There are several ‘downsides’ to living in Lansing, but if I had to pick the biggest one, it would have be that we don’t have access to certain foods and restaurants. Quite a few, actually. It’s gotta be one of the lamest capital cities in the country, so far as food goes.
As well as other things. But for the sake of this post, let’s just focus on the food.
I think one of the most egregious sins of our Food Desert is that we don’t have a Waffle House. I haven’t had a Waffle House waffle (the best waffle I’ve EVER had) since I visited my aunt in Georgia 5+ years ago. This just should not be. Granted, there are no Waffle Houses in Michigan period, but still…I take it especially personal that there isn’t one in my city.
Second: We don’t have an In-N-Out-Burger. From what I gather, a burger from In-N-Out is…well…everything. What I wouldn’t give to find out for myself.
There are no joints in Lansing where I can go to get a traditional, delicious NYC-style pizza. So far as pizza places go, we’re pretty much limited to the ‘big chains’- and neither of those count. (Especially since Pizza Hut axed the Big New Yorker pizza from their menu years ago *throws stank eye*)
We don’t have a Costco. Yep; you heard that right. No Costco.
We had a Krispy Kreme. It closed. In retrospect, it may have been for the best- for my thighs, I mean. But sometimes, I still miss seeing that Hot ‘n Ready neon red sign glowing in their window.
Finally, should either of you ever choose to pay a visit to the capital city of Michigan, be advised: there is no Trader Joe’s to be found here. Don’t ask me why this is. I really couldn’t tell you.
But it is a shame: Trader Joe’s is one of those stores that I just really like walking around in and looking at everything, trying to come up with various excuses as to why I should buy ‘this’ and ‘that’ and ‘that and that and that’. They just have a lot of really good products, including but not limited to this unbelievably AMAZING product called Cookie Butter.
Cookie Butter, for those who are unfamiliar with it, is made of Speculoos cookies that have been pulverized and blended with vegetable oils until they form a smooth spread that has a peanut-butter consistency.
It.is.MARVELOUS. There are imitators out there, but don’t be fooled: TJ’s makes the best.
The nearest Trader Joe’s to us in Michigan is in Ann Arbor. So, the last time that my older sister was driving up through the area, she stopped by a Trader Joe’s and bought me a jar each of Crunchy and Creamy Trader Joe’s Cookie butter.
So I know what you’re probably thinking: “Jess, what’s the point of using COOKIE butter to just make more COOKIES?”
My answer to that would have to be…because I wanted to.
And you know what? I think it turned out pretty darn good.
I referenced a recipe that I’ve used before for to make really awesome peanut butter cookies, then tweaked it a little to make it work for this idea. To give the cookies some texture, I mixed in some Heath toffee bits to the dough. Yeah. It was definitely one of my better ideas.
Big and Chewy Speculoos Toffee Cookies
- 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup creamy or chunky Speculoos cookie butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 3/4 cup Heath toffee bits
Cream together both sugars, the butter and the Speculoos cookie butter until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and salt and stir to combine.
In separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and corn starch together with whisk or fork until well combined. Slowly add it to the wet mixture, mixing until well incorporated.
Using the lowest speed of mixer, or by hand, stir in the Heath toffee bits.
Refrigerate cookie dough at least one hour, preferably overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheet pans with parchment paper.
Using a 1/4 cup measure, spoon out portions of dough and roll into balls. Place onto sheet pans and slightly flatten with the bottom of a glass or the top of your hand.
Bake cookies for 12 minutes, or until bottoms just being to brown, rotating the baking pans halfway through.
Allow cookies to sit on the baking pans for about 3-5 minutes, before moving to cooling rack to completely cool.