Copycat Hilton Garden Inn Cookies and a Cookie Swap!

Hilton Garden Inn Cookies

I participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! I was somewhat hesitant to do so this year since I’ve been traveling so much, but I’m so glad I did. It gave me a chance to share some of my favorite cookies with people, and I got to taste cookies from some amazing bloggers. It also gives me a chance to share a story that I was too embarrassed to share earlier, but now that I’m posting this recipe, I can’t hide my crazy anymore.

A few months before my wedding, I went to check out some hotels near my parents’ house in Indiana that our guests would be staying in. After a trip to the Hilton Garden Inn, the manager offered us some of their cookies, warm and fresh our of the oven. I’m not often impressed by hotel cookies, but these were good. Really good. Essentially, they’re oatmeal cookies with cranberries, blueberries, and white chocolate chips. And apparently crack, because they’re totally addictive (don’t worry people who received my cookies, I left that ingredient out).

When I got back home to Dallas, instead of focusing on my upcoming wedding, I became obsessed with recreating these cookies. I even went to a few local Hilton Garden Inn’s so I could get some cookies to aid in the recreation process. They all refused to sell me any and looked at me like I was crazy.

I did, however, manage to get my hands on a list of ingredients, and I found out that the original recipe uses no butter or eggs. However, I like the flavor of butter in my cookies, so I used a half butter half shortening combo, but feel free to use all shortening to make them more authentic. I didn’t like any of the eggless varieties of these cookies that I tested, so I added an egg to mine. I also made these cookies mini, because when it comes to snacks, I’m a fan of quantity. If you decide to make larger cookies, you’ll need to adjust the baking time.

To keep these cookies from spreading, shape them into squares and freeze them for at least one hour before baking. If you don’t care if they look exactly like the original Hilton Garden Inn Cookies, there’s no need to shape the cookies in advance. You can just chill the dough in the fridge for an hour before baking.

Hilton Garden Inn Cookies

Copycat Hilton Garden Inn Cookies and a Cookie Swap!

Yield: about 3 dozen mini cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 dried blueberries (or blueberry craisins)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plus all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons quick-cooking oats
  • For topping:
  • Rolled Oats
  • Sparkling sugar or turbinado sugar

Instructions

  1. Place the dried cranberries, blueberries, and white chocolate chips in a food processor and pulse a few times until you get smaller bits. (This step is optional, but leads to a more authentic cookie).
  2. With an electric mixer (or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), cream together the butter, shortening, brown sugar, and white sugar for 1-2 minutes. Don't over mix, as this can cause the cookies to spread.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat for an additional 30 seconds until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and beat on low until just combined.
  6. Stir in the quick oats and the cranberry/blueberry white chocolate mixture.
  7. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  8. Use a small cookie scoop to portion out the dough and shape them into squares with your hands. Place the shaped cookies onto the cookie sheets and top with rolled oats and sparkling sugar.
  9. Place the cookie sheets in the freezer for at least one hour.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  11. Bake the cookies for 11-13 minutes, until the edges start to lightly brown.
  12. Cool completely on wire racks.
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Cookie recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies

Dark chocolate almond cookies

I’ll admit that when I want a cookie, I don’t stray very often from the traditional chocolate chip variety. I have my go to recipe from Demolition Desserts that’s slightly crisp on the outside with perfectly chewy innards, and the only time I’ll mess with it when I’m feeling a little nutty in which case I’ll brown the butter. On occasion, I will try another recipe if it’s really intriguing, but the only time I’ll share it with you is if it’s exceptionally delicious. These cookies are exceptionally delicious.

These started out as Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies from the Flour Bakery Cookbook, and after several transformations, became Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies. There’s almond meal in the batter, yo! Also, I couldn’t decide between chopped bittersweet chocolate that gets all melty and gooey in the cookies or chocolate chips that hold their shape, so I threw in a combination of both.

Dark chocolate almond cookiesDark chocolate Almond CookiesDark chocolate almond cookies

Some cookie dough needs minimal chill time in the fridge (or none at all) and some need a good overnight rest. I can tell you that these fall into the latter category. Since I’m somewhat impatient when it comes to desserts, I “tested” a few cookies early and the texture just wasn’t as good as those that got some shut eye. I would also recommend not making these cookies too large. I used a large cookie scoop for the first batch and ended up with burnt edges and an underdone center, so I ended up going with the small cookie scoop for the second batch and was pleased with the results.

Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (140 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (150 grams) dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (175 grams) toasted almonds
  • 1 1/2 (210 grams) cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar for 1-2 minutes until smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat for an additional minute until combined.
  4. In a food processor, pulse 1/2 cup of the toasted almonds until you reach a fine powder (if you pulse it too long it will become oily).
  5. Coarsely chop the remaining 3/4 cup of almonds.
  6. Combine the ground almonds, chopped almonds, flour, baking soda, salt, chopped chocolate, and chocolate chips in a bowl.
  7. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined (do not over mix).
  8. Use a small cookie scoop to scoop the dough onto the cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart.
  9. Bake for 9-10 minutes until the edges are golden brown.
  10. Cool completely on wire racks.
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Recipe adapted The Flour Bakery Cookbook

Vegan Dark Chocolate, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Cookies

Olive Oil Chocolate Cookies

I’ve never doubted that vegan cakes could taste as good as their non-vegan counterparts, but I wasn’t quite sold on vegan cookies. There are a number of good substitutes for butter (although recently, I’ve been reading how terrible palm oil is), but replacing an egg can be tricky. I’ve tried the flax egg thing, and maybe I’m doing it wrong, but it just doesn’t taste right to me. However, my opinion of vegan cookies changed when I made these.

The egg is replaced by tapioca flour (also known as tapioca starch), which can just be dumped into your recipe as is- no grinding of flaxseeds necessary! I read about this swap in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and apparently, it works well with other starches like arrowroot and cornstarch, although I’ve never tried them so I can’t say for sure.

Olive Oil Chocolate CookiesOlive Oil Chocolate CookiesOlive Oil Chocolate CookiesOlive Oil Chocolate Cookies

The Texas heat makes me a little sluggish and I wasn’t up for anything elaborate, so this is a total lazy girl’s (or guy’s, no discrimination here) cookie. One bowl, dump and stir, and no chilling time! Instant cookie gratification! However, the food blogger in me did want a little bit of fancy, so I busted out the good olive oil since I thought it paired nicely with the chocolate and topped the cookies with a little bit of flaky sea salt. I like a salty cookie anyway, but dark chocolate practically screams for it. If you’re not a fan of the olive oil in your cookies, this recipe will work just fine with any neutral vegetable oil or even melted coconut oil, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. I liked the olive oil/chocolate combo so much, you may see it soon in the form of a cake!

Vegan Dark Chocolate, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Cookies

Yield: about 30 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 2/3 cup (150 grams) dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup (67 grams) organic granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all purpose flour, divided
  • 1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (175 grams) vegan bittersweet chocolate chips
  • flaky sea salt for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the olive oil, non-dairy milk, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and tapioca flour, and vanilla extract with a fork for about 2 minutes until the mixture thickens and looks like caramel.
  3. Add 1 cup of the all purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and mix until combined.
  4. Mix in the remaining 1/2 cup of the flour.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Using a cookie scoop, drop balls of the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets one inch apart. The dough will be a little but greasy, so you may need to use your fingers to push the dough together into balls.
  7. Sprinkle the dough with a little bit of sea salt and bake them for about 8 minutes (9-10 minutes for a crisper cookie.
  8. Cool completely on wire racks.
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For a thicker, puffier cookie, reduce the non-dairy milk to 1/4 cup.
Baking time is based on cookies that I made with a small cookie scoop. If you make larger cookies, you will need to increase the baking time.
Natural cocoa powder will work in this recipe, but you will end up with a lighter colored cookie.