I have another better recipe to write up, a lengthy to-do list, ideas to jot down and research, and yet it was just one of those kinds of days. It was right about when my son threw his second attempt at lunch everywhere and then smushed his third attempt at lunch through his chubby fingers while climbing up a set of stairs he knows he’s not supposed to go near that I decided to put everything on hold and make these cookies.
We all have our guilty pleasures in the kitchen – those things you secretly crave but won’t admit to anyone, not even your partner. It’s the first thing we want to get our hands on when we’re feeling out of sorts and the thing that gives us more pleasure than most anything else, no matter how healthy, fresh, or gourmet. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t pretend.
For me it’s potato chips and M&M cookies. You know those big, perfectly round chewy cookies you get in plastic tubs from the grocery store on laid out in rows at the end of a lunch buffet. For my mom it was always marshmallows. You had to literally hide them or she’d wake up in the middle of the night and sneak downstairs and eat every last one. She’ll probably kill me for divulging her secret. Anyway, no great taste revelations here. Just an attempt to make my day go a little smoother or at least feel a little better and to share the results with you so you can indulge in your own kitchen secrets.
I did try a new technique though. Truth be told, no matter how many times I’ve backed cookies I still struggle with reliably producing delicious chocolate chip cookies that have the correct chewy to crispy ratio and are burnished a lovely golden summer sunset hue. Do I aim too high? Probably but I’ve been accused of being a perfectionist before. I’ve come across this approach before and since Macrina Bakery in Seattle has some of my favorite cookies, I thought it was worth a shot.
Classic M & M Cookies
This recipe from the Macrina Bakery Cookbook (with some small changes on my part) bakes up substantial cookies of the kind you would only eat one of at a potluck but wish you could eat more if no one was looking. Note the batter, while pretty standard, rests in the fridge overnight.
Quantity: 16 – 20 two inch cookies, 30 smaller cookies
Time to Prepare: 45 minutes (plus an overnight rest in the fridge)
2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups of regular M&M’s (roughly 1½ full size bags)
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Add chocolate chips and mix well with a spoon. Set aside.
Cream the butter and both sugars in a stand mixer on medium speed for 3 – 5 minutes until smooth and lighter in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add 1 egg until incorporated and then scrape down the bowl again. Then add the remaining egg and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a spatula, fold half the dry ingredients you set aside into the dough. Make sure to sweep up dough from the bottom of the bowl to fully incorporate the flour. Once incorporated, do the same with the second half of the dry ingredients. Finally scrape down the sides and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Chill over night in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats (non-stick baking sheets). Scoop the dough out of the bowl with an ice cream scoop and roll into roughly two-inch size balls. Place 8 cookies on each baking sheet, staggering the cookies and leaving three-inches between them. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand to about one-inch thick.
Bake cookies for 15 – 18 minutes. Rotate sheets half way through to ensure more even baking and golden color. Cookies are finished when they are golden brown around the edges and still light in the center. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a rack in order to ensure the cookies don’t continue to bake. Store in an airtight container. And try not to eat all in one sitting.
- The original recipe calls for replacing ½ a cup of the butter with ½ a cup of shortening. I decided against this as I didn’t have any on hand and prefer butter. It may lead to softer cookies however and more of that “grocery store” appearance and taste. I like the nice golden hue that comes from butter though.
- For regular chocolate chip cookies substitute M & Ms with 3 cups bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.
- If your cookies have less visible M & M’s either add more to the dough or keep some out and press into the cookies once you’ve flattened them but before baking.
- If you want a great, detailed overview of why, among other things, an overnight rest aids in the cookies’ flavor, see this Food Lab post at Serious Eats.
- Scraping down the bowl between addition of ingredients helps you achieve the maximum amount of mixing your dough to make sure all the things you add are fully incorporated evenly throughout the dough. This will improve the consistency and outcome of your cookies.
- If you don’t have a stand mixer, a handheld mixer is fine. If you don’t have either, better hope you have strong biceps. You can mix all the ingredients by hand using a wooden spoon. Make sure your butter is room temperature and if it’s not incorporating you can always use your hands to mix it in. Also break out a fork and use the tines to continue mixing the butter and sugar until fully combined with no streaks left showing. All that being said, creaming is an often overlooked step that helps build pockets of air in the dough to improve the texture of the dough once it’s baked.