Sparkling Cranberry Gems

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Recipe photo

Sparkling Cranberry Gems

star rating (42) rate this recipe »
Published prior to 2008

Coarse white sugar gives these cookies their sparkle; their relatively healthy content makes them gems! With less than half a teaspoon of fat per cookie, lower sugar content, plus loads of antioxidants from the cranberries, these tangy-sweet, mildly chewy treats are much less guilt-inducing than most cookies.

Follow our step-by-step photos for making these cookies at 
our blog, Flourish.

1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur White  Whole Wheat Flour, organic preferred; or  King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups (7 ounces) dried cranberries,  packed
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into pats
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) milk

scant 1/2 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) coarse white sparkling sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

Place the flour and dried cranberries in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the cranberries are coarsely shredded. Imagine a single dried cranberry cut into about 4 pieces: that’s your goal.

Whisk together the flour/cranberry mixture, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the vanilla and butter, mixing until the butter is thoroughly distributed, but some pea-sized chunks still remain. Dribble in the milk while mixing; the dough will become cohesive.

Place the coarse sugar in a plastic bag; about 1-quart size should do.

Using a teaspoon cookie scoop (or a spoon), scoop the dough by 1 3/4-teaspoonfuls (about 1 ¼" balls) into the bag, 6 or 8 at a time. Close the top of the bag, and gently shake to coat the balls with sugar. Place them on the prepared baking sheet, and use the bottom of a glass to flatten them to about ¼" thick (about 1 ½" in diameter). Repeat with the remaining dough.

Bake the cookies for 16 to 17 minutes, until they’re set and barely, BARELY beginning to brown around the very edge; the tops shouldn’t be brown at all. Remove them from the oven, and cool right on the pan.
Yield: about 3 dozen cookies.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size, 1 cookie (15g); Servings per Batch, 36; amount per serving: Calories 60, Calories from Fat 20, Total Fat 2g(3% DV), Saturated Fat 1g(6% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 5mg(2% DV), Sodium 30mg(1% DV), Total Carbohydrate 10g(3% DV), Dietary Fiber 1g(3% DV), Sugars 7g, Protein 1g, Vitamin A (2% DV), Vitamin C (0% DV), Calcium (2% DV), Iron (0% DV).


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  • star rating 12/28/2014
  • Linda from Reno, NV
  • Not bad, they taste alright. I got just over a dozen cookies. I Followed the recipe exactly other than rolling the cookie balls individually in a bowl of organic sugar that is coarse. Will be good as a breakfast cookie with a cup of coffee. Mine are somewhat crumbly and not as pretty as the ones pictured.
  • star rating 12/21/2014
  • Sue from Pittsburgh
  • As an experienced baker and eater, I am very disappointed in this recipe. It sounded wonderful on paper. The result of following the recipe to the letter is a dry and tasteless biscuit. I hate to sound harsh, but this wasted my time and ingredients. I was looking for a lovely Christmas cookie-something different. I sure got that. I trust KA's recipes, but this one will make me think twice. I love sweet and tart together, and even prefer the tart side, but this recipe isn't tart or sweet enough to make a contrast. All I really get out of the taste is the flour. I used really good organic dried cranberries and the KA white whole wheat flour, and a better grade of butter (no store brands, etc.) and that didn't make a difference. The cookies are very dry, though soft enough - I was very careful to make sure they didn't over bake. Too dry, bland and tasteless is all I can say. I am wondering if the addition of say, grated orange peel to add tartness, or brown sugar instead of white, or candied orange peel on top before baking to add sweetness, would improve them. Or add some Grand Marnier or something. Anything. I guess the only immediate solution is to try and eat them with a strong cup of coffee, or orange or cranberry tea. or toss them.
    We're sorry to hear you did not care for this recipe. Please call our bakers hotline if you would like to troubleshoot. ~ MJ @ KAF
  • star rating 12/09/2014
  • lkew from KAF Community
  • Made these for the first time this year & they were a HUGE hit. We made 10 different cookies & these are the ones that everyone raved about!
  • star rating 11/28/2014
  • Jen from Newark, Delaware
  • Have made these for several years- an unusual cookie, and always a hit
  • 12/21/2013
  • Janet from
  • How are these 50% whole grain if you only add white whole wheat flower?
    White whole wheat is actually a whole grain flour just made from a white wheat berry. So, if you chose to make this recipe with white whole wheat, it would be a whole grain recipe! Goodness! Elisabeth@KAF
  • star rating 12/13/2013
  • pattycakebaker from KAF Community
  • Mine stayed it tight balls after baking, I might recommend smashing them with a glass first. But they're an amazing balance of sweet and tart. Good holiday cookie!
  • star rating 12/08/2013
  • Kim from York, Maine
  • I own a gluten free baking company in Maine and I just made these with my own GF all purpose flour blend and they came out fantastic!!!! I have people who do taste testing for me and they ALL gave them 2 thumbs up! AND they are beautiful as well!!! Will be adding these to my Holiday offerings! Thank you!
  • star rating 12/08/2013
  • jweissmn from KAF Community
  • Not only are these terrific and unusual, they are only 1 Weight Watchers Points Plus. I checked the calculation several times. 1 point!
  • 11/25/2013
  • Sara from PA
  • Can I freeze these once baked? The sugar should hold it's shape if you freeze after the bake. You might also consider freezing balls of unbaked dough and rolling in sugar before the bake. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF
  • star rating 12/19/2012
  • Allison from Massachusetts.
  • Spent the day making four different cookie recipes (gotta love the holidays!) including old family favorites and some rich/complicated recipes. These were hands down the favorite. The texture is lovely and the flavor better. Rich, but not overwhelming; sweet without being cloying. The cranberries and sparkling sugar are beautiful. Even better, they were simple to make -- not at typical cookie batter, but quick. We did add crushed walnuts (about a half cup) and it added a satisfying nutty crunch. Only problem? Too few cookies - I'm going to have to make another batch soon!
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