Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cravable Cookies (Cranberry, White Chocolate, Macadamia Nut, Lime Cookies)

I may have declared a previous recipe "the best cookies, ever" but I think I have a close contender for second place. I came up with this as a last-minute treat for our friend Pauline's birthday, the night before her birthday, when I found out. Like us, Pauline is a transplant from Massachusetts, so I first thought Boston Cream Pie, but I didn't have the time for anything but the quick and dirty version. I don't think people want something described as "quick and dirty" for their birthday, or maybe they do, but that's not a topic for this blog.

A challenger appears
Instead of Boston Cream Pie, I seized on the idea of cranberry cookies, which is honestly something I've been thinking of for a while. I've had cranberry white chocolate cookies, white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, and white chocolate lime cookies, and all have been good... but I wanted to mix them all together. Cranberry white chocolate macadamia nut lime cookies: quite a mouthful, but they're totally worth it.

Ultimate cookies

Since it wasn't planned, I also didn't have everything I really needed on hand; nor everything prepped at room temperature, which is very important for baking. Happily, my substitute addition of cream cheese to the butter absolutely makes this recipe and it also gives me the opportunity to share some helpful tricks I've picked up for just such an occasion.

Cold butter and cream cheese can be brought to room temperature by microwaving in ten second pulses, about three should probably do the trick. Cold eggs can be quickly warmed by bathing them in a bowlful of warm water. Just let them hang out until it cools. Emphasis on the warm, not hot, as we want them gently brought to ambient temperature, not cooked in the shell.

These cookies have it all: the crispy, crumbly outside conceals a surprisingly tender center, the cream cheese combined with the white chocolate makes it ever so slightly redolent of cheesecake, toasted macadamia nuts are a dream and the cranberry and lime add the hint of piquancy necessary to keep things from being entirely too sweet. I dare you to eat just one. I think I ate half a dozen when first baking them and then had to go lie down, pining for a salad.


Cranberry, white chocolate, macadamia nut, lime cookies

One last bit of advice: I love using whole wheat flour and turbinado sugar because I like to pretend they make the cookies healthy, but they also add character. Don't believe me? Try a smell test. Wave your nose over a bag of white sugar: stale, chemical blankness. Take a whiff of a bag of turbinado sugar: smoky, molasses-y, complex. Yes.

8 tbs (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 3/4 c turbinado sugar
Zest of 1 lime
1 tbs vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
5 oz dried sweetened cranberries
6 oz macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
11 oz white chocolate chips (or chopped bars of white chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a pair of baking sheets with silpats. This is of vital importance: since silicon doesn't conduct heat as readily as metal and air, they act as a buffer for perfect cookies, every time. You can see in the next photo how I went without for the first batch. Singed. Use the silpats.

Forewarned is forearmed
Mix the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and lime zest in a large bowl. Incorporate the vanilla, then stir in the eggs, one at a time.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt, then add to the butter mixture, stirring until just combined.

Pour in the cranberries, white chocolate and macadamia nuts and stir to mix.

Scoop the batter up by heaping tablespoons (I probably use between 2 and 3 tbs per cookie), roll into spheres, and lay out on the cookie sheets. Bake for 17 minutes. The cookies will be lightly golden and very soft.

Allow the cookies to cool on the pans for at least five minutes, after which they should firm up. Remove to wire racks to cool completely (or scarf them down while still warm and crumbling).

Plate optional

Makes about two dozen large cookies.


Unknown said...

Wish the internet allowed us to smell the cookies! They look awesome.

J said...

Thanks! There's something about toasted macadamia nuts that does smell really incredible.