Baking is so, so different from cooking. The rules that bind it together are set in stone and predictability is how you measure success. Unlike, say, being a bit generous with the dill weed in a meatloaf -- which will change the flavors without dramatically changing the end result -- adding more baking powder doesn’t just change a cookie, it may flat-out ruin it. Given this locus of discipline many shy away from baking with abandon. Then the other side of the coin is once you build a process of success there is plenty of room for creativity. That’s where I live, actually. And this cookie is proof.
I often approach cooking by looking at something that works; meaning nailing the ratio of flour, to sugar, to fats, to leavening, (see BASIC recipe below in tabs,) and then ask myself about ways to switch out elements of flavor, texture, or color. I also start most recipes by looking in my pantry and taking stock of what I can do with what I already have. For instance, we know that apple sauce is a great addition to muffins and cakes. It adds moisture and sweetness, and a soft texture. Since partnering with Raven’s Originals foods as a recipe developer, I find their apple butter to be extremely well balanced and smooth, superior almost to apple sauce. So, why not try it in a cookie?
The perceptions from others, when I tell them about combinations, is fascinating to me. A friend of mine, when I informed her that I was adding white chocolate chips to the apple cookie recipe, gently grimaced at the combination, and I wondered why. Do we hear the word “chocolate” and think of cocoa and there's a whole taste stuck in our heads? Because white chocolate is NOT CHOCOLATE. There is no cocoa in it. (Click here to read why.) It is curious to me why we even call it that. It melts differently. It doesn’t really awaken the palate like regular chocolate. It is more of a buttery element. And that’s why I wanted it for my apple butter cookies. (It totally works beyond belief, by the way!)
This is a winner in every way. They are chewy on the first day, more cake-like from then on. They retain their sort of “plopped on the pan” shape even after cooking. So I love how rustic they look. I highly recommend these confections alongside a bowl of vanilla ice cream. And since my creative side once awakened goes on and on, I can literally think of dozens of ways to change and use these. Add toasted walnuts. Use them in place of a vanilla wafer and cover them with custard and whipped cream for sheet pudding. Smooth them flat, add some ground corn flakes, and use as a base for a baked apple tart. You see, once you find processes that work, there is no reason your crazy experimental side can’t take over.
I suggest you start here having fun here!
RECIPE: White Chocolate Chip Apple Butter Cookies
Makes 2 Dozen | Click here to download printable PDF version
½ C shortening
½ C white sugar
1 large egg
1 ½ t vanilla extract
½ C apple butter (I used Raven’s Original™)
1 ¾ all-purpose flour
½ t baking soda
½ t kosher salt
½ t allspice
½ C white chocolate chips
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
In a mixer set on medium blend the sugar, vanilla, egg, and shortening. Mix for about 90 seconds. Add the apple butter and mix until well blended but not overly worked. Add the flour, 1/3 of it at a time. Add the baking powder, salt, and allspice with the first batch of flour. When blended fold in the white chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto the baking sheet. Bake for 8 – 9 minutes until golden on the edges. Let cool on sheet slightly, remove, and eat!
*1 C All Purpose Flour, ½ C white sugar, ½ C shortening, ½ t baking soda, ½ t kosher salt, 1 large egg is my go-to cookie base. By adding the ½ C apple butter I knew I needed to increase the flour by ¾ C. Boom, success. And then you can always add more spices. It’s a texture you’re shooting for. Have fun!
Baked Arctic Char with Ginger Lemon Tomato Relish and Rich Risotto is The Sophisticated Choice You've Been Looking For.
Slaving over a hot stove is usually a reference saved for those bound to tortured servitude; a permanent underclass of kitchen help that rarely sees the light of day: A statement I disagree with on almost every level. I personally find it incredibly soothing to stand before a steaming pan of food. And I have the gall to do it in front of my guests, wearing blingly bracelets, and sipping an embarrassingly expensive glass of wine.
So, when there is a creamy, cheesy, classic risotto on my stove in front of me, I’m almost giddy. Yes, it is about 40 minutes from heating the oil to spooning the mixture into your mouth. And it asks patience, but the rest of the technical acumen needed for this classic rice dish includes how to wield a large ladle, and knowing how to say “yum.” That’s about it.
Forty minutes may seem like a long time for you to be vigilant, slowly adding stock to a simmering saucepan of Arborio rice until it bursts into a white cloud of perfection, but the end result is a thick, soft, and beautiful side dish. It is also versatile. If you can follow the process of heating, and add aromatics, toast the rice, deglaze with wine, and then ladle in the liquid, you can add anything to change the theme. I’ve created risottos using mushrooms, apples, raisins, even salami to create an endless series of variations. In this case I added preserved lemons, and fresh ginger along with the cream, parmigiana reggiano cheese, and sweet onion. This gave the finished dish so much depth and mystery that’s it is almost hard to think it needed anything else to go with it. Trust me though. It gets better.
Arctic char is a fish that has the color and sweetness of salmon and the fresh flavor of trout. It is hearty yet luxurious. And so easy to make. When cooked it is turns into a gorgeous saffron orange. The hue is vibrant, sassy, and honest. I needed that kind of sophistication to go along with my risotto.
I used heirloom tomatoes for the relish because I wanted the deep red of those whose colors are more like brick than fire engine red. It made a beautiful dish in the end. You can use any tomato but the trick with this relish is to remove all the seeds. After halving and then quartering them, a sharp knife run along the inside to quickly remove the liquid and seeds gives you the result you desire. I added jalapeño for a bit of heat that pushes against the heady ginger and lemon, and makes the earthy sweet fish pop on your palette. The entire dish is balanced, and classy. The best way known to eliminate any underclass or torture from any sector you are a part of.
©Recipe and Photo Copyright Camine Pappas, 2021. All rights reserved.
RECIPE: Baked Artic Char with Lemon Parmesan Risotto
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.