Golden Girls fans will remember that the secret ingredient in Sophia's tomato sauce was a mouthful of wine. For my grandmother (Mary), it was a teaspoon of grape jelly...and a jar of Prego. She let the secret slip when she was giving me an impromptu cooking lesson, afraid that I'd go hungry in big, bad New York if I didn't know my way around a stove.
Imagine it: a little old Italian lady who would spend forever on her "good sauce"--the one we had with Christmas ravioli--revealing that her everyday sauce was (gasp!) jarred.
What's my point, and how does this relate to cookies? Simple: Great taste and texture can come from everyday, "nontraditional" ingredients. My secret ingredient, for example, is ground-up graham crackers. They add a little sumpin'-sumpin' that will make you go hmmm. I've also used ground-up Cocoa Pebbles cereal, Nilla wafer cookies, and vanilla-creme wafer cookies. Simply replace some of the dry ingredients--flour, or in my case, oatmeal--with the ground-up add-ins. You can also try adding some flavored liquid ingredients. In my Juliana Skiffle cookie (ginger and lime...I'll explain the name in a later post), I replace some of the wet ingredients with a dash of spicy ginger beer.
So take a page out of my book. Try some dry or wet flavor add-ins the next time you make cookies. But whatever you do, don't mix up raisins with something else, as Mrs. Doyle from Father Ted does.