Welcome back to Cookie Monday! Enjoy this week’s installment:
I will caramelize anything and everything I can get my hands on: butter, onions, cauliflower, tofu, oven mitts (oops!) and most recently, white chocolate. It’s amazing how a little bit of heat and time can transform a one-dimensional ingredient into a nutty, aromatic flavor base for any type of recipe.
The idea for caramelizing white chocolate comes from a cookbook my brother got me titled Cooking for Geeks—a book full of the carbon chains for everyday sweeteners and flavor maps constructed from chemical compounds. The lengthy section on caramelization and the Maillard reaction is so far my favorite, and when I saw the technique for caramelizing white chocolate I knew it had to be incorporated into the cookie recipe.
It struck me as a way to enhance the flavors of white chocolate; rather than throwing the white chocolate chips into a bowl of cookie dough with some macadamia nuts in an attempt to isolate two unexciting ingredients in one confection to prevent them from infiltrating baked goods with any true merit, I could toast the cocoa butter solids until they were golden brown and ready to shine in a simple butter cookie.
The result is a tender, slightly cakey cookie with a well-rounded flavor that gives white chocolate its dignity back, without any macadamia nuts.
Caramelized White Chocolate Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
6 oz. white chocolate
2 tablespoons milk
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
- Place the white chocolate in a small skillet over medium low heat until melted, stirring frequently. Once it melts, the chocolate will seize up. This is OK, take a deep breath. Add the milk and stir with a spatula until smooth, then continue to cook until the white chocolate turns golden brown, which will happen 8-10 minutes after you first put it in the pan. Transfer the chocolate to a bowl and set aside to cool slightly.
- Place the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat to combine. Add in the caramelized white chocolate and beat until the mixture is homogenous. Scrape down the bowl of the mixer, then add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and mix on low speed until just combined. Transfer the dough to the fridge and chill until set, at least 1 hour.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350F. Once the dough has chilled, scoop it into 1 tablespoon-sized portions and roll into balls, then place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges are set and just beginning to turn golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheets for 3-4 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.