Tag Archives: white chocolate

White Chocolate Meringue Cookies

I remember being in about 3rd or 4th grade and getting a C in handwriting.  I was crushed.  The only grades that ever graced my report card were A’s.  But something about cursive writing wasn’t clicking with me.  My handwriting was ugly and awkward and certainly not the least bit artistic.  I received C’s in only two other courses during school:  1) Home Economics (during the sewing unit, which is not at all surprising considering I still can’t figure out how to thread my machine) and 2) Gym (during the basketball unit, which is not surprising considering I could only make 3 out of 10 free throws — a skill [or lack thereof] that thankfully hasn’t affected me in life . . . yet.)

I can distinctly recall bringing home that report card while my grandmother, Grace, was visiting.  We talked about it and she quickly told me that it didn’t matter.  This was crazy talk, from my vantage point.  She told me how her father once said to her that everyone develops their own unique brand of handwriting, and that making it perfectly beautiful according to one person’s definition was not only impossible, but not the least bit interesting.  I am blessed to still have my grandmother in my life at 96 years old.  Arthritis has crippled her imperfectly beautiful, but truly unique, handwriting — but I still get a chance to talk with her and that it something I treasure.

My mom recently gave me a stack of her recipe cards and I studied them for nearly an hour.  There were clues in that handwriting somewhere.  I could imagine any one of those cards being out on the counter when I was visiting her as a toddler. I could imagine her writing recipes down in her old house.  I could imagine her pulling them all out in anticipation of Christmas, or just a weekend visit.

And I didn’t have to imagine the memories of her making many of the recipes — I can remember coming into her kitchen at breakfast time as she was pulling her special meringue cookies out of a cold oven — a cold oven with a heavy door.  They were like a magic trick — you put them in a hot oven, turn it off, go to bed, and wake up to beautifully crusty meringues with a somewhat creamy interior, loaded with chocolate chips.

When I see in the recipe that she says to line a baking “tin” with wax paper, I remember she had the coolest wall mounted wrap dispenser that had three (I think) covered segments that held paper towels, foil, and wax paper.  Each one had its own little door and cutting edge.  I remember her glass jars (some of which I have on top of my cabinets now) filled with spices, and especially cinnamon heart candies.  I remember her geranium out front and the seemingly mile-long hallway to her bedroom.  I remember making paper dolls to count the days down until my parents would return from a trip.  I remember her making trip activity books with cryptoquips and crossword puzzles (that she would make herself) and riddles for me to solve.  I remember going to painting class with her and trying to be an artist — a skill she had, that I did not.  And I remember sitting with her at the piano and getting giddy with excitement as she would play Scott Joplin.

But mostly, I remember her telling me that I was me and that was the only person I ever had to be.  Eventually, my handwriting went from awful, to beautiful, and back to awful again — it seems now I am always too rushed to make perfectly formed letters.  But I think about those physical artifacts and wonder if reading a blog post will ever substitute for holding a grandmother’s recipe in your hands, studying the words that she wrote, and seeing yourself in her life.

White Chocolate Meringue Cookies

A few notes:  The original recipe calls for 3/4 cup of sugar, but I found 1/2 cup to be plenty.  Also, she always used regular chocolate chips, but I used white chocolate for a nice all white appearance.  Both are delicious.  And one food safety note, I am not a food scientist so I am not sure if these get cooked hard enough to eliminate Salmonella.  As with any dish where eggs are gently cooked, please only use the freshest eggs from responsible farms and take care to not serve to those who might be very young/old or immune-suppressed if Salmonella is a concern.

Makes about two dozen

2 egg whites
1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup of chocolate chips (white or semi-sweet, mini chips are nice too)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  Gradually beat in sugar until the mixture is very glossy and holding nice, stiff peaks.

3.  Fold in chocolate chips.

4.  Drop by the spoonful onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and place into hot oven.  Immediately turn the oven off and leave overnight, or at least 6 hours.  Remove and store in a tightly sealed container.

Spiced Whole Grain Pumpkin Seed Biscotti with Cranberries and White Chocolate

As I sit here watching the footage of the Chilean miners being rescued, I am struck by my own limitations (BTW, I generally like to focus on myself during situations like these).  I joked with several people today that I couldn’t even stand to be in that rescue pod for 15 minutes *above ground.*  And if there were a psychological test administered before you were allowed to go underground, I’m quite sure checking the box that says “sometimes I get panicky in the check out line at the grocery store” would disqualify me immediately.

I am just not the type of person you want around in a crisis.  Actually, I’m not the type of person you want around during a mildly stressful flu shot.

But perhaps it’s not just OK, but necessary, that some people run the race and some people bake cookies for the finish line.  Perhaps this is the reason that the rescuers have the strength to strap themselves into a cage and go thousands of feet below the ground into a caved-in mine, while their wives clutch the children and pictures of the Virgin Mary (The heathen I am, I generally clutch a Bloody Mary).  And here in the land of the soft, perhaps this is the reason that my husband flies all over the country, talks in front of hundreds of people with ease, and I stay home and bake biscotti.  In short, my husband is a tremendous risk taker and I am a tremendous risk averter.

It’s not that I’m not brave or strong (I gave birth to two children, you know) nor do I think that women are incapable of strapping themselves in and rescuing 33 miners.  Hell, some of us might like to go down that hole simply to get some quiet time.  The issue has more to do with roles than it does with gender.  Once you have children, doesn’t it just seem that both parents can’t simultaneously go balls to the wall anymore?  Doesn’t it seem that someone has to be the rock while the other person is in the hard place?  Children demand routine and stability and comfort.  So when one parent is down a mine shaft or on a plane to L.A., the other one has to be pouring the cereal at 8:00 AM sharp and reading the favorite two (OK, three) stories at 8:00 PM sharp.

Maybe I am risk averse because that’s who I have to be.

Or maybe that’s how I justify the fact that I enjoy eating biscotti and hate enclosed spaces.

Spiced Whole Grain Pumpkin Seed Biscotti with Cranberries and White Chocolate

Makes 15-18 biscotti

2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1 star anise pod
1-1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
1 small piece of whole nutmeg (about the size of a nickel, or 1/4 t pre-ground)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean (or 1 t vanilla extract)
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds (hulled and dry roasted or toasted)
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, and salt.

3.  Using a clean spice or coffee grinder (I have a second coffee grinder that I use exclusively for spices), grind the star anise pod, the cinnamon stick, and the piece of whole nutmeg until they are a fine powder.  Add this spice mixture to the flour mixture.  (If you like your biscotti extra spiced, double up on the spices. Alternatively, if you don’t want to grind your own spices, just make a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, or other spices like anise seed to equal 1 t.)

4.  In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Split the vanilla bean in half and, using the back of a knife, scrape the seeds from both sides of the pod.  Add seeds to butter and egg mixture and beat to incorporate.

5.  Add the flour/spice mixture to the butter mixture in two additions and beat until just combined.  Switch to a wooden spoon or spatula and stir to make sure the flour is incorporated.  Stir in cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

6.  Turn dough onto parchment lined baking sheet and pat into a long loaf, approximately 3.5 inches by 15 inches.  Bake loaf for about 35 minutes, until just golden.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.

7.  Using a very sharp knife, carefully cut individual biscotti from the loaf — each about 3/4 inch.  Place the biscotti, cut side down, on the parchment lined sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes and flip.  Bake 10-12 minutes more and remove from oven (about 20 minutes total for the second stage of baking). Remove biscotti from sheet and cool on racks.

8.  Place chopped white chocolate in a double boiler to melt.  You can also use the microwave at about 50% power.  When biscotti are completely cool, drizzle with melted white chocolate.  Place in refrigerator until chocolate is hardened.  Remove from refrigerator and store biscotti in a tightly sealed container.

Cocoa Butter Chocolate Chunk Brownie Cookies

Recently, my brother in law who works for a chocolate company (unnamed, of course — that’s how we do it here) asked me if I would ever have any interest in getting my hands on cocoa butter or chocolate liquor. Thinking that maybe I could give myself a massage and get drunk on chocolate, I said yes of course.  I really have never known cocoa butter to be anything more than a remedy for pregnant belly stretch marks — but I thought it might be interesting to fool around with it.

So I commenced with The Google and found out that it was used pretty infrequently in mainstream cooking and baking. Cocoa butter was used to make chocolate and sometimes in truffles or the like, but I rarely saw it used in anything else.  I’m guessing the main reason is that it is hard to find and more expensive — but given the interest in plant-based, vegan fats, it seems like it might catch on.  It is a bit harder at room temperature than coconut oil, but it softens up or melts quite nicely.  And, of course, it imparts a wonderful essence of chocolate — which is great when you want a non-animal fat and aren’t in the mood for essence of coconut in all of your baked goods.

Beyond, it seems purely luxurious, doesn’t it?  The idea of pure cocoa butter in a perfect Valentine’s Day dessert seems, well, pretty awesome.  And then if you stuff that cookie full of melted dark chocolate, cocoa nibs, dark chocolate chunks, and white chocolate chunks?  Well, send me to my room and draw the blinds.  These cookies will not disappoint.  And while I tried to stay sane (I used a bit of whole wheat flour), I didn’t cut back on the sugar because I knew I would lose the amazing brownie chewiness if I did.  Feel free to experiment with less — but this is the one time (OK, maybe one of four or five times) of the year that you need to eat a cookie the way it was meant to be eaten.

Commence with the drooling.  And if you want a source for food grade cocoa butter (and don’t have a brother in law), try here.  The cocoa nibs are generally available in a chocolate store, a good grocery store, or gourmet store.  I should add that if you can’t find cocoa butter, I am sure regular butter would be a perfectly delicious substitute.  It just wouldn’t be cocoa butter.  And on Valentine’s Day, how fun would that be?

Cocoa Butter Chocolate Chunk Brownie Cookies

Makes 2 1/2 dozen

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet dark chocolate, chopped
6 T cocoa butter (regular butter or coconut oil would work also), softened
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 t instant espresso powder
2 t vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa nibs
1 cup white chocolate chunks or chips
1 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a double boiler, melt together 8 ounces of chopped dark chocolate and cocoa butter until completely smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly.

2.  In a bowl, sift and mix together white whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl with a mixer, mix together espresso powder, vanilla, and eggs until just combined.  Add white and brown sugar and mix for about two minutes until the mixture is very thick and ribbony.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in melted chocolate mixture.  Add in flour mixture and fold until just combined.

4.  Stir in cocoa nibs and chocolate chunks.  After a minute of two, the mixture will stiffen up considerably and will seem almost like the texture of fudge.

5.  Drop tablespoonfuls of batter onto parchment lined baking sheets.  I would not put more than six cookies on one sheet because they spread.  Bake for 15-16 minutes until just done on top with a crackly crust.  If you use more than one cookie sheet at a time, I would recommend switching the sheets midway through the baking time.

(BTW, Valentines pictured are courtesy of my daughter who was busy at work assembling them during our snow day today.)

Pumpkin White Chocolate Cookies

So I was talking to a mother the other day and she mentioned that her 1 year old daughter had tested positive for anemia (actually at a severe level) while at a routine check up.  We haven’t signed HIPAA forms here at Cuizoo, so I can’t name names, but suffice it to say that she was freaked out and a little dumbfounded by the diagnosis. And as with many childhood medical situations, the pediatrician was rather matter of fact about it and forgot that MOTHERS FREAK THE F**K OUT when told something like this.  She was sent off with some rushed instructions about supplements and a two second statement about feeding the child dark leafy greens.

It instantly reminded me of when my daughter was diagnosed with severe food allergies.  The pediatrician gave us the test results, told me they were life threatening, and sent us on our way with an Epi-Pen prescription. And I was like, I’M FREAKING THE F**K OUT here and you are already next door checking on Timmy’s whooping cough.

At that point, I had very few friends who had kids (and no one with experience with food allergies) so I was pretty much on my own trying to figure out what to feed a child who couldn’t consume dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, or nuts.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), I became a specialist when it came to limited or special diets for children — which has been a good thing because I get questions from people needing advice on a daily basis.

When the unnamed person told me about the anemia, I started searching for iron-rich foods that wouldn’t require the child to chew on meat and bones all day long.  I told her that I would come up with a reasonably healthy, toddler-friendly snack that would be super rich in iron.  I decided to go the pumpkin and white bean route because they are great sources of iron — and what I ended up with is a great kid’s treat (that adults will probably enjoy too).  It is a very cakey and tender cookie and it definitely passed my kids’ taste test.  It could actually almost be a breakfast bar on the go if you skip the white chocolate (or don’t . . . your choice).

And if your family is not eating as much meat as you used to, it’s also good to remember iron levels for non-anemic children (and adults).  Legumes and dark leafy greens are great sources — and actually it seems like you can’t go wrong integrating them both into your diet for many reasons.   I ran this recipe through a nutritional analysis and it came back pretty strong with each cookie having 120 calories, 4 grams of fat (could easily cut back on that further by using applesauce), 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 4% of your daily Calcium, 20% of your daily Vitamin A, and 10% of your daily Iron.

And it seems to me that getting a one year old to eat one of these is going to be a hell of a lot easier than a bowl full of spinach.

Pumpkin White Chocolate Cookies

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg (preferably freshly ground)
1/2 cup of butter, softened (1 stick, could replace at least half with applesauce if watching fat)
1/2 cup of honey*
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 cup of white bean puree (approximately one 15 ounce can pureed with 1/8 cup of water)
2 t vanilla extract
1 cup of old fashioned oats
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds (finely chopped if giving to small children or toddlers)
1/2 cup of small white chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 cup of raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit (Optional.  But once again, finely chopped if giving to small children or toddlers)

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl and set aside.

2.  Cream softened butter and honey together until light and fluffy.  Add in egg and mix well. Add in egg yolk and mix well again. Add in white bean puree and pumpkin puree and mix until incorporated.

3.  Slowly add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture. Mix until just barely combined.

4.  Finish mixing with a wooden spoon or spatula. Stir in oats, pumpkin seeds, white chocolate chips/chunks, and dried fruit (if using).

5.  Drop by the tablespoon full onto parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake for 11-12 minutes until just golden.  Let cool on sheets for 1-2 minutes and then cool fully on racks.  (Can store in a tightly covered tin or freeze.)

*Remember that honey should not be given to children under one year of age.  You can substitute sugar or maple syrup for the younger crowd.

Brown Butter and White Chocolate Blondies

When my new niece was born, I wanted to take some food to my sister-in-law at the hospital.  You see, I had visions of the Hungarian Goulash that I was served after I gave birth to my son not too long ago …  At that moment, I felt like I was on an episode of “Really? With Seth and Amy” on Saturday Night Live.  “I just pushed a human being out of my body (after 40 weeks of pregnancy) and you are serving me institutional Hungarian Goulash?  Really??  Really.”

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I stumbled upon a recipe for blondies, which I had never really made before.  And after looking at the ingredients and procedures, I felt like there was a way to gild the gold and paint the lily.  The recipe started with melted butter, which is almost always better browned than simply melted (OK, so maybe I’m not sure how popcorn or lobster would be with browned butter.  Wait.  Now that I think of it, I bet they would be great.)  And I was pretty sure I could make them whole grain without sacrificing too much in texture.  Beyond that I knew that if we were forsaking the chocolate brownie cousin, I would want to integrate white chocolate chunks for their smooth sweetness.

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That’s where I started and this is where I ended up.  This recipe has more sugar in it than I would love, but all of my attempts to cut back have impacted both the flavor and texture.  The sugar is integral to the chewiness, the surface sheen, and the balance of flavor.  So, it’s not an everyday thing around here, but at least it is whole grain.  I should add that when I am replacing all purpose flour with whole wheat flour in baked goods, I use this rule of thumb:  use white whole wheat flour when you want something chewier (bread, cookies, brownies) and use whole wheat pastry flour when you want something more delicate (pastry, cake, pancakes).  I should also note that this recipe is super easy when you are in a pinch, because it requires only one bowl (plus a saute pan) and no electric mixer and no creaming of butter and sugar.

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The new mama and papa loved them — but that might have had something to do with the six pack run we made once we arrived at the hospital.  Because, you see, that is what a new mother REALLY deserves:  booze and sugar.  And probably a steak.

Brown Butter and White Chocolate Blondies

Makes about 2 dozen, depending on how big you cut them

1 cup of butter (two sticks)
2 cups of packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
2 cups of white whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/8 t salt
1 1/2 cups of white chocolate chips or chunks

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.

2.  In a large saute pan, melt the butter and allow it to brown while stirring.  Normally, a few tablespoons of brown butter will only take 2-3 minutes to brown, but since this is a large amount, it usually takes about 5 minutes.  (the bigger the pan, the faster it will brown)  You want to get it just brown and smelling fragrant and “nutty.”  It can burn pretty quickly once it gets to this point, so be careful.  (If it burns, you need to start over).  Once brown, remove from heat immediately and pour into a large mixing bowl.  Let cool a few minutes.

3.  Butter and flour a 9×13 glass baking pan. (Grease the pan with butter and then put about a tablespoon of flour in it and shake it all around, covering bottom and sides of pan and tapping out any excess flour.)

4.  To the browned butter, add the brown sugar and whisk well to incorporate.  Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking completely after each addition.  Add vanilla extract and whisk.

5.  Dump in the white whole wheat flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Switch to a wooden spoon or spatula and mix completely.

6.  Stir in the white chocolate chunks or chips.

7.  Spread into prepared 9×13 pan and bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out just barely clean in the middle (don’t over-bake).  Let cool on a rack and cut into squares.

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