When it comes to cookies, I’m a bit of a purist (chocolate chip or bust!). I have my fail-proof, crowd-winning recipe, and I rarely venture beyond that. However, bakeries around the country are putting my traditional baked good thinking to the test by continuing to create ingenious flavor combinations and unexpected cookies—think tahini shortbread and olive oil balsamic vinegar cookies. So in honor of the bravery and creativity of these innovative bake shops, here are five ideas for mix-ins that will easily take your holiday cookies to the next level.
Smoked Chocolate Chips
These semi-sweet chocolate chips from Seattle-based company Hot Cakes are cold-smoked over alder wood for over ten hours. Mix them into your standard cookie dough with crumbled graham crackers and mini-marshmallows for a campfire-inspired s’mores cookie. For a non-cookie recipe, include the chips in a homemade mole to enhance the smokiness of the chiles. $15/7oz., getyourhotcakes.com
Goat Milk Chai Caramels
We love these creamy caramels from the picturesque Big Picture Farm in Townshend, Vermont. This award-winning variety is lovely and made with an aromatic chai supplied by the farm's friend and neighbor Neil Harley, of local company Chai Wallah. The caramels would be fantastic chopped and folded into an oatmeal cookie batter or a dark chocolate. For easy mixing, place the caramels in the freezer for 30 minutes before chopping. $10/3.2 oz. (11 pieces), bigpicturefarm.com