Monday, February 21, 2011

White Chocolate Chip Chai Cookies

I was sixteen and at WPI nerd camp when a fellow camper gave me my first taste of chai. Relatively uninitiated in the world of tea, I found the slightly spicy drink positively exotic. Looking back, I realize that I got hooked on the drink by a bastardized chai-like beverage that was a far cry from the traditional Indian blend of black tea and spices. Authentic masala chai is only slightly sweet and is usually prepared with just a bit of milk, unlike the concoctions most of us know as chai. The truth is I love chai in all of its versions, which is why I set off to make cookies reminiscent of it.

I confess that these cookies don't contain any actual chai tea. They do, however,  contain a mix of spices that gives them a similar taste and aroma. The addition of white chocolate and vanilla lends the cookie the richness that characterizes more Americanized chai. These cookies will be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside if you bake them for the time I indicated in the recipe. If you prefer crunchy cookies, bake them for a couple more minutes, watching them closely so they don't get too brown, and if you want them softer, decrease the baking time by a couple minutes.

White Chocolate Chip Chai Cookies
Makes about 18 cookies
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose white flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup soy or other non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3.5 oz / 100 g / 3/4 cup chopped white chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • Generous pinch ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F or 175 C. In a large bowl, mix the flour, spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, oil and milk together until combined. Add the chopped white chocolate to the liquid mixture and stir until evenly distributed. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and mix using a spatula until the dough comes together.

2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or grease it. Using your hands, roll the dough into golf ball sized portions and place them on the cookie sheet 12 at a time, flattening them slightly. Bake for 10 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack as soon as they come out of the oven.

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