Category Archives: Candy

Monster Cookies

Monster CookiesIf you’re keeping track, this is my third Monster recipe in 18 months, but I took the long way around, posting two spin-offs of this recipe before posting the real deal. Logic isn’t always my bag. Monster CookiesIf you missed my Monster Blondies and Monster Carmelitas and are wondering why I’m talking about monsters and if this is another Halloween thing, the short answers are

  1. Monster Cookies are peanut butter oatmeal cookies with M&Ms and chocolate chips.
  2. Nobody seems to know exactly where the name came from, but it has something to do with them being loaded with so many good things. A “Monster mash”-up, if you will.
  3. Not traditionally, but the name works. It’s Halloween food if you say it is. Or if you steal your kids’ Halloween candy and use it to make Monster Cookies.Monster CookiesMonster Cookies

When going about trying to make the best Monster Cookies I could muster, I started with my recipes for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and Monster Blondies and went from there. After a few tweaks, like finding the right amount of peanut butter, reducing the oats and adding a chill, I’m happy to report that the results are pretty stellar.Monster CookiesWe’re talking puffy, chewy, peanut buttery cookies that have just the right amounts of oats, M&Ms and chocolate chips. I had every intention of pawning these off on friends and acquaintances, but they’re so delicious that I kept them all for myself. #sorrynotsorryMonster CookiesTo that point, Monster Cookies stay good for a whole week! Day after day, I kept waiting to bite into one and be disappointed, but the batch came and went and nary a sad cookie was eaten.

But, I mean, when cookies are this colorful and delectable, how could they ever be anything but delightful?Monster Cookies

Monster Cookies
makes about 2.5 dozen cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup M&Ms candy
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Combine butter and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30 second increments in the microwave, stirring between, until melted and smooth. Transfer mixture into a large mixing bowl.

Whisk brown sugar into the butter-peanut butter mixture. Add eggs one at a time, whisking to combine, followed by vanilla. Mix in flour mixture. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in oats, followed by M&Ms and chocolate chips. Cover cookie dough with plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Scoop dough in 2 tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Set at least 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 10-11 minutes, rotating pans top-to-bottom and back-to-front at the 6 minute mark.

Let cookies cool on their pans for 7-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat dough rolling and baking until all dough is used.

Cookies will keep very well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.Monster CookiesMonster Cookies

Easy Popcorn Balls

Easy Popcorn BallsIf you’ve been around here a while, you know I loathe Halloween. Biggest Halloween Scrooge there is, right here.

That said, I might do an about-face soon because I finally tried a popcorn ball at the ripe old age of 34 and I loved it. Loved. It. Sweet, airy and studded with candy, it may well make a Halloween-lover out of me! Who knows? It could change the course of my life!

(Feeling dramatic today. Sorry, not sorry.)Easy Popcorn BallsBut seriously, I have no idea why I had never had a popcorn ball before a few weeks ago. Maybe it’s a northern thing? Do Texans just not make popcorn balls? Do I secretly love Halloween? Is my entire life a lie???Easy Popcorn Balls…whatever it is, I am now firmly in support of all things Halloween as they relate specifically to spherical sticky-sweet popcorn. And also candy corn. But nothing else, okay? Okay.Easy Popcorn BallsLots of popcorn ball recipes are molten sugar or caramel-based and require a candy thermometer, but I went in a different, easier direction, using Rice Krispies Treats as a guide. Butter and marshmallows are melted together and flavored with a little salt before 10 cups of plain popcorn are folded in. I like to add mix-ins for flavor/textural diversity, but feel free to leave ‘em out if they’re not your thing. I love (!) the sweet/salty candy corn and pretzel combo I used in this batch, but if those flavors aren’t your bag, don’t fret! I’ve written a list of alternatives in the recipe. You can use pretty much whatever you want, except for un-coated chocolate (it’ll melt).Easy Popcorn BallsEasy Popcorn BallsEasy Popcorn BallsOnce the mixture is to your liking, let it cool for about 5 minutes, just until you can handle it. Then butter your hands and press heaping 1/2 cups of sticky popcorn into balls and set them on a piece of parchment. After that’s done…well, you’re done. Except for the part where you watch the World Series and eat crunchy, just barely gooey, candy corn & pretzel-studded popcorn balls and call it Halloween. Or maybe that’s just me.Easy Popcorn Balls

Easy Popcorn Balls
makes about 14 balls

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 10-ounce bag mini marshmallows (about 6 cups)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
10 cups plain popped popcorn (from about 1/2 cup kernels)
1 cup candy corn
1 cup broken pretzel pieces

Alternative mix-in ideas (use 2 cups total):
M&Ms
Reese’s Pieces
salted peanuts
chopped Twizzlers
broken Oreos
sweet cereal of choice

Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment. Set aside.

Melt butter a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add marshmallows and all and stir until smooth. Carefully fold in popcorn. Remove from heat. Fold in candy corn and pretzels, or other desired mix-ins. Let mixture cool 5 minutes, or until just cool enough to handle but still pliable.

Grease your hands and a 1/2 cup measuring cup. Use the measuring cup to scoop heaping 1/2 cups of the popcorn mixture. Coax it out of the cup by inverting/using your fingers and then use your hands to firmly press the popcorn mixture into a ball. Place the popcorn ball on the prepared pan. Continue, working quickly, until all popcorn mixture is used. Let popcorn balls cool until set.

Popcorn balls are best the day they are made, but may be kept covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you are concerned about them sticking together, you can wrap each in plastic wrap.Easy Popcorn BallsEasy Popcorn Balls

M&Ms Cookies

M&Ms CookiesHere’s a little midweek cheer! I mean, is it possible to be anything but cheerful when there are M&Ms Cookies around? I think not!M&Ms CookiesThese are simply a homemade version of my favorite bakery cookie. They’re super easy to make and oh-so-colorful and the happiest thing to come out of my kitchen in months. I can’t look at them without smiling. I can’t eat one without smiling either!M&Ms CookiesM&Ms CookiesButtery and heavier on granulated sugar than brown, these cookies have crispy edges and puffy, tender centers that melt in your mouth. And that’s to say nothing of the glut of M&Ms scattered throughout! Soft cookie + melty candy-coated chocolate—YUM.M&Ms CookiesM&Ms Cookies hold up extremely well for days. I’m a bit of a diva about leftover cookies, but I was still reaching for these four days post-bake!M&Ms CookiesM&Ms CookiesThe rest of the batch were taken to an event and placed alongside a coffee pot and a box of Oreos. It’ll come as no surprise that these went first. I suppose homemade cookies almost always go first, but I think M&Ms Cookies are especially hard to resist. Their appeal could be chalked up to a lot of things (homemade, filled with candy, etc.) but I’m choosing to believe it’s the cheer.M&Ms Cookies

M&Ms Cookies
makes about 18 medium cookies

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup M&Ms candy

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment, set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until fluffy. Add granulated and light brown sugars, and beat to combine. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing to combine. Is Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in M&Ms.

Scoop dough by in 2 tablespoon increments, roll into balls, and set 3-inches apart on prepared pans.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes, rotating pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back at the 5 minute mark. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, crosshatching, and baking with remaining dough, letting the pans return to room temperature between batches.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.M&Ms CookiesM&Ms CookiesM&Ms Cookies

Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake

Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeBack in November, I made this Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake for a friend’s birthday. I thought it was cute, so I posted a picture of it on my social media with a #comingsoon…and then promptly forgot* about it because Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, my birthday, and so on and so forth.

*For the record, I did post a single-serve version.Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeBut I remembered now. Seven months later than anticipated, but I remembered. I promise you, Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake is worth the wait.Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeWe’re talking about a rich, thick chocolate cookie studded with colorful candy and finished off with a flourish of chocolate buttercream. What’s not to love?!Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeChocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeIt’s easy too—it’s basically just a slightly smaller batch of my Double Chocolate Cookie dough with M&Ms instead of chocolate chips.Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeChocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeBake it up in a cake pan, let it cool, and pipe on a buttercream border. In my opinion, that last step is the thing that takes this recipe from “giant cookie” to “cookie cake.” Not that there’s a thing in the world wrong with a giant cookie, am I right?!Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeSlice it up and share with people you love this weekend or for the Fourth of July (with holiday-appropriate M&Ms!) or pretty much any old time. Or, you know, follow my lead and completely forget about it for seven months and then wonder why you didn’t make it sooner.

(Don’t be like me.)Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake

Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake
makes 1 9-inch round cake

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup M&Ms candy

For decoration:
Chocolate Buttercream (recipe below)
M&Ms candy

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Combine butter, brown sugar, and cocoa powder in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until butter is melted. Mixture will be a bit grainy.

Let mixture cool a few minutes before transferring to a large mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Whisk in flour, baking soda and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in M&Ms candy.

Transfer dough to prepared pan and spread into one even layer. Bake 24-27 minutes, or until the top no longer appears shiny.

Let cookie cake cool completely in the pan on a rack. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan before inverting the cake onto the rack. Revert onto a serving plate. Decorate with Chocolate Buttercream and M&Ms as desired.

Decorated cake will keep at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Chocolate Buttercream
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner’s sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Load into a piping bag fitted with a tip (I used a star tip here), or spread with an offset icing knife.Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeChocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeChocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake

Caramel Pretzel Pie

Caramel Pretzel PieHave you ever seen the movie Waitress? It’s one of my very favorites—it’s about a small town pie waitress who is saddled with the worst sort of husband and a lifestyle of which she doesn’t see a clear way out. Her passion is pie, and throughout the film she thinks in pie recipes with very specific names: Marshmallow Mermaid Pie, Bad Baby Pie, Lonely Chicago Pie…you get the idea. I won’t ruin it further. You can and should stream it on Prime for $4.Caramel Pretzel PieAlternatively, you can come to NYC and see Waitress the musical, which has been running on Broadway for three years and is every bit as good as the film that inspired it! I nabbed tickets when my dear friend, Tad, was here a few weeks ago and I already want to see it again.Caramel Pretzel PieWhen we left the theater and headed for the subway, I knew two things:

  1. I wanted to download the soundtrack immediately.
  2. I needed to make pie.

Caramel Pretzel PieCaramel Pretzel PieDone and DONE. Caramel Pretzel Pie, y’all. It’s sweet, salty, and full of creamy caramel flavor!Caramel Pretzel PieCaramel Pretzel PieCaramel Pretzel PieOne great thing about Caramel Pretzel Pie? It’s almost-no-bake. I had originally intended for this beauty to be oven-free, but the idea of a slightly-toasty pretzel crust won out. I think you’ll agree that the ten minutes of oven time required to set the crust are absolutely worth it.Caramel Pretzel PieCaramel Pretzel PieAnother great thing? This pie is very quick and simple to make, especially if you make your caramel sauce ahead. You could swap in a store-bought caramel sauce if that’s more your speed (I hear Trader Joe’s has a good one), but homemade is super easy to make and is far better than anything I’ve ever found in a grocery store.Caramel Pretzel PieCaramel Pretzel PieThe creamy, cloud-like caramel filling comes together in minutes and has a nice tang from a hit of cream cheese.Caramel Pretzel PieCaramel Pretzel PieCaramel Pretzel PieAfter a few hours chilling in the fridge, the pie is finished off with whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce, and a few broken pretzels.Caramel Pretzel PieIt’s so delicious, it’s ridiculous. I always love a salty-sweet dessert, but the toasty pretzel crust, creamy filling, and the teetering-on-the-brink-of-burnt (-but-in-a-good-way) flavor of the caramel really make this pie something special.Caramel Pretzel PieAll it’s missing is a very specific name. Somehow Feminist Movie/Musical Inspo Pie doesn’t sound quite right 😂 Maybe you can come up with something when you make this for every cookout this summer. Believe me–this one is a guaranteed hit.Caramel Pretzel Pie

Caramel Pretzel Pie
makes one 9-inch pie

Pretzel Crust:
1 1/3 cup finely-crushed salted pretzels (I used 63 thin pretzels)
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

3/4 cup heavy cream, very cold
8 ounces (1 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup caramel sauce (recipe below), room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Topping:
3/4 cup heavy cream, very cold
2-3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
caramel sauce (recipe below)
broken salted pretzels

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together finely-crushed salted pretzels, brown sugar, and melted butter until combined. Transfer mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a pie plate. Bake 10 minutes to set. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Do not overwhip. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar and salt until fluffy. Add caramel sauce and vanilla and mix until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream. Working in 2 installments, carefully fold in remaining whipped cream until combined. Transfer to chilled pie crust. Chill for 3 hours or overnight.

Make topping. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Top pie with whipped cream. Drizzle with caramel sauce and scatter broken pretzel pieces over the top, if desired.

Slice and serve. Leftover pie will keep covered in the refrigerator for a few days. Broken pretzel topping will soften over time.

Caramel Sauce
makes about 1 1/4 cups

1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Place sugar in a 2-3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk sugar until the sugar melts and turns a deep copper color. Whisk in butter until completely incorporated. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in heavy cream. Caramel will bubble violently, but will quickly relax into a smooth sauce. Whisk in vanilla and salt. Transfer sauce to a jar and let cool to room temperature.

Leftover caramel sauce should be kept in the refrigerator. Microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring in between, to reheat.Caramel Pretzel PieCaramel Pretzel PieCaramel Pretzel Pie