I've been more than a little fascinated with the notion of insects being the protein of our future ever since I tried a pizza topped with ants a few years ago. So when I learned of the limited run cookie collaboration between Human Improvement, a company making protein powder using crickets, and the healthfully indulgent L.A. bakery Bougie Bakes I had to check out these cricket cookies.
So, why the fuss about bugs? It’s not just for shock value — crickets are one of the most sustainable and nutritious sources of protein in the world. Compared to plant proteins, crickets are more nutritious and contain all 9 essential amino acids along with vitamin B-12 which isn’t found in plant proteins. Plant and whey proteins don’t contain the probiotics found in the insects, and overall, harvesting crickets uses less water and land than raising other animals or their meat or whey proteins. Practically flavorless on its own, Human Improvement (also called Hi! Protein) sells their chocolate and vanilla flavored products as traditional protein powder, but it can also be used as a substitute for flour in baking — hence the cookies.
A husband-and-wife team founded Bougie Bakes because they wanted to snack more healthfully and were disappointed that so many “healthy alternatives” simply aren’t, so they worked with a nutritionist to create their own line of delicious baked goods. Their entire line is free of all the stuff folks are concerned with today: gluten, dairy, sugar; they’re also keto-friendly, non-GMO and their packaging is completely sustainable and they offset 100% of their carbon emissions generated from shipping by using an algorithm that calculates the emissions of each specific order. The “bougie” part of their names comes from the fact that not only are their goods upscale, but they source the very best ingredients – including Human Improvement's cricket protein powder they incorporated into two cookie flavors for a limited run.
The cookie ingredient list is shockingly clean and pronounceable, save for the erythritol, a scary-looking scientific word that’s basically a naturally occurring fructose-free sweetener found in fruits that has no glycemic impact. They prefer the taste over monk fruit and stevia and it keeps with their mission to avoid sugar.
So, what does a cricket cookie taste like? I had two flavors to choose from — Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Almond — so I went with the decadent sounding and more-to-my- liking PB&C. This little snacky nugget comes in the cutest little dome shape, about two bites in size. Now, when I imagine the word “cookie” I have a very one-snack mind; I’m thinking an ooey-gooey sweet chocolate chippy kind of thing. Upon taking my first bite I thought, “Oh yeah, this is a healthy cookie” and had to reset my brain. It’s not sweet, it’s not crunchy and the peanut butter and chocolate flavors are subtle. I took another bite and I suddenly completely reimagined my world surrounding this cookie. I envisioned myself with two of these on a napkin next to a great cup of coffee as I sit at my desk...say around 4pm. I dunk one in my java, take a bite, and my world is in harmony. A tasty snack that satisfies that late afternoon lull; yet won’t send me into any sort of a sugar tizzy followed by the inevitable, smack-in-the-head crash!
I like these cookies.
I opened up the strawberry almond, a flavor combo that sounds fine to me, but doesn’t put a twinkle in my eye the way the word “chocolate” does. One small bite and — BOOM! — that was delicious! The freeze-dried strawberry powder delivers a tart punch and the subtle almond flavor supports the zing; I was reminded that real ingredients make for real flavor, it just takes a little resetting from the less-than-natural mass-market stuff.
Though the Human Improvement powder cookies are no longer available from Bougie Bakes, you can still check out the bakery’s other clean offerings here. And currently, Human Improvement is working with Neighborhood Goods, a local marketplace in Austin, Plano, TX and NYC's Chelsea Market to bring the cricket cookies to their in-house restaurant.
Prim and Proper Pastry Hi! Protein Sugar Cookies
Recipe courtesy of Prim and Proper
- 1 cup butter (softened)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 bags Hi! Vanilla Protein Powder
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Combine softened butter and sugar into mixing bowl, until fully incorporated, then add egg and vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, and Hi! protein powder).
- Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until fully incorporated.
- Portion the dough into 2 oz balls, then roll each out into a circle the size of a deli container lid.
- Place portioned dough onto a greased baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool
- When cookies are cooled, top with frosting and sprinkles of your choice.