Michigan's State Cookie Perfectly Pairs Chocolate And Cherries

If you like dark chocolate chunk and dried cherry cookies, you will love Michigan's state cookie. Aptly called Michigan Treasure cookies, they are filled with a delicious fusion of ingredients. The recipe was developed by a teacher at Defer Elementary School in Gross Pointe Park and uses dried cherries in homage to Michigan's production of this pitted fruit. Cherries are a staple product of the state, producing as it does 75% of the U.S.'s tart cherries. But what you will love about the recipe is how it offers the perfect combination of unsweetened cocoa, semi-sweet chocolate chunks, and dried tangy cherries folded into a cookie dough, rolled in sugar, and baked to perfection.  

What is the reason this dynamic chocolate-cherry pairing works so well? The purpose of using sour cherries, or any fruit with a little pucker to it, is for its acidity to temper chocolate's sweet, rich, and indulgent flavor. Together, these two contrasting ingredients balance one another while also highlighting the flavor profiles that each brings to this cookie. 

The ingredients of Michigan Treasure cookies are state-centric

Of course, the other ingredients needed to create these Michigan Treasure cookies are equally important. While the recipe that was put to the Michigan State legislature calls for Graceland Fruit brand dried cherries, which are produced in Michigan, what makes this state cookie even more uniquely Michigan is that several other required ingredients are produced within its borders. The recipe also calls for Diamond Crystal Salt, which is made in the Great Lakes State, Pioneer brand brown sugar, and Michigan walnuts.

But there are more ways to enhance the flavors of these treasures. While it's typical to use semi-sweet dark chocolate to make these cookies, you shouldn't overlook milk chocolate. Where dark chocolate tends to taste bitter, milk chocolate, which has less cocoa than its dark cousin, is sugary sweet. When creamy, silky-smooth milk chocolate is mixed with those tart, chewy cherries, the variations in texture and viscosity will give your mouth all the feels while creating beautiful layers of flavor. A sour cherry taste will help dull sweet chocolate, made even sweeter when mixed with the refined sugar in these cookies. 

Add more flavor to Michigan Treasure cookies

If you like the idea of sour, dried cherries and chocolate together but want to experiment with the flavors, consider adding a sprinkle of cayenne, black, or flaky red pepper to the mix for a little heat. A spicy element will also help bring out and complement and play off the sweet chocolate as well as the sour taste of the dried cherries.

A splash of bourbon can enhance any chocolate cake, and you may also want to consider adding a little of this spirit to your chocolate-cherry cookie mix. To honor its roots, Michigan-based Long Road Distillers make a spirit dubbed Midwest Old Fashioned and is described on their website as a blend of their best sellers Long Road Straight Bourbon Whisky, Long Road Cherry Liqueur, and Long Road Orange Liqueur. These flavors will enrich and complement the taste of the chocolate and dried cherries, and it doesn't take much. A tablespoon or two is all you need to infuse the caramel, cherry, and orange notes of this spirit into your cookies as they bake.