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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Before you default to the back of the Nestle package...

Illustration for article titled Bake (and eat) the best cookies of your life
Photo: Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post (Getty Images)

Yes, yes, the classic Toll House recipe is simple and almost fail-proof, which is why we’ve all made it and loved it for years and years. But before you default to what’s simple and easy and familiar, check out this list of tips and tricks from pastry chefs, cookbook authors, and Takeout staffers that will make your chocolate chip cookies even better.

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A savory twist on an old standard

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

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.

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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

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

...And that includes chocolate chip cookies. Pastry chef Dana Cree (who was then 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.

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Or how about ham?

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

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

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Photo: by IAISI (Getty Images)

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.

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A cookie for people with limited pantries

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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!

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A chocoholic’s dream

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

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A cookie for the fruit fans out there

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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.”

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A taste of Southeast Asia

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Photo: Oksana Smith / EyeEm (Getty Images)

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.

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Where some see laziness, others see a blank canvas

Illustration for article titled Bake (and eat) the best cookies of your life
Photo: Julia Ewan/The The Washington Post (Getty Images)

As simple as it can be to make cookies, there are times when you’re just too lazy to pull out the mixing bowls and measuring cups and start messing up your kitchen. Times like these are when store-bought break-and-bake cookies are a godsend. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add your own personal spin. Here are a few tips for getting creative and improving a package of break-and-bakes that will still get you fresh, hot cookies in 15 minutes or less.

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Greatness cannot be rushed

Illustration for article titled Bake (and eat) the best cookies of your life
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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.

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