As the years go on, I'm finding it harder and harder to write about my life here in this space. At first, blog posts used to come easily, and it seemed like there was so much to write about. It started out with the adventures in high altitude baking, then, the more personal stuff as I figured out my life in my mid-twenties. But I'm turning 30 this year, and it seems like life has mostly settled. These days, there are less high highs and low lows; instead, there's just the whir of routine and the mostly ordinary motions of work and life.
Even if I don't have too much to write about, maybe it's not such a bad thing, having things be leveled and (if I'll admit it to myself) slightly boring. As much as I would like to live each day as if it's my last, I'm not sure I have the energy for that? I'd get pretty fat, first of all (since really, my last day would probably be spent feasting on all the gross fatty foods I like... mmm non-stop all-you-can-eat pork belly and duck buns). Getting me and Erlend's calendars in sync for a spring break vacation was already pretty exhausting. And some of the stuff I did in my early twenties — spending all day building the perfect playlist to send to friends, walking home from the bar as the sun rises, spontaneously booking flights across the world for a tenuous love — seems frivolous and even overly dramatic now.
And maybe it's less about the big things and more about the day-to-day. After all, that's what the concept of hygge is all about: savoring the little things. Seemingly ordinary things like "wooden bowls, cuddling, brushing your teeth next to your partner, vintage textiles, pendant lights, circular tables, burned spatulas, honking geese and line-dried laundry" are supposed to keep us cozy and happy in our old age. While I'm not quite 100% there (because quite frankly, I'm not sure a wooden bowl—however pretty— will ever compare to closing out a rooftop bar in Berlin by watching the sun rise over the Fernsehturm), I will admit that these days, I'm perfectly happy sitting at home with my cat on my lap with a plate of cookies and a glass of milk by my side.
Should I talk about these cookies now? They are a fairly standard white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie situation, but with one twist: I used dulcey blond feves. If you're unaware of dulcey chocolate, think of it as caramelized white chocolate — that is, white chocolate that's been slightly roasted, bringing out butterscotch and almost dulce de leche flavors in the chocolate. It's absolutely wonderful, and goes great with the salty macadamia nuts. Enjoy!
Some baker's notes:
- Dulcey blond chocolate is made by fancypants Valrhona and is available to buy online, or, in some Whole Foods stores (usually by the cheeses, where they sell giant chunks of chocolate wrapped in plastic wrap). In a pinch, you can buy white chocolate feves (but not chips — it's important to use feves, the chocolate discs, here!) and attempt to caramelize it yourself, but you'd need to get it back into solid chunks somehow. I've never done it myself, but I'm happy to brainstorm ideas to help figure it out!
- I based the cookie dough on the classic Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie dough recipe. The recipe is generous with brown sugar, and results in a toffee, nutty flavor that works really well with the dulcey white chocolate. However, brown sugar and white chocolate together results in a really, really sweet cookie. I balanced it out by increasing the salt quantity in the recipe by a touch and topping off each cookie with giant, flaky salt. I like the pyramid sea salt from Trader Joe's or classic Maldon sea salt!
- For a more flavorful cookie, I like to scoop the batter out into cookie dough balls and freeze overnight. It really makes a big difference! I recommend this for almost all cookie recipes (there are a few exceptions here and there, but I'd say the freezing trick works 99% of the time). If you're baking a frozen cookie dough ball, you'll likely need to add a few minutes to the baking time.
(makes 24 three-inch cookies)
- 2 1/4 cups (11.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup (2 sticks // 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (5.60 ounces) dark brown sugar, tightly packed
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 14 ounces dulcey blond white chocolate feves (see baker's notes for sources)
- 1 cup (4.5 ounces) roasted and salted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
- flaky sea salt (like Maldon), for finishing
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375 (F). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine 2 1/4 (11.25 ounces) all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1 cup (2 sticks // 8 ounces) unsalted butter, 3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar, and 3/4 cup (5.6 ounces) dark brown sugar. Beat on medium-high speed for AT LEAST 5 minutes, until the mixture is light, fluffy, and has doubled in size. Reduce the mixer speed to its slowest setting and add 2 large eggs, one at a time, only adding the second egg when the first has been fully incorporated. Add 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract and continue mixing until incorporated.
- With the mixer still on its slowest setting, add the dry ingredients (from the 2nd step). Continue mixing on slow speed until most (but not ALL) of the dry ingredients have disappeared. At this point, it's okay to still have a few flour streaks here and here! You don't want to overmix the dough, or you'll have a weird, puffy cookie and I'll cry for you. Add 14 ounces dulcey blond white chocolate feves all at once. Don't panic if you hear some of them snap and break in the mixer bowl, that's normal. After the feves have incorporated into the batter, add 1 cup (4.5 ounces) macadamia nuts, stopping the mixer JUST as the nuts have dispersed evenly throughout the batter.
- Use a 3-tablespoon cookie dough scoop to measure out dough balls and place them on the parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving at least 2 to 3 inches of space between each dough ball. Sprinkle each dough ball with a couple flakes of the finishing salt. Bake each sheet in the preheated oven, one at a time, for 11 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Be careful not to overbake, or your cookies will be too crispy and crunchy! You want a cookie with crisp edges and a chewy middle, so it's okay if the cookie seems underbaked when you pull it out. It'll continue to bake on the pan on the wire rack. Enjoy!