BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: GAIA VALDEMARSDOTTIR

Sometimes the internet turns up magic. For example, Internet Cookies. Our friend, Gaia, the brilliant mind behind Internet Cookies set out to create what she wanted; a mail order subscription service that marries her love for cooking with interesting ingredients (think licorice, bananas and tamarind!). Her background as a pastry chef and deep and genuine passion for unusual flavor combinations, reinvented the world of sweets, one package at at time. You've got mail. 

We LOVE your company, Internet Cookies, please tell us how it began?

I’ve worked as a pastry chef and cook in kitchens for many years but about two years ago I decided to take a breather from the long hours. And that gave me space to try out my own thing and do something that I knew that I would personally like. Cookies are a great way to make people try unusual ingredients or combinations.  I’m honored, and super happy, that people want to have sometimes strange cookies shipped to their house.

You source such unusual ingredients and put them together in such interesting combinations. What inspires you? Who do you look to for inspiration, and where?

Lots of things inspire me. From looking through cookbooks, photo books, magazines, nature. Even fashion sometimes. The smell of spring inspires me to try making a cookie with cherry blossoms or a walk in the forest will inspire me to try to incorporate that sort of woodsy smell into a cookie from pine cones or whatever it may be. It can also be a trip to the grocery store, which right now sort of isn’t an option as we’re all trying to limit trips to the grocery store. But in general I get a lot of inspiration from going to the grocery store (and now even more online grocery stores). And not any particular grocery store, all of them. Mom and pop stores, CO-OP, Whole Foods, Hispanic grocery stores, Asian supermarkets etc. My favorite thing though is finding unusual ingredients in specialty stores when I’m traveling and bringing them back home with me to try.

What do you eat that makes you feel your best? 

Lots of greens, seaweed, kraut by Cosmic Culture, sourdough bread, fermented coconut yogurt, eggs, Koda Farms rice, Anson Mills Carolina Gold rice. Cookies + coffee!

What do you always keep in your pantry?

Koda Farms rice, Anson Mills rice and grits, Rancho Gordo beans, dutch cocoa, vanilla beans, good olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, Rustichella/Sfoglini pasta, anchovies, capers, seaweed, pickles, honey, chocolate, black licorice, various food treasures from traveling; spices, candy etc.

What do you always keep in your fridge? 

Cosmic Culture kraut and coconut yogurt, lots of fresh greens, Dark Horse condiments, natural wine, lots of different jams, pickles, kimchi, raw sheeps /goat/cow cheese, oat milk, butter, Lypo-Spheric vitamin c & b complex, Kombucha.

What ingredient, or ingredients, are you super excited about right now?

FERMENTED BANANAS! Because of the genius that is Nicole Rucker. 

Has there been an ingredient that you have wanted to add to a cookie, but it didn’t work?

I recently tried marzipan and Szechuan pepper and it wasn’t bad but it also wasn’t great. That cookie then turned into pistachio marzipan with Laka Matcha. But I’m still not done with the Szechuan. It would work with a double chocolate cookie, I think. 

What was the most memorable meal you’ve eaten lately?

My husband and I went to New Orleans in January and we had lots of amazing meals there. But the most amazing was probably a po’ boy at midnight after a few drinks and walking around the city.  

What does a day in your life look like?

Wake up around 7am, clean my face, brush my teeth, take Moon Juice Superbeauty capsules and Lypo-Spheric B complex and Vitamin C. Afterwards I make coffee for me and my husband. One french press and I make myself espresso with Activist Manuka Honey, cayenne, hot water and steamed oat milk. It’s so delicious and a sort of ritual that I now have. Then we take Annie, our sweet dog, for a walk to the park or somewhere where she can run around and we can explore. There are lots of beautiful places to hike and explore around Santa Fe. I'm extra grateful for that right now.

Depending on the day I’ll either be working, making + shipping cookies or if I have the day off I’ll work on new recipes, go to the Rio Grande for a dip in the river or go explore new parts of the desert that we haven’t been to yet.

If you had to name a favorite food, or five, what would they be?

Oh gosh, this is so hard because I feel like I have a million favorite foods and they change all the time. But this is what I’m craving right now and looking forward to:

Sourdough bread with butter, freshly cut chives and flaky sea salt

Grilled corn on the cob

Concord grape pie

Summer cherries

Pickled okra

Your favorite breakfast? Lunch? Dinner?

Also hard because it changes all the time but right now it’s:

Anson Mills grits or my mother in law's waffles with maple syrup from family in upstate NY

Big salad with miner's lettuce, mixed greens, viola flowers, avocado, cucumbers, Dark Horse pickled mustard seeds, olive oil, salt and pepper

Sourdough baguette with Beurre de Baratte, heirloom tomatoes, chives, sea salt and pepper

Afternoon iced americano + cookie and Honey Mama’s chocolate

Thinly sliced roasted beets, olive oil, salt+pepper

Seaweed wrap with rice, Cosmic Culture kraut, avocado, Laka Kake seasoning

And right now I’d really really love a tofu bahn mi!

BUCKWHEAT DOUBLE CHOCOLATE + FENNEL WITH LICORICE 
(GLUTEN FREE!)
 
Ingredients:
3/4 cup + 2 T buckwheat flour 
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
2 T corn starch 
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (you can omit this but your cookie will crumble a lot easier)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda 
2 T freshly ground fennel seeds 
1/2 tsp salt 
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature 
3/4 cup light brown sugar 
1/2 cup cane sugar 
Zest from one lemon 
1 egg
1 T vanilla extract
1 cup dark/semi sweet chocolate, I use TCHO

Licorice salt (you can also use regular salt) 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter, sugar and lemon zest. Continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile whisk together the dry ingredients.
 

Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until it just comes together. Then add the mixed dry ingredients and beat until it just comes together. You might want to cover the mixer with a towel at this point because the cocoa tends to want to escape out of the bowl. 

Add the chocolate and beat one last time. If you use TCHO chocolate discs then you can either chop them in half before you add them to the batter or break them up inside the batter with the machine mixing on high for a few seconds, on and off, this will break most of the discs and leave some whole. 

With a cookie or ice cream scoop, scoop out approximately 11-12 cookies. Top each cookie with a TCHO disc (again, if you’re using TCHO) and bake for 9-10 minutes. Sprinkle with licorice salt (or regular salt).

They won’t look ready but they’ll continue cooking on the cookie sheet as they rest. Let them rest for up to half a day before transferring them to a plate. You can also speed up this process by cooling them in the freezer after they’ve rested for 30 minutes. Because IT’S VERY HARD TO NOT EAT A COOKIE STRAIGHT OUT OF THE OVEN. But these are really best if you just let them sit for a bit.  

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