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Cooking | Magazine

Recipes: Tempting cookie crumbles and barks that don’t require lots of work

Low-effort treats use one dough and one pan to yield major flavor and crunch.

Gingersnap crumble (left) and three-nut chocolate chip bark.
Gingersnap crumble (left) and three-nut chocolate chip bark.(Photographs by anthony tieuli; food styling by Sheila jarnes)

Rough-edged and craggy, cookie crumbles and barks are oh-so-tempting in their imperfection. The tasty nibbles are made by baking a simple cookie dough on a large sheet pan all at once. The mass is then broken up into chunks or shards, each piece two or three bites. The technique, which yields 40 to 60 pieces, eliminates the time-consuming steps of rolling and stamping, slicing, or shaping individual cookies and baking them in two (or more) batches. This approach is perfect for how you might prefer to bake today: easy, fast, casual, and delicious.

THREE-NUT CHOCOLATE CHIP BARK

Makes about 55 pieces  

½      cup whole natural almonds, coarsely chopped

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½      cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/3       cup shelled pistachios

1         cup whole wheat flour

½      cup all-purpose flour

½      teaspoon baking soda

¼      teaspoon salt

½      cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1         scant cup sugar

1         large egg

1         teaspoon vanilla extract

6        ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup)

With the rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 18-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the almonds, walnuts, and pistachios on the baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until lightly toasted and aromatic. Transfer the nuts to a large plate and cool to room temperature. Let the baking sheet cool to room temperature. (Leave the oven on.) In a medium bowl, whisk the two flours, baking soda, and salt.

Using a hand-held or standing mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment), beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until fully blended. Beat in the egg, then the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the flour mixture just until well blended. Add the chocolate and nuts and mix on low speed to combine.

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Drop the dough in clumps onto the parchment paper. Press down on the dough so it’s no more than ½ inch thick and fills most of the baking sheet. Make sure that the chocolate and nuts are distributed evenly and are stuck onto pieces of dough so they’ll be part of the cookie bark after baking.

Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through, or until golden brown and mostly firm; the cookie will crisp up as it cools. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool completely. Insert the tip of a sharp knife into many places on the cookie, pressing down on the knife to crack it into two- to three-bite-size shards.

CRANBERRY-PECAN CRUMBLE

Makes about 42 pieces 

2        cups all-purpose flour

2        teaspoons baking powder

1/3       teaspoon salt

¼      teaspoon ground cinnamon

½      cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1         cup sugar

1         large egg

1         teaspoon vanilla extract

1         cup chopped pecans

¾      cup dried cranberries

With the rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 18-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

Using a hand-held or standing mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment), beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until fully blended. Beat in the egg, then the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the flour mixture just until well blended. Mix in the pecans and cranberries.

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Drop the dough in small clumps onto the prepared sheet. Press down on the dough so it’s no more than ½ inch thick and fills most of the baking sheet. Make sure the pecans and cranberries are distributed evenly and are stuck onto pieces of dough so they’ll be part of the crumble after baking.

Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet from front to back halfway through, or until the top is lightly golden. Remove the pan from the oven. Use a blunt knife to separate the cookie into irregular 1½- to 2-inch pieces. Use a flat metal spatula to turn over the pieces. Move any thinner, browner pieces to the center of the pan and move any paler (middle) pieces to the edges of the pan. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes more, or until the pieces are golden brown; they will crisp up as they cool. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool completely.

TIP: THE RIGHT GEAR

 Most commercial-quality half-sheet pans, typically sold as 18-by-13-inch  pans, are actually 17¾ by 12¾ inches (interior 16¾ by 11¾) and 1 inch deep. Worry less about exact dimensions and more about finding a sturdy,  heavy-duty pan that won’t warp over time.
Most commercial-quality half-sheet pans, typically sold as 18-by-13-inch pans, are actually 17¾ by 12¾ inches (interior 16¾ by 11¾) and 1 inch deep. Worry less about exact dimensions and more about finding a sturdy, heavy-duty pan that won’t warp over time.(Anthony Tieuli)

GINGERSNAP CRUMBLE

Makes about 42 pieces 

With two kinds of ginger and a dash of black pepper, this crumble has a seriously snappy flavor.

1         cup all-purpose flour

½      cup whole wheat flour

2/3      cup old-fashioned oats

2        teaspoons ground ginger

½      teaspoon ground cinnamon

½      teaspoon baking soda

1/3       teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼      teaspoon salt

½      cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3      cup granulated sugar

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1         large egg

2        tablespoons molasses

¾      cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

1         tablespoon turbinado sugar

With the rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 18-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the two flours, oats, ground ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, pepper, and salt.

Using a hand-held or standing mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment), beat the butter until creamy. Add the granulated sugar and beat until fully blended. Beat in the egg, then the molasses. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the flour mixture just until well blended. Mix in the crystallized ginger.

Drop the dough in small clumps onto the prepared sheet. Press down on the dough with damp fingers, so that it’s ½ inch thick or less (especially in the middle of the pan) and fills most of the baking sheet. Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.

Bake for 21 to 23 minutes, rotating the baking sheet from front to back halfway through, or until the cookie is deep brown and mostly firm. Use a blunt knife to separate the cookie into irregular 1½- to 2-inch pieces; the pieces will crisp up as they cool. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool completely.


Lisa Zwirn is a regular contributor to The Boston Globe and the author of “Christmas Cookies: 50 Recipes to Treasure for the Holiday Season.” Send comments to cooking@globe.com.