I am currently recovering from the deluge of silence that has fallen upon the household. The bathroom – once a bustling hub of activity – is now desolate: the ants that have made it their home have gone.
Obviously they never cared to venture further than the washroom – the kitchen was just far too passé for these ants.
I suppose this is what it is like to become an empty nester — and it is delightful!
Luckily there are also cookies to talk about.
I made these vanilla-rooibos-cashew-browned butter-caramelized white chocolate cookies to use up some vanilla rooibos tea that did not quite meet my roommate’s standards for consumption. I’m glad I did as rooibos might be one of my new favourite baking flavours – I can’t wait to try using it in some different ways.
And oh, these cookies are fun! There is the usual toasty richness from salt and browned butter and caramelized white chocolate, and then there is brightness from tart citrusy rooibos and light, buttery cashews. I found them pretty delightful! Like even more than dozens of ants in your bathroom delightful.
A warning though – these, like a lot of chewy cookies, are already sweet cookies to begin with. Adding white chocolate certainly doesn’t help, but caramelization does temper the sweetness. If using normal white chocolate, you can try to reduce the sugar (though it may affect the texture) or use less chocolate. I find that nuts help by imparting some moderating savouriness. In this case I also think that the cashews are quite nice with the fruity tartness from the tea.
I’ve made these a few times, tweaking along the way to ensure sufficient spreading. This meant I did make some rather annoying adjustments, namely 10g of egg white (!??! exactly what I dread seeing in recipes!). For that I apologize, though I do suspect that this flavour profile could be pretty easily transferred over to your favourite cookie recipe if you’d like to avoid finicky measurements.
vanilla rooibos cookies with cashews and caramelized white chocolate
Cookie base is vaguely based on this cookie recipe from Butter and Brioche, whose blog is a reservoir of the most delightfully crinkly and deliciously-flavoured cookies– and all a thousands times more delightful than ants in your bathroom delightful!
I find that the consistency of the white chocolate can vary depending on the degree of caramelization. In this case the chocolate wasn’t caramelized as deeply and acquired a consistency similar to sticky silly putty. For that reason (and the fact that the cookie dough may be a bit warm), it’s easiest to mix in when the pieces have been chilled in either the fridge or freezer.
- 60g butter (slightly generous 1/2 stick of butter)
- 1 1/2 tsp rooibos (or a 3g tea bag)
- 45g brown sugar
- 20g white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg yolk + 10g egg white
- 80g flour (half whole wheat, half a.p. flour)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 45g caramelized white chocolate, cut into pieces and chilled (see below)
- 30g coarsely chopped cashews
In a small saucepan, brown the butter. Whisk in the rooibos, then follow with the sugars and vanilla extract. Set aside to cool until just warm.
Now would be a nice time to preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking pan with parchment paper
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk the egg yolk and 10g of egg white into the butter mixture, then pour in the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. Mix in the white chocolate and cashews.
Using a tablespoon, form balls of dough and space apart evenly on the baking pan. It does look nicest if there is a nice piece of caramelized white chocolate right on the top of the cookie ball (also it is a bit more prone to burning if it is on the bottom of the cookie)
Bake for around 10 minutes, taking out the tray partway through and dropping it from a short distance either above the counter/stovetop or the oven rack to help flatten the cookies.
To caramelized white chocolate
Place 100g chocolate on a parchment lined baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 275 and place the chocolate in the oven, stirring it with an offset spatula every 10 minutes until a nice deep golden brown. This may take around an hour to an hour and a half. Method adapted from David Lebovitz.