Soft and Chewy M&M Cookies

IMG_1370I once read an article that smell is the most powerful sense when it comes to triggering memories. While this surprised me initially, as I thought about it it seemed to be somewhat true. Even though sights and sounds appear to dominate our everyday experiences, smell sure does have a strong connection to memories. I’m sure I’m not the only one who breathes in the scent of fresh pumpkin and is taken back to early days of trick-or-treating, or who takes a whiff of salty, seaweed-y ocean air and remembers long summer afternoons spent at the beach.

Taking it one step further, specific foods always bring to mind certain places for me. Cinnamon rolls, for instance, always remind me of the bakery around the corner from my grandparents’ house. Rainier cherries take me back to the tiny general store near one of the campgrounds I frequented as a child, and tomato-cheddar bagels will always be reminiscent of Bagelopolis, a long-gone favorite breakfast joint. M&M cookies go hand-in-hand with Subway in my tangled repertoire of memories.IMG_1368

Whenever I went to Subway as a child I always ordered the exact same sandwich: Italian bread with yellow mustard and extra American cheese. No meat, no veggies. Just mustard and extra cheese, emphasis on the extra. Two tiny triangles of that delicious plastic-y white stuff just wouldn’t cut it. I used to get so frustrated at answering the same questions over and over: “I’m sorry, what kind of meat?” “No meat?” “Are you sure?” “No veggies at all?” “That’s it?” No meat. That is correct. Yes, I’m sure. No, no veggies. YES, that’s IT. Since eating at Subway was a special occasion anyway, my parents just went along with it, standing patiently as their children’s sandwiches of choice were wrapped up: mustard and (extra) cheese for their little girl and tuna (no cheese, no veggies, no sauce, JUST TUNA) for their little boy.

I always chose Ruffles cheddar & sour cream chips to go with my sandwich, and if my brother and I were lucky we each got to pick out a giant cookie from the tempting glass case next to the cash register. For years, my cookie of choice was always M&M. Who could resist those bright dots of color? Certainly not me! Those soft, chewy, M&M-studded cookies were always the perfect ending to my special lunch (or, if my parents weren’t paying attention, the perfect beginning!) muahaha.IMG_1365

I haven’t had a cookie from Subway in years (nowadays I’m one of those boring whole wheat-turkey-every-veggie-you’ve-got-hold-the-cheese people), but making these homemade M&M cookies brought me back to Subway visits long ago, back when I still got a toy thrown into the bag and extra cheese on my white bread with mustard. If I do say so myself, these cookies are even better than the Subway version. They’re much less dry, and stay amazingly soft for several days due to the pudding mix hidden in the batter. They also have the same great chewy texture as their Subway counterparts, especially around the edges. And of course, they’re packed full of M&Ms–the best part!

These fun (and delicious!) M&M cookies will make you feel like a little kid again, whether you’ve gotten them from Subway or not. (I’ve been told that M&M cookies can, in fact, be found in other places ;).) Enjoy!

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Soft and Chewy M&M Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3.4 oz package instant vanilla pudding mix

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups M&Ms (about 1 medium-sized bag)

Directions:

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in the vanilla.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in 1 & 1/2 cups of M&Ms, reserving the last 1/2 cup. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes to prevent spreading.

When ready to bake, remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Scoop the cookie dough into balls (mine were about 1.5 tablespoons each) and place onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies, or until the edges are slightly golden and the tops are set. Keeping them on the under-done side will ensure soft and chewy cookies.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

(Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

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TWO Amazing Cookie Recipes for the Holidays

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Because Christmas is right around the corner, and because I’ve been doing a ton of baking lately, and because I just feel like spreading a little extra Christmas cheer, today I’m posting TWO delicious cookie recipes that would be perfect for Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, whatever. Delicious Cookie #1, Soft Gingersnaps with White Chocolate Chunks, is basically a soft, moist, slightly chewy, perfectly spiced gingersnap spruced up with white chocolate chunks. The flavor combination of gingerbread-esque spices, molasses, and white chocolate is out of this world! Delicious Cookie #2, White Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies, is definitely a must-have for any chocolate-peppermint lover. I just discovered White Chocolate Peppermint M&Ms this year, and they’re amazing just by themselves! They’re even better when baked onto chewy, rich, chocolate-peppermint cookies.

To save this post from being ridiculously long, what with the two recipes and all, I’ll shut my mouth pry my fingers off of the keyboard and get right to the point. So here come the recipes…happy holiday baking! 🙂

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Soft Gingersnaps with White Chocolate Chunks

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup molasses

2 Tbs vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground ginger

2 large eggs

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

8 oz. white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Additional white sugar, for rolling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add in the molasses, vegetable oil, vanilla, baking soda, salt, and spices; mix until well-incorporated. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth.

Slowly add in the flour, mixing just until combined. Stir in the white chocolate chunks. Scoop dough by rounded tablespoons, roll in granulated sugar, and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 9-12 minutes or until cookies are set but still soft.

Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

(Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

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White Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies

Yield: 2-3 dozen cookies

14 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp.

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp peppermint extract

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 bag White Chocolate Peppermint M&Ms

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using an electric mixer (or a whisk and some elbow grease!) mix together the butter, sugars, cocoa, salt, vanilla, and peppermint extract until smooth. Add in the egg, followed by the egg yolk, beating after each addition. Gradually stir in the flour and baking soda, mixing just until combined.

Scoop dough by rounded tablespoons and drop onto lined or lightly greased cookie sheets. Press 4 or 5 M&Ms onto each cookie (you may have to flatten them slightly). Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are set. Let cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

(Recipe adapted from Number 2 Pencil)

Caramel Pretzel Turtles

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I’ve always wondered why in the world of baking, “turtles” referred to a combination of caramel and pecans. I’ve heard of turtle ice cream, turtle sundaes, and turtle brownies and could never understand what caramel and pecans could possibly have to do with turtles. Until I made these Caramel Pretzel Turtles and had a revelation. When pecans are whole, they look a lot like a little turtle shell. Mystery solved! I could be wrong about this, but let’s just say I’m right because it makes such perfect sense. I love it when things actually make sense, unlike the facts that:

A fat chance and a slim chance are the same thing

Feet smell and noses run

We play at recitals and recite at plays

Quite a few and quite a lot mean the same thing

We fill out forms by filling them in

We drive in parkways and park in driveways

The word lisp has an “s” in it

It’s nice to know that these Caramel Pretzel Turtles actually have a legitimately logical name. And I can guarantee that when you pop one of these salty, caramel-y, chocolatey, nutty little turtles into your mouth, everything will feel right in the world. These are dangerously delicious turtles, my friend.

Caramel Pretzel Turtles

Yield: 24 candies

2 dozen pretzels (I like to use the square kind)

2 dozen Rolos

2 dozen shelled pecans or M&Ms

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or baking mats. Place pretzels onto cookie sheets and top with Rolos. Bake for 3-4 minutes, or until chocolate is shiny but still maintaining its shape.

Immediately press a pecan or M&M onto each pretzel. Allow them to cool for at least 30 minutes, or until chocolate is set.