Let’s talk cookies.
Cookies hold a very special place in my heart. As a kid, one of my favorite bedtime stories was “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” – anyone else getting nostalgic? I always loved how (spoilers! shield your eyes!) the book ends where it begins – with a simple, glorious, chocolate chip cookie. Similarly, my own trip down the baking rabbit hole all started with a cookie. Or a batch of cookies, to be exact.
The Great Cookie Experiment came about one summer in college when I was working full-time at a research lab, where we had lab meetings every Wednesday to go over people’s weekly updates. Since it was summer and I had time, I decided it might be fun to try a different cookie recipe every week to bring to these meetings. The first cookies I made were simple jam thumbprint cookies, soft buttery things that disappeared like hotcakes. During that summer I tried everything from mocha chocolate chip toffee to potato chip pecan – the latter admittedly not being one of my best efforts.
But the bug stuck, and I continue to bake cookies for work meetings today. You see, in college I learned the magical truth that the best way to get people to come to meetings is…food. This is not a little known secret either – the most crafty of meeting organizers make sure to serve food only at the end, to preempt people eating and leaving before the actual presentation. Likewise, at the hospital I’ve learned that the best way to keep medical students and residents coming back is to keep them guessing what cookie flavor I’ll bake up next time.
When it comes to classic cookie flavors, I’ve always reached first for the white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies. But is it just me or have they been falling out of fashion lately? Used to be they were included in any box of assorted cookies by default, right between the chocolate chip and M&Ms, but now I’m more likely to see plain sugar cookies or snickerdoodles (elegant and worthy creatures in their own right).
Maybe it’s because macadamia nuts are so expensive. (If you have time to plan ahead, I suggest buying them in bulk from a website like Amazon for the best deal). With their rich, almost buttery flavor, they truly are the royalty of the nut world – unfortunately with as scandalously indulgent of a reputation as the Borgias due to their high fat content and calorie count. But don’t judge the poor macadamia nut too harshly! A huge percentage of its fat is made up of monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to reduce unhealthy cholesterol levels and have potential heart-healthy benefits when replacing saturated fats in a person’s diet. (These are the same kinds of fats that make olive oil a healthier dietary fat). Like many other nuts, macadamia nuts also provide a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Though the effects are probably lessened when these little beauties are wrapped up in a irresistibly chewy, soft cookie butter cookie.
Because what better to put in a cookie than some deconstructed cookies? And so this recipe ends where it begins – just like the adventures of my favorite literary mouse.
I will always love a good old-fashioned white chocolate macadamia nut cookie, but throw in some cinnamon-y, gingersnap-y cookie butter (also known as Speculoos Cookie Butter or Biscoff Spread, depending what country you’re getting it from) and behold: a sweet, just-enough-salty, luxuriously spiced revelation.
The recipe for the base of this cookie comes from one of my favorite blogs, Averie Cooks. I adapted her Softbatch Cookie Butter Brown Sugar Cookies ever so slightly based on what I had on hand and to make them a little healthier (or rather, less unhealthy). Her recipe uses creamy cookie butter but I was determined to use up my jars of crunchy cookie butter lurking in the back of my pantry, which is where I keep them so I can’t hear them calling my name in the middle of the night. I substituted some of the all-purpose flour for white whole wheat flour for a teeny boost in fiber. At first the dough actually came out too dry, so I reduced the overall flour amount just a smidgen on my second try. I also made my cookies smaller (approximately 2 1/4 inches in diameter) – serving more people with less guilt, it’s a win-win!
Finally, I left out the additional cinnamon so as not to completely overpower the white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. I wanted these cookies to be kind of like a TV show with an ensemble cast – you know, like how we all know that White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut are the main characters and totally meant to end up together, but a part of us is secretly more interested in the side character Cookie Butter’s story.
The dough does require some chilling time so these cookies do require planning ahead, but the results are absolutely worth it! When everyone at a meeting takes three cookies each, you know you’re doing your job right.
Cookie Butter White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies
adapted from Averie Cooks
makes ~28 cookies, 2 1/4 inches diameter
vegan option available
can make ahead up to 5 days in advance
- 1 large egg or suitable egg replacement such as Ener-G Egg Replacer
- 1 cup cookie butter
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour, plus 2 tablespoons if needed
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch salt, optional and to taste
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, halved
- Cream together on medium to high speed (I used a hand mixer and it came out fine) the egg, cookie butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until the mixture looks fluffy, around 5 minutes. For me, the mixture became quite thick and even started pulling away from the edges of the ball.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together both flours, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Add to the cookie butter mixture gradually, incorporating fully with a big spoon or spatula.
- The dough should be neither too dry and crumbly nor too wet and sticky (it’s all right if it look a little oily). If it is the latter, add more flour a tablespoon at a time. If the former, never fear! Adding some vegetable oil a teaspoon at a time can salvage it.
- Add in the white chocolate chips and macadamia nut halves, distributing evenly throughout.
- Using a cookie scoop, a tablespoon, or your hands, form balls roughly the size of a rounded tablespoon. I like to make sure that the top shows a couple of white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts, for prettier cookies 🙂 Flatten each ball about half its height and wrap each flattened dough in plastic wrap.
- Chill dough for at least 3 hours, up to 5 days.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. While preheating, take the dough out of the fridge and place at least 1-2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Bake in preheated oven for 7-8 minutes. The cookies will look a little underbaked, but not to the extent of raw dough – to tell if they are done, you can tap the top of a cookie very lightly to check if it has just started to set.
- Cool cookies on the sheet for around 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack (if you have one – any room temperature surface will do if not). These can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week.
Nutritional description: Not as awful as you might think! By making these cookies smaller than the original recipe (though not so small as to be pitiful – no worries, I would never do that to you), portion control is automatically built in. These cookies are fairly low in saturated fat, while the macadamia nuts add a healthy and appetite-satisfying dose of monounsaturated fatty acids. While not low sugar, one cookie still has less than most popular commercial brands of yogurt. Hmm…cookie or yogurt for breakfast? (Or why not both? 😛 )
Nutritional information (calculated without vegan substitutions): Calories 124, Total Fat 6.6g, Saturated Fat 0.9g, Cholesterol 6.6mg, Carbs 10.5g, Fiber 0.4g, Sugars 10.8g, Protein 1.3g, Sodium 70.1mg