Toast your cookie ingredients for more flavor

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Dan Bolyard/courtesy photo Toasting add-ins can make a bland cookie flavorful.

I like my foods to taste good. I'm sure everyone does. This goes for the lowly cookie as well. I find that store-bought cookies are a bit bland, regardless of whether they are made by a major cookie manufacturer or your local megamart bakery.

While I have not fully tried the technique of toasting my flour, I think it will be the next step in cranking up the flavor of my cookies. You could also brown the milk solids in your butter in a saucepan over low heat, then allow the butter to cool and solidify before using.

An easier step, especially when there are certain types of add-ins, is to toast them instead. For instance, do you like to add chopped walnuts to your chocolate chip cookies? Toast the walnuts first before adding them to the dough. Same for shredded coconut. Coconut becomes almost addictive to me when it has a bit of a toast to it.

Next time you try a quick bread, such as a banana-nut loaf, try toasting the nuts before stirring them into the batter. This will insure the nuts are fully cooked through in the finished loaf and won't have the raw nut flavor for the eater.

Two of my favorite cookies to make during my professional bakery career were Swedish fruit cookies and cowboy cookies. I never grew up with them, but they are far more tasty than a typical oatmeal raisin. I wish I had tried toasting the coconut and nuts when I was making these at supermarket bakeries.


SWEDISH FRUIT COOKIES

  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To toast the coconut, place on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Stir every 5 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Combine all ingredients except coconut in large bowl. Mix well. Stir in coconut and raisins. Refrigerate dough for two hours, or until well chilled. Drop 1/4 cup of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet, or one lined with parchment. Leave room for the cookies to spread. Bake for at least 15 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Remove pan from oven and then allow pan to stand for a few moments, then remove cookies from sheet to a cooling rack.


COWBOY COOKIES

  • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To toast the coconut and pecans, place both on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Stir every 5 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, beat the butter until light and creamy. Beat in the sugars until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Mix in vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture until combined. Stir in chocolate chips, oats, coconut, and pecans. Drop 1/4 cup of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet, or one lined with parchment. Leave room for the cookies to spread. Bake for at least 15 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Remove pan from oven and then remove cookies from sheet to a cooling rack.

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