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5 Most Popular Cookies Around The World

July 31, 2010

Once the holidays come around (or when the new neighbors are ready for a welcome basket), we often find ourselves scouring our kitchen for the secret weapons in our culinary arsenal: cookie recipes. There is no better gift than one that goes to the recipient’s heart right through the stomach. But the problem is that cookie recipes can get tedious – especially when we are inundated constantly with the usual suspects: chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, etc. The next time you’re in a position to be baking or ordering cookies, remember that the options are vast. Take a look around the world and you’ll see variations which might be a welcome surprise in a gift basket or at dinner party.

In Italy, biscotti are the cookies of choice even though it looks nothing like our notion of a cookie. This twice baked biscuit has a hard, dry texture that was initially invented for a long shelf life. You can find biscotti ranging in variations from almond to chocolate. For adults, this is ideal to serve at dinner, as the cookie can be dunked and softened in coffee or dessert wine.

Another Italian invention is the macaroon: a small cookie that has a crispy exterior and softer, mealier core. Legend has it that these were first developed at a monastery and were made from ground almonds, but today the regional varieties span the globe from Scotland to Spain to Turkey. In the U.S., the most popular version is the coconut macaroon (also popular in Jewish culture, as its non-leavened state was originally an ideal food for Passover).

Do brownies count as cookies? Yes! Think of these as cookies on steroids. Soft and molten on the inside with a crispy outer layer, brownies will disappoint no one in their dense decadence. Interestingly enough, it is not clear how brownies were first born but they certainly seem to be an American invention, as the first brownie recipe was published in 1897 by Sears Roebuck & Company in their catalog.

Now, from the masters of gourmet cuisine, there are two versions of the cookie: the French palmier and tuile. A palmier is a puff pastry that is layered, sugared, and then formed to resemble palm leaves (or even a heart). Tuiles are thin and crispy with a curled shape and are typically made from crushed almonds. They are technically considered “petits fours” and would make an impressive offering to impromptu guests along with tea or coffee.

So, put away the chocolate chips and stop ordering cookies that are cliché. Here you have five different versions that are more unexpected and equally delicious.

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