White Chocolate Macadamia Oatmeal Cookies

It’s been nice to get back into my own kitchen over the past several weeks, apart from having a couple of extra sink-fulls of dishes to do. Sometimes, as with all passions and art forms, it can be hard to find your creative spot, really feel inspired, or not let discouragement hold you back. Cooking for me is no different, and while so often these days I’ve been searching for my hibernating enthusiasm and questioning my talents, I’ve had to remind myself that what I do in my own kitchen can only be judged by and help myself. While I’m still struggling with it all, much of my curiosity and motivation has returned.

This past weekend Greg and I went over to a friend’s house for a birthday dinner celebration and football watching, and of course wanted to whip up a batch of something simple to take along. While walking through the grocery store on Friday night (yeah, we know how to party) I thought I’d make some white chocolate macadamia cookies, since I’ve never had one before. Greg suggested oatmeal as well since that’s his thing. There was so much food around the table, I couldn’t help but feel thankful especially knowing people in my own neighborhood still don’t have electricity. With my family living so far away it was so comforting to borrow someone else’s for the evening, and spend a little time laughing and bonding over food, board games and football.

That’s really the point of cookies to me though, they’re comfort food. While they’re usually not the first thing I’ll make for dessert, when the mood strikes it’s great to know they can be made quickly, with plenty to share with friends. These cookies were adapted from this Hershey’s recipe.

White Chocolate Macadamia Oatmeal Cookies
Makes about 34 large (3″) cookies

1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Light Brown Sugar, packed
1 cup Unsalted Butter
2 Eggs, large
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 1/2 cups AP Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 cup Macadamia Nuts, chopped
1 1/2 cups Oats
20 oz. White Chocolate Chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (F) and line 4 half sheet pans or cookie pans with parchment paper (or in my case, 2 with two more sheets of parchment ready to go for the next round).

In a mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until creamy and completely blended. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing until completely blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure it all comes together. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together, and add to the mixer slowly on low speed. As soon as the flour is in add the nuts, oats, and white chocolate chips. There’s no need to over-mix, stop mixing as soon as it’s all incorporated. If you need to knead the last bit of chocolate chips in because you’ve got a 4.5 qt mixer, go ahead – I had to as well.

Scoop 8 golf ball sized rounds of dough onto each sheet and press the tops down gently to flatten slightly. I use an industrial red handled scooper/disher, but heaping tablespoons will work just fine. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, checking after 10. 13 minutes was the sweet spot in my oven. You’re looking for golden edges, and puffy in the middle without looking wet.

These cookies are great with a cup of coffee. Next time I make them I’d like to actually use less white chocolate chips. I think they’re very sweet and since they don’t have any of the bitterness of dark chocolate, I’ll probably cut the amount down to 12 – 15 ounces. Of course, it all depends on how into white chocolate you are!

{psst: with the holidays just around the corner, these would make a great addition to homemade cookie boxes, stocking stuffers, or pot luck parties. They stay nice and moist for several days when kept in an airtight container.}

A Homemade Vanilla Latte

Some people drink several pots of coffee a day, and while I don’t really consume THAT much coffee, it’s at least 2 medium lattes a day. One on the way in to work at 6:30am (I can’t even get started cooking without it), and usually one in the evening before or around dinner. I’m lucky to have a simple espresso machine at home, nothing fancy – just an old steam driven Mr. Coffee.

Recently, while playing around with a couple of different simple syrups I decided I needed to keep one of the most basic syrups on hand for my at home lattes – the vanilla syrup. It’s simple and adds just enough vanilla sweetness to my evening coffee. This is a small recipe that will give you enough for at least 10 coffees.

Vanilla Syrup

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
2 vanilla beans, split & scrape out seeds

Put sugar, water, vanilla bean pods & seeds into a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 10 minutes. Strain out bean pods and store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

I use about a tablespoon per latte. Sometimes two. If the syrup begins to crystallize simply return it to the stove and bring it back to a boil.

Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroons

The truth is, the coconut macaroon is a seriously underappreciated little cookie. It’s so easy to make, takes so little time to prepare, and tastes so good (especially right out of the oven) that your biggest problem with this recipe is making enough to last more than an hour or two. A lot of bakeries will dip their macaroons in chocolate, which is delicious and looks great, but also requires tempering your chocolate, and might not provide an even distribution of chocolate in every bite … or the two bites it’ll probably take to finish one of these.

Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroons

3 oz. of egg whites (approximately 3 large egg whites)
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 (14 oz.) package of sweetened coconut flakes
6 oz. mini chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. You’ll also need a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet and a small cookie scooper.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg whites, sugar and salt until the egg whites are slightly foamy. In a larger bowl combine the coconut and chocolate chips. Pour whisked eggs over the coconut and work the entire mixture together with your hands (feel free to wear gloves if you really want to avoid the stickiness) until completely combined. With a small scoop, scoop a clump of the coconut mixture, pack it lightly in the scoop, and drop onto the cookie sheet. Bake about 25 minutes or until the cookies take on a beautiful golden color. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before you bite into them, they’ll be hot! (but OH SO GOOD.)

Inspired by: Tiger in a Jar

Prepare to be blown away:

I first saw this incredibly lovely video on Honest Fare and have watched it probably a dozen times. While I haven’t started playing around with video food styling, it’s still very inspiring. This short film was created by the talented people over at tiger in a jar, which you should check out along with some of their other movies.

I’m a big fan of the hand-drawn instructions, rustic and vintage style elements, simplicity of the recipe, and the elegance with which the ingredients are presented.

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