Growing up, I felt like every family but mine had a cookie recipe that was passed down from generation to generation. Baking wasn’t a big part of the Indian culture my parents grew up in, so I knew I’d never get to bake cookies with my grandmother like the kids in the Nestle cookie dough commercial that ran during the holidays.
One of the reasons why I started my blog and wrote a cookbook was because I wanted to create measured, replicable recipes for my daughter. When my grandmother passed away, all the comfort foods and recipes were gone with her. I want to make sure that, when I am long gone, my daughter can bake these cookies and, someday in the future, share them with her kids. To me, recipes represent a piece of someone’s love and, just like scent memories, food memories can bring you right back to a moment in time.
This Caramelized White Chocolate & Toasted Milk Cookie recipe is the one I want to pass down to my daughter and her future generations. It’s inspired by Jaques Torres’s famous chocolate chip cookies, but with Indian flavors and ingredients.
I use a mixture of powdered jaggery, brown sugar, and white sugar to get the perfect chewy yet soft texture. Jaggery, or palm sugar, is an unrefined sugar made from palm tree sap and/or sugar cane. It’s typically sold in large brown bricks (similar to piloncillo), which are chiseled down into small pieces for cooking. Nowadays you can find powdered jaggery easily at your local Indian grocery store. If you can’t find jaggery powder, you can buy a block of jaggery and grate it. I love how it gives the cookies a slightly dark, toffee-like flavor.
Chopped, toasted pistachios and slivered almonds add a pop of color and crunch. Toasted milk powder, caramelized white chocolate, and cardamom all give this cookie a warm, cozy aroma that reminds me of my grandmother’s hugs where I’d get wrapped up in her sari. Milk powder is an oft-used ingredient in Indian desserts (mithai) and provides a sweet, subtly rich flavor. Toasting the milk powder gives that subtle richness a caramelly note that pairs beautifully with the toasted nuts and cardamom.
While I may not have any recipes from my grandmother, I'm happy to have captured the feelings, flavors, and scents that remind me of her—and the sweets she used to make for us—in this cookie. —Milk and Cardamom
Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C) and line a 9 x 13–inch (23 x 33–cm) baking pan with parchment paper. Fit your stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
Add the white chocolate to a microwavable bowl, and microwave in 15-second increments, stirring between each increment, until all of the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Alternatively, if you don’t have a microwave, set up a bain-marie by bringing a small pot of water to a boil and placing a small bowl on top of the pot, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Add the white chocolate to the bowl and stir until melted, about 5 minutes. Remove the chocolate from the heat. Add the instant nonfat dry milk powder and mix well. Spoon this mixture onto the parchment-lined baking pan and spread into a thin layer. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the bread flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large stand mixer bowl, add the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, jaggery and cardamom. Cream the butter, sugars and cardamom on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in between each addition, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add in the vanilla and mix. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until the dough just comes together. Fold in the caramelized white chocolate mixture, slivered almonds and pistachios until evenly distributed. Press plastic wrap against the dough, making sure it is completely covered, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or as long as 72 hours.
When ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take 2 tablespoons of the dough and roll it into a ball and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet 2 inches (5cm) apart. Sprinkle the cookie dough balls lightly with a bit of flaky sea salt. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes. Rotate the baking tray 180° halfway through baking. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then move them to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.