Tierney Larson is on a mission to bake the perfect cookies for those like herself with a not-so-sweet tooth, the Outliers Baked Goods owner shared.
Each month, the self-taught baker and New York native experiments, developing four new adventurous flavors to please the taste buds of the outliers or weirdoughs of the dessert community — those who crave both sweet and salty.
“They’re still cookies,” she explained. “They’re not savory. I love when someone comes up and says they don’t like cookies because I’m like, ‘Try these; they’re for people like you.’ It’s my challenge. I want you to be able to finish the whole cookie without being like, ‘Oh this is so sweet; I can’t even eat it.’ I like to make sure that they’re balanced and that they reflect the flavors that are actually in the cookie.”
Larson — who started the business a year ago — sells her cookies on her website and at the Overland Park Farmers’ Market and Brookside Winter Market. For March, the flavors she’s offering include boujee matcha charms with white chocolate chips and vanilla caramel, Irish cream marshmallow rocky road, espresso orange rugelach, and caraway shortbread.
“I basically came up with four base doughs that I use,” she noted. “One of them is always a marshmallow sandwich cookie. One is always a sugar-type cookie with caramel, then a shortbread, and some sort of jam cookie. Then I just play around with the flavors and the flour I use or the fat or the mix-ins. I try to make it as different as possible.”
Click here to see previous flavors.
She also features three staple cookies available year-round: her signature Shannon cookie, (named after her sister), a toasted brown rice cookie with brown sugar mochi, yuzu soy caramel, and puffed rice that’s been toasted in milk powder; banana pudding graham cookie with homemade marshmallow; and her Bayville cookie — in honor of her hometown in New York — a root beer rye cookie with pretzel, from-scratch vanilla caramel, mini white chocolate chips, and topped with flakey sea salt.
“Those are the ones that I spent the most time developing,” she added.
Not bitter, just balanced
One flavor Larson developed that surprised even her: pomegranate shortbread with bitter melon dust. She got the idea from a book called “The Flavor Bible.”
“I saw bitter melon — which is at the Overland Park Farmers’ Market and I love cooking with that — and I saw that it matches the pomegranate,” she explained.
Click here to read more about the award-winning Overland Park market.
So she bought a bitter melon from the farmers market, chopped it up, dehydrated it, and ground it into a powder. She then tried it with some pomegranate juice.
“It was crazy,” she continued. “The bitter and sweet came to a balance and created this new flavor. So I was super excited by that and I’m definitely going to do that one again this year at the market.”
Through her website, she also offers a Weirdough Club subscription box — which can be ordered one time or monthly — that includes three of each of the four flavors of the month. The name harkens back to the Weirdo Club — which you can find a photo of on her site — of she was president in intermediate school.
“It’s funny that the catchphrase (of Outliers) is also ‘Find the weirdough in you’ because I was like, ‘That’s perfect’ (when my husband suggested it),” she noted. “My life has come full circle.”
Although Larson has no formal training, she said she grew up helping out at her grandparents’ Italian restaurant and bakery in Queens.
“My sister and I would just bake and cook all the time together,” she continued. “I was obsessed with Food Network when I was growing up and would try all the recipes. I would try to recreate my Nona’s — who owned the restaurant — popovers.”
Larson — who moved to the Kansas City area about three years ago with her Illinois native and jazz musician husband — was inspired to start her own baking business after taking an online class by Christian Tosi, the chef and owner of Milk Bar. She wanted to blend her Italian bakery background with the adventurous flavors she learned how to develop in the class.
“I grew up eating Italian cookies and going to the Italian bakeries on Long Island,” she shared. “They’re all just very balanced. They’re not too sweet. Like the little rainbow cookies, they’re never really too sweet. That’s kind of what I was going for.”