Cookies for adults provide unique flavor

Cookies containing jalapeno peppers? Mozzarella and tomatoes? Slim Jims and beer? Jaegermeister and Red Bull?

Those would be cookies designed for the grown-ups among us, and the subject of the appropriately titled “Cookies for Grown-ups” by Kelly Cooper, a resident of Pahrump and northern California’s Bay Area.

Cooper says she came up with the idea when, while dining out, she found herself repeatedly gazing over dessert menus featuring the old familiar, the likes of molten lava cake and tiramisu.

“This is crazy,” she remembers thinking. “We’re doing so much with food, and we’re experimenting so much with flavor and the social aspects of dining, and then we’re going to close the meal with molten lava cake again?”

“I thought it would be great to have small tastes of different flavors,” she says.

And when Cooper says “different,” she really means different. She says she likes serving the cookies when entertaining, because they get people talking and liven up the room. Her favorite for introducing newbies is the Dark Desire, which pairs dark chocolate and thyme.

“People can connect,” she says. “All of a sudden, they say, ‘Oh, ah-ha! I see what you mean.’ So it’s a little bit different, but not a lot different.”

Some that are a lot different would include Hit the Spot, which contains pretzels, mustard and cheese, and Antipasto, with cheddar, provolone, olive, pepperoncini and salami. Such savory cookies, she notes, have suggested pairings such as stout and American light beer, and tend to inspire surprised looks on tasters’ faces and comments like, “Wow, this is great, and it’s a cookie!”

Cooper says she has just started doing tastings and demonstrations and plans more.

“I hope to do some tastings in wine bars and wine shops,” she says. “Drinking wine helps people look at the cookies a little bit differently, and it’s fun to do.”

“Cookies for Grown-ups,” from Red Rock Press in New York, contains more than 90 recipes, with full-color photos and scannable QR codes (for use with smart phones) for shopping lists. It’s $23.99 in hardback and is available from www.Amazon.com, www.BarnesandNoble.com and through the publisher at wwwRedRockPress.com.

DARK DESIRE

2 4-ounce high-quality dark or bittersweet chocolate bars (70 percent cacao), divided

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1½ cups (packed) light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup fresh thyme, roughly chopped

Fill the bottom half of a double boiler with water, making certain the top half doesn’t touch the water. Bring the water to a simmer. Place one chocolate bar, broken into small pieces, in the top half, and place over the simmering water. Stir frequently until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove from heat and set aside. (To quickly melt chocolate, microwave in a bowl, in three to four 30-second intervals, stirring in between each until smooth.)

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, vanilla and melted chocolate. Beat until well blended.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and add to butter mixture. Beat until just incorporated.

Form dough into two logs (1½ inches in diameter) and wrap each in parchment paper. Roll logs on counter to form a consistent round shape.

Freeze for 1 hour or refrigerate up to 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using remaining chocolate bar, cut or break into ½-inch squares. Set aside. Slice logs into ¼-inch-thick rounds. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined or nonstick baking sheet. Place a pinch of thyme, followed by a square of chocolate, on the center of each cookie. Bake for 10 minutes, or until bottoms are golden brown.

Let sit for a few minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes about 6 dozen.

HIT THE SPOT

Cookies:

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup pretzels, roughly chopped

For topping:

½ cup prepared mustard, spicy brown (or your favorite)

48 ¾-inch-square slices of cheddar cheese

48 mini-pretzels

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

For cookies: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Beat until well blended.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and add to butter mixture. But until just incorporated. Fold in pretzels.

Scoop or drop dough by portions of one rounded tablespoonful 1½ inches apart on a parchment-lined or nonstick baking sheet. Press the top of each to create a flat surface. Then, on each cookie, place ½ teaspoon mustard, a slice of cheese and a mini-pretzel. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until bottoms are golden brown. Let sit for a few minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes about 4 dozen.

COOKIE MARY

For cookies:

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

½ cup sugar

½ cup light brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

3 tablespoons tomato juice

½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon horseradish

½ teaspoon curry powder

2 to 3 dashes of Tabasco

3 tablespoons vodka

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

For frosting:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon lime zest

1 teaspoon lemon zest

¼ cup tomato juice

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon tri-colored (or black) peppercorns, coarsely ground

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For cookies, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, curry powder, Tabasco and vodka. Beat until well-blended.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and add to the butter mixture. Beat until just incorporated.

Scoop or drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls and place 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined or nonstick baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until bottoms begin to brown. Let sit for a few minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.

For frosting, in a medium bowl mix together butter, zests and tomato juice. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix to a creamy frosting consistency. Frost cookies. Sprinkle ground pepper over each cookie.

Makes about 3 dozen.

Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0474.

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