'Cookies for Grown-Ups'

New cookbook offers unusual cookies, paired with beer, coffee

Alison Highberger / For The Bulletin /

Cookies and milk are a classic children’s snack. So, how about cookies and cocktails for adults?

We’re not talking snickerdoodles with a martini or chocolate chip cookies with a beer.

In “Cookies for Grown-Ups,” author Kelly Cooper reinvents the cookie for the adult palate and suggests adult beverage pairings for each of her more than 80 intriguing recipes for savory and sweet appetizer, snack and dessert cookies.

“The cookies aren’t too sweet. Flavor is primary, and sweetness is secondary. My ‘Nosh’ cookie is full of peanuts, dried chili flakes and cilantro. It’s salty and great with a beer,” Cooper told us in a phone interview from her home near Las Vegas. (See recipe, Page D2.)

Cooper’s “ManCookies” are made with bits of Slim Jim snack sticks, dry-roasted sunflower kernels, lime and a quarter cup of beer (see recipe, Page D2).

Cooper recommends pairing ManCookies with a cold beer and serving them the next time there’s a big game on TV.

“The sunflower seeds bring in the salt and crunch. It’s almost like chewing on an oatmeal cookie with raisins — that’s the texture of it. Beer in the dough gives it flavor, but you wouldn’t say ‘There’s beer in this,’ and you wouldn’t think it’s a regular sugar cookie with the sunflower seeds and Slim Jims,” she said.

After Cooper invented her “Really?” cookie, named for the response she got from tasters who found out what was in it, she paired it with pinot noir.

Its surprising ingredients include kalamata olives and white chocolate. Really?

“The white chocolate cuts the kalamata flavor, so it’s not like biting into a kalamata in a salad with a vinaigrette. A good quality white chocolate sweetens and modifies the taste of the olive,” Cooper told us.

“Cookies for Grown-Ups” is Cooper’s first cookbook. She’s not a food professional; she’s a tech teacher. For 20 years, Cooper has taught college-level Web development and computer programming.

A passion for cooking, baking and travel inspired Cooper to start inventing cookies with bold and unusual flavors more than a decade ago.

“It’s fun to go into my kitchen and make something that tastes great and travels easily. I can share them with people, and they’re like cookies, but they’re not traditional. Everyone loves to get cookies, so you give these to people, and they call you and say, ‘How did you do this?’” It’s fun. For me, it’s been about celebrating friends and flavors, all wrapped up in the tradition of baking and sharing cookies,” Cooper said.

Not all of Cooper’s cookie recipes are paired with alcoholic beverages. She recommends coffee and tea for Delectable, a cookie inspired by caramelized pear desserts in upscale restaurants. It’s a shortbread-style sweet with pear, crystallized ginger, cinnamon and walnuts.

Her At the Diner cookie is also paired with coffee. It’s a breakfast cookie, full of Yukon gold potatoes, onion, sausage and chives.

Pink-a-Dot is a cookie flavored with pink grapefruit juice, zest and poppy seeds. As Cooper writes in her cookbook, “I love pink grapefruit and had fun finding its perfect role in a cookie. Pink-a-Dot is both crisp and soft. The poppy seeds add spots of personality, and the light glaze doesn’t have the sugary blast of a frosting.” She suggests pairing these cookies with club soda with a splash of pomegranate juice.

Cooper thinks it’s time to break out of our cookie-cutter approach to cookies. Instead of always baking the same old cookies — chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter and snickerdoodles — she’d like everyone older than 18 to try some new flavor combinations, even though she knows some of her newfangled cookies sound a little odd.

“Some are really quirky, but people say they’re surprised, and it evokes a lot of conversation. The cookies make you slow down and talk about something different. Like my Refrescante, baked in a little light, crunchy cornmeal and flour bowl, and inside is cream cheese, jalapeno and a little lemon,” she said. She suggests a margarita will taste great with that one. Cheers!

IF YOU GO

What: Kelly Cooper, author of “Cookies for Grown-Ups,” will perform a cooking demonstration and host a cookie tasting and book signing

When: 3 p.m., July 28.

Where: Ginger’s Kitchenware, 375 S.W. Powerhouse Drive, Bend, Old Mill District

Contact: www.gingerskitchenware.com or 541-617-0312