Cowboy Cookies with Bourbon and Smoked Sea Salt

Cowboy Cookies

Sharing is caring or at least that’s what they say. In most cases, I’m all about sharing – especially when it comes to food I’ve made. However, there are a couple areas in my life where sharing is a little harder. The first is french fries (there’s never enough!)…..and the second is recipes. Let’s be honest here, every baker or chef has at least one recipe they don’t want to share. That one recipe they’ll protect fiercely and keep to themselves. The recipe they’re most proud of and the thought of sharing it physically pains them. This one is mine……..

Ohhhhhh Cowboy Cookies. This cookie is my baby…..no joke. I developed it four years ago and it took me FOREVER. I’m talking dozens of different iterations and me eating a LOT of cookies to get them exactly how I wanted. It quickly became one of my best-selling items at the farmer’s market and has inspired a very loyal following of Cowboy Cookie crazed fans.

It started with a simple enough idea. I found an incredible hickory smoked sea salt that smelled just like a campfire and I wanted to create a cookie to use it in. The smoky fire smell of the salt conjured up images of cowboys sitting around a campfire at night telling stories and staring up at the stars (I have no idea if cowboys actually do this – but in my head they totally do). I wanted a tough cookie to go with this idea. A cookie that a bad ass cowboy/cowgirl could proudly eat. Basically, I wanted a cookie that would kick every other cookie’s ass.

I tried to think of ingredients that would compliment the smokiness of the salt. Brown butter was an obvious choice. As was bourbon…..because who doesn’t love a little booze in their baked goods?? Chocolate came into the mix, but not as just one chocolate BUT three different types (milk, dark, and semi-sweet). And since I love a little extra crunch and texture in my cookies – I figured why not throw some toasted almonds in there. I had all the components, but for some reason it just wasn’t doing it for me. The cookies were missing something and I couldn’t figure out what it was.

One day, I was drinking espresso and intensely staring down at the latest batch of cookies wondering, “Why won’t you work?!” and then it hit me…..I had an idea. To see if my hunch was right, I took a sip of my espresso and then a bite of a cookie. It was perfect. All the cookies needed was a little bit of instant espresso powder. They had been missing that backbone and one ingredient that melds everything together, which is exactly what espresso powder does. It’s kind of a magical ingredient. When added to recipes, you don’t necessarily taste the espresso. It just enhances all the other flavors and ties them together. With my missing piece in place, the cookies were finally everything I had hoped for.

Okay…..so now you know how long it took me to develop the recipe……and the slight internal struggle I had when deciding whether or not to share it. I seriously hope you love the cookies as much as I do!

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