Last week the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released national price data, which showed that egg prices were up 7.7% in December, and 10.7% over the past year. The American Institute for Economic Research attributes the price hike to two factors: (1) the avian flu in Mexico, which reduced that country’s domestic supply and increased demand for U.S. eggs, and (2) new regulations in California, the fifth-largest egg-producing state in the U.S., which now requires that hens have enough space to stand up and turn around, thereby increasing costs. Both of these reasons should make the increase in egg prices temporary, but for now, the egg cartons at the grocery store come with higher price tags.
Before you panic about the increasing cost of your omelette, there is hope! Especially if your ingredients include cheese or milk. That’s because the cost of milk is dropping. According to the Associated Press, milk sales set records in 2014 but due to overproduction the prices have fallen and are expected to continue to drop through 2015.
So how does all of this news affect the SensitiveEconomist Cookie Price Index? The price per batch in February 2015 is down 3% overall compared with February 2012. Prices for agave, whole wheat flour, and vanilla extract have decreased; while prices for the chocolate, all purpose flour, butter, local honey, and eggs have all risen.
What’s a SensitiveEconomist to do with all of this information? Make cost-sensitive and refined sugar free cookies, of course! I used Ellie Krieger’s recipe for Triple Chocolate Cookies, with some modifications. I substituted the cane sugars with coconut palm sugar and maple syrup (agave would work fine here too). I avoided using honey because its current price is high relative to the other sweeteners, according to my price index. Since whole wheat flour was less expensive than the all-purpose variety, I used more whole wheat and less all-purpose. And unlike my Chocolate Chip Cookies, on which my price index is based, this recipe only calls for one egg. Enjoy the chocolatey cookies with a glass of milk…while the price of a gallon is still inexpensive!
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup oil (I like grapeseed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips
2/3 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl (or using a stand mixer), mash together the butter and palm sugar/maple syrup with a fork until well combined. Add the oil and egg and beat until creamy. Mix in the vanilla.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips and the (optional) pecans and mix well. Using a tablespoon, scoop the batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.