February 12

‘Everyday’ cookies could be sweet lunchbox surprises

Consider some new recipes for non-holiday baked goods.

By Rick Nelson
McClatchy Newspapers

MINNEAPOLIS — During the taste test we conducted last fall for our annual holiday cookie contest, a theme seemed to reverberate among the 22 judges, and it went something like this: “I like it, but it’s not a Christmas cookie.”

click image to enlarge

Oatmeal Toffee Discs could become a new favorite for lunchboxes or after-school snacks.

McClatchy Newspapers

Other variations included, “I’d bake these for the kids during the school year, although not in December,” “These have ‘everyday cookie’ written all over them” and, most memorably, “Wouldn’t this be a great lunchbox cookie?”

That’s what can happen when 34 recipes are evaluated in a single seating. Some trends are bound to emerge from the pile.

One wrinkle that we’re revisiting – and enjoying – all these months later is the pleasure of a lower-profile cookie. Sure, it might not necessarily possess the flashy individuality required to make a favorable impression on a crowded holiday tray, yet it still manages to cover all the cookie bases – and then some – without resorting to Toll House familiarity.

The three recipes we have here go above and beyond that description. Along with their own specific levels of deliciousness, each cookie proves that there’s always more to discover in the world of chocolate chips, peanut butter, oatmeal, coconut and pecans.

Oh, and because all three recipes are prepared using the drop formula, they’re relatively easy to make.

Go ahead, add a new cookie to your lunchbox repertoire. And thanks to our bakers for giving all of us more reasons to bake – and snack – this winter.

PARADISE CRUNCH

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

From Theresa Neely of Maplewood, Minn. For years, Neely would bake Seven Layer Bars as a Christmas treat for her daughter, mailing them cross-country. “About five years ago, while attending a church picnic, I came across this cookie and fell in love with it,” she wrote. “This cookie traveled very well and has now become her favorite cookie of the season.”

1¼ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

2 cup Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds cereal

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

3 ½ oz. shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and reserve.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter for 1 minute. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar, and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract and egg, and mix until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in cereal, chocolate chips and coconut.

Using a teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES WITH GLAZED PEANUTS

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

From Mary Ellen Wingen of Owatonna, Minn. “I found the recipe in a Bon Appetit special holiday magazine in the (gulp!) early ’90s,” she wrote. “That’s the era when all things decadent were in vogue. The recipe has become a favorite in our family, in particular a fave of my husband, who typically doesn’t have a sweet tooth.”

For glazed peanuts:

Vegetable oil for pan

½ cup sugar

¼ cup water

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup salted peanuts

For dough:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

(Continued on page 2)

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