Sunday, June 21, 2015

White Chocolate & Blueberry Brown Butter Cookies

I used to hate white chocolate. I hated it so bad.

Mostly I hated it for spite. It's not chocolate. It would be like Crème Brûlée without the brûlée, or like J-Lo without the booty - she would just be Jennifer... or something.

It took me travelling to Portugal - makes no sense, I know - to discover how good white chocolate can really be. I understand I can taste great white chocolate anywhere really, but this is when I had my revelation. So, this is my story as weird as it is.

I was writing my Master's thesis and naturally this coincides with heavy consumption of chocolate day-in, day-out. Plus, my thesis was about the sensory properties of Portuguese red wine... So eating dark chocolate to complement red wine tastings was purely for research. Yeah... research.

There was this one supermarket called Pingo Doce that sold organic fair trade chocolate blocks that were delicious. The bittersweet bar - 70% cocoa - was well tempered and intense. And it was only 1.50 euro. For a student chocoholic, this was salvation. I loved it.

The white chocolate version was normally something I would easily glance over without a thought. But, this one proudly claimed its pure cocoa butter content on the front packaging. I fell victim to its marketing and decided to try it. The ingredients: sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids, natural vanilla. Exactly as they should be - remember, no veg fat! Just don't even...

It was beautiful. If it is even possible, the cocoa butter actually gave off gentle notes of coffee and cocoa and vanilla. It was subtle but sublime.

That was when I first started to appreciate white chocolate. Even though it is so far from the bold dark chocolate that I favour, it has a perfect subtlety to it. It has to be pure, the cocoa butter content needs to be greater than 33% and organic makes a difference.

These cookies are elegant and modestly complex. I use brown butter to add richness and depth of flavour (think nutty, caramelised and a bit savoury). It also enhances the gentle flavour of white chocolate by providing some contrast. Without brown butter, these cookies would just be sweet.

Browning butter is easy to do - just heat it gently in a saucepan until it foams up, the solids separate out and then turn brown. Pour it out into a cold bowl and let it cool completely. Chill it until it is malleable like soft butter.

Dried blueberries pair really well with white chocolate, but just don't use too many as they are very sweet and will take the whole cookie too far into sugartown. Just a few will do the trick.

Salt is important too - it balances out all the sweet.

If you, like me, are reluctant to give white chocolate a chance... maybe these cookies will push you to the light side. It will never be chocolate, but it is good in its own right.

Cocoa butter baby!

White Chocolate & Blueberry Brown Butter Cookies
Makes 22 cookies

½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup (
145g) packed light brown sugar
3 tbsp (40g) granulated sugar 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 ½ cups (
215g) all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
4 oz pure high-quality white chocolate, chopped
½ cup (85g) dried blueberries

First, brown the butter. Heat butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter turns to an amber/light brown colour and the solids turn brown. It will foam when it is nearly ready and you should be able to smell the nutty, caramelised aroma. Remove from heat immediately and pour  into a small metal bowl. Set aside to cool and chill until semi-firm.

Once firmed up, place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer with both sugars and vanilla. Beat on high speed until somewhat light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add egg and mix on medium speed until very well combined. 

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl and add to butter mixture. Beat on low until just combined. Fold in white chocolate chip and dried blueberries

Cover dough and chill for 1-2 hours. When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Scoop heaped tablespoons of dough on to prepared baking sheets, spacing them two inches apart. 

Bake until golden, 12-14 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and grab a glass of milk!
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