When I woke up this morning, never would I have anticipated that, by midday, I’d be mixing a feta-chocolate cookie dough. But life has a way of giving you exactly what you never asked for.
The recipe came from Carolina Gelen, the food creator behind some of my favorite recipes, like beans alla vodka and orange-cardamom olive oil cake. I first followed Carolina back in 2020, when she still lived in Romania (she’s since moved to the US) and had maybe six recipes on her blog. Even as she has amassed a million followers on Instagram, I love that she’s remained her same slightly unhinged self. She embeds where’s-Waldo-style photos of her face in her Instagram Stories, and recently included a take of herself biting into a whole cinnamon stick in a Reel. And every now and again, she’ll pop onto my feed with a wild card. Like yesterday, when she posted a recipe for chocolate feta cookies.
Now I love a sweet-salty moment, but like most people chirping in the comments section, I was hesitant. The concept of cheese in dessert is not novel: Creamy mascarpone stars in classic tiramisu, and plenty of Italian cooks turn ricotta into doughnut-like fritters. Goat cheese adds extra tang to cheesecake and apple pie is better with a cheddar crust. But feta in dessert? “Straight to jail,” one commenter wrote. Another asked, “What’s next??? Chorizo cookies?” I most sympathized with one commenter who wrote, “You might be insane, but I’m down for the journey.”
I had to try it for myself, so I set all my other work aside and got baking. The chocolate cookie dough is fairly straightforward: Following Carolina’s instructions, I browned butter until my kitchen smelled like a candied nut kiosk, then poured it into a bowl with chopped chocolate and cocoa powder. I added brown sugar and white sugar, which melted in the chocolaty pool. Carolina says to add a dollop of full-fat yogurt or sour cream—I didn’t have either, so I thinned out some Greek yogurt with buttermilk and rolled on.
The recipe calls for a splash of vinegar, so I spent a few minutes contemplating which type would best pair with the feta. I went for apple cider vinegar (fall cheese board vibes?) and, at this point, I felt pretty confident: The brownie batter-esque mixture firmed up into a malleable dough. My morning caffeine had kicked in. The energy was high. Then I unwrapped the feta.
I don’t know what I expected, but as soon as its briny scent hit my nostrils, I began to question all of the decisions that led me to this point. I mean, there is a full block of cheese in this cookie dough. I crumbled it into small chunks, debating how much cheese I’d want in one bite. With some misgivings, I folded the feta into the cookie dough, covered the bowl with plastic wrap, popped it in the fridge, and resolved not to think of it again for at least two hours.