Baked Sunday Mornings: Sizing up a Monster Cookie

Many memories were stirred up as I mixed and baked a batch of Monster Cookies for the Baked Sunday Mornings online baking group this week. The recipe (you’ll find it here: http://bakedsundaymornings.com/2018/08/31/in-the-oven-monster-cookies/), from “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking,” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito (2008), is an old-fashioned drop cookie, described as “One part oatmeal cookie, one part peanut butter cookie, one part chocolate chip cookie…”

But where does the “monster” come from? Perhaps it comes from size…the hugeness of the ingredients (more than 5 cups of oatmeal); the volume of the batch of dough that creates quite a gigantic pile of cookies; the signature oats and colorful M&Ms that celebrate all those predecessor monster cookie recipes that have been around for decades (some including a range of kitchen sink ingredients like fruits, nuts, etc.); the size of the cookies themselves — in this version made using a two-tablespoon yielding scoop. Or the big memories rendered from the baking experience? Of all the senses employed in baking, maybe memory is the most monster-sized.

For me, I remembered the first cookies my mom ever made — M&M cookies she baked for Tupperware parties (yes, this was a while ago) that filled the house with the smell of butter, brown sugar and vanilla and stirred a candy-enamored little girl’s imagination that color-coated chocolate could be part of a cookie. I was also reminded of the first cookies I ever made — chocolate chip — that, by my late teens I had become so proficient and prolific at that I was cranking them out by the hundreds for family, friends and even local club chapter meetings.

Most significantly, making these Monster Cookies made me think of Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster, the first TV monster I loved (of course!) and loved mainly because he was so wildly crazy for cookies, as was I. When I was six, I had a furry blue Cookie Monster hand puppet that came with his own cardboard cookies he could gobble down, which I demonstrated to my tolerant (and captive) schoolmates on the bus.

These Monster Cookies could not be simpler, beginning with mixing the dry ingredients (a very small amount of flour along with baking soda, salt and that mongo amoutn of oatmeal), and the creaming of cold cubes of butter.

The butter is combined with white and brown sugar, then vanilla and a very small amount of corn syrup and a succession of eggs, beaten in one at a time after a scraping down the bowl a number of times to ensure all is mixed.

A significant amount (2 cups) of peanut butter (the exquisite smell of a freshly opened jar of peanut butter also blasts me back to the best of childhood) is blended in with the creamed butter, sugar and eggs to make a smooth, rich batter.

The mixer strains to stir in the last of the dry ingredients, then chocolate chips and M&Ms are folded in by hand. The dough is still somewhat soft at this stage, so it makes sense to chill it — I did mine overnight.

The dough chilled up to a nice, stiff scooping consistency. My two large cookie sheets stayed busy for a little while — the recipe says it makes 36 cookies using the two-tablespoon scoop. I ended up more than 60 cookies (no complaints here…the more the merrier). The baking filled the house with all the familiar aromas I remember loving, predominantly that peanut butter.

The finished cookies are slightly crisp on the outside, but softly chewy, peanut-buttery salty and not too sweet. And bright with those cheerful, colorful M&Ms peeking through, some in my favorite Cookie Monster-blue.

In a playful homage to my favorite cookie-ogling Muppet, I affixed candy “googly” eyes to some of the cookies using dabs of peanut butter (frosting would work, too).

Blogger’s Note: For this Monster Cookie recipe, go to Baked Sunday Mornings http://bakedsundaymornings.com/2018/08/31/in-the-oven-monster-cookies/. I used dark brown sugar in my version. Large candy eyes for decorating (which should be attached after baking) are available at cake decorating and craft stores and online.

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