Cranberry-Mac Morsels:
Macadamia Nut-Butter Cookies with Dried Cranberries & Fresh Nutmeg

Back in about 2004, this recipe completely puzzled me. Af first, the texture wasn't right. But each batch tasted good, so good in fact that I kept trying to figure out what was happening. The trick? Making sure that the macadamia nut butter reaches a consistency just a stage past runny peanut butter. Finally perfection, so perfect, they were voted the family favorite that year! (And this is a family with lots-lots-lots of favorite Christmas cookie contenders.) The cookies are crisp on the outside, chewy in the center and lightly spiced with fresh nutmeg.

Macadamia Nut-Butter Cookies with Dried Cranberries & Fresh Nutmeg

Once in a while, a recipe shows such promise you make it again and again, until getting it exactly right.

That’s what happened with these crisp-on-the-outside, chewy-in-the-middle bright-colored cookies, voted the family favorite ‘new recipe’ their first year and a cheerful addition to holiday cookie platters ever since.

That first year, I mixed batch after batch, each an improvement but never quite right.

Finally I found the trick: the macadamia nut butter must reach a consistency someplace beyond creamy commercial peanut butter, smooth and almost runny.

Instead, in my large food processor, 2/3 of a cup of nuts, the quantity for a single batch, turns out a grainy, crumbly mess of nuts, hardly a nut butter. The cookies still taste great but don’t flatten properly.

Luckily, the fix is easy: make a double batch! You won't be sorry, the cookies are that good! And the dough freezes well so you can bake some now, the rest later. (Or you might also process a double quantity of nuts but use only half the resulting butter.)

ALANNA's TIPS I often stock up on nuts when they're on sale, then store in the freezer to keep fresh. Macadamia nuts must be thawed before starting this cookie. Nuts usually taste better when roasted or toasted first but that’s not needed here. Grate fresh nutmeg if it’s available, it's really special! The cookie dough will be quite thick. If you're using a hand mixer, you may well need to stir in cranberries by hand with a wooden spoon. Watch the first tray carefully, removing it from the oven when the cookies have begun to flatten but are still a bit puffy and still look a bit unbaked. The cookies will flatten and the golden color will continue to develop.


Mixing: 20 minutes
Chilling and baking: 30 minutes
Makes 30 cookies
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-1/4 cups flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (for dipping)

In a food processor, chop the cranberries into small pieces and put aside.

In the same bowl (washing isn’t necessary), make a nut butter by processing nuts until very smooth, think runny peanut butter, about two minutes, scraping bowl once or twice.

In a mixing bowl, combine nut butter and sugars with an electric mixer. Add vanilla and egg and beat well. Add flour, soda, salt and nutmeg and beat at low speed until just combined, then turn in cranberries.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Cover dough and chill for 10 minutes. Cover a baking sheet with parchment.

Roll dough into one-inch balls and press top of each ball in sugar. Arrange on the baking sheet, leaving two inches between the balls for the cookies to spread. Press balls gently with a fork, twice in criss-cross-fashion. Bake for 9 minutes or until just golden. Let cool briefly, then transfer to a paper towel or rack to cool completely.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per cookie: 62 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 10g Carb; 0g Fiber; 43mg Sodium; 7mg Cholesterol; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1, WW PointsPlus 2

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

Criss-Cross With a Fork

Roll the cookie dough into one-inch balls, then press the top (just the top) of each ball in sugar. Arrange the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leave two inches between the balls to allow for spreading. With a fork, flatten the balls gently, pressing twice in a criss-cross-fashion.

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I have made these cookies for several years and they are a family favorite. I have to make at least a triple batch and they disappear as fast as I make them!

I love cranberyy anything so was quite happy to find the recipe, but what holds these cookies together? The one egg? I am looking at some very dry batter right now.
Karen ~ Cookie tip line, here! Did you let the macadamia nuts process until they were a runny peanut butter? That's completely the trick with these cookies. And at least in my large food processor, I had to do double the nuts to get that consistency. The good news is that even if the nuts weren't done to the runny peanut butter stage, the cookies will still TASTE good. That's what happened with my first couple of batches, what kept me continuing to test until I got it right.
I am very tempted by this recipe, but do not have macadameia nuts on hand. As they are very expensive, can I substitute pecans (We traveled through Gergia over Xmas, and I have a ton in my pantry as a result), or walnuts or almonds? I have never made a nut butter besides peanut butter. If you don't have an opinion, I will go ahead and give the pecans a whirl.
Hi Susan - Good questions! Here's my instinct: almonds would be closer to macadamia nuts in flavor than pecans. That said, pecans might just work beautifully too. If you have fresh cranberries on hand, this recipe for Fresh Cranberry Drop Cookies might appeal. Let me know, yes?
What kind of flour do you use? we have plain flour or self raising here and its always stated in our recipes which one to use. The same goes for the sugar. You just state it as sugar when we have ordinary granulated or slightly finer caster sugar which we would normally use to bake. does it matter which one to use?
Hi Anonymous - Oh dear, the vagaries of crossing countries with recipes! In U.S. recipes, 'flour' will always mean all-purpose flour, a wheat flour that is enriched, either bleached or unbleached. That's because self-rising flour is available but not used so much. In addition, 'sugar' or 'white sugar' will always mean granulated sugar. I occasionally use super-fine granulated sugar for baking fine-textured cakes but this recipe was tested with regular granulated sugar. Thanks for asking, I've been meaning to put in an ingredient glossary to help, you've been my inspiration, again!
Cutting back on eating after the holidays and sticking with the WW rules, I was looking for a sweet treat that was 1 point and tasted good. I don't like macadamia nuts and substitued walnuts. To get the right consistency for the nut paste, I added a few scant teaspoons of water. Truly an excellent cookie -- thanks.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna