Hi everyone! Remember a couple weeks ago when I posted about Bebetsy's Pass the Plate project? It's part of Kitchenaid's Cook for the Cure® program where passionate cooks can support the fight against breast cancer. I had received these amazing homemade brownies from my friend Jackie at Marin Mama Cooks as part of this project, and now it's my turn to share the love and pass the plate. This week I made chocolate macadamia lacey cookies for my blogging buddy Nichi at The Mandatory Mooch. I first got to know Nichi when she had her very first link party and I've been a regular there ever since. It's kind of fun being a "charter member" of her link party crew. :) Nichi posts all kinds of recipes that are quick to prepare for a busy family, but the ones that stick in my mind are her desserts, like these margarita cupcakes - hello, a girl after my own heart! Margaritas AND cupcakes? MmmHmmm. Whoever she passes the plate to is going to be so lucky!
I've proclaimed my love for World Market's milk chocolate macadamia laceys before - they really are the best store bought cookies I've ever had. This cookie recipe comes pretty darn close, an unintentional copycat recipe for my favorite prepackaged cookies.
I wanted to make these chocolate macadamia lacey cookies over the holidays but I didn't get around to it, so this was the perfect excuse to make them! You've probably seen or had a florentine or lacey cookie before; they're thin, crispy, lacy-looking, buttery, and nutty. They're good as-is, but when you sandwich two cookies together with melted chocolate, well, that's when you get MY attention. I know my fellow chocoholics will appreciate the addition of chocolate in these too.
If you look at the recipe, it's similar to making a toffee or brittle in some steps. It's like these cookies are really a candy disguised as a cookie! Like a brittle, you can use just about any kind of nut you want. Since my favorite nuts are macadamia, I go with that. The original recipe uses almonds and orange zest which I haven't tried but it sounds like a great combo with the chocolate. I wouldn't say this is a quick and easy recipe, but it IS fun and I enjoy the process since it's not the usual cookie making method you might be used to.
|I ♥ these cookies.|
Adapted from The Food Network
Makes about 24-26 sandwich cookies
6.5 ounce jar of macadamia nuts (1 3/4 cup) - or any kind of nut - almonds and hazelnuts would be good
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
5 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 oz. bag of semi-sweet OR milk chocolate chips (I usually prefer darker chocolate but for this recipe, I go with the milk chocolate)
In a food processor, pulse the nuts until finely chopped but not pasty. If you don't chop them fine enough, it may be difficult for the dough to form into a ball so make sure to chop them pretty fine. Transfer nuts to a large heatproof bowl and add the flour. Mix together and set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, add sugar, cream, corn syrup, and butter. Stir occasionally and cook until mixture comes to a rolling boil and the sugar is dissolved. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
Pour hot mixture into the nut mixture and stir just to combine. Let cool for about 25-30 minutes until it's cool enough to handle. The mixture will stiffen up into a firm "dough" as it cools.
While the dough is cooling, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Once the dough is cool enough to handle, scoop the dough using a 1 teaspoon measurement and roll into balls. I get about 50 balls out of one batch, enough to make about 25 sandwich cookies. The dough will spread out into 3 inch cookies when baked. Tip: Roll all the balls out at once and place on a large plate until ready to bake. The dough continues to stiffen up the longer it sits out; if it cools down too much, it gets crumbly and more difficult to shape into balls. If this happens, just pop the bowl into the microwave for about 30 seconds to warm it up and make it more pliable.
I'm not very good about making perfectly formed balls. But I'm pretty great at making them look like frozen tater tots.
Place balls onto prepared baking sheet, leaving about 3-4 inches of space between each cookie. Bake one pan at a time until the cookies are thin and an even golden brown color throughout, 9 to 11 minutes. Rotate pans once halfway through the baking time. Because the original recipe says to bake only one pan at a time, I do. I'm tempted to try convection bake and get multiple pans into the oven, but I haven't yet. I might next time to see if that helps me get a more even browning on these. If you try it, I'd love to hear back if it works well or not! Tip: My cookies are never "evenly golden". They're always darker on the edges than the center. Watch cookies carefully in the last minute or two, using the edges as your gauge. These cookies can quickly turn from golden brown to overcooked - trust me, I know! They will also darken slightly as they're cooling, so it's almost better to err on the side of a little too light than too dark. Burnt nuts would be a bummer. Deciding how long to keep them in the oven really is a learn-by-experience for each baker depending on the oven, altitude, etc. The key is keeping an eye on them.
Cool cookies on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to completely cool. Tip: No matter how careful I am about leaving enough space between the cookies before baking, my cookies still spread into one another or are weirdly shaped from the unevenness of my slightly warped baking sheets. Don't fret! Once you remove the cookies from the oven, you have a couple minutes that they're still soft before they crisp up; this is the time to "reshape" them if you want. I use a spatula and butter knife to separate them (they're still molten hot so be careful) and prod them into some semblance of a circle. Below is an example of the same pan of cookies that came out of the oven that I quickly played around with while they were still pliable. I even made a heart shape to show you how moldable they are at this point. It was asking to be a heart, don't you think?
Aren't these pretty and dainty? I can see why they're called laceys:
But we're not done with them yet. We're going to make little lacey cookie sandwiches with the chocolate next. This is when things get really good:
Melt chocolate chips using the double boiler method: Fill a saucepan with about an inch of water, bring it to a low simmer, then place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl that's large enough to fit in the pan but not touch the bottom. Set the bowl over the simmering water without letting the bowl touch the water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Tip: Some recipes call for using chocolate baking bars instead of chocolate chips. I've used both and prefer the chips because the chocolate stays a little thicker when melted and "sticks" to the cookies better, making for a thicker layer of chocolate, which I prefer. It's probably a little weird that I know about the difference in melted consistencies of different kinds of chocolate; but I notice these kinds of things and I like passing on what I learn so you can benefit from my obsessive tendencies too. :)
Spread about a tablespoon of chocolate onto the bottoms of half the cookies (I like chocolate, so my tablespoon measurement might look more like a heaping tablespoon). Since the cookies are kind of delicate, I set the cookie on a solid surface like my cutting board to keep it stable and use a pastry brush to spread the chocolate to the edges. This will reduce the risk of breaking the cookies as you're manhandling them with chocolate. Then top the chocolate cookies with the remaining cookies. I sandwich them bottom-to-bottom so the tops of each cookie face the outside. Place cookies back onto wire rack and let set completely. Chocolate may leak through some of the undersides of the lacy cookies while they're cooling, so place a paper towel under the rack to catch any drips.
I think these taste even better the next day because they soften up oh so slightly as the chocolate and cookie meld together. They're still crispy though. They're nutty, chocolatey, and toffee-y too. :)
Nichi, your plate of cookies are on the way! Enjoy!