Hello! Just dropping in here with a new cookie recipe for you all: caramelized white chocolate and walnut! These are a quick-and-easy, must-have-cookies-ASAP recipe — it uses melted butter and cold eggs, so you can whip them up on a whim.
These cookies are a variation on the triple chocolate peppermint cookies I posted in December, but here we’re highlighting caramelized white chocolate (or blonde chocolate) — some melted straight into the dough, and more folded in at the end for maximum impact. Caramelized white chocolate has been a trending flavor in the dessert world for about a decade now — while plain white chocolate tends to taste overly sweet and one-note, roasting it produces more complex and toasty flavors. You can make your own caramelized white chocolate by simply chopping up high quality white chocolate and baking it (stirring often) at a 250F until golden and toasty (see this tutorial from David Lebovitz). Or you can buy something like Valrhona Dulcey.
To complement the caramelly sweetness of the chocolate, I added toasted walnuts and a generous pinch of flaky salt. If you don’t have walnuts, I think either toasted hazelnuts or pecans would work nicely here — or even macadamia nuts if you’re a fan of the white chocolate macadamia nut pairing! And while flaky salt is normally an optional garnish, I highly HIGHLY recommend it here. It really helps balance out the cookie and veer it ever so slightly into the salty-sweet category.
After mixing the dough, just a short chill (30 minutes in the fridge, or even 10 minutes in the freezer) helps control spread and produces cookies with a thick, blondie-ish centers. If you bake them straight after mixing, the cookies will spread more and not be quite as soft overall. In the photo below, the top cookie was baked from dough that was chilled for half an hour; the bottom cookie was baked straight after mixing.
These cookies don’t brown much, so just keep an eye on them and bake just until the edges are set but the centers still look soft. They’ll continue to cook and set up on the pan. Enjoy slightly warm with a cup of black coffee (or milk)!
For perfectly round cookies, use a round cookie cutter slightly larger than your cookie or even a spoon or offset spatula to nudge the cookies into shape right after baking. You must do this right when the cookies come out of the oven when they are still a bit malleable.
Don’t want to bake all the cookies off at once? You can keep unbaked dough balls in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage. For cookies chilled longer than half an hour, I find they spread best if you bring them to room temperature before baking (just pull them out while the oven is preheating).
150g chopped caramelized white or blonde chocolate (such as Valrhona Dulcey), divided
175g (1 1/3 c plus 1 Tbsp) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
120g granulated sugar
30g light brown sugar
1 large egg, cold
1 large egg yolk, cold
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g walnuts, toasted and chopped
Flaky salt, for garnish
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. You’re not trying to brown it or drive off any moisture, so don’t let it boil — pull it off when there are still a couple unmelted bits left and let the residual heat finish the job.
While the butter is melting, place the espresso powder and 50g of the chopped caramelized white chocolate in a large bowl. Once the butter has melted, pour it over the espresso-chocolate mixture. Whisk until the chocolate has melted. Let cool for about 5 minutes.
Whisk the sugars into the butter until smooth and combined, followed by the egg and egg yolk. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold together until just combined. When just a few streaks of flour remain, add the remaining 100g caramelized white chocolate and walnuts. Mix just until evenly distributed. Cover and chill for half an hour, or until firm but not solid.
While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack in the middle and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Portion the dough into 15 ping-pong sized balls, about 50 grams each. (At this point, the dough balls can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for longer storage. For best results, bring dough to room temperature before baking — see notes above.) Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets about 2½ inches apart and sprinkle the tops generously with flaky salt.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are set but the centers are still soft and barely set, 10-11 minutes (the cookies will not brown much). Rotate the sheet in the oven halfway through baking. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
When it comes to donuts, I’m a sucker for the good old-fashioned sour cream glazed variety. I remember my parents buying clamshell packs every so often from Safeway; and as we didn’t have sweet breakfasts too often, those were real treat days!
I’d never really considered making cake donuts at home (confession: I don’t like the smell from deep frying so I make my husband do that part ;D). But when I got my friend and fellow blogger Kelsey’s lovely new cookbook The Farmer’s Daughter Bakes, her sour cream cardamom donuts immediately caught my eye. I’m so glad we made these — they’re so easy and delicious (the spelt and cardamom add a sophisticated woodsy flavor that I love), and absolutely perfect with coffee.
The Farmer’s Daughter Bakes
Let’s talk a little more about Kelsey’s book — it’s amazing! Kelsey grew up (and continues to work) on a farm in British Columbia, and her book is filled with recipes, photos, and stories inspired by the seasonal produce she and her family grow. The Farmer’s Daughter Bakes is packed full of fruit-forward recipes I can’t wait to try; and I love how there are little nuggets of gardening/preserving advice peppered throughout the pages. Congrats on your beautiful book, Kelsey — I look forward to baking through the seasons with it! Be sure to visit Kelsey’s wonderful blog and snag a copy for yourself.
I don’t have a deep fryer or electric skillet (Kelsey’s preferred frying methods – see note at the bottom of the recipe), so I used a Dutch oven to fry the donuts. 350F was my temperature sweet spot using this method. As Kelsey suggests, definitely fry a test donut so you can adjust the temperature as needed.
I’m a big sucker for nutmeg in donuts so I also added some freshly grated nutmeg in the dough. So good!
I rolled the chilled dough between two pieces of parchment paper — this worked really well and kept flouring to a minimum. I ended up with 8 regular sized donuts plus a bunch of donut holes (I could have gotten more regular ones but was lazy about rerolling).
I like a generous coat of glaze on both sides of the donuts so I made a 1.5 batch of the glaze.
120g (1/2 c) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
125g (1 c) all-purpose flour
125g (1 c) spelt flour
1/2 tsp salt (I used 1 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Neutral oil, for frying (I used canola)
For the glaze:
120g (1 c) powdered sugar, sifted, plus more as needed
30g (2 Tbsp) milk, plus more as needed
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cardamom, or to taste
Make the donuts: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce to low and add the egg. Mix until will combined. Add the sour cream and mix together on low. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula to ensure everything is evenly combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, spelt flour, salt, baking powder, and ground cardamom. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the wet and mix until almost combined. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and use a spatula to finish mixing the dough together. The dough will be sticky, and that’s just right! Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge for about 1 hour, or until you can roll it out easily.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. When the dough is chilled, roll it out onto a lightly flour surface to 1/2-inch thickness. Use a donut cutter or two round circle cutters (one large and one small) to cut the donut shapes. Place donuts onto the parchment-lined baking sheet as your work. Gently press together any leftover dough scraps, roll them out again, and cut more donuts. When all the dough is used up, place the baking sheet into the fridge to chill.
In a deep fryer, an electric skillet, or a large, heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil to 350-375F. There should be enough oil that your donuts will float about 2 inches above the bottom, while being about half immersed. Line a wire cooling rack with a few sheets of paper towel to absorb the oil, place the rack over a large baking sheet (this will catch any large oil drips) and move it beside the fryer. If you aren’t using a deep fryer with a basket, then a spider strainer works perfectly for dropping the doughnuts into the oil as well as removing them.
Once your oil is up to temperature, remove the donuts from the fridge and fry 2 or 3 at a time, being careful not to crowd them. They should initially sink to the bottom of the fryer and then float for the majority of the cook time. Always try frying a test donut first. Allow the test donut to cool slightly, and then cut it open to check its doneness. If you oi is too hot, the donut may get too dark but be undercooked inside; but if it’s not hot enough, it will take too long to cook and you’ll end up with an oily donut. Fry the donuts for about 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Remove from the oil and place onto the paper towel-lined cooling rack. Repeat with all the donuts.
While the donuts are cooling, make the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and cardamom. Add ore milk or powdered sugar if necessary until the desired consistency is reached. Place a wire cooling rack over a baking sheet to catch the excess glaze, and dip each donut in the glaze and place onto the rack. The glaze will set in 5 to 10 minutes, and they’ll be ready to serve. As with all donuts, these are best served immediately or at least the same day.
Note: A deep fryer works best, although I’ve use an electric frying pan for many years as well. These both control the temperature for you, and I find them safer to use compared to a pot on the stove. If you use a pot on the stove, make sure it’s a heavy-bottomed one, which will absorb and distribute heat more evenly and help keep the temperature steady. You will need a candy/deep fryer thermometer on hand to keep an eye on the temperature.
Whether you’re looking for a Valentine’s treat or something sweet to chase away the winter blues, these strawberry mango cream puffs are the perfect baking project! They are so, so fun to make and incredibly fresh and delicious. Thanks to a couple magical ingredients, these sweet little pastries boast an intense fruity flavor that will transport you to a tropical location (or at least bring to mind memories of warmer days!).
Pâte à choux
Pâte à choux, or choux pastry, is really a magical thing. Mastering choux opens up a whole world of cream puffs, eclairs, crullers, gougeres and other delicious pastries; so it’s really worth spending time to get comfortable making it. (I’ve even got a whole chapter of choux recipes in my cookbook!) Honestly, making choux is not hard; as long as your recipe is solid you just need to make it a few times to get a sense of the visual cues and dough consistency, and to work out the best practices for your oven. If you’re new to choux, I recommend reading this tutorial at IronWhisk and this article on Serious Eats for a plethora of useful tips. Then just practice! Once you’ve got it, you’ve got it.
If you’ve ever wondered how professional bakeries get perfectly round cream puffs with that pretty crackly top, the answer is craquelin! Craquelin is basically a simple cookie dough. You roll it out thinly, then punch out little round cookies the same size as your piped choux dough. These cookies are placed on top of the choux right before baking; as the pastries bake, the craquelin bakes onto the puff, crisping and cracking along the way. Craquelin adds a hint of sweetness and texture (plus extra wow factor!) to your cream puffs, but feel free to omit it.
To make these strawberry mango cream puffs as written, you’ll need a couple of special ingredients. The first is strawberry couverture chocolate — I used Valrhona Strawberry Inspiration. This type of chocolate is made with freeze dried fruit for an intense and natural fruit flavor. It is truly delicious — I have to hide mine to keep my kids from snacking on it! I bought mine from a local baking supply store, but Strawberry Inspiration is readily available online. If you can’t source this ingredient, you can substitute regular good-quality white chocolate and make a whipped white chocolate ganache instead.
The second specialty ingredient is freeze-dried mango. I got freeze-dried mango at Trader Joe’s, but again it’s fairly easy to find online or at specialty food shops. You cannot substitute regular dried fruit or puree in this recipe as the water content and flavor intensity is not the same. However, you can substitute another freeze-dried fruit or just omit the freeze-dried fruit if you prefer; the filling will still be delicious.
While there are a lot of components in this recipe, none of the steps are very hard and you can spread out the work over a couple of days. I like making the strawberry ganache and craquelin a day ahead, then the rest of the components the day of serving. I’ve also included make-ahead notes in the recipe for additional options.
If you’re short on time, you can make just one of the fillings! If you do just the strawberry ganache, I would cut off the top third of each puff with a serrated knife, then pipe the filling inside. Replace the tops after adding the filling. Alternatively, fill the puffs with lightly sweetened whipped cream, pastry cream, or ice cream.
I have large baking sheets and can bake off this entire batch at once. Depending on the size of your baking sheets, you may need to bake on two sheets. I prefer to bake one sheet at a time for best results. The second sheet of piped choux can be kept at room temperature while the first bakes (wait until right before baking to put the craquelin on). Raise the oven temperature back up to 425F before baking the second sheet. Alternatively, bake both sheets at the same time on racks in the upper and lower thirds. Bake the puffs for at least 25 minutes before rotating the sheets.
150g eggs (about 3 large), at room temperature and lightly beaten to combine
For the mango cream:
50g freeze dried mango
50g granulated sugar
78g cream cheese, cold and cubed
Pinch of kosher salt
300g heavy cream, cold
Sprinkles, freeze-dried fruit bits, fresh fruit slices (optional)
Make the strawberry ganache: Finely chop the strawberry inspiration chocolate and place in a heatsafe bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream until steaming. Remove from heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute, then gently whisk until combined. Cool to room temperature, then press a sheet of plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 4 hours and up to 5 days.
Make the craquelin topping: In a small bowl, beat the softened butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add the flour and mix until a dough forms. Scrape dough onto a piece of parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment paper on top and roll dough to about 1/16″ thickness . Freeze while you prepare the choux. (Craquelin can be made up to 1 month in advance; freeze, well wrapped, until ready to use — no need to defrost.)
Make the choux pastry: Preheat the oven to 425F with a rack in the middle and line a large baking sheet (see baker’s notes) with parchment paper.
Combine the water, milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a strong simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. As soon as the mixture is simmering, remove the pot from the heat and dump the flour in all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or spatula until the flour is completely incorporated.
Return the pot to low heat. Continue stirring vigorously until the mixture clears the side of the pot and forms a ball and a thin film forms on the bottom of the pot, about 2 to 3 minutes. The dough should register 170-175F on an instant-read thermometer and be stiff enough that if you stick a small spoon in it, the spoon remains upright. Immediately transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the dough on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes to release the steam. An instant-read thermometer should read no warmer than 140F —any hotter and you’ll cook the eggs when adding them!
When the dough has cooled sufficiently and with the mixer still on low, add about one-third of the beaten eggs in a slow, steady stream. Mix until the egg has been completely absorbed, then add more egg 1 tbsp at a time, mixing each addition in completely before adding more. When you’ve added most of the egg and the dough has taken on a glossy sheen, check the dough consistency—a finger dragged through it should leave a trough and a peak of dough should form where the finger is lifted. Once the dough passes this test, it’s ready. You may not need all the egg—I usually have 1 to 2 tbsp leftover.
Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a large round piping tip. Pipe mounds of dough about 1 3/4 in diameter on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each.
Cut the craquelin rounds: Once all the puffs have been piped, remove the craquelin dough from the freezer. Let stand at room temperature for a minute or two to soften slightly, making it easier to cut. Use a round cutter the same diameter as the puffs to cut out circles of dough, one per puff. Gather and reroll the scraps as needed. Place one craquelin round on each puff, pressing lightly to adhere.
Bake the choux: Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375F and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes, or until the puffs are completely golden brown and feel hollow when you pick one up. About 5 minutes before the puffs are done, use a skewer or small knife to poke a small hole in each puff to help them crisp (avoid opening the oven door before this as the heat loss may cause the puffs to collapse!). Once the puffs are done, turn the oven off, prop open the door, and allow to cool in the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. (You can freeze baked choux buns in an airtight container for up to 2 months; defrost at room temperature right before filling. You can make them a day ahead and store at room temperature for up to a day, but you’ll want to recrisp them in a 325F oven for about 10 minutes as the pastry will soften. Cool completely before filling.)
Make the mango cream: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the freeze-dried mango and sugar. Pulse until the mango has broken down into a fine powder, about 1 minute. Add the cream cheese and salt and pulse to combine. Scrape down the sides of the food processor. Add the cold cream and process until the mixture resembles very thick yogurt, about 45-60 seconds. Be very careful not to over-process as you’ll end up with a fruit butter! Transfer to a piping bag and refrigerate until needed.
Whip the strawberry ganache: Using a handheld mixer or whisk, whip the chilled strawberry ganache until it thickens, lightens in color, and holds medium-stiff peaks. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a french star tip. Refrigerate until needed.
Assemble the strawberry mango cream puffs: Use a chopstick to poke a hole into the bottom of each puff. Snip off the tip of the piping bag holding the mango cream. Insert the tip into the hole and pipe in the mango cream until the puff feels heavy. Repeat until all puffs have been filled. Pipe a swirl of whipped strawberry ganache on top. Garnish with sprinkles, chopped bits of freeze-dried fruit, or slices of fresh fruit. Enjoy immediately, or refrigerate and enjoy within 4 hours of assembly. The puffs will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days, but the pastry will get progressively soggier with time.