Showing posts with label Cookies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cookies. Show all posts

Friday, June 8, 2018

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies


For the weeks and days leading up to an east coast destination running trip with friends, I became obsessed with checking the weather. And once we arrived, there probably wasn't an hour that went by that at least one of us was checking it. We weren't just consumed with race day weather conditions, but with the weather for each of the five days we planned to be there. Considering the fluidity of weather reports, why would we spend any time worrying about something completely out of our control? Mostly because we looked forward to doing everything on our itinerary. But partly because running has made weather watching part of our daily (and in some instances hourly) routines. Race day conditions were as close to perfect as possible. So not even two days of rain and one day of high humidity spoiled or deterred us from having fun. I would, however, have loved for my friends first trip to Martha's Vineyard to be one having a calm sea and slightly breezy, sunny day rather than one dominated by continued waves of rain and a roller coaster fast ferry ride. Up until the ferry ride to the Vineyard, I had always said to anyone who asked or was anxious about being on a ferry that you could barely feel the ocean waves during the hour long trip. Going forward I may have to reframe how I describe what that fast ferry ride could feel like.


Being the only one in the group having first hand familiarity with the part of Rhode Island we would be spending most of our time in (as well as the Vineyard), creating the trip itinerary fell to me. As much as I love being in control (what Type A personality doesn't?), I felt some self-imposed pressure to create a plan which would allow my friends to not only understand why this part of the world was one of my happy places, but also have them leave feeling touched by its' beauty and enchantment. For me, sharing a place in the world where I feel such a deep emotional connection is akin to giving the most unselfish, priceless gift imaginable. Yet just as important, sharing such a meaningful place can further strengthens the bonds of a friendship. And as close as I felt to my friends before the trip, I felt even closer to them after it ended.


Weighing more heavily on me than whether or not my friends would really, really like the sites and food venues I had chosen for us (including the local coffee shop), was the 10 mile race. The real reason for the trip. The combination of an injury plagued winter/spring, a long run of only 6 miles, and a work emergency preventing my running partner from joining us had me more than a little anxious on the couple of days prior to as well as the morning of the race. I had mentally linked my race endurance and finish to being able to run it with a friend. Running the 10 miles on my own seemed like an insurmountable distance. As someone who doesn't have the best running 'head' game, I needed to figure out how to not only get through it but finish it before the course closed. I decided early on I would not judge my performance by my time, but rather by my effort. Additionally, I was committed to not being the one doing the 'coming home without race medal bling' walk of shame. With the time pressure off my shoulders, I surprised myself by being able to finish the race fifteen minutes earlier than I anticipated. It might have been eighteen minutes if I hadn't stopped several times to take some photos of the spectacular scenic course. Better than having the finishers race medal placed around my neck as I crossed the finish line was realizing I didn't need anyone to push me, to keep me focused. I only needed me. Reconnecting with my inner strength may have been the best race reward to come in my second running life. Proof that anything is possible if you want it bad enough.


On the fast ferry ride to the Vineyard, I had bought some Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies for us to nibble on during the ride over. As soon as I tasted the cookie, I knew I would be making some when I returned home. After learning the cookie maker used cake and bread flours in his cookies, I knew which cookie recipe I would adapt. the Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookie recipe. One I shared on the blog more than five years ago.


With the exception of increasing the amount of vanilla, using white chocolate chips instead of (dark) chocolate chips, adding dried cranberries, and eliminating the sea salt finish, almost everything about the recipe remained the same. Some might put these Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies in the fussyterian category as it uses both cake and bread flours versus the more common all-purpose flour. Two flours one might not normally buy or keep unless cake baking and/or bread making is your passion. But whatever you do, don't let this little bit of fussiness stop you from making these cookies.


Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar are beat until light and fluffy. This will take approximately 5 minutes. The eggs are beaten in one at a time, followed by the vanilla. After reducing the mixer speed to low, the dry ingredients are added and beaten just until incorporated. Lastly the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries and mixed in. Instead of white chocolate chips, you could also use coarsely chopped white chocolate.

Now comes the second somewhat fussy part. The dough has to be chilled for 24 to 36 hours before baking. When making the chocolate chip and sea salt version of the Jacques Torres cookies, I simply covered the bowl of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerated it. What I have learned from making hundreds of dough chilling cookies is shaping the dough into balls before refrigerating makes the baking process so much easier. Just remember to tightly cover the trays of dough balls.

In a preheated 350 degree (F) oven, the cookies bake for 15-17 minutes. Turn the tray midway and tap it gently on the counter before returning to the oven. Upon removing the baked cookies from the oven, I gave the tray another light tap. After 10 minutes of cooling on the cookie sheet, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to allow them to cool completely.


Honestly, these Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies were better than the ones we had on the ferry.


From this point forward, this will be my Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. Why mess with perfection when you find it? These cookies are crunchy, chewy, and oh so satisfying. The taste of the dried cranberries balances nicely with the cookie itself as well as the flavor and texture of the white chocolate. It's a complete package of deliciousness!


Store the baked cookies in a tightly sealed container. If you place the cookies in a ziplock bag, you can freeze them and thaw just before serving. It's always good idea to have some home baked cookies on hand without having to go through all the work of making them. You never know when you are going to get a craving for them or have unexpected guests.

Seriously, these Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies are swoonworthy delicious. They are also slightly addicting.

Recipe
Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies, an adaptation of the Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookie recipe
Makes 46-48 (3") cookies 

Ingredients
2 cups cake flour with 2 Tablespoons removed (8 1/2 ounces)
1 2/3 cups bread flour (8 1/2 ounces)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 1/4 cups (or 2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar, firmly packed 
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar (8 ounces)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 Tablespoon high quality vanilla extract
1 pound white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate
9 ounces dried cranberries

Directions
1. Take butter and eggs out of the refrigerator the night before so they can come to room temperature.
2. Sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and both sugars until very light and fluffy (approximately 5 minutes)
4. Add eggs in one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Mix in vanilla.
6. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients. Mix until just combined 15-30 seconds.  Do careful to not over mix.
7. Drop in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries. Mix until incorporated in the dough.
8. Using a large (1 3/4") ice cream scooper, make and place dough balls on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover tightly plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24-36 hours. Alternately place plastic wrap directly against the dough in the bowl. Chill dough in the refrigerator for 24-36 hours.
9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
10. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
11. Place 9-10 balls on a cookie sheet. Press dough down oh so lightly, just to flatten the top. Note: If you had chilled the entire bowl of dough, use a large (1 3/4") ice cream scooper, make and place dough balls on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
12. Bake in upper top third of oven for 16-18 minutes (turning tray around midway through the baking process) or until they are lightly golden but still soft.
13. Transfer cookie sheet to wire rack and let cookies rest for 10 minutes. Remove slightly cooled cookies to another wire rack to cool further.
14. Serve and enjoy!
15. Store cookies in a sealed container and/or store baked cookies in the freezer. If frozen, allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Notes: (1) If you don't want to bake all the cookies at once, freeze the dough balls in a ziplock bag after they have chilled in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Baking time may need to increase by 1 or 2 minutes. (2) In addition to white chocolate chips and coarsely chopped white chocolate, could also use white chocolate discs. If discs are used, recommend coarsely chopping them. (3) I use Ghiradelli white chocolate chips in these cookies.


South Shore Beach, Little Compton, Rhode Island (June 2018) 




Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Chocolate Dipped Viennese Biscuits


In less than four weeks I head out to the east coast for a much anticipated race weekend trip with several of my friends. As much as I am looking forward to returning to and sharing my happy place with these friends, I am a tiny bit anxious about the ten mile run (the reason we planned this adventure in the first place). Mostly because my winter running injuries have significantly limited the number of miles I have logged in a weekly basis over the past few months. If I weren't running with a friend who always seems to have an uncanny positive impact on my speed and endurance, I would be hyperventilating right about now. So while running ten miles seems a little daunting at the moment, I am repeatedly telling myself 'you will NOT be the only one who returns home without the race bling'. It has become my daily mantra. Somewhat jokingly I said I wanted to get a tattoo after the race. Time will tell if I was delirious or serious when I shared that with my friends. 


It was when I was living on the east coast I first tasted a Viennese Biscuit Cookie. Actually the one I inhaled was called a Viennese Finger Biscuit. One where some decadent buttercream and raspberry jam was sandwiched between two biscuits, then partially dipped in chocolate. It was one of those drop the mic first bite moments. Recently I discovered there was an un-sandwiched version of these biscuits. One that looked less labor intensive and if I must say, so much prettier. So I revisited the recipe I posted to the blog several years back and made some changes to it. Increasing the amounts and altering the ratios of butter, flours, confectionary sugar, and vanilla, along with adding some kosher salt were the ingredient changes made, I stayed with using the same large star pastry tip but decided to change how these biscuits would be piped onto the the baking sheet. And the result of these two changes? An even better tasting, better looking, drop the mic Viennese Biscuit. 


How would I describe these Chocolate Dipped Viennese Biscuits? They taste like a cross between butter and shortbread cookies and have the perfect melt in your mouth crispness to them. The addition of the dark chocolate ramps up their flavor another several notches, putting them them into the elusive, most irresistible cookies (or rather biscuits) category. 


As I looked at other Viennese Biscuit recipes before settling on the altered version of my original recipe, I learned some contained cornstarch, most used only all-purpose flour rather than a combination of self-rising and all-purpose flours, and even fewer added kosher salt. The batter for these biscuits is on the thicker, but not on the too thick side as they would be almost impossible to pipe through a pastry bag. 


I also found these Viennese Biscuits were made in various shapes: fingers, circles, whirls, and squiggly versions. There was something irresistible about the squiggly shape, so I decided to try my hand at forming them. As much as I wanted all of them to be perfectly shaped and sized, it became clear after piping out two of them that they weren't going to be. Maybe with practice they could be, but honestly, I sort of liked how each one had their own individual, slightly similar look. What I am trying to say is that unless you have a Type A++ personality, don't obsess over getting each biscuit to look exactly the same. Their homemade look is endearing.


They bake in preheated 350 degree (F) oven for 15 to 17 minutes or until they are lightly browned on the bottom and sides.


Before transferring the biscuits to a cooling rack, allow them remain on the baking sheet for 4-5 minutes.


They need to cool completely before being dipped in melted dark (or milk) chocolate. To add a bit of whimsy to them, some were topped with some chocolate sprinkles. Because there is no such thing as a cookie topped with too much chocolate.


You can dip half of them in chocolate or cover them completely. Adding sprinkles is optional.


How much do I love these Chocolate Dipped Viennese Biscuits? Well, if I had to choose between my favorite chocolate chip cookies and these, I couldn't. I am completely smitten with and giddy over both of them.


I promise these Chocolate Dipped Viennese Biscuits will get rave reviews when you make them for your family and friends. They might even become one of your most requested cookies. 
Recipe
Chocolate Dipped Viennese Biscuits
Makes 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups (345 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces (12 Tablespoons) confectionary sugar
5 1/2 ounces (156 g) all-purpose flour
5 1/2 ounces (156 g) self-rising flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
8-10 ounces dark or milk chocolate, melted
Optional: Sprinkles

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Sift all-purpose flour, self-rising flour, and salt into a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
3. In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, cream the butter and confectionary sugar until light, creamy, and fluffy (approximately 4 minutes).
4. Beat in the vanilla.
5. Add half of the sifted ingredients and mix to blend. Add remaining half and beat until blended. Note: Your batter should still have a creaminess texture to it.
6. Using a medium sized pastry bag fitted large star tip, pipe 3 1/2 - 4 inch lengths of dough in a zig zag pattern. Or alternately pipe them into fingers or circles.
7. Bake biscuits for approximately 15-17 minutes or until sides and bottoms are lightly browned. 
Note: Turn baking pan around midway through the baking process.
8. Let baked biscuits remain on the baking pan for 4-5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Allow biscuits to cool completely.
9. Melt dark chocolate in either the microwave or over a double boiler. Dip one side of the biscuit into the melted chocolate. Place dipped biscuit on a baking pan or cutting board lined with parchment paper. Allow the chocolate to completely set.
10. Transfer finished biscuits to a covered tin (if not serving immediately) or arrange on a platter.

Notes: (1) The Viennese Biscuits are over the top delicious dipped in chocolate, but still incredibly delicious plain. (2) Instead of making the cookies in zig zag pattern, can also pipe the dough into a circle. (3) If dough is too thin, add more all-purpose and self-rising flour, one Tablespoon at a time. Two additional Tablespoons would bring the weight of the flours to approximately 171g or 6 ounce each. (4) Because this is a very thick dough, use a sturdy pastry bag.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Sea Salted Espresso Brownie Crinkle Cookies


We all have those days or weeks in our lives when life tests our physical endurance, emotional stability, ability to handle stress, and/or the belief in the power of prayer. Last week life tested all of those for me. With my husband undergoing aortic aneurysm surgery, one having a fair amount of risk to it, it took all of my energy and resilience, along with the incredible amount of love and support from family and friends, to help me to stay as grounded as possible through it all. And I wasn't even the one experiencing all of the hope, angst, and pain that comes with being the patient. At times like these, the fear of the unknown can take my mind to places I instinctively know are ones I don't want to spend any amount of time in. Mostly due to the fear of being swallowed up in them without either having the strength or a life line bringing me back to a place where I can breathe somewhat normally again. Trying to keep my thoughts positive took an inordinate amount of energy because rational and irrational worrisome ones continued trying to creep into my head. Particularly while waiting during the lengthy surgery. Sometimes these worries got in and lingered there for awhile. Draining me emotionally and physically. In spite of having prided myself on having a fairly high degree of resiliency over the years, this was a context it had yet to be vetted against.


As a caregiver you can't really lose sight of the emotions and levels of discomfort the patient is experiencing. Although there are moments when you are so consumed with your own anxieties it becomes hard to be compassionate 24/7. Even after your worst fears aren't realized (thank goodness for talented surgeons, skilled nurses, and medical science advancement), the ability to be remain steadfastly empathic fluctuates. At least it did for me. Fortunately these moments have been short lived. When you spend a significant amount of time in a hospital you become hyper aware of the everyone around you. Of the many observations made during the past week was how consistently attentive, kind, and yes, compassionate the medical professional staff in the hospital were. To the point where I was in awe of their ability to remain calm in the most chaotic of moments. Whether these are qualities they need to possess or not, doesn't matter. They are admirable. 


I wanted to, no I needed to, show my appreciation to everyone involved in my husband's care and recovery with more than saying thank you. Making food has always been one of the ways I show gratefulness to others. Only this week I couldn't even muster enough energy to make a batch of cookies. I tried to remind myself baking is cathartic. But even that truth wasn't compelling enough to get me in the kitchen. So instead I brought in candy from one of my favorite stores, doughnuts, baby bundtlets, muffins, and cookies. Everything was store bought. Nothing was homemade (by me). When you get immense pleasure from baking for others, bringing something made by someone else doesn't seem to carry the same weight of appreciation. At least it doesn't for the giving me. The weight of the world temporarily lifted from my shoulders when we both able to return home. My energy level began returning in calm, steady waves. For the couple of hours spent baking a new cookie recipe, I could suspend thinking about the temporary new normal and simply lose myself (and my stress). It was one of the reprieves my mind and body so desperately needed. 


In the last couple of weeks, I noticed the uncanny, almost simultaneous sharing of two brownie crinkle cookies on Instagram. Visually these two cookies almost looked identical to one another although there were variations in both the ingredients used and techniques applied. Judging the reactions these cookies were receiving, it appeared they were destined to be the second best cookie of the year. Several months ago the Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread, an incredibly delicious version of the chocolate chip cookie, had almost everyone across the globe declaring them to be the best cookie ever. Because I find cookies made with chocolate slightly irresistible, I too wanted to jump on this brownie crinkle cookie bandwagon. From my perspective, it seemed there was a cookie throw down in the making, but no one seemed to want to pit these two cookies against one another, including me. In spite of the fact both recipes had some similarities to my favorite Maida Haetter Chocolate Whoppers I still felt compelled to make them. Or at least one of them. Although, instead of choosing one recipe over the other, I decided to do a mash-up between the two of them with a little Maida Haetter thrown in for good measure. 

If you haven't noticed, but there has been a bit of a 'pounding of the cookie sheet during baking' phenomenon going on right now. Intentionally deflated cookies, particularly chocolate chip cookies, are now trending. Which might explain in party why this technique is now being applied to other kinds of cookies. Like these Sea Salted Espresso Brownie Crinkle Cookies. Rather than being the 'first one out of the gate' to use the deflated cookie technique, I would be one of many fast followers out there.


So let's talk about these absolutely super delicious, slightly addictive cookies. In addition to dark chocolate (having a cocoa content ranging from 62-70%), these Sea Salted Espresso Brownie Crinkle Cookies also have Dutch-processed cocoa as one of the ingredients. Instant espresso ramps up the intensity of the chocolate flavor in these cookies while also giving them an ever so slight hint of the taste of coffee. In my world it would be sacrilegious to leave out vanilla in any cookie involving chocolate. Even if only a half teaspoon of it is added in. There are two kinds of salt in these cookies: kosher and flaky sea salt. One is mixed into the batter, while the other is sprinkled on top. 


Normally I buy blocks or bars of chocolate, but for this cookie I decided to use chocolate chips. Especially since the chocolate was going to first be melted with the butter and then mixed into the batter. Whether you choose blocks, bars, or chips, use a dark chocolate, one having 62%-70% cocoa. Begin making these cookies by melting the butter and chocolate as the mixture needs to cool slightly before being added to the batter.


While the melted chocolate/butter is cooling, place the the eggs and both sugars in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat until the mixture has doubled in volume, has thick consistency, and appears to be a light caramel color (my beating time was 5 minutes). Mix in the chocolate/butter mixture and vanilla until incorporated, followed by mixing in the dry ingredients. Do not over beat the batter or it will begin to dry out while appearing to be wet, ultimately affecting the sheen of your baked cookies. 


Using an ice cream scoop helps to create uniformed sized, almost perfectly round cookies. I used one slightly larger than one inch in diameter. The sprinkling sea salt on most chocolate cookies definitely gives them a certain wow factor. And this cookie is no exception. Don't overcrowd the baking sheet as these cookies will spread to a little more than three inches in diameter. Would recommend baking only 8 to 10 cookies at a time.


Until most cookies that require no babysitting or fussing with until they are done, these Sea Salted Espresso Brownie Crinkle Cookies are a bit on the high maintenance side. If anything gives high maintenance a good name, these cookies do. Overall baking time is 11-12 minutes, however, at the 5, 7, and 9 minute marks, the baking pan is removed from the oven, tapped on the counter to help with the deflating process. Trust me when I say this one of those times when being a fussyterian pays off. 


The baked cookies rest on the baking sheet for five minutes before being transferred to a cooling rack.


I would tell you to wait until the cookies are cooled to try one, but having tasted one still warm I can't. If there was one reward you should give yourself for making these Sea Salted Espresso Brownie Crinkle Cookies for your family and/or friends, it would be to eat one of them while they are still warm. It will be one of your OMG moments of the day. 


These are definitely a cross between a brownie and a cookie. In other words, they are the best of two worlds. A tad rich, intensely chocolately and slightly fudgy, these are kinds of cookies you would really like to hoard for yourself. But you will experience a different kind of euphoria when you share them with your family and/or friends. These Sea Salted Espresso Brownie Crinkle Cookies are definitely ones I will be making again (and again and again). Yes, they are keepers. Not just because they are insanely delicious, but because they will always remind me of two things: (1) how much I value the people in my life who get me and still love me and (2) how much I get from baking. Especially when life tests my endurance, resilience, and strength all at once.

If it ever gets warm here, these Sea Salted Espresso Brownie Crinkle Cookies would make great Sea Salted Espresso Brownie Crinkle Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches. Vanilla or Mocha Chip Ice Cream would be my first choices. Although I wouldn't rule out Coconut, Chocolate Chip Mint, or Espresso ice cream as options. 
Recipe
Sea Salted Espresso Brownie Crinkle Cookies (inspired by multiple sources)
Makes approximately 22-24 cookies

Ingredients
7 ounces (200g) dark chocolate (at least 62% but no more than 70% cocoa) chips or a bar chopped
9 Tablespoons (125g)  unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3/4 cup (150g) granulated or caster sugar
1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup (130g) all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 to 2 teaspoons instant espresso
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F) or 180 degrees C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Place the butter and dark chocolate in a bowl. Set bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, being careful not to let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Allow the butter and chocolate to fully melt. Remove the bowl from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
3. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and instant espresso in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
4. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs and both sugars for 5 minutes.
5. Pour in chocolate mixture and vanilla, beat for approximately 1 minute or until incorporated.
6. Add the dry ingredients and mix only until just combined.
7. Using a 1" in diameter ice cream scoop, scoop out cookie dough and place on prepared cookie sheet. Allow at least 2 inches of space between each ball of dough (should be able to fit 8 to 10 cookies per sheet). Sprinkle the tops of each cookie with some flaky sea salt.
8. Bake cookies one cookie sheet at a time. The total baking time for the cookies will range from 11 to 12 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove the cookie sheet from the oven and tap the tray against a counter to slightly deflate the cookies. Return to the oven and bake for another 2 minutes, remove cookie sheet again, tapping against a counter to further deflate. Again return the cookie sheet to the oven for another 2 minutes. Remove and tap against a counter to deflate. Return back to the oven and continue to bake for additional 2-3 minutes. Cookies will be just firm around the edges and set in the middle. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack.
9. Serve cookies warm or allow to come to room temperature.
10. Store cookies in a sealed container. Cookies are best eaten before 3 days has lapsed. But more than likely they will not last that long.

Notes: (1) I used Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Chips, 63% cocoa, for these cookies. (2) I used only 1 teaspoon of the instant espresso and the coffee flavor was only mildly detectable. Would increase to 2 teaspoons the next time I make them. (3) If using chocolate chips, the weight/grams convert to a little more than 1 1/8 cups. (4) The inspiration for my version of these brownie cookies came from recipes shared by food bloggers Butter and Brioche and The Boy Who Bakes

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

White Chocolate Chunk and Macadamia Nut Cookies


Spring will be here in less than three weeks. It cannot get here soon enough. Beside the shift in the weather, spring brings one of my favorite flavors. Tulips. Given the choice between a bouquet of roses and a bunch of tulips, tulips always win. If given the choice between hydrangeas and tulips, it would be a draw. I wouldn't, couldn't choose between them. Of the many things on my ever evolving bucket list is spending time walking through and capturing the beauty of rows upon rows of tulips found in an orchard. If given the choice between traveling to the tulip farms in either Michigan or Washington, I would lean toward Washington. Mostly because I long to return to the captivating, breathtaking beauty of the northwest. Although a less than three hour drive to the tulip farms in Michigan seems the most practical option this spring. Choosing practical isn't necessarily one of my strong suits.


Until I decide where and when I can check off one of the things high on my bucket list, I will be buying bunches of tulips at least weekly. At least until the hydrangeas come into season.


As I was doing some early spring cleaning in my cupboards, I discovered I had several unexpired packages of macadamia nuts. They were bought with the intention of being used to make my Key Lime Pie with Macadamia Nut Crust. A Christmas dessert request that wasn't granted (too many competing requests this year). Rather than have the macadamia nuts go to waste, I thought 'Why not use them to make White Chocolate Chunk and Macadamia Nut Cookies?' instead. 

After years or rather I should say decades of using chocolate 'chips', I discovered chopped chunks of chocolate create a more satisfying and even more beautiful cookie. Uneven, chopped pieces create pools of intensely satisfying bites of chocolate. 


Like all of the chocolate chip cookies I make these days, an ice cream scoop is used to create perfect round balls and they get some chilling time in the refrigerator before going into the oven. I have chilled dough for as a little as two hours and as long as overnight. But if not waiting until the next day to bake, I prefer to let the dough chill for at least four hours. I can't really explain why I think four hours is better than two hours or three hours. I really do wish I could give you a credible culinary answer to this recommendation. If there is one.


The dough for these White Chocolate Chunk and Macadamia Nut Cookies is made in a large bowl. No mixer required. In other words, they couldn't be easier to make. But before mixing up a batch, make sure to roast your macadamia nuts to further enhance their flavor. See the roasting time recommendation in the notes below.


Instead of baking up the entire batch of these cookies, I froze about dozen of the balls of dough. I love being able to bake up a batch of cookies for an impromptu gathering or to satisfy a craving. 


I would like to go so far as to say these are the BEST White Chocolate Chunk and Macadamia Nut Cookies in the universe. But sometimes the use of the word 'best' as a descriptor is a double-edge sword. So instead I will say they are an irresistibly addictive, indulgence. Quite possibly falling into the 'to die for' or 'make you go weak in the knees' cookie categories. The combination of white chocolate and macadamia nuts in a cookie will take your cookie loving palate to places it may have never gone before. Additionally these White Chocolate Chunk and Macadamia Nut Cookies are as refreshing of a change from a 'chocolate' chip/chunk cookie as there is with a change in seasons. If you like white chocolate and macadamia nuts, you fall in love with these cookies. Especially if you make them with chunks versus chips of white chocolate. 

Recipe
White Chocolate Chunk and Macadamia Nut Cookies

Makes 28-30 large cookies

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, cut up into pieces
3 1/4 cups (416 g) all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 cups (250 g) light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup (50 g) dark brown sugar, firmly packed 
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons vanilla
12 ounces white chocolate chopped into chunks (recommend Ghiradelli White Chocolate)
1 cup (126 g) macadamia nuts, roasted and coarsely chopped
Optional: Flaky sea salt for finishing

Directions
1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt butter on lowest heat possible to ensure the butter does not sizzle or lose any of its' moisture. Stir occasionally. Once the butter has melted, remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, pour in melted butter. Add brown sugars and granulated sugar, whisking until sugar has melted. 
4. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition.
5. Stir in vanilla.
6. Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, stir in flour mixture until barely blended and still a teeny bit floury.
7. Add in chopped white chocolate and roasted/chopped macadamia nuts. Stir until all ingredients are combined.
8. Using a large ice cream scooper (large golf ball sized), scoop dough and then roll into balls. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
9. Before baking sprinkle each cookie with a bit of flaky sea salt. Or bake without the addition of the sea salt.
10. In a preheated 360 degree (F) oven, bake cookies until the tops are cracked and lightly golden. Rotate the pan halfway through the baking process. Baking time is approximately 10-12 minutes, however, mine ranged from 13-14 minutes. Note: Midway through the baking process tap the cookie sheet several times on a large flat surface.
11. Allow cookies to cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
12. Enjoy immediately! Store cookies in a sealed container.

Notes: (1) Chilling the balls of dough overnight is a game-changer. When baking each sheet of cookies (about 8-9 will fit on a large baking sheet pan), keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator. If you are not a big fan of dark brown sugar, use all light brown sugar. (2) To roast the macadamia nuts, place a baking pan in a preheated 325 degree (F) oven and and bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. (3) Balls of dough can be frozen in a freezer ziplock bag for up to a month. When ready to bake, place the frozen balls of dough on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Baking time may need to be increased slightly.