I feel blessed to be amongst so many fabulous food bloggers. Last week, I took part in the first annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap organized by Lindsay of Love & Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen. We were matched with three other food bloggers from around the country to bake and send goodies to in a Secret Santa-style cookie exchange. In the weeks leading up to the event, Twitter streams and Facebook pages were ablaze with the anticipation of receiving the cookies (and eating them, of course) and finally finding out who had baked for whom. It was such a fun time and I can’t wait for next year’s cookie swap.
Finding cute little boxes full of homemade cookies on your doorstep every other day is something I could seriously get used to. Three sweethearts baked and mailed cookies to me. Stacey from Boston Sweetie whipped up a batch of white chocolate cherry shortbread cookies. These petite morsels arrived in an adorable jar and were inhaled within 2 days. Catherine from Munchie Musings made me gorgeous gluten-free chai snickerdoodles which smelled and tasted wonderful. Chai is a favorite of mine; I find its’ heady spices to be so incredibly aromatic and warming. My last box to arrive came from Lindsay over at The Little Foodie. She baked for me a stash of Snickers surprise cookies, which I have to say, were really really good.
I was honored to bake for three wonderful food bloggers. And they were: Erin from The Spiffy Cookie, Allison from Allison Eats, and Alayna from Pink Apron Baker. All of them write terrific food blogs with some pretty delicious recipes. I highly recommend you check out their sites for inspiration.
I made them these cookies: white chocolate and macadamia nut and cranberry-studded cookies glazed with (more) white chocolate for extra measure. I’ve always been fond of this classic combination in cookies — the crunch from the buttery macadamia nut; the slight chew from the dried cranberries; the sticky sweetness from the white chocolate morsels — but never adventured in creating them myself so I felt especially compelled to this holiday season. I found a recipe for these within the volumes of Bon Appetit and adapted it slightly to enhance the flavors I loved the most. To me, the perfect cookie has a crispy, crunchy exterior and a chewy, tender interior. In an effort to help this along, I used a duo of all-purpose flour and almond flour to ensure a tender and moist crumb throughout. I also upped the amount of brown sugar and swapped the light for dark because I love the rich caramel-molasses flavor and texture. And to bump up the flavors all-around, I stashed the cookie dough batter in the fridge overnight to marinate and “get happy.” I find that the more time you let ingredients get to know one another before cooking, the stronger and more pronounced the final product will be.
White chocolate, macadamia nut and cranberry cookies
Adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2006
Makes 36 huge cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter; room temperature
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs; at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips + 1 cup reserved, for icing later
1 cup roughly chopped roasted and salted macadamia nuts
In a large bowl, sift the flours, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, whip the butter on medium speed until pale and light, about 5 minutes. Add the sugars until combined and then crack in the eggs, one at a time, until they’re incorporated well. Add the vanilla and almond extracts. Then, slowly pour in the flour mixture, in batches, until the batter starts to come together, using a spatula midway through to get any stuck to the bottom or sides of the bowl.
Tumble in the dried cranberries, white chocolate chips, and macadamia nuts and mix by hand. Cover and chill overnight. Letting the cookie batter “marinate” helps intensify the flavors and lets them get nice and cozy with one another. I learned this trick from the cookbook Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.
The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper. I like to space my cookies out a bit more so I used 3 sheets.
Using an ice cream scoop (I filled mine about 3/4 of the way full) or a heaping tablespoon measure, portion out the cookie batter, roll them into a ball and flatten slightly onto the prepared baking sheets.
Put the cookies into the oven and bake for approximately 12-14 minutes or until they are slightly golden brown. Let them cool for about 10 minutes on the baking sheets before letting them cool completely onto wire racks.
While they cool, prepare the white chocolate icing.
Put the remaining 1 cup white chocolate chips into a bowl and microwave at 30 second intervals, mixing with a spatula in between bouts, until fully melted. When the cookies have cooled completely (this is really important — you don’t want the cookies to melt the chocolate more), drizzle this icing over the top using a small spoon or knife. Let the cookies sit out for several hours until the icing hardens.