cherry chocolate oatmeal cookies recipe Karin Kallmaker

Cheery Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Karin Kallmaker Chocolate and Inspirations, LIFE + STYLE 0 Comments

cherry chocolate oatmeal cookies recipe Karin Kallmaker
I don’t do recipe blogs often, okay, this is only the second one ever. (Here’s the first, Turkey Brine.) I usually save a great recipe for use in a book, but oatmeal cookies with cherry and dark chocolate is a winning combination I find irresistible. All the good things in life: Oats, brown sugar and butter, with bright pops of cherry and melting not-quite-bitter dark chocolate.

This recipe is adapted from several sources: Betty Crocker Ultimate Cookie Book, additional methodology from Alton Brown’s Good Eats Volume 2, and my own preference for easy to find ingredients, and techniques that are worth the effort in the final result.

Modifications to Classic Oatmeal Cookies

The recipe base from Betty Crocker is my preferred because it is equal parts oats to flour. A lot of recipes it’s half the oats to flour, which to me is a butter cookie with some oats, not an oatmeal cookie. I want that taste of oats and enough chew for my lizard brain to think “this is healthy” while it overlooks the butter and sugar.

Oats are in fact good for us. Quick oats have had some of the vitality washed out of them, but I amp up their flavor by using Alton Brown’s trick of toasting them in the oven first. And I cheated with the dried cherry. It’s hard to find and I was short on time, so I used cherry-juice infused cranberries, which are easy to find. The base cookie is so good, right on the edge of butterscotch – so chewy and rich – you could also use any favorite dried fruit that had some tartness to it – like plain cranberry or orange-infused plums.

cherry chocolate oatmeal cookies ready for oven

Recipe – Cheery Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Advance prep: Line cookie sheet(s) with foil for easy clean up later. Get out eggs to come to room temperature. Ditto the butter, unwrap the sticks and drop them into your mixing bowl, then wipe the inside of the butter wrappers on the foil, or mist the foil lightly with cooking spray.


  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats (not instant!), toasted
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt – increase to 1 teaspoon if the butter was unsalted
  • 1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips, lightly chopped
  • 3/4 cup dried cherries or cherry infused cranberries (not glace or maraschino), chopped

cherry chocolate oatmeal cookies out of the oven


Makes 70-80 cookies
Set the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the oats by spreading on an ungreased cookie sheet (foil not needed) and popping into the oven for 8-10 minutes while the oven is preheating. Set a timer or they’ll go over to the dark side. They can cool until you’re ready for them.

Chop the chocolate chips lightly to create some shavings and smaller pieces while leaving some intact. Chop the cherries so they are at least halved. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Combine in a mixing bowl the brown sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs. Cream together.

Add the salt and baking powder to the flour (you can sift together, but I’m lazy and use a fork to disperse them a little bit into the flour).

With the mixer on medium, slowly add half the oats, then half the flour, then the remaining oats and the remaining flour. Mix until everything is well blended. The dough will hold its shape. Finally, with the mixer on low or by hand, add the cherries and chocolate and thoroughly incorporate but don’t overmix.

You can either form 1-1/2 inch balls by rolling lightly in your hands, or use soup sized spoons to employ a quenelle technique and drop them onto the cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. (In my pictures I got them a bit too close together.) Bake 10-12 minutes, looking for the edge against the sheet to be a deep golden brown, and a uniform golden brown across the top of the cookie. When you touch it very lightly in the center the cookie won’t give way very much.

If you’ve used foil, lift the whole batch off the hot cookie sheet for cooling. If not, let the cookies cool to the point that they’ll release easily from the cookie sheet. You might find it necessary to sample a cookie to assess their doneness and coolness and overall tastiness, you know, before you risk sharing with others. Quality control. Just sayin’.

FYI, Cookie sheets should be cool before you use them for another batch.

Swaps for Fat and Sugar

When I make a recipe for the first time, I usually stick with the full fat, full sugar options. But second time around I’ll start looking for ways to reduce the impact. If I’m desperate for a treat but watching the calories vigorously, I would do all of these. But most of the time I’d definitely swap out the eggs because it’s so easy to do, quicker, and I’ve never perceived a difference in the results.

  • 1/2 cup no sugar added applesauce for 1/2 cup of butter. Cookie may be crispier and the texture is a bit spongier. This is a great swap for any baked good that calls for oil, like a brownie or cake mix.
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute for 2 eggs. I can’t tell the difference.
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar Splenda for 1 cup of the brown sugar. I’ve found that sugar substitutes sometimes react too little or too much with the leavening so I always use some real sugar as well. Also, while equally sweet, the missing mass of the 1/2 cup of sugar will mean a higher butter to sugar ratio and a flatter, wetter cookie. While this is a good swap to try if sugar is something you’re watching, it takes practice to figure out what works for you.

Nutrition Info Per Cookie

Using an online calculator, I got these numbers:
74 calories, 3g fat, 3mg sodium, 11g carb, 1g fiber, 7g sugar, 1g protein.
With swaps for egg and butter as described above:
63 calories, 2g fat, 4mg sodium, 9g carb, 1g fiber, 5g sugar, 1g protein.

book cover unbeliever by Karin Kallmaker

Love is Magic is Love – How “Unbeliever” Came to Be

Karin Kallmaker Book News, Unbeliever 0 Comments

book cover unbeliever by Karin Kallmaker
The mental photograph: mysterious book, a few mumbled words and presto. Naked woman appears out of nowhere. And she’s really angry about it.

That’s how stories begin in my head – a sketch of a moment of a glimpse of an idea. A situation that needs to complete, like a minor chord aching to resolve to a triumphant major.

Unbeliever began as a project featuring sizzling, magic-based love stories. My heroine would stumble into magic – and into the arms of love. When I decided I wanted Unbeliever out in the world on its own, I added the subtitle Love is Magic is Love. At its simplest, that’s exactly what Unbeliever is.

But what if she doesn’t believe in magic, and isn’t so sure about love either?

Facing an inconceivable loss in the midst of the darkest season of her life, Hayley Carnegie wants winter to end, yet can’t bear the arrival of spring. She doesn’t nurture hope or believe there is deliverance from the inevitable future. She proves herself right. And learns she is wrong.

I try not to choose between my stories for favorites, because I love them all. Still, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m partial to Unbeliever. It’s full of the magic women create for themselves and together.

The longest night for half the planet is nearly here. After that the light comes back. Unbeliever is that kind of story: light comes back. Because love in all its forms. Of course.

Available Everywhere

Unbeliever is 33,400 words (about half the length of many novels) and is available in eBook just about everywhere.

Ultimate format flexibility and more of your $$$ in the hands of the women who write and produce stories for you:


If this is the first you’re hearing about Unbeliever maybe you should sign up for my private mailing list.

Unbeliever was originally written for Bell, Book and Dyke. If that anthology is already in your collection there’s no reason to buy this edition. (Save your pennies for something else!) I do think this is the perfect time of year to pull it off the shelf and fall into its pages.

Not sure if it’s for you? There’s a long excerpt on Unbeliever‘s “All About” page.

Whatever the format, I hope you enjoy it beginning to end. If you can find a moment to tell a friend or write a review, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Our Happy Hours – How LGBT People Thrive(d) and Survive(d)

Karin Kallmaker Anthologies, Sisters of the Pen 1 Comment


Our Happy Hours

This week marks the release of Our Happy Hours: LGBT Voices from the Gay Bars. I’m proud to be a contributor to this anthology. The stories, essays and poetry collected between its covers represent diverse voices raised to celebrate and commemorate what our bars have been and are for our community.

History, Herstory, Our Story

I was a women’s bookstore baby. By the time I knew the women’s bars existed, they were already fading in the past. “My Nose Pressed Against the Glass of History” details my first and last visit to a women’s bar and reveals – shock of shocks! – the woman who took me to that gay bar. She might not even remember. She also has a contribution in this anthology. (Any guesses?) Read More

Fingerless gloves on keyboard

Why SWRepMatters – Disposable and Invisible Equals Unsafe

Karin Kallmaker Craft of Writing 1 Comment

Pride Flag in the wind

“We have a lot of work to do, and choosing not to do it is no longer acceptable.” #ChuckWendig #SWRepMatters

I am on the Interstates between Colorado and California, slowly turning the brain from vacation to writing mode. It’s hard, but blogs like Not Being Inclusive is Also a Political Choice from Chuck Wendig help. It has given me both a lens and a mirror, and these are helpful tools to my writer brain.

When you see inclusion as a political agenda because exclusion is what’s “organic,” you’re supporting a default world that is your political choice. Every time. Choosing to rep your reality in your stories is a political choice, even when the rep is all white and all able-bodied male.

Because seeing only the inclusive choices as political – therefore not “nautral” or “organic” – is the same as saying other types of people only exist when you want them to.

Even the mental mind trick where non-inclusion is not the same thing as exclusion should prompt self-reflection. I’m looking in a mirror here too.

In my life, from the mid 70s onward, I was presented in eduction almost exclusively with works by white men about white men as the organic canon of what is relevant in the world, Not only that, the views of white men about every other type of person was also presented as the natural view of things. This mindset was not a political choice, sure.

Going on 50 years, I’m still watching books that tell stories about other types of people being labeled political, disturbing, and therefore challenged on school reading lists.

To Kill a Mockingbird and Annie on my Mind are political correctness on a reading list. As if Death of a Salesman isn’t.

Exclusion is political. So is inclusion. Every choice a writer makes about the world their story inhabits is political. Let’s stop pretending otherwise.

It’s Political

All my stories have lesbian lead characters, which means women direct their own lives in my stories. It’s organic to me. It’s natural to me. And it’s political as hell, as Katherine V. Forrest has said for decades. Disposable, invisible people in art means disposable and invisible people in reality.

I can do better too. Still trying at least.

book cover fish out of water by Karin Kallmaker

A Fish Out of Water – The Little Mermaid for Lesbians

Karin Kallmaker Book News, Fish Out of Water 0 Comments

book cover fish out of water by Karin Kallmaker
The Little Mermaid is one of those fairy tales I never understood. No matter how I interpret the original Hans Christian Andersen story I can only see the usual female who can have no value unless she is loved by a man. The Little Mermaid has no soul, and can’t enter heaven so she can’t be loved by God, the ultimate male.

Bloodthirsty bargains and torture abound, but all for naught. She’s unloved by the man and dead at the end. That’s right, in the original version the titular character dies. But it’s okay – in a later and disputed ending, the mermaid is promised that after 300 years of good deeds she will earn her entrance Read More


Many Splendoured Things (But Not the Head Cold)

Karin Kallmaker Events and Appearances, Readers and Libraries 6 Comments


There’s a reason to read to the end. Just sayin’.

Eff You, Head Colds

Head Colds are lying sacks of you-know-what. You get the ‘flu and you know you’re down for a long count. The ‘flu gives others visible physical evidence that you are Not Well. Head Colds, however, build slowly and all the while they whisper in your ear that it’s not so bad. You’re okay. You can go about life – it’s just a sniffle or two.

Head Colds exploit the fact that nobody wants to hear about your mucus. Freebie tip: I suggest that you not use “mucus” or even “mucous” in love scenes, fictional or real.

As you fall under the Head Cold’s spell you ignore the dizziness, lack of oxygen and long spells of mental incapacity. Finally, you might take some meds because maybe, after all, you really are sick. To the rest of the world you sound a little bit off and nasal, that is, until they realize that you are drifting in a world of mucus-induced hearing loss. That you are taking mental naps throughout conversations. When you suddenly ask, “When did we get to Chicago?” they realize, Read More

GCLS Logo 2017 watercolor skyline

So I Had This Idea 2017 – From Idea to Published Work

Karin Kallmaker Events and Appearances, Sisters of the Pen 0 Comments

GCLS Logo 2017 watercolor skyline
Ask a hundred writers “how’d you finish that book?” and you’ll get 97 different answers and 3 people who’ll wander off muttering.

Well, there won’t be any muttering in this year’s installment of the “So I Had This Idea” panel at the 2017 Golden Crown Convention in Chicago this summer.  But there will be six different answers.

This annual panel was the brain child of author Pol Robinson who realized this essential truth: every new author got to the finish line in her own way, and wouldn’t it be interesting to hear how? Lucky me, every year I’ve been honored to be the moderator. And it is one of my favorite parts of my favorite conference of the Read More

Tayto Crisps from Ireland

A Yank’s Opinion of Ireland’s Crisps

Karin Kallmaker Chocolate and Inspirations 10 Comments

< !-[toc title="Contents" type="right" columns="1"][toc_item title="Cheese and Onion"][toc_item title="Tayto - Gimme Gimme"][toc_item title="O'Donnell's - Classy"][toc_item title="King - Shillyshally"][toc_item title="Keogh's - Flavor!"][toc_item title="The Other Tayto"][/toc]->
It had to be done. I donned the mantle of science and tasted the most common crisps on the Emerald Isle. A great personal sacrifice, I know. This is my evaluation, which nobody asked for. Plus, I’m quite sure that no one in Ireland cares a rusty nail about what a Yank thinks on the subject.

But I have a pile of receipts from SuperValu and Tesco and have to write them off somehow! Onward!

The Ubiquitous Cheese and Onion

No matter where we went, onion/cheese flavor was always in the prime position to be purchased, and there were twice as many as all other available flavors put together. It appeared to be the favored flavor combo across all counties we visited, which was any county that touched a shoreline.

As a reference point for my experience of the brilliance that is Ireland’s crisps, in the USA we have three basic flavors. They are available more or less in the same quantities in a typical market: sour cream and chive, barbecue, and good ol’ plain and salty.

Plain was almost impossible to find in Ireland, and if there was a second flavor available, it was usually salt with vinegar or a variation on onion and cheese. Sometimes there were a few bags of prawn cocktail Read More

Glamour photo of red lipstick and red sunglasses of young woman

First Look the Second: My Lady Lipstick (Diana)

Karin Kallmaker Book News, My Lady Lipstick 1 Comment

Glamour photo of red lipstick and red sunglasses on young woman
You’ve had the chance to meet the puzzling Paris Ellison, and learn how she meets the dazzling, mysterious Diana. Who is the woman behind the red hair, impossibly green eyes and red, red lips? If only Paris knew what you’re about to learn! This is the rough draft, unedited second chapter of my next lesbian romance: My Lady Lipstick.

My Lady Lipstick – Preview

by Karin Kallmaker

Diana Beckinsale put two blocks between herself and the helpful but unsettling Paris before she paused in her brisk pace to savor the moment. The wind snatched at her cap but the bobby pins held. She imagined her package whisked away instead, carried over the green expanse of the impossibly large American continent until it floated to a gentle rest on the desk of the one person she was certain would recognize the contents.

As soon as she could confirm that it had arrived she’d trash the burner cell phone, bow out of playing Dorine and be home in time to help her sister plan her wedding. It was a shame—Tartuffe was a lot of fun, and setting a play about avarice behind fake piety inside the West Wing of the White House was brilliant. The director thought it could earn more backing and was probably right. But not with any of the current good-enough-for-local-gigs cast. Besides, Diana wasn’t looking for that kind of notoriety.

The only oddity of the whole Boston job was that woman, Paris. Diana really hadn’t had any intention of prying, but once opened it was impossible for her not to take in the contents of the letter she’d found. Queen of the Bodice Rippers Anita Topaz was really a tatty, hoodie-clad twenty-something? Okay, she might be thirty—her light brown skin would resist wrinkles for years. Not that Diana had ever seen a photo of the writer for comparison, but it was surprising nonetheless. When she’d first entered Mona Lisa’s and assessed the occupants, she’d mistaken the figure for an underaged boy hiding his face in a bar.

When Lisa had pointed her that way to return the letter, Diana had been gobsmacked. As she’d approached the huddled figure she’d realized that her presumption of gender had been wrong. She also hadn’t expected large, deep brown eyes to greet her with open suspicion. The snarl in those eyes left Diana with the impression of a formerly gentle dog that had been kicked so often it growled a constant warning at the world to keep its distance.

And in the chaos of her reactions she’d mistakenly given the woman her real first name. Not that it mattered—they were unlikely to meet again.

What mattered was that her feet hardly seemed to touch the ground. She was floating with the elation of a job completed. The beautiful day had burst into pure glory as the package had slipped from her hand.

She came to the mud-filled gap in the sidewalk she’d been going around for the last several weeks. Between the sun and her exhilaration she decided it was time to show it who was boss. With one running step for momentum, she jumped it cleanly. And laughed at herself for putting her arms up as if seeking a perfect ten for the dismount.

“Nice move!”

Diana turned to find Jeremy, who played the titular Tartuffe, applauding her. “Thank you kind sir.”

He gallantly tucked Diana’s hand under his arm as they crossed the street to the theater. Decades in local theater with a love of performance for its own sake, Jeremy had no illusions about the scope of his abilities. He made rehearsals lively and wasn’t fond of behind-the-scenes drama. Of all the small, local productions Diana had crashed for cover, this one had at least been among the most pleasant.

As she shed her coat off stage and found her curled and ragged script where she’d left it before the lunch break, Diana flashed again on the puzzle of Paris’s surprising identity. The woman had been dressed like someone one paycheck from homelessness. Diana didn’t know much about publishing, but a writer with a name she recognized from the grocery store, well, wouldn’t she be more like a Meryl Streep in She-Devil? A mansion on pristine headlands, diamonds glittering from a hat pin? More like Diana’s own relatives for that matter, with their ostentatiously casual wealth dripping from every spa-tightened pore?

She wondered about the incongruity of the puzzle until the smell of old dusty seats and stage floor varnish pushed all thoughts but the production out of her head. She did like the play and the players. It would be hard to walk away this time.


Hours later Diana’s back was the only thing on her mind. As she climbed the steep, linoleum-covered stairs to her attic apartment, every step was accompanied by a pulse of tear-inducing pain. Her ebullient mood had masked the warning signs. The Nurofen tablets she’d hastily swallowed had helped, but the annoyed and aching vertebrae hated the stairs. Well, it was only for a few more days. The privacy and week-to-week cash rental were exactly what she required.

Her first stop was the bottle of Tylenol 3 she kept in the cupboard next to the fridge. The milk was a little iffy, but she didn’t want to wait until she’d heated a tin of soup to take the medication. It would blunt the edge and getting off her feet plus a good night’s sleep would do the rest. The rock-slab of a chair at the tiny dinette table gave her immediate relief and for a moment she closed her eyes and willed the pain to subside. She’d had years on the gymnastics circuit to learn how to play hurt. Ten years after her last competition she was still playing hurt.

When the pain had faded from a hot red to a tolerable yellow on her personal meter, she eased the wig off with the help of a cotton swab and baby oil, and set it carefully on its pedestal. The windy day meant she had new snarls to brush out later. Feeling better by the minute, she wrestled her way out of her boots and carried them to the closet alcove. Her Irish lass attire fell onto the laundry pile alongside last night’s perfect costume.

A wig of short black hair, a ubiquitous button-up white shirt, black slacks and apron, and carrying a tray—presto! She had become part of the wallpaper in a busy restaurant. Entering the kitchen unchallenged was a simple matter of confidence. In a hotel the kitchen linked to everywhere and security was limited. Nobody noticed room service waiters. Tray lifted to block her face from the security camera, a quick knock, a few moments with her treasured Sissone pressed against the electronic lock and she’d been in the room. The object of her desire hadn’t even been in the hotel safe, just tucked in a jewelry case with other far more precious items. The case had been in the top dresser drawer, right on top.

One of the easiest jobs she’d ever done.

Happy to relax into warm yoga pants and her faded red Arsenal sweatshirt, she filled a saucepan with tinned mushroom soup and put it on the larger of the stove top burners. It would take a while before it reached tepid, let alone truly hot. Even though their ubiquity was a Yankee mystery, she was happy to spot a packet of oyster crackers in the jumble on the table. They would hold her over while she took off her makeup.

The dinette table was just big enough for her makeup mirror and supplies. Witch hazel and cold cream worked wonders. The Irish lass her own family wouldn’t recognize disappeared in minutes.
Color contacts out and the heavy makeup off at last, she became the brown-eyed towhead that Evelyn, Countess Donchester, would acknowledge as the product of her first marriage. Acknowledge—yes. Approve of—heavens no. They loved each other, to be sure. Diana thought that her frequent and lengthy absences made them appreciate each other when they were in the same room.

Feeling much lighter and aware that the codeine was moving the pain from yellow to green, Diana plucked a sepia-toned photograph from its anchor point in the corner of the mirror. She studied the high forehead and long plaits of black hair that framed the woman’s somber face. At the neck of what was probably a deerskin ceremonial dress was a small brooch of ordinary stones and turquoise beads strung and twisted to clasp a small dark feather. The faded coloration of the very old photograph turned the beads a uniform dusty brown.

She allowed herself a grin as she fished out the photo album she kept in the smallest of her half-unpacked suitcases. Flipping it open to the ribbon she used as a bookmark, she slid the photo into its original sleeve and used the mirror’s lighting to study the brooch one last time. It might have been an indication of rank or merely ornamental. It could have been a gift from a suitor who showed devotion by supplying fresh feathers, or a fetish the native woman had made for herself.

Diana now knew the beads were clay red stone and beautifully variegated turquoise. The combination had looked beautiful in the palm of her gloved hand.

She sipped her soup from a chipped mug while ensconced in the apartment’s only other chair. At least the recliner worked, and the floor lamp next to it put good light on her treasured photographs. Turning the pages was a happy journey of past successes and future endeavors. Obsidian earrings, a carved leather choker, a delicate glazed black and white bowl. A tribal gavel, unpolished diamonds set into a ceremonial goblet—so many pretty things. Some of them she’d touched, but for most she was still waiting for that joy. After the wedding she’d pick something new.

All the adrenaline of the past month slowly drained out of her until she was too limp to move. It didn’t matter. The recliner was no worse for her back than the Murphy bed. The thump of her landlord arriving home for the night was the last thing she remembered.

She woke cold and stiff and mightily wished she’d grabbed a blanket. At least her back had stopped aching. The photo album tumbled to the floor as she dragged herself upright. Groggy and yawning, she got the Murphy bed lowered without the usual conk on the head. It was no sooner in place than she realized the album was now out of reach underneath. She could leave it until morning, after she tucked the bed into the wall again. But the knowledge that something so precious to her was on the floor would likely keep her awake, so she slithered under the bed and emerged with the album out the other side. There were advantages to being small and nimble.

About to switch off the overhead light for good, she found herself standing stock still with one hand on the light switch and the other holding the album. It had fallen open to the third page, displaying one of the first photos she’d collected. It featured a burly man at a podium, about to strike an elegant, curved gavel to the wood.

Her sleepy brain slowly called up the object’s data. The delicate handle was carved from highly polished, partially petrified ram’s bone. The head was a stunning single piece of faceted obsidian laboriously and carefully bored to allow the handle to fit through it. A thin disc of rose gold was inset over the eye where the two pieces joined. In spite of disputed provenance, at last auction the artifact had fetched over two thousand pounds. The winning bidder and current so-called owner was the American tycoon in the photograph. A man with fingers in entertainment—television, tabloid news, films. And publishing.

Her drowsiness fled. She closed her eyes to recall the fallen letter. Anita Topaz’s letter. Signed by Ronald Keynes Reynard himself.

Copyrighted material, uncorrected proof, 2017

My Lady Lipstick will be available in early 2018. Did you see the excerpt from Chapter One here?

Belleek hounds in progress

Now It’s More than a Teapot – Travel Synchronicity

Karin Kallmaker Book News, My Lady Lipstick 8 Comments

 I t all started when I was fleshing out the character profiles for my next novel, you know, like you do. Paris, the main character of My Lady Lipstick, shares a house with her landladies. I had already decided the landladies, living in Revere Massachusetts (a Boston suburb), would logically have strong ties to Ireland.

More than two months ago I worked out their age and their history as Irish immigrants. They like to invite Paris up for tea whenever they have news to share. Tea means teacups and teapots and, well, TEA.

tea bags with loose tea

A Word about Tea. Tea’s the Word.

I wondered – what do the Irish call “Irish breakfast tea”? Wouldn’t it just be “breakfast tea”? I turned to the Googlez and discovered in short order that there is no such thing as Irish Breakfast Tea if you’re Irish. There is TEA.

And on my trip to Ireland a few weeks ago, I further discerned that it’s either Barry’s or Lyons Read More