Belinda Chester and her husband, Robert Chester, like dark chocolate and cranberry. So, Chester altered her grandmother's oatmeal recipe to create a dark chocolate cranberry oatmeal cookie that she submitted to the 12 Days of Cookies contest.

The fun Chester had baking with her family growing up is one of the things that made her decide to become a pastry chef. Chester kept the cookie-making tradition alive because baking is something children can involve themselves with easily. It is an easy family activity everyone can have fun with, said Chester said, of Galloway Township. Chester's 2-year-old likes to be in the kitchen with her and watch what she is doing, she said.

"This a new recipe that I created as a special cookie that I could cook with my two boys every Christmas as a part of our new traditions. It is an adaptation of an old recipe I found in my grandmother's recipe box when she passed away three years ago. Baking with her and my mother every Christmas was a special time for me. I want to share that with my children, as well, as they grow up," Chester said.

Vincent Jackson

Dark Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies


•1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

•1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

•1 teaspoon baking soda

•1 cup shortening

•1 cup granulated sugar

•1 cup light brown sugar, packed

•2 eggs slightly beaten

•2 tablespoons whole milk

•1 1/2 teaspoons madagascar vanilla

•2 teaspoons orange zest

•4 cups whole grain old fashioned oats

•1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips

•1 cup dried cranberries


Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Blend flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

In a stand mixer, blend shortening and sugars, adding sugar gradually. Blend for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, milk, and vanilla and beat well.

Add orange zest and blend in.

Add flour mixture in two stages. Blend well, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Stir in oats, chocolate chips and cranberries.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls, about 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and let stand for about 5 minutes.

Place cookies on a wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes: Approximately four dozen cookies.