Desserts/Pastries

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pistachio Cookies

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pistachio Cookies

It’s no secret folks…I love cookies.

And it’s during this time of year that I like to try out a few new recipes to add to my Holiday Cookie Platters.

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pistachio Cookies
The usual suspects are often:

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pistachio Cookies
And sometimes I’ll throw in a Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie or a Peppermint Kissed Brownie to stir things up.

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pistachio Cookies
For this year, I wanted to use dried cranberries and pistachios together to create a festive sweet treat. And why not add white chocolate chips to the party?

It’s all kind of healthy-ish….right? Like trail mix?

Ok….that may be a stretch.

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pistachio Cookies
I opted to adapt the NY Times Best Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from Jacque Torres because I love the textures of the cookie once baked—crisp on the outside and chewy on the interior.

In lieu of the vanilla extract, I used orange extract and fresh orange zest to pair with the flavors.

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pistachio Cookies
Folks were a fan of them! They’re super chunky and filled with lots of different textures from the nuts, chocolate and berries.

Definitely filled with Holiday goodness.

ps. We’re three days away from Christmas even and I still haven’t finished shopping! EEK!

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White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pistachio Cookies
Makes approximately 2 dozen

Ingredients:

 

8.5 ounces cake flour
8.5 ounces bread flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
1 ¼ cups unsalted butter
6 ounces light brown sugar
6 ounces granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoons orange extract
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
12 ounces white chocolate chips
1 heaping cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1 heaping cup roasted & unsalted pistachios, chopped

 

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the orange extract and zest. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Add the white chocolate chips, dried cranberries and pistachios—mix until just combined. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

Scoop mounds of dough the size of large golf balls onto baking sheet and slightly flatten the dough balls. Bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough and enjoy!

Adapted from NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Desserts/Pastries

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Forgive me. This is a HORRIBLE photo.

But the fact of the matter is, you wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t share this with you. So after weighing out the lesser of two evils, I said— “LET THEM EAT (cheese)CAKE!”

I made this for our family Christmas party and amidst all of the cooking/baking, catching up with the fam, and partaking in holiday cocktails—I totally missed photographing this little number and only caught a quick pic on my phone. I know, I know. The same woman who makes her loved ones eat cold food because I have to take a hundred photos first, totally blew it. DOH!

But I think you’ll forgive me once you try this beauty. Creamy, dense cheesecake studded with white chocolate and swirls of raspberry puree. DEE-LISH. I chose to use ginger snaps for the crust as an homage to the holidays but you can definitely swap them out for graham crackers or even better–chocolate cookies!

Guess I’ll just have to make this again so I can snap some better photos.

Yup–It’s a difficult task but someone has got to do it.

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White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake
One 9-inch cake

Ingredients:

Crust:
2½ Cups Ginger Snap Crumbs (or Graham Cracker Crumbs if you prefer)
3 Tablespoons Sugar
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted

Filling:
24 Ounces Cream Cheese, at room temperature
¼ Cup Sour Cream, at room temperature
1 Cup Sugar
3 Large Eggs, at room temperature
¼ Teaspoon Cornstarch
2 Teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
6 Ounces White Chocolate, chopped

Raspberry Puree:
10 Ounces Frozen Raspberries
¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
¼ Cup Red Wine
Zest of 1 Lemon
Preheat oven to 325 ˚F.

Prepare the raspberry puree by placing all the ingredients in a small sized, heavy saucepan. Simmer on medium-low until berries have broken down and the wine has cooked off. Approximately 10-15 minutes. Transfer contents to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain through a sieve, using a rubber spatula to help press the puree through. Cover and set puree aside.

Prepare a 9-inch spring form pan by wrapping the outside with 2-3 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Spray the inside of the pan with cooking spray. Combine the ginger snap crumbs, sugar and butter until moistened and resembles the texture of wet sand. Pour into the pan and evenly press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about one inch up the sides. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden and cool to room temperature.

Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese and sour cream until its light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the sugar.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the vanilla extract and cornstarch until well combined.  Sprinkle the white chocolate over the cooled crust and pour the filling on top. Spoon dollops of the raspberry puree over the cheesecake. Run the tip of a pairing knife or a toothpick through the raspberry puree to create a marble effect.

Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven. Fill the roasting pan with hot water to come halfway up the sides of springform pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the center is set. Allow the cake to sit in the oven (heat turned off) with the door propped open for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack.  Allow the cake to cool for an additional 30 minutes.  Wrap well with plastic film and foil. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Carefully remove the sides of the pan by running a hot knife around the outside of the cake.

Serve with whipped cream and a drizzle of the remaining raspberry puree. Enjoy!

Desserts/Pastries

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

It’s hard to believe but it’s been over a year since I’ve made a batch of Red Velvet Cupcakes.

Crazy, eh?

But I think at some point, I had just overdosed on them.

Yes, My Friends…….I had too much of a good thing.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

But then the next thing I knew it, the holidays were smacking me upside the head. Everywhere you looked it was hues of blues, silvers….green, red. I just had to bring out my tried and true Red Velvet recipe to ring in the holiday cheer. The beautiful color is just so darn festive.

And let’s face it. It would be near “Grinch-like” if I didn’t.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

To add a little different flair to my Red Velvet Cuppies, I decided to swap out my favorite cream cheese frosting with a super decadent and sweet White Chocolate Buttercream. It was a nice change from the tangy cream cheese but if you don’t like sweet frostings or want to cut back a bit, you may want to stick with the classic.

But c’mon now—it’s the holidays! I won’t tell if you don’t 🙂

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream
Makes approximately 18-20 Regular Sized Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Batter:
1¼ Cups All Purpose Flour
½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
¼ Teaspoon Salt
1½  Tablespoons High Quality Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
½ Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Large Eggs, room temperature
½ Cup Sour Cream
½ Cup Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2-3 Tablespoons Red Food Color, depending on desired intensity of color

White Chocolate Buttercream:
10 Ounces Unsalted Butter, room temperature
6 Ounces White Chocolate, melted and cooled
3-4 Cups Sifted Confectioner Sugar, varies due to preferred frosting consistency
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2-3 Tablespoons Milk, if needed

*Optional: White Chocolate Shavings to top the cupcakes.

Preheat the oven to 350°degrees and place paper liners in pans.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a standing mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy for about 3-4 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add milk, sour cream, vanilla, and food color. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients until well blended.

Fill each lined cup 2/3 full. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes, rotating halfway between baking time. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean. Cool completely in pans on top of a wire rack.

While cupcakes are baking, prepare the frosting. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the vanilla and butter until fluffy.  Add the white chocolate and whip until combined. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. Continue adding sugar to desire consistency. Should the buttercream appear dry, whip in a tad of milk.

When cupcakes are thoroughly cooled, frost or pipe decorate swirls on top. Sprinkle with white chocolate shavings.

Happy Holidays!!

Desserts/Pastries

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies….it’s Aloha Friday!

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Happy Aloha Friday, Friends!

Since Wednesday, I’ve been blaring my Hawaiian-Island jams just willing the weekend to come faster.

You see, in a former life, I think I must have been Hawaiian. For years I’ve been immersed in the Polynesian culture and have spent the good part of 8 years with hula and producing lū’aus. You can ask any one of my former students and they can confirm what a hot mess I became the weeks leading up to large shows or the annual lū’au. But you know what? I wouldn’t have traded a moment for anything in the world.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

So you can imagine my overwhelming joy and delight when my sister enrolled my niece, Maya, into a hula school (hula hālau). Trust me, I’ve been heavily “hinting” for all the little ones to join a hālau for years, but Maya so far, is the first. Hālaus are more than just a dance school. They are communities that not only instruct on dance but also pass on culture and values.

My baby girl was in her very first lū’au this past Sunday—and I cannot express how much overwhelming pride I had that day for her. Sure, I had to resist every cell in my being from jumping in to take charge of one aspect or another—hey, I’m somewhat of a control freak. But I was just so happy.

Check out Maya (3rd from left) with the other little keiki girls. Adorable, right?

My sis asked if I could bake a little something to donate towards the bake sale. I enlisted the help of my older two nieces and we made a TON of these delish White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies. Totally appropriate, right?

We made a few tweaks from batch to batch on the recipe and I believe, found the ideal proportions. Chewy, crispy and chopped full of nuts and chips.

Maya

Isn’t she just a sweetheart? Now if we can just get her little brother (my god-bebe) Lucas into classes……

Aloooooha!!!!!!!!

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White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
Makes approximately 1½ Dozen Cookies

Ingredients:

2 Cups All Purpose Flour, plus 1 Tablespoon
½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon Salt
¾ Cup Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 Large Egg plus 1 Egg Yolk
1 Heaping Cup White Chocolate Chips
1 Heaping Cup White Macadamia Nuts (roasted and unsalted), roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the white chocolate chips and the macadamia nuts by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

Bake for 14 -15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Adapted from Allrecipes

Desserts/Pastries

Chocolate Lollipops–A Trifecta of Holiday Goodness!

Chocolate Lollipops

Hello Dear Friends!

First and foremost, I would like to wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season! Thus far, mine has been chopped full of quality family time, good eats—and plenty of vino! And let’s be honest…what more could a gal ask for? 🙂

Well, perhaps the gift of “saving time”. And wouldn’t you know it? These “Chocolate Lollipops” are just the trick!

Inspired by the most recent special of the Barefoot Contessa in London, I whipped up (with the wonderful help of my fab nieces) these quick and easy Chocolate Lollipops. The whole process took us less than 15 minutes. True Story.

And the end result?

A Trifecta of Holiday Goodness!

Planning a little soiree? These Chocolate Lollipops will serve as:

  1. A lovely decor/centerpiece when packaged with ribbons and bundled in a vase,
  2. A deluxe party favor for your guests when they leave,
  3. and Of course, a DELISH Treat!

Another NGUYEN-WIN SITUATION! 🙂

Happy Holidays Friends!

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Chocolate Lollipops
Makes Approximately 2 Dozen Pops

Ingredients:

6 Ounces Quality Chocolate (either white, milk, dark, or mixed–your preference)
1/2 Cup Dried Fruits or Chopped Nuts (completely your preference)
2 Dozen Lollipop Sticks

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Using a double boiler method, melt the chocolate stirring slowly until smooth. Remove from heat. Spoon one tablespoon of the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper. Try to do this evenly to form a round circle. Lay the lollipop stick 1/3-1/2 inch into the chocolate circle. Sprinkle with your choice of chopped nuts and/or dried fruit. Repeat process until all your chocolate is used. Set aside the cookie sheets in a cool area and allow 2-3 hours to harden. Once firm, carefully peel the lollipops from the parchment paper. The pops can be packaged with cellophane and tied with a decorative bow.

**The photo shown above features both white chocolate and 60% chocolate with dried cranberries and crushed pistachio nuts.

Enjoy!

Desserts/Pastries

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

 

Need an easy and delicious treat for the holidays? This is it—seriously.

Every Holiday season I make batches of this White Chocolate Peppermint Bark–not only because how quick it comes together but it’s darn delicious! Creamy, minty and lightly crunchy from the peppermint bits. Package them in festive holiday tins with colorful ribbons and BADA-BING, BADA-BOOM….Fabulously Yummy Gifts.

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White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:

12 Ounces Quality White Chocolate, chopped
½ Cup Peppermint Candy, crushed
½ Teaspoon Peppermint Extract

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or use a silicon mat. Place peppermint candy in a plastic bag. With a kitchen mallet, break up the candy into small pieces.

Using a double boiler method, melt the white chocolate stirring slowly until smooth. Remove from heat and quickly mix in the candy and extract. Pour melted chocolate onto the cookie sheet. Using a rubber spatula, spread out the chocolate evenly across the parchment paper until it is approximately ¼ inch thick. Holding each side of the cookie sheet, lightly rap on the counter to remove any possible air bubbles. Set aside the cookie sheet in a cool area and allow 2-3 hours to harden. Once firm, break the bark into large pieces and serve. Bark should be stored in airtight containers to maintain freshness.

 


Desserts/Pastries

Coconut Macarons with White Chocolate-Mango Ganache

Coconut Macarons with White Chocolate-Mango Ganache

Coconut again?! Yup. This time in Macaron form. What can I say, I’m a coco-nutty kind of gal.

I learned my lessons from our first Parisian Macarons experience and paid heed to do the following:

  • Use a scale to measure the weight of ingredients;
  • Age the egg whites;
  • Let the shells “harden” for at least 30 minutes before baking;

Initially I had wanted to fill the Coconut Shells with a Passion Fruit-flavor filling but was unsuccessful in finding a pure concentrate or nectar flavoring agent. But since I had Mango extract on hand, I figured it would be a nice tropical “oompf” for the white chocolate ganache filling. Unfortunately it didn’t bring out as much of the mango flavor as I had hoped—though the end result was still quite tasty. Next time, I’m taking my sister’s advice and use a pineapple filling. Coconut Shells + Pineapple Filling = Piña Colada Macarons. And that, dear friends, is a Nguyen-Win Situation at its best 🙂


Coconut Macarons
Piped shells “aging” for 45 minutes. I only had almond meal that had almonds ground with their skins in tact—thus the pretty speckled pattern.


Coconut Macarons
Les pieds des Macarons!!!! Oh YES– the feet 🙂

I have to admit that I did exhale a sigh a relief after making these little treats. Thank goodness that it wasn’t just beginner’s luck last time! But on the next try, I think I’m going Caramel flavored.

So until my next kitchen adventure Mes Amis, a tout le heure!


Coconut Macarons with White Chocolate-Mango Ganache

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Coconut Macarons with White Chocolate-Mango Ganache

Ingredients:

Macarons Shells:
110 Grams Almond Meal
180 Grams Confectioners’ Sugar
25 Grams Ground Desiccated Coconut
100 Grams Egg Whites, aged at room temperature for 24 hours
50 Grams Granulated Sugar

White Chocolate-Mango Ganache
8 Ounces White Chocolate, finely chopped
4 Ounces Heavy Cream
1 Teaspoon Pure Mango Extract
1-2 Drops Yellow Food Coloring (optional)

Grind almond meal, desiccated coconuts, and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor to remove any lumps. Sift mixture into another bowl and set aside.

In a mixing stand, whisk egg whites until frothy. Slowly add granulated sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks are formed. Carefully begin incorporating dry mixture into the meringue—gently folding until all items have been integrated.

Using a piping bag fitted with a large round tip, pipe small rounds of the mixture onto Silpat lined baking sheets. Rounds should be about 1½ inches in diameter. Once baking sheets are filled, tap the sheet carefully but firmly on the counter to remove any possible air pockets. Let baking sheets sit on the counter for 45 minutes to harden the outer shell before baking.

Bake at 300 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Transfer the pans to cooling rack and cool completely before removing shells.

In a saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Remove from heat and strain the hot cream through a fine-meshed sieve directly into the bowl of the chopped chocolate. Let the mixture sit 1 to 2 minutes without stirring, and then gently whisk until the chocolate is entirely melted. Stir in the mango extract and food coloring. Cover with plastic wrap and chill about 20 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Transfer ganache to a piping bag and fill the macaron shells.

 

Coconut Macarons with White Chocolate-Mango Ganache