Stop Throwing Out Stale Cookies And Make A Crumb Cake Instead

Isn't it a bummer when you bake or buy cookies, but you don't eat them quickly enough and the last ones in the package are stale? Nobody likes to throw out food, and some voice in your head is whispering that they're still perfectly good, they're just a bit too hard, or they've lost some of their flavor. What you can do with those no-longer-ready-for-prime-time cookies is turn them into a tasty crumb cake.

Smash or grind the cookies up, by hand or with a food processor, to make crumbs either coarse or fine. These can then be sprinkled on cake batter before baking, resulting in a tasty crumb topping, albeit one much simpler than that made from butter, flour, and sugar. You can also add another layer of streusel in the middle of the cake. Fill the pan halfway with batter, sprinkle it with crushed cookie crumbs, then top this with the rest of the batter as well as another sprinkling of crumbs. And if you really want to make the cake into an extra-crumby one, you can always add crushed cookie crumbs to the bottom of the pan. 

The variety of cookie-to-cake combinations is endless, though it's hard to think of any cookie that wouldn't go with any cake, and you can play around with endless variations. Chocolate crumbs work on yellow, white, and chocolate cakes alike, while gingersnaps go nicely with apple, pumpkin, or spice cakes. Oatmeal cookies turn into oaty crumble topping on coffee cakes or even fruit cobblers. 

Other ways you can use stale cookies in desserts

Stale cookie crumbs can also be used in no-bake desserts, especially those that involve some sort of creamy goodness. Use them to make a crust for a cheesecake such as this no-bake Oreo one. This recipe uses cookie crumbs in another way, as well, sprinkling them over the whipped cream topping. Layer them with fruit and whipped cream (and your favorite liqueur, if you so choose) to add a little crunch to a trifle. You could also stir crumbs into a buttercream frosting if you want a cookies-and-cream effect. You can add them to a milkshake or ice cream sundae to boost both the flavor and texture. With the addition of a couple of ingredients, like evaporated milk or coconut oil, depending on the recipe, you can turn the crumbs into a delicious jar of cookie butter.

Stale cookies can also be used whole. While the viral(ish) Aldi lemon shortbread icebox cake recipe doesn't specify using stale cookies, there's no reason why they wouldn't work, since the shortbread cookies will soften up as they sit in the whipped cream base. Yet another icebox variant is our very own chocolate strawberry cake made with chocolate sandwich cookies plus whipped cream and strawberries. Or combine them with custard and fruit to make a pretty, old-fashioned Charlotte russe. With so many options to use up your past-their-date cookies, you might find yourself experimenting with a few of the fresh ones as well.