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Experimenting in baking can be a challenge; it’s so rooted in the chemistry of ingredient combinations, you can’t just edit as you please and expect delicious results. I struggle with that, because I love nothing more than to taste/change/taste/change as I move my edible train along. Enter the newest love of my kitchen life: the most incredible cookie base I’ve ever come across. This beauty sets you up with a rich butter flavor (use the good stuff), perfect chew thanks to the cornstarch, and a texturally genius sugar blend that will leave your sweet teeth satisfied. Since this was my first time trying this recipe, I took four different routes to test how a variety of mix-in ingredients would affect the final flavor.

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The hands down crowd favorite was an extra dark chocolate chip blended with a chopped hazelnut + mild dark chocolate bar. That’s not to say that I didn’t come away with some notes for round two, but this cookie should just settle in because we’re going to be life long pals. The second favorite was a spiced pumpkin seed cookie topped with smashed rock candy for texture. This version could easily be elevated to a whole new level with the addition of pumpkin butter during the creaming process, and I look forward to testing that out during this autumn season.

The final two were still tasty, but the almond delight featuring sliced toasted almonds and almond extract, needed a little extra something to keep the moisture and chew in the cookie. I’m thinking some finely ground mulling spices and a handful of caramel chunks will get amp up that party. The prettiest to make, but least favorite flavor wise, was the celebration cookie. I added bright sugar crystals and jumbo nonpareils, and while the cookie had fun pops of color, they tasted a bit like artificial cherry; boo_no_thanks_yuck.

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So what are you waiting for?! Roll up your sleeves, get in the kitchen and rummage around in the pantry of yours to see what sings out to you. It’s your perfect opportunity to be an edible artist, and create holiday treats that’ll dazzle your loved ones all season long.

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