Take a long, deep breath. Now, inhale, imagining the sublime aroma of summer raspberries bubbling away, and turning soft and jammy in a buttery, golden pie crust in your oven.
Yet in reality, what’s baking away is not a pie at all, but cookies.
That’s the magical, irresistible promise of these “Big Raspberry-Rye Cookies.” They eat like cookies, but possess the taste and fragrance of raspberry pie a la mode, thanks to a heap of freeze-dried raspberries that give a concentrated berry boost, plus enough vanilla extract to lend a sweet, milkshake-like taste of nostalgia.
This recipe is from the newest cookbook by renowned food blogger and food writer Heidi Swanson, who created her site, 101 Cookbooks way back in 2003. “Super Natural Simple: Whole-Food, Vegetarian Recipes for Real Life” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy, is her fourth cookbook.
Like her other books, this one is filled with smart, effortless, and enticing plant-based recipes. The 120 recipes, designed to be wholesome and nutrient-dense, will take you through morning, noon and night, with such delights as “Instant Sriracha Oats,” “Coconut-Asparagus Soup,” “Tangerine & Tahini Ponzu Noodles,” and “Minted Mushroom Kebabs.”
Dried raspberries, which are easily found at Trader Joe’s, are at the heart of these cookies. On their own, they are crunchy, weightless, and fairly puckery. But in this cookie dough, made with dark brown sugar and granulated sugar, their tartness mellows ever so and brings forward an intense fruitiness. Although Swanson instructs to crush the freeze-dried raspberries, I left some whole, just because I liked the look of them that way. Borrowing from one of Swanson’s variations, I also added 1 cup of chopped walnuts to the dough because I adore nuts in cookies.
The foundation of the dough is rye flour, which provides a wonderful nutty, malty and toasty quality. Hence, the pie crust-like taste and fragrance.
Made in 1/4-cup measures, these cookies bake up substantial in size. Yet, there’s an appealing lightness to them. They are crispy not only on the edges, but all over, with a center that turns firm and chewy. While dried fruit has a sticky-denser quality, freeze-dried fruit, in contrast, retains an airiness that contributes to this cookie’s buoyancy.
These cookies are definitely super, natural, and simple. They’re also without a doubt sensational.
Big Raspberry-Rye Cookies
(Makes 12 cookies)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons room-temperature unsalted butter, sliced
1 1/2 cups granulated cane sugar
1/4 cup dark brown cane sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups rye flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 cup freeze-dried raspberries (about an entire 1.2-ounce package)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the top third. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the butter in a large bowl and beat it by hand or with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until uniform. Stir in the egg and vanilla extract until well combined. Add the flour, then sprinkle with the baking soda, salt, raspberries, and walnuts (if using). Stir just until the dough is combined.
Using a 1/4-cup measure, from the dough into 12 balls. Place six balls on each prepared baking sheet and chill the dough in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking. You could also chill the dough in the refrigerator overnight.
Bake the cookies one pan at a time for 15 to 18 minutes, until the edges are deeply golden. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Bake remaining cookie pan the same way.
Store cookies in a cookie jar.
Note: The dough freezes well, shaped into balls and double-wrapped, for up to 2 months. But if you’re going to bake from frozen, increase the baking time by 4 to 6 minutes.
Big Blueberry-Walnut Rye Cookies: Replace the raspberries with crushed freeze-dried blueberries and add 1 cup walnuts to the flour mixture.
Big Banana, Coco-Chip Rye Cookies: Replace the raspberries with chopped freeze-dried banana chips. Add 1 cup unsweetened shredded large-flake coconut to the flour mixture, along with 1 cup chocolate chips or 1/2 cup cacao nibs.
Big Seed Rye Cookies: Omit the raspberries and replace the vanilla extract with 2 teaspoons almond extract. Stir 1/2 cup mixed seeds (sesame, hemp, chia, etc.) into the flour mixture. Roll the dough balls in another 1/2 cup mixed seeds before placing them on parchment-lined baking sheets.
Big Whole Wheat Cookies: Replace the rye flour with whole wheat flour and use whatever freeze-dried berries you like.
Adapted From “Super Natural Simple” by Heidi Swanson
More Heidi Swanson Recipes to Enjoy: Broiled Miso Tofu