Our Cookie Recipe is on Every Bag of Gelson’s Flour

The shortcake recipe on the back of the Biscuick box, the pumpkin pie on the back of the Libby’s can, the Parm chicken on the back of the Hellman’s tub — have you ever wondered where those iconic recipes come from? Chances are they come from a test kitchen just like the one at Ingredient.

In fact, much to our pride and delight, our client Gelson’s Markets recently chose our Best Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe to be printed on every bag of Gelson’s organic all-purpose flour. Elsa Goldman, our culinary lead, developed the recipe. “It’s really flattering,” she says, “that the Gelson’s team not only loved the cookie, but chose it to highlight the quality of their flour. Our ‘best chocolate chip cookie’ is even better with Gelson’s flour.”

There are a couple of common misconceptions about private label products, e.g., that grocery stores are just pasting their labels on existing products or that private label products are lower in quality and, therefore, less expensive. Gelson’s private label products tell a much different story.

Gelson’s has been producing private label products for more than 20 years, everything from a beloved guacamole made with an in-house recipe to a collection of outstanding wines produced by some of California’s award-winning winemakers. How do they decide what products to put their label on? “We have three qualifications that every project has to meet,” says Rich Gillmore, Gelson’s senior director of center store category management. “It has to be premium quality, which means it’s comparable to or better than the leading brand. It has to be distinctive, so there’s a way for us to make it stand out at the shelf, and it has to be made with a limited ingredient deck — because, in general, the shorter the ingredient list, the better.”

Considering that flour only has one ingredient, it’s a deceptively complex product. “Our product coordinator actually had to educate me,” Rich says, “because I thought, ‘A flour is a flour — and you’re right, it really is just wheat, so it seemed like it was going to be challenging to distinguish ourselves from the premium brands, like King Arthur. In the end, it really came down to the protein level, which matters a lot to bakers.”

Gelson’s organic all-purpose flour is between 10 and 12% protein, which makes it a great flour for baking breads — protein makes the dough more elastic and cohesive and gives the bread an open crumb and chewy texture. “We wanted our flour to be versatile,” adds Rich, “so it’s also finely sifted, and you can use it to make cookies, cakes, and delicate pastries. Plus, it’s the only organic flour we carry that comes in a full 5-pound bag.”

When it came time to choose a recipe for the back of the bag, Rich says they tested a few different recipes. “The chocolate chip cookies were everybody’s favorite. People here just love them, and we know they’ll have a broad customer appeal. We have a joke around here that it doesn’t matter how many brands of cookies you have, the only one that matters is the one that’s chocolate chip.”

So what makes our chocolate chip cookie The Best? There are a few things. “The first is that we use more brown sugar than white,” Elsa says. “That makes the cookie more flavorful, and there’s some fun chemistry that happens when brown sugar meets baking soda — the cookies spread more, so they come out of the oven with an amazing texture, super moist and chewy.”

“The higher protein content in Gelson’s flour also makes the cookies more chewy,” she adds, “and it helps maintain structure, which allows the cookie to be very soft and gooey yet cohesive — it won’t crumble on you.”

In the test kitchen, Elsa is a huge proponent for buying “the good chocolate,” and for this recipe she went with Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate. It’s got some seriously deep, dark chocolaty flavor, and she likes the way it melts and pools in the baking cookies. And, last but not least, she puts a full teaspoon of kosher salt in the mix.

“That sounds like a lot of salt, but don’t reduce it,” she advises. “The salt complements those melty puddles of chocolate, and it really brings out the cookie’s rich, caramelly notes. It’s definitely the thing that keeps people coming back for more.”

Looking for a crowd-pleasing recipe to put on the back of your packages? Give us a shout at hello@ingredient.mn, and our culinary experts will GET ON IT!