The trouble with the holiday season is the baking guilt.
The issue is that I don't like baking. It's too precise a practice for me to enjoy. I prefer the little-of-this-little-of-that approach to cooking, which works fine for pasta dinners, but generally is a disagreeable way to bake.
But at this time of year, we are constantly reminded that happy families are supposed to have special bonding moments while baking luscious holiday treats. If we really loved our children, we'd be delighted by the mess they make while dumping flour on the floor and spilling raw eggs down the side of the stove.
And so begins the guilt. Not only are we supposed to be baking, we're also supposed to be enjoying it.
To attempt to assuage my guilt, every year I search for something I can handle. A recipe that is fast and easy. A recipe that is forgiving enough to accommodate my freewheeling approach to the kitchen. A recipe that requires minimal mess, minimal fuss, that is child-friendly and that will satisfy that peculiar holiday carb-driven urge.
This year I decided to do away with the trouble of a search and simply create my own. I wanted a cookie that is versatile and simple. A drop cookie was ideal; no bothersome shaping or chilling or decorating. If it could be made in one bowl, all the better. And flexibility was a must.
These cherry-chocolate drop cookies are the easy and delicious result. If you don't like dried cherries, substitute another dried fruit (Raisins? Cranberries? Apricots? Dates? Whatever.). Prefer semi-sweet chocolate or no chocolate or nuts? Have at it. However you make these cookies, they'll come together fast and easy so you can ditch the holiday baking guilt and get on with the holidays.
• J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs atLunchBoxBlues.com and tweets @JM--Hirsch. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.