Monster Blondies

Monster BlondiesRemember that huge, ridiculous M&Ms Surprise Cake I posted last week? It’s long gone.Monster Blondies You know what’s still taking up space in my kitchen? This comically large container of M&Ms. It’s made it through two of those cakes, a batch of cookies and lots of late night snacks, and it’s still kickin’.Monster Blondies Also taking up space in my kitchen? Three different jars of peanut butter. THREE. And they’re all different brands. Just…what? I really need an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all my baking supplies so I’m not compelled to pick up peanut butter every time I see it on sale.Monster Blondies So, what does one do with all that peanut butter and that huge container of M&Ms? Add some oats and make Monster Blondies, of course!Monster Blondies What makes these blondies so…monstrous? Well, they’re a riff on Monster Cookies, a sort of “everything but the kitchen sink” cookie that, at its most basic, contains peanut butter, oats, M&Ms and chocolate chips.Monster BlondiesMonster BlondiesMonster BlondiesMonster BlondiesMonster BlondiesThe original cookies are terrific, but skipping the cookie dough and tossing all those ingredients into blondie batter is absolutely the way to go! The resulting blondies have all the flavors and textures from their namesake recipe, but with an extra thick and chewy peanut butter base.Monster BlondiesMonster BlondiesMonster BlondiesNot only that, but blondies are way easier to make than cookies—this recipe comes together with just one bowl and a silicone spatula! And, of course, they don’t require baking in batches. Monster Blondies are ready to come out of the oven just 40 minutes after you start making the batter!Monster BlondiesOnce the blondies have cooled slice them up and dig in! You’ll love the soft & chewy blondie base, the slight saltiness from the peanut butter, the texture from the oats and crackly candy coating, and tons of chocolate. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the very best kind of mid-week pick-me-up ❤ Monster BlondiesMonster Blondies
makes 16 blondies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup creamy-style peanut butter (not natural-style)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup M&Ms candy

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving some overhang on two sides. Grease with butter. Set aside.

Place butter and peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Melt together in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Transfer to a medium large mixing bowl. Stir in light brown sugar, followed by egg and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt. Fold in oats, followed by chocolate chips and M&Ms.

Spread the blondie batter in prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes (mine took 28 minutes), or until turning golden at the edges. Let blondies cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Use foil to lift blondies out of pan. Peel off foil and transfer blondies to a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice bars. Serve.

Leftover blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.Monster Blondies

M&Ms Surprise Cake

M&Ms Surprise CakeI posted pictures of a big M&Ms-stuffed chocolate cake on my social media last week and y’all went crazy for it!M&Ms Surprise CakeI get it—chocolate cake + buttercream + M&Ms inside + more M&Ms on top = MAGIC.M&Ms Surprise CakeThat original cake was for a friend and not intended for the blog, but given the response, I thought you might like to know how to make your own!M&Ms Surprise CakeFirst things first. You’re going to need four 9-inch round layers of chocolate cake. This one is a super easy no-mixer recipe that makes four soft, moist, perfect layers. You may recognize this recipe from my my Chocolate Cake with Malted Chocolate Buttercream—it’s exactly the same except that I scaled it up by 50%.M&Ms Surprise CakePlace one of the layers on a serving plate or your favorite of all your cakestands. Spread a little frosting on top.M&Ms Surprise CakeTake two of the layers and punch out holes in the centers. I use a 6-inch ring for this, but you can use a wide-mouthed glass or even just a paring knife and a circle of parchment. Layer those on top of that bottom round, frosting between and on top.M&Ms Surprise CakeAt this point, you’ll have a three layer cake with a hole in it. That’s where the surprise M&Ms are going to go ❤Spread a thin layer of buttercream on the “walls.” This will help keep the moist cake from melting the color off the M&Ms too quickly. And speaking of M&Ms…M&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise Cake…pour in almost 2 cups of them ❤ ❤ ❤M&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise CakePlace your last intact layer of cake on top, effectively hiding all that surprise candy. Frost the cake. For a sort-of photo tutorial on that, see last week’s Cinnamon Buttercream post.M&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise CakeI decorated the top with even more M&Ms and used the last of the frosting to pipe a border. The dollops are all different sizes and I love it!M&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise Cake

Gather all your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers—really, anyone will do. Get them all around the table so they can see this amazing thing you’ve made in all it’s rainbow candy avalanche glory. This cake is delicious—with that much chocolate and butter, it has to be—but the magic is in the presentation.M&Ms Surprise CakeThen again, I was alone when I sliced this sucker open and it was still pretty damn magical. But I also took 200+ photos of it for you, so I suppose you were practically there.M&Ms Surprise Cake

M&Ms Surprise Cake
makes 1 large 9-inch round cake

Cake:
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup + 2 Tbsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups strong, hot coffee

Chocolate Buttercream:
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
5 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2-2/3 cup heavy cream

For Assembly:
1 3/4 cups M&Ms candy, plus more for decoration

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease 4 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a large mixing bowl to sift together flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and eggs, followed by vanilla, buttermilk, and coffee. Whisk in dry ingredients in three installments, just until combined. Divide batter evenly among the pans. Tap full pans on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in pans for ten minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edges. Invert cakes onto cooling racks and allow to cool to room temperature.

Make the chocolate buttercream. 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 1/2 cup heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy. Add up to 2 more tablespoons of heavy cream, until desired consistency is reached.

Assemble cake. Place one round on a serving plate and top with a layer of frosting. Set aside.

Use a 4-6 inch cutter (or a wide-mouthed cup or jar) to cut the centers out of two layers. Set centers aside for another use. Place one cut-out layer on the bottom layer and top with a layer of frosting. Place the other cut-out layer on top and frost. Coat the inside of the hole with a thin layer of frosting.

Fill the hole in the cake layers with M&Ms. Top with the last (fully-intact) layer of cake. Frost cake as desired. Decorate with more M&Ms, as desired.

Layer cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. M&Ms may lose their color over long periods of time.M&Ms Surprise Cake

M&Ms Sandwich Cookies

 If you haven’t noticed, I love sandwich cookies. This blog has existed for eight months, and I already have six sandwich cookie recipes in my recipe index. I mean, cookies and frosting together–does a more perfect dessert even exist?! 

Today’s sandwich cookies are my version of a favorite treat from my teenage years. Back then, I was on the high school dance team. Once classes were over for the day, I’d have thirty minutes to change and eat something before practice. Usually the whole team would go for some sort of fast food (ah, teenage metabolism), but occasionally, when everyone was attending tutorials or some other after-school program, I’d zip over to Ridgmar Mall, run to the cookie kiosk, and grab one or two (okay, okay, three!) miniature M&Ms sandwich cookies before driving back to school to dance off all the calories.

To this day, I get nostalgic for those soft cookies, M&Ms, and creamy vanilla filling. But I can’t remember the last time I was in a mall (one of the advantages of living in New York City). And as I always have fresh baked goods at home, I no longer stop for mass-produced treats. 

These days, if I want a few M&Ms Sandwich Cookies, I make them myself. They’re so much better than anything you could get at a mall. Soft, chewy cookies speckled with colorful milk chocolate M&Ms and sandwiched together with a smooth vanilla filling?! Yes. I’ll take three.

Most of my sandwich cookie recipes make five or six dozen very small cookies–far more than anyone really needs. This recipe makes a much more manageable two dozen sandwich cookies. If you’d like more, this recipe doubles very well.

Also, these cookies are slightly larger than my regular sandwich cookies. Where all of my other sandwich cookie recipes require you to scoop dough by the teaspoon, the cookies in this recipe are each made with 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) of dough. The larger scoops cut down on the time spent rolling dough and also allow for more M&Ms in every bite! 

I love working with M&Ms for holidays. There’s a perfect color combination for every occasion–red and green for Christmas, orange and black for Halloween, pastels for Easter. Since the Fourth of July is coming up next week, I went with the red, white, and blue variety for this batch! I think they’re pretty cute 😊 No matter which holiday you’re making these for (even if it’s just that it’s the end of a long week), I know these M&Ms Sandwich Cookies will be a hit!

 Want more M&Ms treats? Check out my M&Ms-Potato Chip Cookies!

M&Ms Sandwich Cookies
makes 2 dozen sandwich cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar*
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup M&Ms milk chocolate candies

Filling:
1/2 cup shortening (or room temperature unsalted butter)
2 1/2-3 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cream of tartar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by egg and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients in two installments, combining completely after each addition. With the mixer on low, add in M&Ms and mix for 10-15 seconds until they are evenly dispersed. Cover and chill dough for 90 minutes, or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Scoop chilled dough by the 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) and roll into balls. Set dough balls about two inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 7-8 minutes, until the tops are no longer shiny. Let cookies cool on pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with any remaining dough.

Make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat shortening (or butter) until fluffy. Beat in 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar and salt. Mix in vanilla and 1 tablespoon heavy cream. If filling is too thin, add more confectioner’s sugar. If it’s too thin, add an extra tablespoon of heavy cream. If you would like to pipe the filling, spoon it into a piping bag and snip off a corner.

There are two options for filling:

1. To assemble a sandwich cookie by piping, apply filling by pipe a circle in the middle of the underside of one cookie, leaving about 1/4″ around the edge. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.

2. To assemble a sandwich cookie by spreading, use an offset frosting knife to spread 1/2-1 teaspoon on the underside of one cookie. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.

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

Note:

There is no substitute for cream of tartar in this recipe.

M&Ms Potato Chip Cookies

 Hello! What did you do this weekend? I delivered some cookies to a jewelry store that is handing them out to shoppers, helped my friend David throw a fabulous Christmas party, and braved the Brooklyn Costco mid-afternoon in the name of New Year’s Eve. Insider tip: don’t do that last thing. We still don’t have a tree, but it definitely feels like the holidays. Except for the part where it is 65 degrees. I don’t even need a coat! But anyway…let’s talk about cookies.

Today is Day 9 of Twelve Days of Cookies! Are you a fan of sweet and salty desserts? I hope so. Last night, while we were doing some well-deserved vegging out, I was stuffing my face with potato chips and chasing them with chocolate-covered pecans. Henry asked what on earth I was eating, and when I told him/asked if he wanted some, he paused before turning me down. He’s not a dessert person, so that combination probably sounds vile to him. But, trust me, it is EVERYTHING. I am a sweet and salty fan all the way. The recipe I’m bringing you today is full of crushed potato chips and M&Ms, all baked into soft and chewy cookies. Yes, potato chips and M&Ms. Together. In perfect harmony. Trust me. You want to make these. You need these. 

    This dough base is identical to these Salted Caramel Chocolate-Covered Pecan Cookies. It’s soft and chewy thanks to room temperature butter, an extra egg yolk, and cornstarch. The dough has a full cup of light brown sugar and just a smidge of granulated sugar. The molasses in the light brown sugar helps to keep these cookies super soft and, of course, adds a ton of caramel flavor. Yum! Dry ingredients are added in three installments. Once the dough is thoroughly mixed, it’s time to add the M&Ms and potato chips.

Let’s talk about potato chips for a minute. I prefer the thick, ruffled variety. If you can’t find those or just don’t enjoy them, I recommend using kettle-cooked potato chips. Don’t use thin chips. If they can’t scoop up dip without breaking, they’re not the ones to use here. You see, this dough has to chill for 90 minutes. That is ample time for the moisture in the butter, eggs, and brown sugar to seep into the potato chip bits and make them soft and a little soggy. If we were to use thin, flimsy chips, they’d all be soft by the time they went into the oven. They might be so soft that they practically melt into the cookies. What’s the point of adding potato chips if you can’t even tell they’re in there?! Even using thick chips, some moisture will still get in, but when the cookies bake up, there will still be plenty of crispy pieces. The crunchy chips, melty M&Ms, and chewy cookie base are textural magic.

M&Ms Potato Chip Cookies are perfect for holiday cookie exchanges, food gifting, and your dessert trays. And they’re a good option if you have little helpers. Let them crush up the chips and pour in the M&Ms! And taste-test, of course 😊 If, like me, sweet and salty is one of your favorite flavor combinations, you must must must (!) make these cookies. Between the afore-mentioned textural magic and festive colors of the M&Ms, these are guaranteed to be a hit!  Want more Twelve Days of Cookies? Check out my Chocolate Crinkles, Salted Caramel Chocolate-Covered Pecan Cookies, Peppermint Mocha Cookies, Oreo-Stuffed Andes Peppermint Crunch Cookies, Apple Cider Snaps, Whipped Shortbread Snowballs, Eggnog Sandwich Cookies, and Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles. Three more cookie recipes are on the way before December 25!

M&Ms Potato Chip Cookies
makes about 3.5 dozen cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1 cup M&Ms Minis Baking Bits*
1 1/2 cups crushed ruffled potato chips*

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together, flour, cornstarch, baking
soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until it is fluffy and lighter in color. Beat in light brown sugar and granulated sugar, followed by the egg and egg yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Fold in M&Ms Minis Baking Bits and crushed potato chips. Cover the dough and chill it for 90 minutes, or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
Scoop dough by the tablespoon, and roll into balls. Set dough balls at least two inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 8-10 minutes, until they no longer look raw. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with all remaining dough.

Cookies keep covered at room temperature for up to five days.

Notes:

1. Regular M&Ms will work here, but I like how the Baking Bits disperse themselves.
2. I use Ruffles Original.

M&Ms Potato Chip Cookies