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white chocolate macadamia nut cookies

November 29th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

Thanksgiving is done, the month is nearly over and December looms on the horizon. Holiday plans are in full swing, decorations are coming out of storage and right on schedule, the air turned cold and brisk. There’s not much snow yet. Only enough to change the landscape from late Fall to Winter, but enough to get everyone’s thoughts on the next big holiday activity; baking. While I do a fair amount of baking year round, during the holiday season, I make more cookies than any other time of the year.

These cookies are a classic combination; soft and luscious white chocolate with buttery, rich macadamia nuts. A terrific cookie for holiday baking, or any time of the year, really. Something about white chocolate, to me anyway, speaks of winter. Maybe it’s the resemblance to soft snow, the pristine look of it, the clean taste. Not all white chocolate is the same though; in the current edition of Saveur magazine, they did a huge taste test on white chocolates and came up with some of the best available. Thankfully, Ghiradelli white chocolate made the cut, as it’s the one that’s most readily available to me.

Every Christmas season for the past few years I’ve been blessed with a gift box from
Oh! Nuts! for baking, or just decadent snacking. Oh! Nuts! has a full selection of premium dried fruits, chocolates, candy and high quality nuts for home cooks, as well as exquisite gift baskets for everyday or special occasions. Of all their products I have tasted over the years, I’ve never had anything less than stellar quality. I’m not one to purchase macadamia nuts all that often; once in a while I indulge in a small bag for ‘mouth therapy’, as they are one of the finest nuts ever that have crossed my tongue, but their price is often prohibitive, and a gift of them is wonderful. Macadamia nuts have the highest amount of monounsaturated fats of any of the nuts or seeds that we consume, and are a good source of a long list of minerals and vitamins. But go easy on them, as that fat content doesn’t come without a price, unless you use it’s oil on your skin. And don’t ever let your pup eat them; macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs.

In these cookies, those rich nuts just shine. The buttery base aside, a crunch of the moist nut next to the vanilla-sweet bite of white chocolate is, as I already mentioned, a classic combination. Based on this recipe from Joy the Baker, the end result of this cookie is a moist and tender little mass of cookie goodness. These turned out so perfectly that I almost wanted to box up the entire batch and give them away as a means to prevent me from tip-toeing into a closet with the container and nibbling them to oblivion and a whopping belly ache. I don’t know what’s worse in terms of temptation; having a sack of macadamia nuts in the house, or these cookies.

Brown Butter White Chocolate
Macadamia Nut Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, don’t even think of using margarine, shortening or fake non-dairy butter
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8  teaspoon salt
1/2 coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup white chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium saucepan melt the butter, swirling and stirring the butter until nicely browned bits appear in the bottom of the pan.  This may take about 5-7 minutes.  Once the butter is browned, remove pan from heat and set aside to cool a bit while you measure out the dry ingredients and set them aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer add the brown sugar and slightly cooled butter.  Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes.  Add egg and beat for one minute more.  Add milk and vanilla extract and beat to incorporate.

Turn the mixer off, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the dry ingredients all at once.  With either the stand mixer on low, or by hand with a spatula, incorporate the dry ingredients until just mixed in.  Fold in the chopped nuts and white chocolate chips.

Scoop two teaspoon sized balls onto a lined baking sheet.  Bake for 9-11 minutes or until cookies are deliciously golden.  Remove from oven and let rest of the baking sheet for 3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Recipe reprinted verbatim from Joy the Baker


The only process I changed in this was to add the white chocolate and the nuts when I added the flour. I find that folding in those extras at the end makes the dough too uneven. This spreads them out perfectly.
I did not brown the butter, as I’ve had some disasters with that process and have lost my mojo on it. I know. Sad, huh?
As it was, without that step these cookies still rocked.
As stated in the post, I used Ghirardelli white chocolate, a 4-oz bar and chopped up the entire thing, using every last shred.
I also added in way more than half a cup of chopped macadamia nuts because I’m a rebel like that.
And as if that isn’t enough, I used vanilla greek yogurt in place of the milk, mostly because I had a container of it that I didn’t want to eat. (ugh….don’t buy Dannon Light Greek yogurt. Bleah)
I think it contributed nicely to the very moist end result.

I was provided with the macadamia nuts free of charge as a gift.
No blog post was expected for the offering of this gift and all words and opinions in this post are solely my own. 

Swedish Fruit Cake (Fruktkaka)

December 4th, 2009 | 10 Comments »

No fruitcake jokes. None. This is NOT anyone’s nightmare of a fruitcake, the hefty, dense and vastly feared offering that comes around this time of year. No sir. This is what something labeled ‘Fruit Cake’ should really be.

Of course, with me, if I see anything with figs in it, I’m suddenly propelled to make it. I adore figs. Fresh from the pack and popped in my mouth, crunchy seeds and chewy pulp and I am a very happy girl. Me and figs are tight.

But there was something else about this recipe that touched a distant spot in me, something so long ago that I can’t even begin to place it. This cake, an authentic and traditional Swedish Christmas offering, spoke to me from my past, in a whisper so quiet and unassuming that I barely heard it until the required fruit mixture of raisins, dried apricots and figs was marinating in it’s liquid bath on my counter, and I popped open the lid to stir it around. Has that ever happened to you? A scent stirs in you a touch of something from the dark recess of memory that springs back to life and yet you can’t understand it’s origin. But somehow, you just know you loved it at one point when you were small and trusting, and you’ll love it all over again, as an big grown up adult. We’re built like that, you know. Aroma is so powerful, and your nose can carry you backwards like no other part of your body, leading your mind to a precious but forgotten memory. I love when it happens. That’s why I bake. For the smells.

But it’s also for a plate of this, a moist and densely loaded sliced cake that is buttery, sort of spicy and altogether flavored much like a cascade of tastes that tumble across your mouth as you nibble. The macerated fruit is chewy and tender. A slice jogs that memory and I wish I could place where it started but all I know is I’ve got it now, it’s on a page and I don’t have to be without it again. How wonderful it was to find such a taste that I never even knew I had missed. It tastes a bit like a late afternoon in winter, where the amethyst twilight shares itself with a cup of steaming tea. With lingering aromas of something glorious from the oven, and enchanting like a first snowfall.

It was even enchanting to Harmon.

But then again, we’ve known for a long time that he’s pretty much made out of sugar and spice.

From the December 2009 issue of Saveur magazine

4 oz. each dried figs, apricots and raisins- fine chop figs and apricots
1/2 c. dark rum
1 T. orange zest
1-1/2 t. lemon zest
12 T. unsalted butter, softened
1-3/4 c. AP flour
1 t. baking soda
1 c. superfine sugar
4 eggs

Combine figs, apricots, raisins and both fruit zest with rum and stir to combine. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for up to 4 hours, and as long as overnight. Stir the mixture on occasion.

Heat oven to 350°. Grease the bottom and sides of a standard loaf pan and dust with flour. Tap out excess and set aside.

Whisk flour and baking soda in a measuring cup and set aside. Combine the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, and blend on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape the bowl a few times to make sure it’s uniform. Add the eggs one at a time and blend thoroughly after each one. Add the fruit, then the flour mixture and blend until fully combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Unmold cake after 15-20 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

I chose to macerate the fruit in apple cider, as opposed to the suggested rum. I’m not a huge fan of rum due to an excess of cheap drinks in college, and I found apple cider to be an appropriate and worthy substitute. Being that I somehow KNEW I was going to love this recipe, I doubled the batch, but the doubled fruit amount was excessive. I did not add it all to the cake or there would have been little ‘cake’ and way too much fruit. The extra fruit compote is perfect on oatmeal, spooned over yogurt or simply enjoyed with a spoon. Warm it up and it becomes even more sublime.