Everything’s Coming Up Strawberries

Chunks of strawberry chocolate dot these chewy-licious cookies.
Chunks of strawberry chocolate dot these chewy-licious cookies.

Other gals may covet a Prada purse or a pair of Louboutin heels.

This Food Gal? For the longest time, I had my eye on strawberry chocolate.

That would be the Valrhona Strawberry Inspiration Baking Chocolate that I spied online.

It’s white chocolate thoroughly combined with freeze-dried strawberries to create the prettiest-in-pink baking chocolate discs.

At $20 to $29 for an 8-ounce bag online, they were a splurge to be sure.

The color of these Valrhona chocolate discs is just dazzling.
The color of these Valrhona chocolate discs is just dazzling.

But I’m worth it, right?

At least that’s what I told myself when I finally went for it.

They did not disappoint. After reading comments online that many people were just eating them out of the bag because that’s how delicious they are, I had to restrain myself from doing the same.

Ever so creamy, they are less sweet than white chocolate, having taken on the bright, fruity, and tangy taste of the concentrated strawberries.

I used the entire bag in a cookie recipe by one of my favorite pastry chefs and recipe developers, Stella Parks, who is also editor emeritus of Serious Eats. I turned her “Malted Chocolate Chip-Pecan Cookies” recipe into “Malted Strawberry-Chocolate Chip-Walnut Cookies” instead.

As she explains, the malted milk powder tenderizes the cookies and makes them brown more easily. I found that at least with my gas oven that I had to pull the cookies out sooner than her recommended 15 minutes, so do start checking at the 12-minute mark. If the very edges of your cookies start to brown too much before the centers are done, you can always trim off the edges right when you take the pan out of the oven when the cookies are still warm and no one will be the wiser. Yes, I did do that to a few of them.

Made with malted milk powder for extra flavor and greater browning.
Made with malted milk powder for extra flavor and greater browning.

The recipe also calls for barley malt syrup, which Parks says also makes the cookies chewier much like brown sugar would. Since I didn’t have any handy, I used honey instead, which worked great, and even added a hint of floralness that played well with the strawberry chocolate.

These cookies bake up soft and chewy inside with crispy edges all around. They have a milky taste, thanks to the malted milk powder. Coupled with the lively yet rich taste of the chocolate, the cookies are a little reminiscent of a vanilla milk shake with streaks of strawberry puree swirled throughout.

Talk about temptation, Valrhona also makes these baking discs in other flavors such as passion fruit, raspberry, and yuzu. Like that first high-end handbag, it’s hard to stop at just one, isn’t it?

Summer's all about strawberries -- even in these cookies.
Summer’s all about strawberries — even in these cookies.

Malted Strawberry-Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

(Makes about 40 cookies)

9 ounces sugar (about 1 1/4 cups; 255g)

8 ounces unsalted butter (2 sticks; 225g)

2 ounces malted milk powder, such as Carnation or Hoosier Hill Farm (about 1/2 cup; 55g)

1 ounce barley malt syrup or mild honey (about 4 teaspoons; 30g)

1/2 ounce vanilla extract (about 1 tablespoon; 15g)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 large egg

10 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups; 280g)

10 ounces toasted walnut pieces (about 2 1/2 cups; 280g)

One 8-ounce bag of Valrhona Strawberry Inspiration Baking Chocolate, chopped OR 10 ounces roughly chopped chocolate, dark, milk, or white (about 1 3/4 cups; 280g)

Adjust oven rack to middle position, preheat to 350°F (180°C), and line two aluminum half sheet pans with parchment. Combine sugar, butter, malted milk powder, barley malt syrup or honey, vanilla extract, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low to moisten, increase to medium, and beat until soft and light, about 5 minutes. Add egg and continue beating until smooth, about 2 minutes more, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula as needed. Resume mixing on low, add flour, and, when fully incorporated, add pecan pieces and chopped chocolate.

With a pair of spoons, divide into about forty 1 1/4-ounce portions and arrange on half sheet pans, leaving about 2 inches in between each, as the cookies will spread significantly in the oven. Bake until puffed and pale gold around the edges, but still soft and pale in the middle, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool directly on the sheet pan until firm, about 10 minutes. Enjoy warm, or allow to cool completely then store in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature.

If you like, portioned dough can be divided between several heavy duty zip-top bags and refrigerated up to 1 week, or frozen 6 months. Stand at room temperature until quite soft, about 70°F (21°C), and bake as directed.

Adapted from a Stella Parks recipe

Another Stella Parks Recipe to Enjoy: Triple Oatmeal Cookies

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  • Oh wow, these are gorgeous and a beautiful twist on Stella’s recipe! I love reading her recipe development notes.

  • Hi Joanna: I love Stella’s recipes. They are always so thoughtful. I hope you get a chance to try the Valrhona Inspiration chocolates. They are a bit of a splurge, but really fun to discover.

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