Beyond the Basics with Cookies

November 14th 2016

Beyond the Basics with Cookies

Cookies - Beyond the Basics

The cookie is globally universal - everyone has their favourite.  From chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, snickerdoodles - the options when it comes to cookies just go on and on.

While the old standbys are still certainly favourites for a sweet treat, chefs are becoming increasingly imaginative when it comes to the humble cookie - combining them with other foods and unexpected flavours to create unique and decadent desserts.

So, whether you're looking to create a dessert that's a little out of the ordinary, or want to offer sweet treats that fit in well with a healthy eating lifestyle, why not try out a new cookie recipe and see what you can create? Here are some ideas to help you get started.

Spice things up:

Spiced cookies are highlighted on McCormick's Flavour Forecast 2015, as they are expected to "take a new form in decadent and imaginative desserts".  

While cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger are fairly common when it comes to cookies - other spicy flavours could work well too. For example, consider mixing a bit of Chipotle chili flakes into a dark chocolate cookie dough. Freshly ground black peppercorns or pink peppercorns could also add a unique flavour, while cardamom, star anise and cloves are other options worth trying.

Megan Ford, vice president of sales and marketing at McCormick's US Industrial Group, explained: "We encourage all chefs to find opportunities to test these approaches on their menus and help reignite everyone's love for new flavourful food experiences."

Designer flavour combinations:

While chocolate and peanut butter or white chocolate and dried cranberries are both excellent combinations for a delicious cookie, opting for more unusual flavours could yield some surprisingly tasty results.

So, why not follow the trend for ethnic cuisine and make a cookie based on some of those flavour profiles? You could try creating a Thai-inspired cookie with coconut and lemongrass, perhaps, or experiment with ingredients like rosewater, pistachio or even combining spices to create a Shawarma blend for cookies with flavours inspired by the Middle East.

Alternatively, try mixing up sweet and savoury.  A maple-bacon cookie sounds like it could be a new national dish, while salted caramel always goes down a treat.

Remember that the flavours don't all have to be included in the cookie dough - you can also add flavour by drizzling on a glaze or frosting after they've baked. Or consider dipping the cookies in melted chocolate and sprinkling with another ingredient before the chocolate sets.

Cookie bases and sandwiches:

The texture and flavour of a cookie makes it ideal as a base under layers of other ingredients. Think cheesecake with a cookie crust or a rich chocolate cookie topped with thick whipped cream and juicy red berries.

Similarly cookies are also perfect as the outsides of a delicious dessert sandwich - with ice cream, sorbet or fruit as fillings.

The Nestle Toll House Cafe offers a range of cookie-based treats, including cookie cups. These are similar to a cupcake in shape and size, and have an indentation for a filling of choice.

Healthy cookies?

Although cookies aren't typically known for their health-food status, there's no reason these little treats can't be made to fit in with a particular healthy living philosophy.

Of course, healthy eating means different things to different people. For example, it might involve cutting out sugar, fat or gluten or it could require food items that are vegan or fit in with the paleo diet. In any case, cookie recipes can be tweaked to meet certain healthy-living criteria.

Vegan cookies can incorporate ingredients like coconut oil and almond milk instead of butter and milk.

Flour-free cookie recipes are one way to cut out the gluten, and gluten-free flour alternatives can also be used.

Artificial sweeteners or ingredients like honey, fruit juice, agave nectar and maple syrup can be used as substitutes for refined sugar.

Artificial colours can be swapped with fruit and/or vegetable powders or juices such as beet juice red velvet cookies.