Thursday, December 16, 2010

Festive Comestibles: M&M Cookies

The best thing about a big winter holiday with major religious significance as well as secular appeal is the monumental opportunity it offers for making and eating celebratory foods. Hey, this is a food blog. I hope you weren’t hoping for something more profound than that.

Well, okay, so it isn’t all about the cookies, but I do get giddy when it’s time to make them, then I get panicky as I try to decide which cookies to make and worry that I don’t have enough flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and various forms of chocolate, nuts and other wonderful things that make my holiday world go ‘round.

Eventually I calm down and make a batch of chocolate chip cookies decorated with M&M candies. Everybody who likes cookies likes chocolate chip cookies and everyone who likes candy likes M&Ms. And if you make these cookies with festive red and green M&Ms, they instantly become Christmas cookies.

If one wishes to make these cookies pretty as well as delicious, it doesn’t really work to stir the M&Ms into the batter. Instead, I use a trick I learned working in bakeries, I press balls of dough (proto-cookies) into the M&Ms just before I put them on the baking sheet. Since the candy coating of the M&Ms doesn’t really contribute much flavor to cookies, I don’t stir any into the dough at all, but just use chocolate chips. Since I usually bake these with milk chocolate M&Ms I match that flavor with milk chocolate chips, but I suppose you could get some dark chocolate M&Ms and use semisweet or bittersweet chips if you’re aiming to please the 60% cacao and up crowd.

For years, I wasn’t quite satisfied with the look of my M&M cookies, because they just didn’t end up with enough pretty candies on top. The cookies spread in the oven, leaving empty, boring zones on top of each cookie. So, partway through the baking time I open the oven and press a few more M&Ms into each cookie that looks like it needs some gussying up. This is ever so slightly dangerous, what with the hot oven and all, so do not allow your children to help with this step. Please take the time to do it, however, if you have any respect for true cookie beauty. (They’ll taste great no matter what you do.)

Of course, you can use whatever color candy you want and make these for whatever season you want, but cookies are most expected in the red and green season, I suspect. And there are only a few more baking days until the big holiday. Merry cookie, or, um, Merry Christmas!

Milk Chocolate Chip and M&M Cookies
Adapted from various chocolate chip drop cookie recipes.

This dough can be baked immediately after mixing, but I find that a nicer cookie results if the dough is chilled at least a few hours, preferably overnight.

1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 (11.5-12 ounce) package milk chocolate chips
1 (11.6 ounce) package M&M candies (plus more if needed), preferably in seasonal colors

1. Place the butter, granulated sugar and dark brown sugar in a large bowl or in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until pale in color and very creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each is added. Beat in the vanilla extract.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir or whisk together to combine well. Add to the butter mixture a little at a time and mix on low speed until well combined.

3. Add the chocolate chips and either stir them in with a spoon or mix them in slowly with the electric mixer until well distributed through the dough.

4. Cover the dough and chill for at least 2 hours, or wrap very well and freeze for up to a month (I have frozen it longer.)

5. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly spray cookie sheets with cooking spray or line them with parchment paper. Place the M&Ms in a small bowl.

6. Scoop or pull pieces of cookie dough about 1-1 ½ tablespoons in size and shape into rough balls. Press the dough balls into the M&Ms. Gently press the M&Ms into the dough and set the dough balls on the prepared cookie sheet(s), candy side up and at least 2 inches apart.

7. Bake at 375 F. Partway through baking, the cookies will have a chance to spread leaving space for additional M&Ms. Open the oven and gently press additional M&Ms in the top of the cookies. Continue baking for a total of about 10-11 minutes, or until the cookies are browned on the edges and lightly browned on the top.

8. Remove from the oven and cool on the pan on a wire rack for about 2 minutes. Remove the cookies from the pan and cool completely (actually, they’re perfect a little warm) on a wire rack. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for a few days or wrap well and freeze.
Makes 50-60 cookies.

Another recipe like this one: Apricot and Almond Cookies with White Chocolate

One year ago: Gingerbread Granola

1 comment:

  1. This looks sooooooooo delicious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!