Everything Bagel Cookies

1 cup sugar
 1/2 cup vegetable oil
 1 large egg
 2 tsp vanilla extract
 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
 1/2 tsp salt

½ cup everything bagel seasoning (e.g. Trader Joe’s “Everything But The Bagel”)

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla extract. Add in 1/2 cup of flour, along with baking powder and salt, and mix until well-incorporated.
  • Add in remaining flour and stir until a thick dough forms and all ingredients have been incorporated.
  • Shape into 1 1/2-inch balls and arrange on prepared baking sheet.
  • Roll balls in Everything Bagel seasoning until they are completely covered.
  • Bake for 10–13 minutes, until cookies are set around the outside, but still pale, and the bottoms are lightly browned.
  • Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5–7 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

The Everything Bagel Cookie is an incremental innovation from a regular sugar cookie. It bears the attributes that I like most in a cookie — It is sweet but not overwhelmingly so, medium in size, soft in texture. Knowing that the cookies would ultimately be sold at an on-campus bake-sale, I wanted to keep my end-user (and their cookie wants/needs) in mind. Therefore, I baked something I loved and would buy, using my amateur “domain relevant” skills in baking.

The final product — “Everything Bagel Cookies”

The end-product is “creative,” but the process by which I produced the cookie was not. I started with a basic sugar cookie recipe, and then rolled it in the Everything Bagel topping. I took something familiar, and made it novel by adding a topping. I did not re-imagine the cookie’s form, or the way it was baked (or not). According to Amabile’s definition of “creativity,” the Everything Bagel cookie is not creative. However, the brainstorming process (in which I created an extensive list of weird, novel cookie options) was consistent with Kudrowitz’ findings on idea fluency. The more ideas I had, the more unique they were, until I landed on a satisfactory cookie flavor that I could actually bring-to-market.

Idea Generation

Knowing that we are aiming to sell our cookies at an on-campus bake sale, I decided to approach the assignment through the lens of human-centered design. Acting as a proxy for the typical U of M consumer, I asked myself:

“What type of cookie do I want or would I buy that doesn’t exist right now?”

Then, to guide my cookie brainstorming process, I thought it would be helpful to identify the qualities that I like in a cookie. The best cookies are:

  • Medium sized
  • Soft (but not undercooked/doughy)
  • Easy to eat (not too crumby)
  • Unfrosted
  • Fairly uniform in texture (Without fruit, any “Chips” will have softened during baking)

This lead me to three key cookie-quality metrics, which I used to rank, iterate, and perfect my cookie recipe. Each batch was ranked on the below categories from 1–10, 1 being unsatisfactory and 10 being perfection:

  1. Texture
  2. Flavor
  3. Size

Now, the exciting part. This past weekend I took a trip to Buffalo, NY, which is known for their hot wings. The Anchor Bar claims to be the “Home of the Original Buffalo Wing,” and their wing recipe is a top-secret combination of Franks Hot Sauce + Butter. “Ok,” I thought, “Butter is a key ingredient in cookies, too. Why not invent a hot sauce cookie?”

But that sounded disgusting, and not like something I would buy. I would certainly try a hot sauce cookie, but not pay money for it. From there, I followed the below thought process to land on “Hot Honey Cookies.”

Idea Map for Cookie #1 Flavor

Batch #1

My dad introduced me to “Hot Honey,” when he used it to add flavor to a meal of Chicken & Waffles. I hate honey, but I love spice, and Bees Knees honey had just the right amount of kick to keep me interested.

Base Recipe:

“Hot Honey Cookies” are an incremental innovation from honey cookies. The spice adds a different dimension to a traditionally sweet delicacy, making it a “new” cookie in my mind.

However, these cookies did not taste or look how I had intended them to taste and look. Either the ingredients of the cookies or the lack of a hand mixer caused them to come out completely flat and kind of greasy. The heat of the hot honey did come through, but didn’t taste particularly like honey — More like a Red Hot candy. Though it “worked” in a conventional sense (as in, the cookies were still edible), they weren’t my favorite, so I thought I’d try something completely different.

Batch 2

In Batch #2, I was inspired by one of my favorite spice mixes from one of my favorite stores, Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel seasoning blend. The blend includes black and yellow sesame seeds, dried garlic pieces, poppy seeds, and rock salt. I love the seasoning blend on eggs, avocado and… bagels, so I thought I’d try to incorporate it into my cookies.

I used a sugar cookie base, which I then rolled in the seasoning mix. The result is not only aesthetically pleasing, but I think it tastes good. You’ll get an occasional bite of garlic, which I’ll admit is weird, but the overall taste is a pleasant salty/sweet.

I also considered making this recipe with tahini, to give the cookies themselves a nutty sesame flavor. I decided against it, however, in realizing that the salty/garlicky spice mix will be exotic enough for most consumers.


I produced two batches of each recipe:

  • 1 Hot Honey without turbinado
  • 1 Hot Honey with turbinado sugar coating
  • 1 Everything with spice blend IN cookie (spice blend as coating)
  • 1 Everything with no spice blend IN cookie (spice blend as coating)

On the hot honey cookies, I started without turbinado sugar on the outside of the cookie, but in my second batch I decided to add it. This was a second iteration of the recipe, and I think added to the overall sweetness of the cookie.

With the Everything cookie, I mixed a little bit of the seasoning blend into the sugar cookie dough, but found it to be overpowering. In the second batch, I left the sugar cookie dough untouched, and simply rolled the raw cookies in the topping. The latter iteration had a strong but not overwhelming flavor, and left me with the aftertaste of sugar cookie. I was satisfied with the flavor — It had the familiar taste of a sugar cookie, but with the novelty of a savory topping.

Further iterations of the Everything cookie could have involved experimenting with sesame/tahini in the batter, as mentioned above.

My iteration process involved taste testing, recipe tweaking, and more taste testing. Each iteration revealed a better understanding of the base recipe, and how my additions/manipulations affected the flavor profile, texture and shape of the cookie. My final cookie scored high on the metrics I first identified for cookie-quality: flavor, texture, and size.

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