The Controversial Liquor You Should Add To Your Chocolate Cookies

Do you know how Santa Claus gives you a lump of coal in your stocking if you're bad? Well, legend has it that if you live in Chicago, he brings you a bottle of Jeppson's Malört instead. (Okay, it's a pretty new legend, since we just made it up, but maybe we can get this rumor to spread if we all try.) Even if you're not on the naughty list, you might find yourself stuck with a bottle of the stuff given as a gag gift. While you could always re-gift it, this won't win you any friends. Sure, you could try mixing Malört into cocktails, but an even better way to disguise the flavor, which some have likened to that of insect repellent, is by baking with it.

One Instagrammer recently posted a recipe for Malört chocolate chip cookies, which was notable not because these were the first such cookies to feature this liqueur (they weren't) but rather because the creator provided some explanation as to why the cookies didn't taste as terrible as you might expect. They admitted deliberately leaning into the liqueur's bitterness — okay, sweet 'n' savory is kind of old, so maybe sweet 'n' bitter could be a thing. In addition to the wormwood taste of the Malört, they also used grapefruit zest in the cookie dough to amp up this bitterness and finished things off with more Malört in the cookies' glaze (although this was offset by a fair amount of vanilla).

Chocolate cookies aren't the only baked goods that might benefit from Malört

The Instagram baker, who posted their video in December of 2023, wasn't the first person to have used Malört in a dessert. It wasn't even the first Malört cookie since Malört biscotti featured at the Chicago Food Film Festival back in 2012. These cookies, it seems, were flavored with candied orange peel, olive oil, and walnuts and only had the slightest of Malört overtones.

Malört cakes, too, seemed to have been in vogue back in the 20-tweens. One such recipe, dating from 2012, uses lemon juice to temper the Malörtiness of the cake and glaze topping. Another recipe posted to Tumblr that same year claims that brown sugar, butter, and egg yolks take away the Malört taste, although this cake, like the Instagram-famous Malört cookies, also featured grapefruit. It would seem that the cake maker's taste buds may be more attuned to bitter than sweet, as may be the case with another food blogger whose Malört cake recipe dates to 2014. As they explained, they replaced the Grand Marnier and orange juice in a pre-existing cake recipe with Malört and grapefruit juice. Hmm, it seems that grapefruit + Malört go together like hipsters and IPAs, at least if you like that sort of thing. If you don't, you could always save the stuff for summer and see if it really will work as bug spray.