Trust the Expert

March 2, 2011

I’ve spent a lot of my adult life in the kitchen.  I’ve taught myself to cook and bake by reading good books and through practice.  Over time, I have learned to trust myself.  If something sounds wrong in a recipe, I trust my gut and I am usually right.  I have learned tricks and short cuts and generally accepted practices.  Once in a while, I get humbled.

Nancy Bagget’s The All American Cookie Book is a book I turn to over and over for cookie inspiration.  Her recipes are incredibly well-researched and written with that perfect mixture of clarity but not condescension.  I have never made anything less than delicious from that book.  In looking for a new treat, I decided on Chocolate Espresso White Chocolate Chunk Cookies.  As I was making them, I started composing this post in my head.  (If you have a food blog, tell me you do this as well.)  I was planning on titling it “Pulling a Fast One” and talking about how something Randy hates (coffee) and something Randy loves (white chocolate) are in one cookie and that the white chocolate managed to disguise the coffee.  But then I ignored Bagget’s advice to allow three inches between each cookie on the sheet and I also ignored her advice to lay parchment paper on the baking sheets.  Which meant that many of the cookies stuck and many of them oozed into one another.

Did it matter?  Only in the looks department.  I know white chocolate is something that makes some chocolate lovers turn up their noses.  According to that kind, it’s not real chocolate.  I myself am not nearly so snobby.  Sure, I prefer the brown version, but I do think that white chocolate can play a nice role in a cookie – especially one that is so intense with the flavor of bittersweet chocolate held together with the just the smallest amount of flour.  The white stuff distracts you for a moment, takes away from the richness but in a good way.  Much the way that nuts would do, if I let nuts near my cookies.

Randy’s response?
“I know I say I don’t like chocolate, but this is a really good cookie.”
“There is coffee in there.”
“Hmmm.  Doesn’t matter, I don’t taste it.”

Fast one pulled.

One Year Ago: Cucumber Raita and Grilled Haloumi Cheese and Lemon
Two Years Ago: Rosemary Flatbread with Blue Cheese, Grapes and Honey

Chocolate Espresso White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
The All-American Cookie Book
Makes about 20 cookies

I actually doubled this recipe and got 36 large cookies.  It is essential here to use great chocolate.

5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, broken or coarsely chopped
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
¼ cup plus 1 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. instant espresso powder or granules, dissolved in 1 tbsp. hot water
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
8 ounces top-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped

In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, microwave the bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate and butter on 100-percent power for 1 minutes. Stir well.  Continue microwaving on 50-percent power, stirring at 30-second intervals.  Stop microwaving before the chocolate completely melts and let the residual heat finish the job.  (Alternatively, in small, heavy saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter over lowest heat, stirring frequently; be very careful not to burn.  Immediately remove from the heat.)  Let cool to warm.

In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour and cocoa powder; set aside.  In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium then high speed, beat together the sugar, salt, eggs, espresso mixture, and vanilla for 2 to 3 minutes, or until well blended, slightly thick, and lightened.  Beat in the melted chocolate mixture, then the flour mixture, until well blended.  Stir in the white chocolate until evenly incorporated.  Refrigerate the dough for at least 1½ hours, or until firm enough to shape.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Divide the dough into quarters.  Divide each quarter into 5 or 6 equal pieces.  Shape then into balls with lightly greased hands.  Place on baking sheets, spacing them about 3 inches apart.  Pat down the balls just slightly.

Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the middle of the oven for 9 to 12 minutes, or until barely firm when pressed in the centers.  Reverse the sheet from front to back halfway thought baking to ensure even browning.  Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand until the cookies firm up slightly, 2 to 3 minutes.  Slide the cookies, still attached to the parchment paper, onto a wire rack.  Let stand until completely cooled.  Carefully peel the cookies from the parchment.

These cookies are best when fresh but may be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen up to 1 month.


  1. yummmmmmm this cookies looks delicious!
    I think the bittersweet of coffee and the sweetness of the white chocolate make a great combination!
    My boyfriend doesn’t like coffee either, but I make a chocolate and coffee cookie that he loves! So I’m sure he would love this ones! I’m taking the recipe!
    Thank’s for share!

    Comment by Manu — March 2, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

  2. Great post. These look sensational. Love Nancy’s book!

    Comment by Nina — March 2, 2011 @ 8:01 pm

  3. These look amazing.
    What also amazes me are people (like your husband and mine) who say “they don’t like a certain ingredient”, and when they actually try it in something, they either like it or don’t notice it!

    Comment by stacey snacks — March 2, 2011 @ 8:02 pm

  4. What a great post! Yes I compose posts in my head while cooking also. I love that you pulled a fast one. This looks like it could pull a fast one on me, I’ve disliked the taste of white chocolate since I was young, but boy do I love espresso and dark chocolate!

    Comment by Elizabeth — March 2, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

  5. I definitely compose posts while I’m cooking away. But I think I did that a little bit even before I had a blog, I mean as far as thinking about where the recipe came from and how I could change it. I just like to think about food I guess! You’re also selling me on the idea of white chocolate in a cookie. Congrats on the Babble’s top 100 Food Mom Blogs too!

    Comment by Jacqui — March 2, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

  6. hahaha to the composing blog posts in your head! YES. No nuts in cookies? EVER?

    Comment by tracy — March 2, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

  7. I totally agree on the not-letting-nuts-near-my-cookies thing :)

    Comment by Helena — March 2, 2011 @ 10:46 pm

  8. I actually really enjoy white chocolate pieces in cookies. I find they poke out around the edges and get really nicely caramelised. These cookies look incredible, though I’ll admit I’m partial to nuts! Totally trying them.

    Comment by Rach — March 2, 2011 @ 10:54 pm

  9. I actually composed blog posts based around everything I do in my life. Every second. Every day. Running commentary. It’s vaguely narcissistic. I really should stop.

    Well, seeing as how I love coffee. And love love LOVE white chocolate, i’m pretty sure that these cookies and I will be BFF. Who cares about looks when they taste this good? Seriously. Not a beauty pageant.

    Comment by Joanne — March 3, 2011 @ 12:38 am

  10. Dana
    Congratulations!! for being named one of the top 100 Food Mom bloggers and thanks for your delicious reicpes and fun classes.

    Comment by Leticia — March 3, 2011 @ 1:03 am

  11. Yes I compose in my head while cooking/baking also. I used to be one of those white chocolate haters. To be honest I still cannot comprehend how people eat it plain. BUT I have grown to appreciate how awesome it can be in combinations with other flavors. It’s basically vanilla goodness. And it is a great base to add flavor to also, like citrus and peppermint. I can totally see how it’s presence would tone down the espresso and give these cookies balance. They look great.

    Comment by Laura — March 3, 2011 @ 1:43 am

  12. Yum! I love the coffee/white chocolate combo. Iced tall soy one pump white mocha, please :D What brand of white chocolate do you use for baking? I am a huge fan of Green & Black’s. It isn’t TOO sweet, and has lovely flecks of vanilla bean throughout. So good.

    Comment by Holly E — March 3, 2011 @ 2:21 am

  13. These sound tasty, and they’re so pretty. One thing I love about white chocolate in cookies is how it looks- it always adds a bit more visual interest than the dark stuff does. I’m not one who likes it plain, but alongside another strong flavour like coffee or lemon, it can be delicious.

    Comment by Ele — March 3, 2011 @ 7:01 am

  14. Dana, I am so flattered and humbled by your praise. I do TRY very hard to make sure my recipes will always work, but it is lovely when this is actually noticed and mentioned! BTW, I am pretty particular about where I use white chocolate–I find it is bland enough that it really needs a strong contrasting component there with it–in this case, coffee and chocolate. (It also pairs especially beautifully with fresh and dried cranberries I’ve found.)

    I love that blue plate with the cookies,BTW–simple but arresting.

    Comment by Nancy Baggett — March 3, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  15. I do sometimes compose what I may write while cooking! These cookies look especially delicious, glad they were enjoyed by all.

    Comment by elizabeth / sophisticated pie — March 3, 2011 @ 4:29 pm

  16. These cookies look so delish! I love all things chocolate, and my husband does too. They wouldn’t last long in our house!

    Comment by Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — March 3, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

  17. I love the combo of sweet white chocolate paired with healthy, good for you, not so sweet, dark chocolate. And I think the coffee would just put these over the edge – my mouth is watering!

    Comment by Emily — March 3, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

  18. You need me to come babysit. Yes, I think you do…and not because you know I want to eat those cookies.

    Comment by Catherine — March 4, 2011 @ 5:29 am

  19. I am part of the minority – I LOVE white chocolate, in fact I avoid buying it because I cannot control myself.

    Great post, I’m definitely making these cookies, and putting this book on my wish list at

    Comment by SallyBR — March 7, 2011 @ 11:45 pm

  20. I baked these today and they are delicious! Yet as I was looking at this post again, I realized I completely omitted the butter. Still fantastic :)

    Comment by Alyssa — July 18, 2011 @ 1:11 am

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