If you’ve been following the Cookie Jar since I started sharing my experiences in the kitchen about a year ago, you’ll have noticed one thing. I don’t normally make fussy cookies. Cutouts give me fits. I am no expert in cookie decorating, though I wish I could pull off those lovely flourishes. I make “real people cookies.”
Macadamia Chocolate Meltaways are about as fancy as I get, and I thank cookie expert and cookbook author Nancy Baggett for leading me to victory. I met Nancy about 15 years ago at a food journalists conference and was awed by her confidence and knowledge when it came to baking. That year, her “All-American Cookie Book” was published and since then I have used it as my go-to for recipe inspiration and reference. The book includes plenty of traditional recipes, along with her own innovations.
Cookies that take some time to prepare should be showstoppers. Well, that’s how I feel anyway. I like that people look at these meltaways and wonder how that chocolate stripe came to run down the middle of the cookie. Baking magic, wink-wink.
It’s not such a special trick, but it’s wonderful if people think it is. Macadamia Chocolate Meltaways are slice-and-bake cookies that are built in a loaf pan. Press half the dough into a plastic-wrap lined loaf pan, brush with melted chocolate, freeze to set, then press the remaining dough on top, freeze to firm. Voila! A thin chocolate stripe is born.
These are basically buttery shortbread cookies and what elevates them to more luxurious standing is the base of macadamia nut paste made in a the food processor. Macadamia nuts taste something like blanched almonds, but have a higher fat content which adds to the buttery profile here. The thin strip of bittersweet chocolate is a subtle touch.
I like to remind bakers when cookie dough requires chilling, or in this case freezing, because they need to figure that into preparation time. The dough needs at least 4 hours in the freezer before slicing and can chill there up to 24 hours. The firm cookie dough is much easier to slice, as long as you have a sharp knife. This is not the cookie to make when Jr. tells you at 8 p.m. that he promised the teacher you would make cookies for school tomorrow.
The nuts and the butter are what give Macadamia Chocolate Meltaways their deliciousness. They can also make them burn more quickly. Watch the first batch carefully, and know your oven. Is the temperature right on the money? Or does it run hotter or colder than the digital read says? Mine runs cool, which is why I mention it.
I got a little fancy with this week’s recipe and hope you will, too.
- 1¾ cups (about 8 ounces) macadamia nuts, divided use
- 2½ tablespoons sugar
- ½ cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 2½ tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt (omit if salted macadamia nuts are used
- 1 ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, broken up coarsely or chopped
- In a food processor, process 1½ cups macadamia nuts and the sugar until ground to a fairly smooth paste, about 1½ minutes, stopping and scraping down the bowl several times. Add the butter, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, the egg yolk and vanilla and pulse just until well blended. Stop to redistribute contents and scrape sides several times. Add the remaining ¼ cup macadamia nuts, the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt, if using, and pulse just until the macadamia nuts are chopped moderately fine.
- Melt the chocolate and the remaining ½ tablespoon oil in a bowl in the microwave on 50 percent power at 30-second intervals. Let stand until cooled.
- Line a 4½-by-8½-inch loaf pan with two long sheets of plastic wrap laid crosswise, overlapping in the middle and overhanging the longer sides by about 3 inches.
- Divide the dough in half. Press half of the dough into the pan. Use a piece of wax paper to press down, making it smooth and even. Discard the wax paper. Using a pastry brush or rubber spatula, spread the chocolate mixture thinly over the dough. Freeze dough in pan for at least 20 minutes, or until chocolate is hardened. Press the remaining dough into the pan, using the same wax paper technique. Fold the plastic wrap over the dough and freeze for at least 4 hours, and up to 24.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Carefully peal the plastic wrap from the loaf. Using a large, sharp knife, trim off and discard the excess dough so the sides of the loaf are straight up and down, rather than flared. Wipe the knife clean between cuts. (If the dough is too difficult to cut through, let it stand for a few minutes, but do not allow it get soft.) Carefully cut the loaf in half crosswise, then in half lengthwise to form 4 logs for baking. Cut each log into ¼-inch-thick slices; wipe the knife clean between cuts. (Refrigerate dough while one sheet is baking.) Place slices on baking sheets about 1½ inches apart.
- Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of the oven for about 9 minutes, or until just tinged with brown and are slightly darker around the edges. Reverse the sheet from front to back halfway through baking to ensure even browning. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand until the cookies firm, about 4 minutes. Using a spatula; transfer the cookies to a wire rack until completely cooled.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month. Handle gently because these cookies can be fragile.