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And that’s how you make a real cookie

One warm and fuzzy part of the holiday tradition is cookie-making. But for the novice baker it can be time-consuming, confusing and messy.

There’s an easier way for the cookie-confused. Purists will scoff – until they taste the end product. Essentially, we’re going to doctor a tube of Pillsbury chocolate chip cookies into unrecognizability.

You’ll need the cookie dough and bags of Mariani dried cherries, Diamond pecan halves and Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate morsels, all found at most supermarkets.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the dough and lay the tube on the surface of a nonstick baking pan; be sure the dough is very cold. Ignore the directions on the tube. We want clunky, politically incorrect cookies, so we need to break the rules.

Using a blunt knife (so the nonstick surface isn’t damaged), cut the roll into half-inch-thick coins. Place them around the cookie sheet. They’re big and awkward and will take up most of the sheet, but that’s OK – we want them to melt into each other and stick together, so when they cool, we’ll need to break them off at the “seams.”

Now the fun part: Take a few cherries, pecans and chocolate morsels and mash them into the dough. How’s it looking? Need another pecan over there? What about more cherries on that one? Does that one have enough chocolate? You get the idea.

Put the cookies in the oven and ignore the instructions on the label. Bake ’em for 20 minutes and add 2 or 3 minutes, depending on how they look. We want them crunchy.

Remove the cookies from the oven. They smell and look pretty darn good, don’t they? What do you say now, Martha Stewart?

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