Drop cookies are just about the easiest to make cookies in the world. The hardest part is mixing the dough; once that’s done, just drop rounded spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and pop them into the oven. (It’s even easier if you use a small ice cream-type scoop.)
These old-fashioned cookies are very traditional in style, but their soft and chewy texture, slightly spicy flavor and chunks of chestnuts, cherries and raisins have plenty of appeal for modern folk. Especially interesting is the sweet, mild flavor and soft texture of the chestnuts, something quite different from other, more familiar nuts like walnuts, almonds or pecans.
The use of chestnuts in any dish is a little unusual these days, most probably because chestnut trees haven’t been part of the American landscape for over a hundred years. The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) once comprised 25% of eastern hardwood forests, but very nearly became extinct when a devastating blight destroyed some 4 billion trees in the early years of the 20th century. Fortunately, a few trees survived and disease-resistant strains are slowly being developed by scientists and researchers. For now, American chestnut growers have turned to imported, blight resistant chestnut stock and fresh American-grown chestnuts are becoming a regular sight in markets each fall.
If you haven’t eaten chestnuts before, give them a try. You may find them a little unusual, but if you give them half a chance, they’ll grow on you. If you’re already a fan of chestnuts, then we’re just preaching to the choir – you already know how sweet, tender and delicious they are.
Cherry-Raisin Chestnut Drop Cookies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup softened butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1/3 cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped and soaked in rum or water
- 1/2 lb fresh chestnuts or 3/4 cup cooked, peeled chestnuts
Cook and peel the chestnuts using your favorite method. If you don’t have a preference, we highly recommend this one. Once all the chestnuts have been peeled, place them in a pan of cold water and quickly bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the chestnuts are barely tender. Drain well, set aside to cool briefly and chop coarsely.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two baking sheets.
Put the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl, mixing to combine thoroughly.
Using either a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the softened butter and sugar together until creamy and light in color. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each one in thoroughly before adding the next one. Stir or mix in the dry ingredients until the mixture is smooth and homogeneous, but don’t overdo it or the cookies will be tough. Drain the soaked cherries well and fold them into the cookie dough along with the raisins and chopped chestnuts.
Using a large spoon or small scoop, drop 1-1/2 to 2 inch balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them a couple of inches apart. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes (depending on size), or until the cookies are golden brown and firm around the edges, but still a little soft in the middle. Remove from the oven and carefully transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool.
Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.
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