We’re proud to collaborate with some of the best food people in our cities. We produce our own line of dips + spreads in small batches each day and distribute them across our regions, so it’s only natural for us to support others who are innovating and inspiring cravings of their very own. That’s why, when time allows, we love catching up with our beloved partners and seeing what’s new in their kitchens.
Recently, we sat down with Jenna from Whisked! – our first dessert partner and the force behind the chewy salted dark chocolate chip cookies that delight our DMV-area customers. Together, we talked culinary innovation and our most recent collab: an Oatmeal Dried Cherry Cookie that’s become a staple on our fall and winter menus in Maryland, Virginia, and DC.
Tell us a little bit about the Oatmeal Dried Cherry cookie.
It’s our oatmeal cookie base, with a little bit of cherry syrup to make it soft and chewy. We love oatmeal cookies. We make a bunch of different [oatmeal-based] flavors on our own, so we thought cherries were just a great complement for this one. Dried cherries are tart, so they really complement the sugar and the butter.
What’s your process like when you’re working with Chef D and CAVA’s Culinary Coordinator, Amanda, on recipe development?
We talked about using a base recipe that we had already developed, so then the conversation turned toward different flavors and trends that she had seen in the market. With dessert, you want to strike the line between something that is fun and innovative, but not so unusual that people won’t go for it. So we thought cherry oatmeal was a classic combination that’s familiar enough to people that they will purchase it. It’s a small twist on a classic.
What do you really love about the taste and texture of this particular cookie?
I love dried cherries! They’re sweet and tart, but not quite as sweet as a raisin – and I love our oatmeal base. It has the perfect ratio of butter and sugar and oats. When you take that kind of sweet and pair it with the tart, tart cherries, it’s just a really nice combination.
It’s a totally new flavor combination, and it’s different from our usual oatmeal cookies. It’s a little softer, so it lasts a little longer. We’ve never done anything with cherries, either. So we’re excited to work with fruit.
How does this cookie reflect the seasonality of fall and winter?
I think oatmeal is good year-round. Dried fruit is great in the colder months, since it’s outside of the normal cherry-growing season. It’s warm, it’s homey, it’s familiar. Those are a lot of things that people really see and crave in the fall.
It’s the kind of thing that you would bake at home. People love to bake at home during the holiday season, so I think it just ties into winter.
What sort of flavor pairings do you think go nicely with cherries?
I’m thinking of savory things. Like pork goes well with cherries. I also kind of like them by themselves – which is why we don’t add a lot of spices or other things in that cookie. My favorite way to eat cherries is in cherry pie. That’s all you need. You only need the cherries.
They have a really short season, too, right?
Yeah, cherries are only ripe for two or three weeks.
We went to pick them this summer, and I had only ever really picked blueberries before. It felt like childhood.