” Slam.

The kitchen, silent once more, glares balefully at you. Bad mom! So now what are you gonna do, huh? You’ve got 90 minutes. Your reputation as the team’s reigning-champion, bake-from-scratch parental unit is at stake.

Are you up to the challenge, or is there a quick trip to the market and three packs of Double-Stuf Oreos in your (very) near future?

Save yourself a trip (and some gas)—these cookies go together in no time flat, bake for 15 minutes, and make a boatload—54, to be exact. Just about right for a bunch of teenage boys who’ve chowed down on vats of American chop suey, buckets of squishy white rolls, and gallons of Gatorade. And are about to attack the brownies, cupcakes, and these whole-grain, mineral- and antioxidant-rich (but they’ll never know it) Kids’ Choice Chip & Fruit Oatmeal Cookies.

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As is true of nearly every drop cookie recipe I’ve ever baked, these are fast and easy—a simple matter of beating together a bunch of ingredients, dropping the resulting dough onto cookie sheets, and baking. So let’s start by combining butter (for flavor), shortening (for texture), brown and white sugar, vanilla, salt, and vinegar.

Vinegar?! Vinegar cuts the sweetness just a bit; and it reacts with the leavener to give the cookies a tiny bit of rise, which makes them crunchy rather than hard. Well, that’s my theory, anyway, and I’m sticking with it!

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Next, beat in 1 egg. It’s not much for the size of the recipe, it’s true. But it adds a tiny bit of fat, and some structure. We don’t want our cookies to crumble, right?

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Now come the oats and whole wheat flour (preferably King Arthur white whole wheat flour, and even better KA organic white whole wheat flour, my favorite). Why whole wheat? Because you absolutely can’t tell these cookies are made with whole wheat flour in place of all-purpose. So the better question is, “Why NOT whole wheat?”

While our organic white wheat is sometimes challenging to find (grocers don’t like filling their shelves with multiple kinds of whole wheat), it’s an outrageous flour, especially for bread—yeast loves organic flour. Give it a try sometime.

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Next, 3 cups of your favorite cookie supplements: chocolate chunks or chips; dried fruit, and/or nuts. I’ve chosen dark chocolate chunks, cranberries, and walnuts here. I often substitute chocolate chips for the chunks, and pecans for the walnuts.

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Mix to combine. A stand mixer makes this task easy. If you’re mixing by hand, I hope you have an Armstrong (which is the kind of snowblower my husband always told friends we had when our teenage son was shoveling the driveway… get it?)

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Scoop the cookie dough onto parchment-lined (preferable) or lightly greased baking sheets. This recipe makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies, so you’ll probably be able to fill four pans. Since most of us don’t have four pans, that means two pans, two bakes. Again, parchment makes this easy, as you can “stage” cookie dough onto parchment while the pans are in the oven. When the cookies in the oven are ready, simply take the pans out, and replace the sheet of baked cookies with the sheet of unbaked ones.

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All spaced out and ready to go.

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If you stagger the dough balls as pictured, you can fit 15 onto a standard 13” x 18” half-sheet pan.

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OK, here’s a short side trip: bake-sale cookies. You know, the bigger, palm-sized ones. Use a muffin scoop or 1/4-cup measure to scoop dough onto the sheets. You’ll get about 24 cookies out of this recipe.

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Since these cookies are bigger, you’ll need to pat them down gently on the baking sheet. Bake till very light brown (for chewy cookies, about 17 minutes); or till golden brown (for crunchy cookies, about 20 minutes).

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OK, back to the standard-size cookies. If you bake them till they’re a very light gold (at left), they’ll be chewy. Bake till they’re dark gold (at right), and they’ll be crunchy. In our ovens here, this works out to about 12 minutes at 350°F for the chewy cookies, and about 14 minutes for the crunchy version. Times may vary; depends on your oven. Just keep an eye on them and take them out when they look done.

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Nice looking stack of cookies, eh?

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These are great candidates for freezing. Imagine having cookies all ready to bake next time your son drops the time bomb on you… Here’s how to be prepared. Scoop the dough onto cookie sheets close together; no need to leave any space.

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Put the cookie sheet in the freezer (no need to cover it), and freeze till the cookies aren’t sticky or soft. See that frost?

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Put them in a bag, and remove as much air as possible. Close the bag nearly all the way, insert a drinking straw, and suck out as much air as you can, then quickly close the bag. Instant shrink-wrap! Freeze cookie dough for up to 2 months.

When ready to bake frozen cookies, take them out of the freezer, place on baking sheets, and let rest at room temperature while you heat your oven. Partially thawed cookies will need about 3 minutes longer in the oven than cookies baked from room-temperature dough.

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And here they are, warm, fresh cookies from frozen dough, in under 30 minutes. This was an entire sheet of cookies when I went to get my camera; when I came back, about half were missing. The culprits have yet to ’fess up.

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Kids’ Choice Chip & Fruit Oatmeal Cookies.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Nature’s Promise All-Natural Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies with Pecans, 47¢/ounce

Double-Stuf Oreos, 23¢/ounce

Bake at home: Kids’ Choice Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal Cookies, made with chocolate chips, cranberries, and pecans, 20¢/ounce

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. PinkDevora

    Thanks for the recipe! It sounds wonderful. Must make some soon. I like the idea of staggering the cookies on the sheet.

    Can you explain the difference between 100% whole wheat and white whole wheat flour? I bake as much as possible with KA white whole wheat flour (literally…cakes, cookies, bread…people can’t tell), but is it as “healthy” as the brown whole wheat flour?

    Absolutely, just as healthy – the only difference is that the red wheat has a compound in the bran layer that makes it darker colored and stronger tasting. The white wheat is lacking that compound, which has no bearing on the wheat’s vitamins or minerals. Some people actually prefer that strong “wheaty” taste in red wheat; I prefer the milder white wheat. Enjoy it without guilt! PJH

    Reply
  2. Tom

    I just checked-in to see what was new. It’s a rainy day here in Western Oregon. A warm cookie and a cup of coffee sounded good.

    I made a batch and they are excellent!

    The neighbor boys (also known as the bottomless pits) couldn’t even tell there was whole wheat in the cookies! Despite my misgivings, you can’t taste the vinegar either! I used 60% cacao chips and dried cranberries.

    I put a splash of sugar-free cinnamon syrup and a dollop of heavy cream in my city-roast Sumatran coffee (I know: cookies and sugar-free cinnamon syrup with heavy cream – doesn’t make much sense does it?).

    This recipe is a keeper. Thanks PJ!

    Never mind the cookies – I want a cup of your coffee! PJH

    Reply
  3. Jesurgislac

    The kitchen, silent once more, glares balefully at you. Bad mom! So now what are you gonna do, huh? You’ve got 90 minutes. Your reputation as the team’s reigning-champion, bake-from-scratch parental unit is at stake.

    Are you kidding me? What kind of parent would reward this kid’s laziness and rudeness by baking cookies for him?

    I love the recipe. But the background? Why isn’t this parent getting this rude lazy boy into the kitchen to bake these cookies himself?

    Because there’s nothing so personal as your own parenting style. Because with teenagers, you pick your battles. My parenting style happened to work—for our family. That “rude, lazy boy” somehow turned into a loving, generous man. Despite, or because of me? Nurture/nature; a little of both, I suspect. PJH

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  4. Jesurgislac

    I hadn’t realised you were memorialising an actual event and not just making up a standard little story of devoted, indulgent mom feeling bad because her bad-tempered, lazy, demanding son isn’t having his every whim catered to, though he doesn’t bother to say please and thank you. As the story of an actual event, remembered across the years now the boy has grown into a man who can (one would hope) bake his own cookies, I guess it might read differently.

    But it does read like a classic anti-feminist morality tale “Good moms don’t teach their sons how to bake, they bake cookies for them!”

    My brother learned how to bake cookies at the same time I did.

    Actually, he doesn’t bake cookies, but he is experimenting with angel-food cake… The kid just never did like sweets, and still doesn’t, so he never had any interest in baking growing up, nor did I ever bake anything for him—just for school events. I used to put candles atop a bowl of pasta for his birthday. Now, he can whip up a curry with the best of them, but only bakes when the situation requires it.

    I read your blog – nice writing. Glad I gave you some good fodder to riff on. PJH

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  5. Denise

    I just had to laugh when I read that. I went through nearly the same thing last week. On Tuesday, my 14 year son informed me after school that the Day of the Dead celebration they were having for his Spanish class was the next day, not Friday like he had originally told me. He had to bring in a food item that was a favorite of someone was close to who had passed away. He had selected his grandfather (my father-in-law) who loved pecan pie.

    I debated a bit about trying to convince him that his grandfather’s favorite food was a bag of pretzels, but knew I’d end up baking. Instead of pecan pie, I opted for pecan pie bars. He was very appreciative and apologetic but it was a bit stressful…

    Anyway, back to your cookies. They look wonderful and I’m excited to try them. I’ve never used cranberries in cookies. Do they turn out chewy and sweet like raisins?

    Thanks for the great recipes!!

    OK, I’m laughing out loud about the pretzels… And yes, the cranberries are a wonderful raisin equivalent in anything you bake. PJH

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  6. Nel

    Hi,

    Is this a variation of a cookie called ‘nick of time’ white chocolate-cranberry cookies? Those had vanilla and orange oil, nuts, white chocolate and cranberries and were rolled in ‘sour’ sugar, I think. (I remember making my own sour sugar out of big-crystal sugar and ascorbic acid, since the sour sugar isn’t available in Europe.) That’s a terrfic recipe and became my personal favorite alternative to chocolate chip cookies (which I seem to have outgrown in middle age).

    Anyway, that’s a fabulous cookie and this seems to be a variation. Am I dreaming? These 2 cookies do have a lot in common. The big difference is the oats. Either one will get you out of the kitchen and into the bleachers PDQ. Frank from KAF

    Reply
  7. Poppy

    Dried Traverse City cherries (available from Amazon) work well in cookies and muffins too. My question is do the oats have to be quick cooking? I always use the regular Quaker rolled oats in my Grandmother’s oatmeal raisin cookies and they cook perfectly in the time the cookies bake.

    I think with regular oats you’ll have flatter cookies; more “puddle like,” which is fine if you don’t mind that. The quick oats absorb more liquid. You can always take the traditional oats and whirl them in a food processor very briefly; that allows them to act the same as the quick oats. AND the cherries sound like a divine addition! PJH

    Reply
  8. Pat

    I don’t use shortening anymore. If I use all butter, will I still have good cookies?

    Yes, I think the cookies will be a bit softer and flatter, that’s all. Crisco makes trans-fat-free shortening, if that interests you? PJH

    Reply
  9. Candace

    PJ, I had a deja vu moment with your story. Once got a call from our son’s teacher, who was introducing fractions. She explained that they used pizzas as the teaching tool and each child brought in a dollar for his/her share. I said “Fine, when do you need the money?” Long silence, then she said, “Well, actually your son said he doesn’t like store-bought pizza, and that you and your husband always make your own, and that you would make it for the class.” (grade 2). So, pizza for 30 (kids, teachers and parent volunteers). He, too, grew up to be a super adult.

    Sigh… Love for your kids takes you to places you never would have imagined, pre-parenthood. Good AND challenging. Isn’t it nice he had such a finely honed palate, even at that age? You and your husband must be superior pizza chefs! :) PJH

    Reply
  10. Beth

    I’m thinking of making these using your “favorite fruitcake blend.” I bet this recipe would make great fruitcake cookies.

    I think you’re right, Beth. I love that favorite fruitcake blend – I use it lots, it’s such a nice mix of stuff… PJH

    Reply
  11. SimplePleasure

    Hey! PJ, Love the story! Although I’m not a mother yet it, I can relate to the fact that nothing is more gratifying than your family liking what you’ve made and prefer that to the store bought kind. It’s just awesome!

    Hey, thanks for the kind comment – baking is indeed all about sharing. Can you imagine the “pleasure” of making a batch of cookies and eating them all yourself? Especially at this time of the year, as days get shorter and cold, it’s nice to find people to share the brownies and the bread… PJH

    Reply
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  13. Juli

    Love ALL the ‘teenage boys’ stories! The pizza story cracks me up!
    Nice to know our young men still think their moms can do anything!!!
    And thanks for providing a SIMPLE quick recipe, and short cuts too.
    Whether you’re a mom who works outside the home or a mom that works inside the home, none of us have enough time!
    Nice to have an alternative to the bag o’ Cheese Curls when my 15 year old tells me “Tomorrow is food day in Spanish class!”

    This also gives me an idea…
    Sometimes schools have fundraisers where you buy overpriced tubs ($14 for 3 lbs!) of frozen, mass produced cookie dough that bakes out to be kinda ‘iffy’ tasting cookies.
    Why not purchase some plastic tubs of your own and freeze your own cookie dough to give away as gifts to busy family and friends this Christmas?

    Wonderful idea, Juli. Or even a bag of “cookie dough balls,” ready to pop onto a baking sheet… PJH

    Reply
  14. Kalai

    These cookies look delicious, PJ! Definitely worth a try, especially for those busy days. Thanks so much for your sweet comment on my blog! It really meant a lot to me during a trying time. You’re right that the road to “getting better” can be very long and hard. Well, it does make the little things bring that much more happiness! I wish you the best for continued good health. You are in my thoughts and prayers! :)

    Thanks, Kalai – bake on! PJH

    Reply
  15. Carolyn

    Later this month when I visit my chiropracter, I will take her a bag of these cookies. She was asking me recently about recipes using whole grains and I told her about your cookbook and the recipes in the ‘Bakiing Sheet’.
    I had planned to make ‘Spider Eggs’ but a last minute appointment cancellation and subsequent re-booking didn’t leave me enough time and totally screwed up the Halloween timetable. Maybe next year.
    But the cranberry cookies just before Thanksgiving will be perfect!

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  16. Mary Ann Chmura

    Loved the story about your son. I have a question about dried fruit (cherries, blueberries etc.). How do you store it after you open the package and how long can you keep it before it’s no longer eatable? I hope to try all four receipes soon. Thanks.
    Mary Ann I like to store mine in the freezer in a glass jar after I open them. Recommended storage is about a year, but I find stored this way they last much longer. Mary from King Arthur Flour

    Reply
  17. Angela Gray

    Wow, these cookies were a huge hit at my house. My son who is 11 years old loves baking with me in the kitchen. I come to this site at least once a day for an idea for the weeks menu. Thank you for doing such a great job.

    Reply
  18. Angela Gray

    These cookies went over huge with my family. My son who is 11 loves to help me bake and cook and is quite good at it!
    Kids grow up way to quick these days and as long as we instill faith and good values in them I think they will grow up to be fine adults. Maybe the lady who chided you was just having a bad day. Anyway, I read this blog because it always cheers me up and inspires me. Sometimes we just need to hold our tongue and not be so negative. The world is cynical enough without making unpleasant comments about someone you don’t even know. Maybe she just needs a cookie!

    Like your style, Angela – thanks for chiming in. PJH

    Reply
  19. Penny

    Wow, PJ, I’ve been reading Baker’s Banter since the beginning and just today discovered that some of the headings on the comments are LINKS to blogs! What a great way to discover some more food blogs (as if I didn’t already spend too much time looking at them!). My number one favorite is Baker’s Banter though! Keep up the tempting work. I check back every day.

    Reply
  20. Rebecca

    I can’t wait to try these cookies! And even more so, freeze a bunch of dough balls!! What a great way to make fresh, homebaked cookies quickly!

    I totally felt your story, as I’ve raised two teenagers already, have one in the process, and four more to come! It definitely brought a smile to my face to see that others have been there! I’ve been there, done that, and will many times again! I don’t think there is anything wrong with a mom doing that for her kid. My children are very responsible human beings, but things slip their minds once in a while, just as they do mine, often!! ; )

    Reply
  21. Joie de vivre

    These will be next on my list to bake right after we finish your awesome “Magic in the Middles”. I just bought some dried blueberries from Costco and am wondering how they would taste in a cookie. Great post as always.

    Reply
  22. Sandy

    These cookies sound great. I make candy at Christmas with dried cranberries, pistachio nuts and semi sweet chocolate. Everyone loves it. I think I will try that combination in the cookies. Thanks for the recipe.

    PS It isn’t only boys who put in last minute requests for baked goods!

    Reply
  23. Lorrie Riley

    I just baked these cookies this evening, and they are wonderful. It is my first experience with White Whole Wheat Flour. I used chunk chocolate (semi sweet), walnuts and cranberries. We have a friend is battling cancer and I think she senses when I’m thinking about baking with cranberries, because I heard from her today, so tomorrow I’ll make a delivery. I love to do the frozen cookie, maybe next time, they sure do make a house smell good when you’re expecting someone. With double ovens and 4 cookie sheets this was a really fast project.

    Reply
  24. Avinash Chandra

    PJ:
    I am expert cookie maker, just ask my nephew and nieces. However this cookie is the best I have eaten. This is a serious complement.
    You already know that but I will say it any way, you have found your calling.

    Thanks, Avinash – I think it was actually my calling that found ME, 35 years ago in a college dorm kitchen… PJH

    Reply
  25. ANNA LOPEZ

    I really enjoy your blog, but was upset by jesurgislac’s comments. I like to read this blog because it is more civil than many others, and the focus is BAKING not social commentary. However, I did want to weigh in on the issue. I decided that with this school year I would bake cookies or snacks for my kids sack lunches, rather than buy – more healthy, cheaper, etc. I should mention that I work full time and am the mother of two, but really enjoy cooking and baking. Well, I made your NYT modified chocolate chip cookies a couple of weeks ago, and when I went to grab a couple of cookies for Wednesday’s lunches, they were all gone! It turns out my 17 year old daughter had taken them to school to share. Now, I could have blown a fuse or marched her into the kitchen to make more, but I chose to ask her why she had done this. It turns out she has been having problems this year with peers, as many teens do, and wanted to take some of the cookies to class to share. It turns out it was a great success, with many kids talking about how their parents did not cook ANYTHING, even dinner, for them. If I had gone off the deep end, we would not have had this important discussion. So I want to thank you, your blog, your readers, and maybe we all need to remember that baking is about sharing. Thanks.

    Wonderful story, Anna. Thanks so much – baking IS about sharing. It’s why so many of us love it. I hope your daughter now learns to bake cookies so she can continue to sweeten her social life! I actually started out baking boxed brownies in my dorm kitchen because the smell would bring my housemates (including BOYS of course) into the kitchen… PJH

    Reply
  26. Kay

    Made these cookies yesterday and they are very nice, though a bit on the sweet end for me. Is there any chance to reduce the amount of sugar?

    Second question, I weight ingredients strictly to recipe with the only change that I used Gold Medal Whole Wheat flour instead of KAF (sadly not available here). I used cranberries, chocolate chips and almonds in equal amounts for the ‘filling’. The result was that the cookies look more like clusters, i.e. they didn’t melt down to the desired shape. I live in a subtropical climate if that makes any difference. Yes you could cut back on the sugar slightly. I would cut back the white sugar. Try adding just 2 tablespoons of white sugar. I think I would also flatten the cookies out on the pan before you baked them. Keep asking your store manager for the whole wheat flour. it is becoming more widely available due to popular demand. Mary @ King Arthur Flour.

    Reply
  27. Judy

    I am a big fan of whole grains, but can’t find the White Whole Wheat flour locally. Can I use Traditional Whole Wheat flour instead?

    Sure – you can use King Arthur traditional whole wheat flour. The cookies may be a bit stronger tasting, as the flour itself has a stronger, “wheatier” taste, but the texture should be just the same. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  28. Jesurgislac

    Hi PJ – I think Anna (and a couple of other people who commented on my blog) were right: I was discourteous in how I expressed my views, and I’d like to apologize for that.

    I’m sorry.

    The cookies still look tasty! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    No problem; I’m happy you took the time to make the initial connection; we’re each entitled to our own opinions, for sure, there’s no right or wrong. And thanks for coming back, too. The cookies ARE good – PJH

    Reply
  29. Juli

    Finally got a chance to try this recipe over the weekend.
    My home-from-college daughter loved them, but then she loves anything home made.
    These seemed a little too oily for me.
    Everything I did was identical to the recipe & the blog pictures, until I took them out of the oven. Mine look much greasier than your pictures.
    Not sure what I did wrong… It’s possible you didn’t do anything wrong. There can be quite a variation in the fat content of butter. You might want to cut back by 1 to 2 tablespoons of the vegetable shortening next time. Mary @ King Arthur Flour

    Reply
  30. Penny

    Just a thought. It amazes me that anyone leaves out the nutritional content and calorie counts for each recipe. Especially people working in the food industry.

    We’re working on it… takes time, Penny, lots and lots and LOTS of time. We’re doing our best, given the responsibilities we each have on our plates. And yes, we use nutritional software, but it’s still a labor-intensive process. Sorry we’re disappointing you- PJH

    Reply
  31. Amber

    Hilarious story! I don’t have kids, but I’m sure that I did that same thing to my mom before I learned to cook. Your response to the lady that was snide to you was lovely. You sound like you’re as good a person as you are a baker. Can’t wait to make these cookies over the holiday!

    Amber, I make these a LOT. It’s fun to customize with different fruits, nuts, and chips – go with your audience. For instance, kids seem to like ALL chocolate chips, while adults like more of a variety, esp. cranberries and pecans, in my experience. Have fun! – PJH

    Reply
  32. "connie w welch"

    I just made these cookies in my new stove. They are really good. I do love King Arthur and the wonderful service you provide. Thank you! I used 12 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 6 oz. of Cherry Republic dried Montmorency cherries left from vacation. I don’t think they could be any better.

    I was wondering if you have words of advice about using a convection oven to bake. I am just getting used to my new one. Using the “convection option” it reduces the temperature by 25 degrees and I notice that the front of the cookies are browner than the back in convection bake. Without convection bake the backs browned first. I generally just turned the sheet around half way through. But is there more to know? Do you feel convection is best for baking? Please teach me something about convection. I loved what you said about fitting 15 cookies on a sheet. You are terrific!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      HI Connie,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the cookies, the cherries sound so good to me. For more tips on using convection, I would suggest posting your questions over on our community site. I’m sure other bakers from around the country who use convection ovens will be happy to share their best tips with you. ~ MJ

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