Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Lessons are Neverending

Just when you think you've made all the errors you possibly can this baking season...another one leaps out from the oven.

Yesterday I spent some time testing some new cookies. One of my challenges this year is to take the ingredients I have and use existing pantry ingredients only in my baking and candy-making. Due to the generosity of a few family members, I have a nicely stocked baking pantry right now. I have all different kinds of sugars and chips and nuts and things to use in my holiday baking. So as I'm looking for a new cookie to try here and there, I'm keeping in mind what I have in my pantry. It's kind of fun, actually, like a treasure hunt. It's been nice flipping through all my cookie magazines, looking for new ones that catch my eye, and then checking out the ingredients and directions. I've found several new ones to try- and yesterday I tried two new cookies and one toffee. I also created a new rule- only make a half-batch if possible, so if disaster strikes, I'm only wasting half the ingredients.

And I learned a new lesson about white chocolate. White chocolate chips and white baking chocolate are not interchangeable. I made a white chocolate peppermint cookie that called for white baking chocolate to be melted and folded in the dough. I simply thought I could use chips, and I did. Well, the chips tightened the dough up too much, and the resulting cookies were not what they were intended to be. These were drop cookies, so they were supposed to spread and bake up like a regular cookie. Instead, the cookies that I'd scooped with my cookie scoop stayed scoop-shaped. I was annoyed with myself. Then I tasted the cookies and found a very delicious cookie. I love the flavors- the white chocolate and peppermint are an amazing combination. SO while my cookies are not perfect, the flavor is there. So I will be nibbling on my half-batch myself and then when I get some white baking chocolate, I'll be making these again for my cookie trays.

They really are excellent. I used some Ande's candy cane baking chips that I'd found in the pantry, but the original recipe called for crushed candy-canes. The Ande's chips worked perfectly, but next time I think I'm going to use the Guittard mint chips I'd found. Try them if you like white chocolate- just pay attention to the white chocolate you use. White Chocolate-Peppermint Drops are an excellent cookie.

White Chocolate Peppermint Drops
8 ounces *white chocolate baking squares (with cocoa butter)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup peppermint chips (such as Andes or Guittard)
(or sub in 2/3 cup crushed peppermint candy canes)

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Chop 4 ounces of the white chocolate, set aside. In a small saucepan, cook and stir the remaining 4 ounces white chocolate over low heat until melted. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add the baking powder and salt, mix well. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Beat in the melted white chocolate. Beat in about half of the flour. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the remaining flour until combined, and then fold in the chopped white chocolate and peppermint chips.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake at 375ºF for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Makes about 50 cookies.

*Be sure to use a good quality white chocolate for the melting chocolate. White chocolate chips will not work in the dough for melting. However, chips would be a fine substitute for chopping the remaining white chocolate.


JEP said...

You sounded exactly like me---many times I have searched for recipes that have ingredients that I have on hand! We are so frugal :)

Claire said...

These look and sound really good. I may have to try these. I'm hoping to do all new recipes for my cookie tins this year with maybe one old recipe I haven't made in a while. I think you can use WC chips, you just have to add some oil, so they don't seize.

Erika W. said...

Jep, tomorrow I'll probably be posting about really digging into the pantry for a suprise cookie ingredient.

Claire, these are awesome- I'm really enjoying them. Interesting thought about adding the oil...I may just have to try that. Although, the little ball shape is growing on me. With a white chocolate drizzle these would be very pretty.