Who has grown up waking occasionally to the delicious smell of cookies wafting from the kitchen? It’s a classic, simple smell that uplifts our senses and our moods, that’s for sure! It is an easy, comfort dessert that we have all made to indulge in at one point or another. And due to the whole Coronavirus pandemic, we wanted to share a timeless, classic, home-made favorite, with a twist, that we can delight ourselves in (since most of us are literally sitting at home anyways).
This Saturday, we have Cranberry Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies on our menu as made by the talented Zahra, the content creator behind Three Cups of Chai on Instagram as @threecupsofchai, who will be introducing us to her scrumptious cookies.
Founded only three years ago, Zahra felt the need to start her creative outlet which blended well with her role as a mother. She intends to share the basics of baking, and cooking fresh, wholesome meals! Despite her classic shares, her personal culinary focus is on delicious meals from around the world with distinct ingredients and flavorful profiles. Zahra showcases mouth-watering, food intolerant meals, including gluten free and vegan options. Recipes that are quick and easy to make are very important for her collection as she tries to cater to other moms who can relate with busy on-the-go households.
Zahra has been experimenting in the kitchen ever since she was 12 years old. She recalls making chicken fajitas after a night out eating her first bite of Mexican food. “It was love at first bite!” she reminisces. That was the defining moment that began her experiments in the kitchen. After that experience, she began to recreate the food delights she enjoyed at other international restaurants as well. Just thinking of all of the herbs and spices she needs to create these new dishes, excites her for the next kitchen adventure!
Artfully Capturing Her Foodie Love
For Zahra, who has always been the artistic type, cooking is a labor of love, and baking is an art form. She has always enjoyed other art forms such as poetry, painting, crafts, DIY, party planning and more as well. So, it was only natural for her to mesh her passion for food and art, and start working on food photography. Zahra believes that a photo can tell an entire story and pull the viewer in. In food photography, if the photo of a meal and/or dessert is causing an audience’s mouth to water, and makes them eager to know how delicious it will really be, then according to Zahra, she has done her job! Photography techniques like the right angles, lighting, and props make all of the difference! It is very important to her that the food also makes the viewer feel at “home,” a universally understood emotion.
As many of us moms know all too well, motherhood comes with never-ending responsibilities. To keep herself organized on that front, Zahra likes to maintain a weekly schedule of what she will be making for every meal, including the kids’ school snacks and lunches. Her method for weekly meals is simple: Choose two meat proteins, two vegetarian proteins, cook, and then refrigerate. Zahra cooks her grains and veggies fresh daily, and repurposes dinner leftovers for lunches as often as she can.
Her foolproof and cost-effective method is to open up her fridge, freezer, or pantry, and see what ingredients she already has. “I look at what I have on hand, and try to work with that,” she says. It’s amazing the types of delicious meals that one can create through improvising. And we all know, due to the current state of events with a world pandemic crisis on our hands (pun-intended), improvising in the kitchen is a skill we all need to learn.
Meal prep weeks in advance is also a lifesaver because Zahra shoots pictures for her blog as well. Since food photography and the cleaning up afterwards can take a couple of hours from start to finish, she finds it very helpful to plan ahead and be organized.
Food is the Way to a Man’s Heart
Zahra describes her passion for making food and how it is connected to fond memories with her family. “I’ve been a food lover for as long as I can remember,” she says. “I can recall the scents and sounds of family gatherings-the aroma of everyone’s favorite foods being carefully cooked, and all hands-on deck in the kitchen. Everyone had a part to play, and there were always smiles and laughter all around. So, food for me, is love–as it is for so many of us.”
This recipe that Zahra has shared with us is deeply connected to her. It is the recipe she chose to try the very first time she baked from scratch. The cookies turned out to be a huge success for her family, so she made them for her friends one Eid. To her pleasant surprise, she was asked for the recipe by a friend’s mother, who was an amazing cook, herself. That friend is now her husband, so it may be safe to say that food is truly the way to a man’s heart (*wink *wink), and the reason why she has held on to it tightly even after all of these years.
We hope you enjoy this delightful creation brought to you by Zahra, @threecupsofchai, as much as we do, and that it is loved by your family and friends, as much as it was loved by hers! Thanks again for indulging our senses, Zahra. I can’t wait to bite into these goodies after I mix the batter and pop it into the oven for my kids, who are driving me crazy right now!
Decadent Cranberry, Pecan Chip Cookies
Serving Size: This recipe makes about three dozen cookies.
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup minus 2T sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I use Simply Organic, Non-Alcoholic Vanilla)
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dark chocolate chips (I use 50% dark)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup toasted and chopped pecans
- Preheat your oven to 375°F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, or non-reactive bowl, cream the butter and sugars until the color has lightened and the mixture is fluffy.
- Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet (in the stand mixer). Mix to combine well, but do not over-mix.
- Using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, carefully mix in the chocolate chips, cranberries and pecans.
- Drop the cookies by the tablespoonful onto your baking tray, spacing them about two inches apart.
- Optional: Press more white or dark chocolate chips into the top of the cookies to make them pretty!
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms are golden. Cookie tops will not darken much. Be careful not to over-bake them as this is key to having a soft and chewy cookie!
- Cool on a cookie sheet, and enjoy!
We hope you enjoy this easy and delicious pick-me-up! Let us know if you try making them yourself, and give us your thoughts on the dessert in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow Zahra, @threecupsofchai, on Instagram for more amazing recipes!