It looks like a normal cookie, right? It’s not. Not at all.
As you know, Rogue Bakery likes to experiment with strange cookie flavors. Why? Because sometimes, we —all of us, as cookie eaters— need to experience something that’s different than Chocolate Chip or Oreo or White Chocolate Macadamia. Really really different. And we’ve made some strange cookies: Spicy Bacon Corn Cheese, Buttermilk Ranch, Fried Chicken, Thanksgiving side dish cookies, etc. All of those those cookies have this sweet/savory thing going on. I like the idea of savory cookies, because it’s a taste that we don’t usually associate with a food that’s often considered a dessert. But that cookie you see above. That cookie is not savory. Is it just a normal sweet cookie? No, it definitely is not.
Much like how the United States government created Captain America, or that time on The Brady Bunch where Marcia made-over her wallflower friend into “the hot girl”, and almost missed out on a school banquet date with an astronaut, this cookie was born from an experiment to create something good.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, I tried hard to think about the flavors associated with Valentine’s Day. All I could come up with: red. The flavor of Valentine’s Day was red: red hearts, red cards, red balloons, etc. But red isn’t a flavor [unless you’re that delicious nameless-but-red jelly that’s found in generic jelly donuts]. Sure, there’s chocolate. But that’s kind of a cop out: Chocolate is the flavor of almost every holiday where you give stuff to people. There are a lot of strawberry things out there, but that just goes back to the fact that they’re red. It’s not like strawberries are in season at this time.
Then I started thinking about things being “spicy”. You always hear marketing stuff talking about heat/hot/spicy whenever they talk about sex. Why? Who knows? I found that there are a lot of spicy foods and desserts that get pushed during this holiday. “Spicy chocolate”, or “hot cinnamon candies”, or “habanero personal lubricant”, these are all things you’ll find in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. Hot things have all been played out. But there are some things that people consider “hot”, but aren’t hot at all. And with that, I introduce you to this cookie, which is named ZING, or “Cherry ZING”, to be specific.
ZING is a fragrant, citrus-y cookie , with tart cherries, lemon and orange zest, honey, white chocolate chips…and finely ground Sichuan peppercorns. A lot of finely ground Sichuan peppercorns.
Sichuan peppercorns aren’t like black peppercorns; they come from a different plant family. And they don’t have the same type of spiciness that you would expect from black peppercorns. The spiciness is also different than the mouth-on-fire feeling you get from chili peppers, where the heat comes from your tongue’s reaction to capsaicin found in those peppers. Sichuan peppers have a bit of a citrus-y flavor, accompanied by a sensation that makes it feel like your tongue is vibrating. Recently, scientists studying this phenomenon have found that a component in the Sichuan peppercorns reacts to receptors on our tongue differently than capsaicin-containing peppers. And the reaction is very specific.
Study coauthor Patrick Haggard of University College London and his colleagues enrolled adventurous eaters to probe the sensation of the peppers in the lab. Sure enough, the 12 volunteers’ mouths began to tingle after researchers dabbed pepper extract on their lower lips. And this tingling felt very specific. Szechuan pepper elicited the sensation of a 50-hertz vibration, a frequency detected by a class of nerve fibers called RA1, Haggard and colleagues report September 10 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
50 hertz vibration. Now that’s kinda fun. This cookie makes your tongue feel like it’s vibrating.The first couple bites, you won’t notice a thing, except for citrus vanilla overtones. After a few more bites, you’ll get the sensation in your tongue. Soon after, your tongue will be numb. And it is kinda fun. If you drink something after you eat this cookie, it tastes like you’re drinking something carbonated. I recommend pairing this cookie with your favorite beverage, or even a glass of water, to get the full effect.
This cookie is not going up in the online store. Maybe it will in the future. Right now, every order for delivery on Valentine’s Day will get two of these really weird cookies. Experiment and have fun! And if you want to post on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter about your experience with the cookie too weird to be sold, use the hashtag #ZING. Because why not?