February is the month of love, so today’s recipe on The Global Table is from the Valentine’s chapter in SA stage personality Nataniel’s new cookbook, Gatherings. But as Nataniel says in the introduction to this chapter, Valentine’s dinner should never just be an isolated occasion once a year. Rather, it should be any special meal you serve a loved one, a close friend or anyone in need of “a little extra care”.
“The food of love should be light, fresh, fragrant, sensual and beautiful,” writes Nataniel. As you don’t want to be pulled away from your special guest too much, he also advises that you choose dishes that can be made ahead of time and only require last-minute heating or finishing off.
Nataniel’s Valentine’s menu included a drink called Lovers’ Lick, made with champagne or Cap Classique to which you add a sliver of edible gold leaf, or else some thinly-sliced preserved ginger – and I will most definitely be trying that one out! The other dishes are a delicious-looking risotto ‘cake’, baked salmon with beautiful little beets and, finally, some white chocolate cookies served with ‘rose cloud’ – see the recipe below.
I had tried baking white chocolate cookies once before – last time with pistachio nuts and cranberries – and while they tasted superb, they truly looked so hideous I couldn’t possibly have featured them on the blog. Imagine a cookie so ugly that your guests are tempted to ask for blindfolds! Thankfully, Nataniel’s were the complete opposite. They tasted good and they looked good – and while I was baking them it occurred to me that when it comes to cookies, the one magic ingredient should always be love. You can’t just go through the motions when you bake cookies; you can’t simply be on a mission to get the cookie tin full. Cookies are all about love, so while you’re baking them, add a little love and imagine your friends and loved ones’ delight in enjoying them after a special meal or during an uplifting tea-time conversation. – Louise Liebenberg
* Gatherings – A Year of Invitations is published by Human & Rousseau and is available at all major booksellers, and online.
White Choc Cookies with Rose Cloud – The Recipe
Ingredients for the cookies
100g unsalted butter, softened; 100g sugar; 1 egg; 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste; 1 cup self-raising flour; 1/2 cup oats; 1/2 cup desiccated coconut; 1/2 cup mixed nuts, chopped (I used unsalted walnuts, pecans and cashews); 200g white chocolate, chopped
Method for the cookies
Set the oven to 180 degrees C. Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Stir in flour and fold through. Stir in oats, coconut, nuts and chocolate.
Spoon small amounts of mixture onto two baking trays. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes (remove before edges brown too much). Let rest for 1 minute. Carefully lift onto wire racks. Serve with Rose Cloud.
Ingredients for the rose cloud
250g soft mascarpone; 1 heaped tbsp icing sugar; 2 tbsp white muscadel; 1 tsp rose water
Method for the rose cloud
Remove the mascarpone from the refrigerator 1 hour in advance. Spoon into a mixing bowl. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Serve at room temperature.
The Global Table Verdict
This is one cookie recipe that I will certainly be following in future. The dough was easy to mix – I used a wooden spoon throughout – and the 10 to 12 minute baking time was spot 0n. You will need two baking trays and make sure you don’t crowd the cookies too much – they are the kind that spread out on the pan so my suggestion is to roll a walnut-sized ball of dough, flatten it slightly with a fork and let the oven do the rest. They are quite soft still when you remove them from the oven but they do crisp up nicely. The recipe yields around 45 cookies.
I’m not 100% convinced about the ‘rose cloud’ as an accompaniment to the cookies, but it is a sound recipe in its own right. I can see myself making it as a decadent accompaniment to apple tart or a baked pudding.