Dessert First

Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies from Super Chunk Sweets & Treats

National Geographic honored local sugar purveyors Super Chunk Sweets & Treats -- the passion-fueled side venture of Cowboy Ciao/Kazimierz pastry chef Country Velador and her husband, Sergio -- earlier this year by including their chocolate chip cookie as one of 10 in the United States worth traveling for. I took that to heart, making a special trip to the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market to nab one.

See also: - Last Night's Scottsdale Culinary Event: The Chocolate and Wine "Experience" - Cobbler on Quack at Cowboy Ciao

One thing makes this cookie stand out from the traditional chocolate chip variety: mesquite flour. This one special ingredient transforms it into a unique treat, and the result is certainly a deviation from the soft, Nestle Tollhouse style that defines the classic American cookie. The mesquite flour adds a rich taste of caramel that makes the smooth dark chocolate sing. The distinctive flavor is a teeny bit smoky, but not in the heavy way that mesquite wood lends flavor to smoked meats.

Aside from that boost of local Arizona flavor, the cookie is rather standard. It's crisp like a Chips Ahoy, not at all soft or doughy. The texture is a little granular, but it's tender, unlike a crunchy packaged cookie. And it's slightly buttery without being the tiniest bit greasy, a major plus for any baked good.

The selection from Super Chunk Sweets & Treats includes other notable twists on traditional confections, including junk food caramel corn (with potato chips, cornflakes, and peanuts) and white chocolate orange blossom honey sponge candy. Whether you are a local Phoenician or a visitor, it's worth tracking down their goodies at Pane Bianco, Bodega, Palette at Phoenix Art Museum, and Cowboy Ciao. Super Chunk is also at the Old Town Scottsdale and Miller markets October through April.

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Dominique Chatterjee