Bake (and eat) the best cookies of your life

Illustration for article titled Bake (and eat) the best cookies of your life
Photo: Allison Robicelli

For someone with a sweet tooth who demands instant gratification and gets bored with extended baking projects, there is no better spending-a-day-inside-at-home activity than baking cookies. Most cookies require less than an hour of measuring, mixing, and scooping. The process is simple enough that kids can join in, and you can feel proud of yourself for finding a way to entertain them for 20 minutes or so. Then, after a brief interlude in the oven, which will make your house smell amazing, you get fresh, warm cookies! And, as a bonus, you’ll have extras to nibble on all week long or to share with friends and neighbors. Who can look at a cookie and feel unhappy?

Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite cookie recipes from The Takeout archive, including selections from all the greatest cookie groups: shortbread, gingersnap, coffee-dunking biscuit, holiday cookies (because why should we save our best cookies for December?), and, of course, chocolate chip.

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Make classic Chinese takeout almond cookies

Make classic Chinese takeout almond cookies

Almond Cookies
Almond Cookies
Photo: Ecco

Chinese-American food holds a special place in our hearts, and this crumbly, fragrant dim sum dessert is surprisingly easy to achieve at home. The recipe is a centerpiece of The Nom Wah Cookbook by Wilson Tang with Joshua David Stein, a collection of recipes from the century-old Nom Wah Tea Parlor—the oldest restaurant in New York City’s Chinatown. Get the recipe here. 

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An easy, deliciously retro Midwest cookie

An easy, deliciously retro Midwest cookie

Gram Swaney’s Potato Chip Cookies
Gram Swaney’s Potato Chip Cookies
Photo: Kate Bernot

Potato chip cookies only get better the second day, after the salty, crispy crumbles have permeated the surrounding dough to become an even more delicious blend of savory and sweet. Best of all, this recipe doesn’t require special ingredients that even a small grocery store wouldn’t have; in fact, the ingredients are such common baking staples that you might already have everything required to bake a big batch of them right now. Get the recipe here.

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A savory twist on an old standard

A savory twist on an old standard

Matcha Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Matcha Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Photo: Eileen W. Cho

If you’ve mastered the art of the chocolate chip cookie, try throwing yourself a curveball with Matcha Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Desserts made with matcha tea powder have become more readily available in recent years, but they’re often imbalanced. Matcha is a delicate flavor, charming and delicious when properly prepared; too much sweetness in the dessert can overpower its subtle sweet, savory, and umami notes. That’s why this simple, straightforward recipe lets matcha truly shine, allowing its bitterness to work with the sweetness of the chocolate. Get the recipe here.

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Cookie bars are still cookies, right?

Cookie bars are still cookies, right?

Illustration for article titled Bake (and eat) the best cookies of your life
Photo: Allison Robicelli

You won’t want to quibble over technicalities when you taste these Beer & Pretzel Caramel Cookie Bars—they’re basically like a giant 9x13" Twix bar. Layers of shortbread and caramel are topped with a generous amount of chocolate ganache, plus flaky sea salt and even more crumbled pretzels, because too much of a good thing is exactly what you need. And did we mention they taste even better frozen? Just make these already.

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Bacon makes everything better

Bacon makes everything better

Brown-Butter Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie
Brown-Butter Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie
Photo: Kevin Pang

...And that includes chocolate chip cookies. Pastry chef Dana Cree (who was previously at the Chicago restaurant The Publican but has since left to open her own shop, Pretty Cool Ice Cream) was kind enough to share her recipe for Brown-Butter Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies, which, just from the name alone, sounds like a combination of everything that is good in this world. Bake some today.

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How about ham?

How about ham?

Pig Cookies
Pig Cookies
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Bacon gets all the glory when we talk about processed pig meat, but does anyone ever give a thought to ham? Traditionally, ham comes with a sweet glaze. Why not try putting that glaze on a cookie? Don’t worry, there’s still some bacon in these Pig Cookies.

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A cookie for dunking

A cookie for dunking

Mandelbrot
Mandelbrot
Photo: Kate Bernot

To dunk or not to dunk a cookie remains a subject of great controversy around here. But it remains a truth universally acknowledged that there are some cookies, like biscotti, that only become edible once you dip them in coffee. If you can’t stand biscotti, here’s an eminently dunkable alternative: Mandelbrot. An Eastern European cousin to biscotti, it, too, is bar-shaped and crunchy, but it has a higher oil content, which makes it a little softer and sweeter. Adding chocolate is optional, but highly recommended for an especially delicious afternoon coffee break. Find the recipe here.

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A cookie for people with limited pantries

A cookie for people with limited pantries

Illustration for article titled Bake (and eat) the best cookies of your life
Photo: Kevin Schafer (Getty Images)

There is nothing more annoying than a recipe for which you have all the ingredients except for one little thing that is also absolutely crucial. This is especially annoying in a time when you can’t just go running out to the store on a moment’s notice. This recipe for Russian Tea Cakes is highly adaptable. As written, it calls for pecans or hazelnuts, but you can substitute whatever you happen to have on hand. You can dip the cookies in chocolate when you’re done, but you don’t have to if you don’t feel like it. Be free! Do what you can! Here’s the recipe!

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A chocoholic’s dream

A chocoholic’s dream

Betty Ford, left, and Betty Ford’s Double Chocolate Cookies, right
Betty Ford, left, and Betty Ford’s Double Chocolate Cookies, right
Photo: Micheline Maynard (Getty Images), Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection (Getty Images)

One of the weirdest parts of modern presidential campaigns is the custom in which the candidates’ spouses face off with cookie recipes. None of the recipes have been too impressive, honestly, and Bill Clinton totally cheated in 2016 by recycling Hillary’s recipe from when he ran. The very best White House cookie recipe comes from a First Lady whose husband ended up in office by default: Betty Ford. (No matter how she got to the White House, Betty Ford was still the coolest.) The name Double Chocolate Cookies is a misnomer. These are actually triple chocolate cookies since they contain melted chocolate, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips. Betty Ford traditionally served them at Thanksgiving, but why be fussy? Make a batch anytime.

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A cookie for the fruit fans out there

A cookie for the fruit fans out there

Illustration for article titled Bake (and eat) the best cookies of your life
Photo: Portland Press Herald (Getty Images)

There are some people who prefer fruit to chocolate. We should be kind to them, because everyone has their preferences. For these people, we have jam-filled thumbprint cookies. This cookie is also ideal for entertaining small children: for once, they’re encouraged to stick their fingers in food! As The Takeout’s Gwen Ihnat wrote of her own children’s thumbprint cookies, “It was like a mini, temporary version of the handprints I got from their preschool, except delicious.” Here’s the recipe.

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A taste of Southeast Asia

A taste of Southeast Asia

Tamarind-Jaggery Gingersnaps
Tamarind-Jaggery Gingersnaps
Photo: Pooja Makhijani

Gingersnaps are some of the world’s most perfect cookies. But what would happen if you made them with jaggery, a form of unrefined sugar used across Southeast Asia, and then threw in some tart and acidic tamarind? You’d get a very unusual and delicious gingersnap, one that tastes as bright and sour as chutney, more like springtime than the depths of winter. Find the recipe here.

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Greatness cannot be rushed

Greatness cannot be rushed

Toasted Brown Butter Nut Shortbread
Toasted Brown Butter Nut Shortbread
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Sometimes, though, a cookie needs time to grow into its best self. It needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight to think about life and allow the dough to hydrate and absorb all the sugars. You could rush these Toasted Brown Butter Nut Shortbread cookies and make them all in one day, but you’d only be getting a pale imitation of what they could be if you’d only allowed them to reach their full potential. Read all about it here.

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