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.
“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.