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Cookies for the Winter Queen

I had been wanting to post this recipe on Winter Solstice proper (I’m a big ol’ Pagan) since it’s one of my annual solstice desserts and quite the favorite of my party guests.

Unfortunately, what with actually getting ready for the party and spending the whole day in the kitchen making batches and batches of cookies, I didn’t get to post this until now.

Such is life.



Now I know that there have been a million and one cookie recipes popping up on OurDeer (and everywhere else) in the past month or two – it being That Time Of Year and “everyone” having some kind of festival or holy day happening between the first of November and the end of January – but here’s a recipe I doubt you’ve encountered.

An acquaintance of mine – fantastical author Seanan McGuire – lives in California, where pomegranates grow locally, and she makes chocolate-pomegranate cookies every year to celebrate the season.

Last year, she posted the recipe to her blog (you can also find it here) for all and sundry to snag and I, being the improvisational little squirrel that I am, promptly mucked about with it and worked out a version of my own that involved (a) adding more chocolate and (b) making it gluten-free.

Now, I know that I said my cooking tends to strive for local-seasonal ingredients (at least when I’m not using dry-goods). To a certain extent, this goal takes a flying leap out of the window during Midwinter.

Case in point.

The mandarin oranges and pomegranates still sitting in my kitchen aren’t remotely local. They came from China and California respectively and spent a lot of time on a plane to get to my neighbourhood.

But they are seasonal. And that’s a big part of why I got them (instead of, say, strawberries or mangoes) in for the party.

Below you’ll find the recipe for my version of Seanan McGuire’s Winter Queen Cookies.

You’ll need to get yourself a bottle of pomegranate molasses. You can pick this stuff up at a Lebanese or Persian grocery store without too much trouble. (I’m in Ottawa, Ontario, and I get mine from the Shiraz market on Somerset West at Percy, just FYI).


Cookies for the Winter Queen

You Will Need

  • Medium-sized mixing bowl (for dry ingredients)
  • Large mixing bowl (for all ingredients)
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • A cookie sheet (or two), well-greased
  • Spoons for mixing and for making the drop-cookies



  • ¼ C Cocoa
  • ½ C Buckwheat flour
  • ½ C Amaranth flour
  • 1 C Corn starch
  • 1 Tsp baking soda
  • ½ Tsp salt
  • ½ Tsp ground cloves
  • ½ C Granulated sugar
  • 1/3 C Lightly packed brown sugar
  • ½ C Butter (or margarine)
  • 1 Large egg (OR ¼ C silken tofu, well mashed + 1 tsp baking powder)
  • ¼ C Pomegranate molasses (easily available from middle eastern grocery stores)
  • ½ C Dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ C Pomegranate seeds[*]



  • Pre-heat your oven to 350F.
  • Mix the flours, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in the medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
  • Cream together the sugars, butter, eggs, vanilla, and pomegranate molasses in the large bowl until it looks a bit like pudding.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture until everything is thoroughly mixed (using gluten-free flours gives you an advantage here, as it’s harder to “over-mix” things). NOTE: Your dough will be light and fairly fluffy – more like a stiff cupcake batter than like cookie dough. This is okay.
  • Add the chocolate chips and the pomegranate seeds and mix until they are evenly distributed through the dough.
  • Grease at least one cookie sheet. NOTE: The cookies will be sticky when they come out of the oven, so this bit is important.
  • Drop the dough, by tablespoons, onto the cookie sheets. (Space them about two inches apart to allow for spread)
  • Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.
  • Allow to stand for *at least* ten minutes before moving the cookies to wire racks to finish cooling. If you don’t do this bit, you risk breaking your cookies. They need to cool down before they are moved. I recommend using a metal flipper/spatula to gently remove them from the cookie sheet after the ten minutes are up.


Serve with cranberry juice, hot chocolate, mulled cider, or another beverage of your choice.


Cookies for the Winter Queen

The pomegranate seeds will soften to about the consistency of baked walnuts or pecans. The juicy part of the seed will, however, remain intact. Delicious!

Hope you all had a wonderful Solstice (and a chance to get a look at that eclipse)!

Got a favourite recipe you bring out every year? Drop me a comment and tell me all about it.

You can get these by buying a whole pomegranate and taking the seeds out yourself, OR you can (sometimes) pick up a box of pomegranate seeds from the grocery store – but I’ve only recently started seeing this, so I wouldn’t count on that option. I stick with seeding my own pomegranates, myself. It’s messy, but it works.


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