It snowed last night. I know that everyone else has been wearing their wellies and spring coats for weeks now, but we’re still kicking through dry piles of silvery fluff and I’m still making cookies, and more bean soup (I’ll spare you) and brown, hulky casseroles with brittle crunch tops.
Yesterday, home for yet another inside day with my three-year old, I dragged out the “cake decorating” bin, the plastic tub into which I throw all the candy crap that he brings home from daycare—and there is a lot of it, an armful from Valentine’s Day alone. He never eats it. The little guy seems to have inherited my disinclination towards sweets. The other day we were in the grocery store and walked past the lady handing out sample cubes of white sheet cake and I said, “Do you want some cake, buddy?” and he said, “No thanks, I want real food.” This is not where I’m going to tell you that he cheers for his kale porridge. Hardly. The kid is on a steady diet of mac and cheese and diluted apple juice nectar. But in any case he’s more sour tooth than sweet tooth.
Warm just-baked cookies are a bit of an exception for him, as they are for me.
I whipped together the batter, and then we went to town. Monster cookies are the battle royale of cookies: peanut butter, nuts, chips, m and m’s, sprinkles, leftover candy trinkets … I let him throw all the candy he wanted into the batter—except the gum drops, which I tried to convince him would be weird—and gave him the wooden spoon. As heavy as mixed rockcrete, the batter resisted his efforts at stirring. He mostly smacked at it.
Truthfully, monster cookies don’t usually tempt me. They’re so … pop. Day-glo. Chock-a-block. Becky Hom-ecky. They just never seemed to have a perfect form to aspire to, like the ideal chocolate chip cookie, puffy peaks and soft, chewy interiors, or the stellar oatmeal raisin cookie, the health shelf made decadent.
But the monster cookie base batter is truly delicious: throwing a cup of peanut butter into a normal chocolate chip cookie dough is a stroke of shining genius. It gives the dough flavor. And these, a variation on my chocolate chip cookie recipe, are as decadent as that comforting old friend, but glitzier. Cookies with benefits.
Sometimes, especially when one is dead-sick of winter and leaning hard into spring, more is more. As kids know, there is great pleasure in wanton candy usage. Restraint is for wussies, anyway.
Makes 3 dozen big cookies
3 ½ sticks butter, room temperature
2 cups white sugar
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1 cup peanut butter
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 2/3 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups instant oats
1 16 ounce bag chocolate chips, preferably Nestle’s chocolatier
4 regular-sized bags M & M candies
1 cup mixed nuts, roughly chopped
3 Tablespoons sprinkles, optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until soft. Add the sugars and beat until well-incorporated and slightly fluffier, about 3 minutes. Add the coffee and peanut butter and mix until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated before adding the next. Measure the flour, baking soda and salt into a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the flour in three additions, beating slowly. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, M & M’s, nuts and sprinkles (and any other candy you like) by hand. For best results, chill the dough thoroughly before baking, though they can certainly be made right away. Drop about 2 tablespoons onto a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown on top. For a chewy texture, don’t over bake.