Chewy Goji Berry & White Chocolate Cookies
In my uncontrolled supermarket shopping spree fueled by months longing for essentials – essentials! – like Graham crackers and butterscotch chips, I may have gone a bit too far. I haven’t actually gotten to using those Grahams crackers yet, and the butterscotch chips? They’ll probably still be here when I come back next year. (In my defense, I did manage to use Cool Mint Oreos for something delicious.)
One near casualty of my overeagerness was a box of dried goji berries I found at Whole Foods. Unable to recall ever seeing goji berries in Sydney – no, I just don’t think I have – I immediately put them on the ever-growing Must Buy List. Upon returning home, I put them in the pantry right next to the raisins and dried cranberries and promptly forgot about them.
But then this morning when I went about gathering the ingredients of a very intimidating babka recipe, I noticed the sad little box of goji berries and immediately felt awash with guilt. What was I doing buying unnecessary things left and right? Does it satisfy some sad consumerist need for wholeness via wallet or does it just trick me into thinking that by buying butterscotch chips I will somehow be a real American despite geography, marriage and, according to lots of foreigners, disposition?
No matter the reason, I decided to abandon the babka – I needed an excuse to abandon it, I really did – and use those poor gojis in a simple cookie. The only problem? The goji berries tasted…well, not so delicious. A bit like fruit leather. That’s been sitting in your lunchbox since 5th grade when you left it there because it tasted…well, not so delicious. So I soaked them in a little bit of brandy to give them some life and set about looking for a possibly dried cranberry-based recipe with white chocolate chips (it was a killing two birds with one stone kind of thing).
And then I found it…a recipe for Brandied Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies that my goji berries were dying to be a part of. I tinkered a little, added some candied orange peel for color and festivity, and voilá: a caramel flavored, chewy, colorful, American cookie. Why American? There’s booze, butter and brown sugar. Plus they offer endless possibilities to tinker. Goji berries and white chocolate can become milk chocolate and macadamia nuts very quickly. Or walnuts and pieces of leftover Halloween candy. Or rum-soaked raisins and currants. Not that I need an excuse to make another batch, but I swear I can feel those butterscotch chips looking at me now…
CHEWY GOJI BERRY & WHITE CHOCOLATE COOKIES
Recipe adapted from here. Makes about 2 dozen gorgeous cookies that can be filled with anything from chocolate chips to butterscotch ones.
1/4 cup brandy (or similar, to soak the berries in)
1/2 – 3/4 cup dried goji berries (or cranberries)
1 cup (two sticks) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup candied orange peeled, chopped (optional)
Put the goji berries in a little bowl and pour in enough brandy so they’re surrounded by it, but not drowning.
Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C.
Beat the butter and sugars with an electric beater until light, fluffy and well incorporated. Add the eggs, vanilla extract. Beat well until light and fluffy.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt, then add to the mixture a bit at a time, beating until just mixed.
Use a fork to remove the goji berries from the liquid and put them in the batter. It’s okay if a bit of brandy gets added to the batter. Fold them in with the white chocolate chips and candied orange peels.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place rounded spoonfuls down on the sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just golden brown (do not overbake!). Let cool for a minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.