Gussying Up Store-Bought Cookie Dough
CorbisEven if you're a dedicated baker, there are times when whipping up a batch of cookies from scratch takes more than your schedule and energy levels will allow. Here's our dirty little secret: make "homemade" cookies using store-bought dough as a base. Think of those refrigerated tubes as foundations for your creativity, blank canvases for all sorts of inspired ideas. Here are a few to get you started....
Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom can all bring extra flavor dimension to cookie dough – sugar cookies are particularly well suited to various spice combinations.
Just about everything tastes a little bit better with bacon, and cookies are no exception, as weird as that sounds. Fry up a few strips, blot them dry, chop them up, and fold them into the dough before baking. They work especially well in peanut butter cookies. (Really, trust us!)
Cookie dough makes an excellent platform for all kinds of fruits and nuts, which can be mixed in before baking. Consider spiking oatmeal cookies with dried cranberries and chopped walnuts, or chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries and chopped macadamia nuts.
Zests add maximum flavor for minimum effort. Try adding orange zest and a few pinches of cardamom to sugar cookie dough, or lime zest and unsweetened shredded coconut.
Good old fashioned fluff can be the basis for all sorts of inspired sandwich-cookie fillings: Mix it with creamy peanut butter and sandwich it between chocolate chip cookies, or combine it with a few spoonfuls of your favorite jam if you're using peanut butter cookie dough.
Bits of candy bar can add both great flavor and texture to cookies – think chocolate chip blended with Heath bar, or peanut butter spiked with Snickers. There's no limit to the possibilities here – when cookies and candy bars collide, you really can't go wrong.
Bake chocolate chip cookies until they're about halfway finished, and then top them with peanuts, marshmallows, and a drizzle of store-bought caramel sauce. Return them to the oven and cook until the marshmallows have started to brown and the edges of the cookies are firm.
Combine cinnamon with regular white sugar. Roll each piece of sugar-cookie dough in the cinnamon sugar, and then bake according to instructions.
Hershey Kisses and peanut butter cookies are one of the dessert world's happiest couples. Simply take one Kiss and plunk it down in the middle of each peanut butter cookie before baking. This is an especially good job to assign to any kids milling about the kitchen.
Give plain Jane cookies a party makeover: Dip the cookies halfway into melted chocolate, transferring them as dipped to a baking sheet covered with waxed paper. While chocolate is still wet, sprinkle them with candy sprinkles. Let cookies dry completely before serving.
Flavors like vanilla, hazelnut, and mocha can liven up just about any cookie, and are easy to use, too – just add the mix to your dough before baking.
Why settle for plain chocolate chip when you can have a trio of chocolate, white, and butterscotch? Just blend them in, bake, and try to restrain yourself from eating them all before they cool.