Throughout Cookie Week, F&W is working to improve your cookie game with tips, mistakes to avoid, a cookie smarts quiz and blogger-favorite recipes. Here, great chefs share their best advice for upgrading cookies.
Infuse Your Sugar: Chef David Guas of Washington DC’s Bayou Bakery suggests using vanilla sugar for extra fragrant and flavorful cookies. To make the sugar, fill a Mason jar with granulated sugar, add vanilla pods and let the jar sit at room temperature, shaking it up once in a while. “You can also dry the pods in the sun, grind them and fold that into sugar, or put a 1/2 teaspoon into creamed butter and sugar for your cookies,” Guas says.
Fold, Don’t Mix Chocolate Chips: “A lot of people misinterpret ‘folding’ as an instruction to continue mixing vigorously,” says chef Renato Poliafito of Brooklyn’s Baked. “Folding is a specific technique, different from mixing, that you use when you’re at the final stages of something, or have to combine something delicately enough to reach a correct result. Like when you’re adding mix-ins like chocolate chips into cookies, you have to be very delicate and there’s a certain point where you want to stop. Mixing is incorporating the ingredients together and there’s no set limit as to how much you can mix. Mixing can also be done with a whisk or a spoon or a blender, whereas with folding you definitely need a spatula to scoop from the bottom, cut through and flip over, and you keep doing that motion as you turn the bowl.”
Add Some Mystery: Top Chef Just Desserts competitor Malika Ameen of ByMDesserts is known for her chocolate truffle cookie recipe. “It’s got a ton of chocolate: melted chocolate in the dough, and it’s studded with dark, milk and white chocolate,” she says. “It’s also got a surprise twist of some Vietnamese cinnamon, which I think people like because it’s a little mysterious. People don’t always recognize it as cinnamon because it’s not strong or pungent; it’s just a whisper.”
Make Savory Cookies: Cookies don’t always have to be served for dessert. The great Dorie Greenspan makes savory cookies like smoked cheese, sesame and rosemary-almond-Parmesan as party hors d’oeuvres. “They’re grown-up, sophisticated and more fun to have than the usual cocktail bites,” she says.