When I think about baking an easy drop cookie, chocolate chips come to mind - specifically Ghirardelli's 60 percent dark chocolate chips. I've got the basic dough recipe down pat and while I may vary the type of nuts or extracts, the one constant is the chocolate chips.
Few desserts compare with the iconic chocolate chip cookie. This classic American recipe represents the perfect partnership of tastes and textures baked into an easy-to-serve and enjoyable treat.
Chocolate pieces added to a caramelly dough makes for a unique balance of powerful flavors in this simple treat. Deep savory notes of the chocolate play off the ultra sweet edges of the chewy cookie base - incredibly delicious and addicting when done well.
So there I was, all set to dig into a gift basket full of Ghirardelli products when my husband discovered the bag of white baking chips I'd intentionally stashed under the bags of the dark chocolate variety.
Michael gave me an accusatory look and asked if I could make cookies without the chocolate. "These white chips look interesting," he said pulling them out of the basket.
The chocoholic in me cringed; that was not what my taste buds had in mind for our weekend dessert.
Caught off guard by his request, I acquiesced and started looking for a chocolate-less chocolate chip cookie recipe. With little experience baking an entirely blonde chip cookie, I decided to start with the back-of-the-bag recipe for Macadamia White Chip Cookies.
One look at the ingredient list and I knew the challenge before me: keeping all the sugar in this recipe under control.
Butter blended with brown sugar and even more white sugar creates a very sweet dough. Stir in 2 cups white chips along with macadamia nuts and the sweetness escalates, yet change this dynamic too much and the essence of the cookie gets lost. Perhaps I could soften the edges a bit and add a flavor twist to the mix?
First I brought the amount of white sugar down to the level of the light brown thus enhancing the background caramel notes. As a bonus, it enriched the color of the dough from off-white to light camel, baking into a lightly browned hue.
The secret antidote to loads of sugar is a sprinkling of salt. Ghirardelli's recipe called for a full teaspoon added to the flour along with baking soda. This ultra sweet cookie needed more. Salted butter to the rescue.
I seldom recommend salted butter in baking recipes as it does infuse noticeable amounts of sodium, but this case warranted it. To fully develop the salty vs. caramel flavors, chill the dough for 24 hours before baking.
When it came to the nuts, I swapped toasted pecans for the macadamias, adding much-needed color to the all-white cookie. The mellowness of pecans infused another levels of sweet taste and complemented the stark white baking chips.
If a chocolate chip cookie is what you crave give this version a try - you may develop a new craving.
• Annie Overboe, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, lives in Villa Park. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.