Sweet-tangy, chewy, delicious… and whole wheat. WHITE whole wheat.

Whoa! It’s not even Thanksgiving, and the parade of holiday goodies has begun. The eggnog French toast. The chocolate-dipped vanilla cookies. And that butter-pecan kringle

It may be time to add something a bit less disastrous to your dessert diet.

Something made with whole wheat, perhaps. Something lower in sugar, higher in healthy antioxidants, and with a mere 1/2 teaspoon fat per serving.

Something like Sparkling Cranberry Gems.

These tangy-sweet, mildly chewy treats are less guilt-inducing than most holiday cookies. And I’ve discovered they’re a most-welcome gift for friends trying to “eat healthy,” for whatever reason: losing weight, watching their cholesterol, or lowering carbs.

Now, don’t get me wrong. These aren’t sugar-free, fat-free SnackWell clones. They’re still a homemade cookie, with the standard attributes – both good (fresh, delicious), and “bad” (calories).

But if you’re going to eat a cookie anyway, why not enjoy one with some nutritional positives?


Like this flour. Our King Arthur Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour is a 100% whole wheat flour that’s lighter colored, milder tasting, and a somewhat finer grind than standard red whole wheat flour.

Don’t misunderstand – white whole wheat (milled from white, rather than red wheat berries) is WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR (not “white” flour). It has all the fiber and nutrition of traditional whole wheat, but acts much more like white flour in your baking.

Which is a good thing, for those of us who don’t love the taste of whole wheat.

We routinely substitute white wheat for 100% of the all-purpose flour in cookie, muffin, brownie, pancake, and other recipes where the difference won’t be noticeable.

Warning: don’t make an angel food cake with it! But banana bread? Chocolate chip cookies? Blueberry muffins? Go for it!


Now, let’s get to those cookies.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

Place 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur White  Whole Wheat Flour (or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, if you insist); and 1 1/2 cups (7 ounces) dried cranberries (pack the cup tight) in the bowl of a food processor.


Process until the cranberries are coarsely shredded.


Imagine a single dried cranberry cut into about 3 to 4 pieces: that’s your goal.


Whisk the flour/cranberry mixture with 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.


Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pats.


Mix until the butter is thoroughly distributed, but some pea-sized chunks still remain.


Dribble in 3 tablespoons of milk, continuing to mix.


The dough will become cohesive.


Place a scant 1/2 cup coarse white sparkling sugar in a shallow bowl or round cake pan. Using a teaspoon cookie scoop (or a spoon), scoop the dough by 1 3/4-teaspoonfuls (about 1 1/4” balls) into the bowl or pan.


Scoop about 6 or 8 at a time.


Gently shake the bowl or pan to coat the balls with sugar.


Place them on the prepared baking sheets, and use the bottom of a measuring cup or a glass to flatten them to about 1/4” thick (about 1 1/2” in diameter).


Like this.


Bake the cookies for 16 to 17 minutes, until they’re set and barely, BARELY beginning to brown around the very edge; the tops shouldn’t be brown at all. If you gently tilt a cookie off the pan, the bottom should be brown.


See the lightly browned bottom (l), and the barely browned edge (r)?


Yes, the bottoms will be a pretty brown, but the tops will look quite pale. That’s OK; these cookies are supposed to be moist, so you don’t want to over-bake them.


The liberal helping of chopped cranberries in each cookie adds great flavor and a pleasantly soft/chewy texture.


Bag ’em up; head ’em out. YEE-HAW! A great gift for the “Sorry, not on my diet” crowd.

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Sparkling Cranberry Gems.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Katherine

    Have everything but sparkling sugar. Think plain white sugar would be okay? I don’t want to run out to the store again because I know it will be very busy today.

    They probably wouldn’t have coarse white sugar at the store anyway, Katherine. Try with granulated; it won’t be the same effect, as you’ll lose the crunch, but they should taste good. And, you might want to stock your pantry with some of the coarse white sugar sometime; it’s awesome on muffins, cookies, pie, scones, all kinds of sweets where you want a touch of crunch and some pretty “glitter.” PJH

  2. Carolyn

    The best cranberry cookie yet! I did the whole thing in the food processor…came out just fine. Just watch to see that you don’t overdo….Didn’t think about freezing the uncooked dough balls..If they go right into the oven frozen, is the temp. still the same and the time 16-17 min. And, I used Craisins…I love the sugar sparkle.
    This is a keeper… The time would increase by about 5 minutes if you baked them frozen. mary@ KAF

  3. Lesley

    What should I substitute for the sparkling sugar? I have turbinado sugar or regular table sugar.

    Turbinado would be your best bet, Lesley – should work just fine, just a bit less crunch. PJH

  4. Amanda

    I made these cookies last week, and they were delicious! I was originally going to use unsweetened dried cranberries, but they were so dry that they were like flakes. I didn’t know if that would affect the texture of the cookies, so I ended up using sweetened dried cranberries.

    Could I have just soaked the unsweetened ones to plump them up (They were pretty much like flakes of cranberries!)? I was trying to find ways to reduce the sugar but still keep the coarse sparkling stuff. I also used 5 T of butter since that’s all I had and the cookies were still tasty!

    Yes, Amanda, the too-dry cranberries would have soaked moisture out of the cookies, and they wouldn’t have been as good. Unless, as you say, you soaked them. Still, I don’t think the cookies would have been as tasty; you did the right thing with the sweetened ones, as far as a successful recipe goes. PJH

  5. bonnie

    Another yummy recipe! I just read the “FREEZE! Time-savers for the Holidays” blog about freezing the unbaked chocolate chip cookies. Can I do the same with these Sparkling Cranberry Gems? Also, the recipe calls for dried cranberries. Can I use the same amount of Craisins? Do I have to adjust the sugar to compensate for the sweetened Craisins? Thanks for your amazing work and support to all of us!

    You’re welcome, Bonnie – Yes, use Craisins, absolutely; no adjustments needed in sweetener. And yes, freeze on the sheet, then bag and put back in the freezer – should work just fine. PJH

  6. Suzanne

    Your white whole wheat flour is on my “thankful for” list this Thanksgiving. Love it!!!

    I’m with you, Suzanne – it’s really a godsend, for those of us wanting to add fiber to our diets. PJH


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