desserts, feast magazine article

feast magazine, february 2014 [part two]: spicy peanut gochujang cookies.

spicy peanut gochujang cookies.

Although black walnuts were my big project this month in Feast, this is not to say that I didn’t write my regular column as well. I did, and I sort of wish it had been in a different issue, because it may be one of my favorite/weirdest recipes I’ve done so far for Mystery Shopper. I am as proud of it as I am the black walnuts piece, and my goals with both articles are the same: I want you to incorporate odd things into your regular baking and cooking lives. With these cookies, however, I want you to do more than just traditional things with a twist: I want you to get your adventurepants on. 

This month’s mystery ingredient? Gochujang. I’m making this a short post because my write-up in the magazine really says what needs to be said about gochujang and its merits (and there are many). Am I an asian hot sauce fanatic? No. I don’t put sriracha on my eggs, I don’t long for it in soup, I don’t own dishes or clothing with a red rooster emblazoned on it, and I don’t sit and wonder what I could throw the blessed spicy nectar of the gods in next. You need to know that, because sometimes when you see normal recipes with an odd hot-sauce twist, you think “oohhhh no. I’m not doing that, I’m not that sort of person.”

Because I’m not that sort of person, and these are not that sort of cookie. I want to impress upon you that these aren’t the creation of some deep-rooted longing to include gochujang – which is basically the Korean equivalent of the better-known sriracha – in everything I eat. Rather, these are a cookie born from the knowledge that peanuts are pretty great when given a spicy treatment.

For whatever reason, these worked. They more than worked, and I – the person most likely to not care if sriracha fell off the face of the earth – love them. I love them because they’re a peanut butter cookie, so they’re familiar, but I love them because they really kick you in the pants at the end. They have a slow heat that builds, and what’s nice about gochujang in these is what’s nice about gochujang in general: it has a level of subtle sweetness that sriracha lacks, thus making it as perfect in sweet things as it is in savory.

Who among us doesn’t know someone who would die of happiness over these? We all have that special person in our lives, and Valentine’s Day is fast-approaching. Do I really need to get corny and tell you to spice up your holiday with these? No, I don’t. Because you were thinking it.

So go read up about your new favorite Asian condiment, because I promise you that you’ll want to (and should; go with that urge) buy a tub of it immediately. The article and recipe for my spicy peanut gochujang cookies is right here.

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  • Reply sue/the view from great island February 4, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    What? I missed the black walnuts piece, I’m obsessed with them, but I can’t find them anywhere!

    • Reply shannon February 4, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      Sue, thank you for saying that! it reminded me that i forgot to link it up in the post. it’s linked now (thanks to you) and here’s the link back to the post i did, which will lead you to the Feast article: . Out west, black walnuts are tricky to find, from what i hear: you may have to order them. My post on them links you to our state producer (who has an online store you can purchase them from, if need be).

  • Reply val February 4, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Gochujang is my new favorite ingredient, too! I’ve been adding it to soup and bibimbap and rice and look forward to reading more about it.

    Sue, I have ordered black walnuts from They don’t have them right now, but I imagine they are seasonal.

    • Reply shannon February 4, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      Hi Val! it’s so good to hear some people are familiar with the ingredient! It’s great, yes? I like the sweetness…for me, it gives it a finish i prefer to that of something that just has straight-up heat. Hope you like the article!

      They are yes, somewhat seasonal and i’m sure adhere to how decent the crop is/was, etc. There’s never a ton in grocery stores here, but i don’t know if that’s due to scarcity in general or purchase trends from customers. Seems as though the closer you get to where they’re grown, the easier it is to find them (as i suppose is normal with any sort of thing). 🙂

  • Reply Sarah @ The Cook's Life February 4, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Finally, I can talk about these cookies! They were a hit with my family. Or rather, I should say they were a hit with some. Others couldn’t get past the twist to a peanut butter cookie. They certainly are a nice change to put on a cookie platter – with a note that they are a little unusual. 🙂 If you are expecting something different, they are perfect! Soft, peanut buttery, but with a kick. And the color is so striking. Home run, Shannon!

    • Reply shannon February 5, 2014 at 10:22 am

      ha! you and natalie: she heard all about them in advance too and was waiting anxiously for this moment. 🙂 I was so happy someone got to taste them in real life! thanks for being my guinea pig. I can definitely see how – just like i think hot sauce in general – some couldn’t take it. my mom wanted nothing to do with them, but mr. table was all over them. Definitely not something you’d want to hand over without full disclosure as to what’s in them (unless it was prank cookie day at work, and then, by all means). 😉 thank you!

  • Reply Deb February 4, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    I have paired chocolate with hot chiles in desserts before with appealing results. Chocolate Chip Cookies with chucks of dark chocolate laced with hot chiles were a surprise hit with my family. I imagine the Spicy Peanut Cookies would bring a pleasant warmth in every sweet bite! Which sounds especially wonderful on a very cold winter afternoon!

    • Reply shannon February 5, 2014 at 10:24 am

      chocolate and chilies are lovely together, i agree! it’s surprising what seemingly strange flavor combos people gravitate towards. these are definitely a “warming” cookie…perfect for the cold bite of winter.

  • Reply Emma February 4, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Cool! While I eat PB every day for lunch, I am not a fan of peanuts in dessert. Even though PB+J has the J thus making it sweet and somewhat dessert-like. So but anyway, this version sounds like a nice way to entice my sweet tooth!

    • Reply shannon February 5, 2014 at 10:25 am

      interesting: so no peanut/chocolate combo for you?
      and if you like pad thai, you may fancy these. not in a gross way, i didn’t make pad thai cookies, but certainly the flavor profile is there; less on the sweet, butterfinger-type peanut butterness.

      • Reply Emma February 5, 2014 at 10:39 am

        now i want pad thai cookies. that would be incredible!

        n-o on the peanuts+chocolate for me – i don’t dislike it, i’m just not interested.

        • Reply shannon February 6, 2014 at 10:31 am

          okay so then you need to make these. psst: add a little ginger to them and you may be close to pad thai. i didn’t want to go overboard with it, but that addition would get it there. 🙂

          i can appreciate that: i used to be way more into it as a kid/teen than i am now. i like it now, for sure, but i don’t seek it out, unless i am craving nostalgic foods.

  • Reply John@Kitchen Riffs February 4, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Gochujang is good stuff, although I probably use sriracha more — mainly because I can buy it in my supermarket. I actually do put sriracha on my eggs sometimes (sorry), but I’ve never thought to use it or gochujang in peanut butter cookies (although cayenne in chocolate cookies is wonderful; I should try gochujang!). Great idea! I can so see how this could work. Really creative — thanks.

    • Reply shannon February 5, 2014 at 10:27 am

      thank you! I have zero problem with sriracha on eggs – OTHER people’s eggs. Mr. Table regularly adds sriracha to his own eggs, as well as other things (hummus, broccoli, etc) It’s good in a sweet application: i want to try this cookie with sriracha just to note the differences and how they work in a sweet application. I think the gochujang already has a bit more sweetness, so i’d like to see how more heat does.

  • Reply Ashley February 5, 2014 at 9:54 am

    As a hot sauce fanatic and a recovering Sriracha-on-nearly-everything addict, I’d be thoroughly excited to eat these cookies. I never know what to do with the bottle of gochujang languishing in my fridge (with a few dozen other condiments, oops) beside adding it to any Asian style dish I make. So this delicious way to use spice in my food….I’m smitten!

    And I must admit, I read your Mystery Shopper article yesterday while checking out your black walnut feature (love both!) I immediately thought of Jeni’s Bangkok peanut ice cream, since it has cayenne + peanut butter + coconut. It’s so strange and awesome at the same time. Then I spied a new chili powder-laced peanut butter (The Heat Is On from Peanut Butter and Co.) on the grocery shelf. You’re obviously the psychic who knows what our stomachs and taste buds want before we know ourselves!

    • Reply shannon February 5, 2014 at 12:28 pm

      oh my goodness you MUST make these cookies; you’re exactly my target demographic! 🙂 i’m just super proud that you already have the gochujang. and don’t feel bad: we’re a pretty condiment-happy household as well (most of that is Mr. Table, but i hold my own as well). 🙂

      I’m happy you liked my articles! And you get extra points because the inspiration for this actually comes from me seeing that ice cream in the Jeni’s cookbook: a lightbulb went off in my head and i thought maybe i could translate those flavors somehow and incorporate gochujang into a cookie, and it worked. and chili-laced peanut butter? so interesting…i bet that has a ton of great applications for people who make lots of asian peanut sauces, satay, etc. get it!

  • Reply Wendy February 5, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Honestly (and perhaps to your point) I had never heard of Gochujang, but I am not generally much of a hot sauce person. My son, on the other hand, drinks Siracha straight up. He must have taken a course on the imperatives of hot sauce consumption during his freshman year because ever since he left for college he has become a Siracha fiend! I am excited to see what he thinks of Gochujang AND these cookies. As soon as this most recent stupid snow is cleared, I am off to buy a bottle. Monday’s care package will include spicy peanut gochujang cookies and the rest of the bottle of sauce. 🙂 Its so good to break away from the expected every now and then! Lots of bonus points for thinking deliciously out of the box!

  • Reply shannon February 5, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Ha! well your son may appreciate these cookies then; let me know how he likes them! I’m excited especially to hear from self-professed sriracha/gochujang/hot sauce fanatics, because this recipe really is for those people most of all. You should be able to find it pretty easily: i know i’ve seen it at Schnucks before, and all the asian markets (obviously, as it is an essential thing) have it as well. Thank you!
    OH! and PS: since i didn’t mention it in the article, these cookies hold up really well for many days: i think they’re actually best after a day or two, but they’ll be pretty good for up to five (which means maybe they could make a very strong-smelling care package with NOTHING else in it. 😉

    • Reply Wendy February 7, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      Shannon, I forgot to ask about the coconut flakes. You process them in the recipe. Could I start out with coconut flour (as I have that already)?

      • Reply shannon February 7, 2014 at 1:17 pm

        well, i was just reading about the differences of each, and i suppose my answer would be maybe? 🙂
        I don’t know much about coconut flour, but from what i’m reading, coconut flour actually comes from the pulp of coconut milk: it’s actually a byproduct of coconut milk that’s dried and processed into a flour-like substance. If you check out how to make coconut flour yourself from flaked coconut (like i start with here), you’d start with the flakes, soak them to rehydrate, then squeeze the pulp out, etc. so the two aren’t the same, evidently, even though they probably look very similar.
        THAT BEING SAID (sorry for the nerd-out): i suppose i’d be worried that it would be drier somewhat than just the pulsed coconut chips/flakes, and with cookies like this, that may alter texture. Additionally, i don’t know what sort of flavor or strength of flavor that the flour has as compared to the flakes: that could be a factor as well.
        oh my goodness seriously all that is to say i don’t know. i’m awesome. 🙂 Have you substituted one for the other before?

        • Reply Wendy February 7, 2014 at 6:07 pm

          Wow! I am almost (but not) sorry I asked! You are absolutely amazing. I can’t believe you did all of that research. Next time, feel free to tell me to stick to the recipe! I mistakenly thought that coconut flour was ground up coconut. Its really quite fascinating to learn what an involved process it is. No wonder its costly. I was being lazy and looking for a short cut (and less dishes to wash). I will be making these according to your directions with the ingredients listed! 🙂 Thanks, Shannon!!

          • shannon February 8, 2014 at 11:20 am

            HA! so I actually really love questions like yours, Wendy, because it gives me the opportunity to learn something new. I had no idea about the differences, but on first glance, i can see how anyone would assume (myself included) that they would compare in the way that almond “flour” compares to ground almonds. i had no idea that coconut flour only exists as a byproduct of another thing, and now i do! 🙂
            smart of you to try to save both dishes and trip to the store: i sub in things all the time when i’m making recipes for myself simply because i have them. and who knows: the coconut flour may be great in these; now i want to grab some and try it, just to see. 🙂

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats February 6, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    please send all the cookies.

    must find gochujang.

  • Reply Abbe@This is How I Cook February 7, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Great thought process here, Shannon! What a fun new peanut butter cookie to try. I love chocolate and chile so why not this?

    • Reply shannon March 19, 2014 at 11:13 am

      totally! hey, if you like adventurous cookies, then you may really be in for some fun with this one. thanks Abbe!

  • Reply Katherine {eggton} February 10, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Wow. I could just fall into the soft crevices on the cookie in the picture–how fantastic! That photo really drew me in. And your article is great. Other than ginger cookies, I have never, ever had a spicy cookie. I haven’t even tried movita’s spciy chocolate cookies yet. I’m gearing up to take the leap, and I’ve been toying with the idea of cooking Thai this week, so a visit to the Asian grocery store might be in order anyway. Lovely as always, my dear!

    • Reply shannon February 10, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      thank you! 🙂 spicy cookies are really awesome, but they do have their place, and are not for everyone. I haven’t tried her spicy cookies yet either, but they’re on my short list (because i’m all in for spicy cookies, that’s just the way i am.) Grab some gochujang while at the asian market, for sure: if you don’t end up using it in these, there are myriad other things it would work wonderfully in/on. Promise.

  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog February 10, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Adventurepants are on. I’m ready to rock some gochujang!

    • Reply shannon February 10, 2014 at 12:02 pm

      Jennie, i’m pretty sure you have your adventurepants on most of the time.

  • Reply Monica February 10, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    This makes me think I should go pick up some gochujang to experiment with at home. We don’t use it but I do love it in many Korean dishes that we have when we eat out. My husband is the sriracha user in the family – I like heat but for some reason, I haven’t been able to hop on that bandwagon. This is such a surprise way of using gochujang…I’m definitely intrigued! I bet it adds a nice bit of heat and interest to the cookies.

    • Reply shannon March 19, 2014 at 11:15 am

      you know, i was pleasantly surprised with gochujang when i first tried it: i’m not a sriracha fanatic, and i like heat, but “sauce” isn’t always how i get there in terms of heat. gochujang has a nice sweetness to it – much in the same way that sweet chile is a favorite b/c of that heat/sweet thing that happens. Mr. Table is also the sriracha user in the family, and i think he defiles food with it in some instances. 🙂 this is not that, for sure.

  • Reply Willow @Will Cook For Friends February 17, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Ooooh, color me intrigued! I’m not a huge fan of sriracha (I use it, don’t get me wrong, but I’m no fanatic), and have never even heard of gochujang. Now I have to seek it out, just so I can know this sweet quality it has. And so I can make these cookies, because I’ve been feeling like peanut butter cookies needed a facelift lately, and what better way to do it than with heat?

    And congrats on having two incredible features in one magazine. I don’t know how you get so much done, but you sure do it well!

    • Reply shannon March 19, 2014 at 11:17 am

      I can’t stress this enough: this is not the product of a person who even likes sriracha that much, if really at all. i’m at best indifferent to sriracha, but i enjoy gochujang quite a bit, because i think there’s something more multi-dimensional about the flavor than just “this is hot sauce, end scene.”

      and than you so, so much: this month i felt like a famous, well-respected food writer, which i am not, but it was nice to feel that way for a minute. 🙂 and if you think i get a lot done, i have GOT YOU FOOLED. 🙂

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats February 18, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    So impressed that you did so much cookie and recipe-creating in such a short amount of time, Shannon! I feel like I barely have time/energy to cook dinner! I’m a big fan of Korean cooking (from dating a slew of Korean men) and I absolutely love gochujang. I would never have thought to put it in something sweet, however….very creative. My favorite use is definitely in Kimchi Jjigae- the most delicious soup you will ever taste…unless you don’t like kimchi, in which case you probably won’t like it.

    • Reply shannon February 19, 2014 at 10:34 am

      This one was a tough one b/c i was creating this at the exact same time as i was in the midst of all the black walnut things, but i didn’t want to make it an afterthought. Thankfully, it really worked well right out of the gate, so i guess i was destined to throw hot sauce into peanut butter cookies; life went easy on me this time. 🙂 We’re going to have to talk about korean cooking sometime: i know next to nothing about it (the basics are pretty much it), so i could use some tips. I love kimchi, so we’re good. 🙂

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    […] These gochujang peanut butter cookies […]

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