Caramelized White Chocolate and Toasted Milk Cookies with A Touch of Cardamom

The surprising sweet warmth of cardamom infuses these white chocolate cookies.
The surprising sweet warmth of cardamom infuses these white chocolate cookies.

My appetite always perks up whenever I spot a recipe with cardamom. Especially if it involves baked goods.

The fragrant spice with a warm, sweet, resiny character adds such a beguiling presence to anything it touches.

So when I received a review copy of the new cookbook, “Milk & Cardamom: Spectacular Cakes, Custards and More, Inspired by the Flavors of India” (Page Street), how could I resist?

The new cookbook is by San Franciscan Hetal Vasavada, creator of the namesake Milk & Cardamom blog. You may also recognize her from her stint as a contestant on “MasterChef” Season 6.

A first-generation Indian-American, Vasavada melds American-style desserts with cherished Indian flavors reminiscent of the childhood sweets she grew up loving.

The result is clever recipes such as “Ginger-Chai Chocolate Pot de Creme,” “Peanut Laddoo Buckeye Balls,” “Green Mango Marmalade,” and “Cinnamon and Jaggery Monkey Bread.”

Her “Caramelized White Chocolate and Toasted Milk Cookies” is a play on Jacques Torres’ fabled chocolate chip cookies — only with cardamom and the unusual mix of melted white chocolate and milk powder.

And they look especially appealing on these lovely matte black dessert plates ($15 each) by Carthage Co. that are crafted by artisans in Tunisia, of which I received a sample. The stoneware plates are not perfectly round, but shaped organically with a subtle curve that give them a lovely handmade look like those now so en vogue at the buzziest restaurants.

These handmade Carthage Co. dessert plates make everything look modern and trendy.
These handmade Carthage Co. dessert plates make everything look modern and trendy.
Made by artisans in Tunisia.
Made by artisans in Tunisia.

To make these cookies, melt white chocolate chips, then stir in powdered milk. Spread this thick mixture in a pan to bake until deeply golden.

It bakes up almost like a crisp meringue. Vasavada instructs to fold it into the cookie dough made with bread flour, cake flour, butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cardamom, and eggs. But she doesn’t specify how exactly to do this. I ended up crumbling it into bite-size pieces, then stirring it into the dough along with the pistachios and slivered almonds.

Before baking, the dough should be refrigerated for 24 to 72 hours to allow it to hydrate and the flavors to meld.

The next day, the dough is portioned into balls onto baking sheets. A sprinkle of sea salt goes on top of each cookie before they go into the oven.

My cookies baked up slightly thicker than the ones shown in the book’s photo. No matter, they were delicious — crisp on the edges and tender on the inside, with the lovely lilt of cardamom throughout. The almonds and pistachios added nutty crunchiness. And the caramelized white chocolate lends a toasty milkiness.

Nibble one with a cup of chai for a perfect pairing.

A touch of flaky sea salt is the perfect crowning touch.
A touch of flaky sea salt is the perfect crowning touch.

Caramelized White Chocolate and Toasted Milk Cookies

(Makes about 2 dozen)

1 cup white chocolate morsels

3/4 cup instant nonfat dry milk powder

3/4 cup bread flour

1 cup cake flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup jaggery powder or dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds, finely ground

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup chopped unsalted shelled pistachios

Flaky sea salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Fit your standard mixer with a paddle attachment.

Add the white chocolate to a microwavable bowl and microwave in 15-second increments, stirring between each increment, until all of the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Alternatively, if you don’t have a microwave, set up a bain-marie by bringing a small pot of water to a boil and placing a small bowl on top of the pot, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Add the white chocolate to the bowl and stir until melted, about 5 minutes. Remove the chocolate from the heat. Add the instant nonfat dry milk powder and spread into a think layer. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the bread flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large stand mixer bowl, add the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar,, jaggery, and cardamom. Cream the butter, sugars and cardamom on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in between each addition, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add in the vanilla and mix. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until the dough just comes together. Break up the caramelized white chocolate mixture with your fingers, then fold in along with slivered almonds and pistachios until evenly distributed in the dough. Press plastic wrap against the dough, making sure it is completely covered, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or as long as 72 hours.

When ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take 2 tablespoons of the dough and roll it into a ball and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet 2 inches apart. Sprinkle the cookie dough balls lightly with a bit of flaky sea salt. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes. Rotate the baking tray 180 degrees halfway through baking. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then move them to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Adapted from “Milk & Cardamom” by Hetal Vasavada

More Cardamom to Enjoy: Norwegian Sweet Buns with Cardamom

And: Sweet Almond Buns with Cardamom

And: Swedish Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns

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