Thursday, March 6, 2014

Giant kitchen sink cookies

These cookies... oh, these cookies.  Swoon.  Pitter patter.  Drool.  I have so many people to blame thank for these cookies.

I'd like to thank my coworker.  When we came up with the idea to have a Fat Tuesday party, it was she who requested cookies.  "Giant cookies.  With chocolate," she said.  For her, I baked the biggest cookies I've ever made.

I'd like to thank Steven Spielberg for including Reese's Pieces in his iconic movie E.T.  I recently saw a clip from the film and immediately had a craving for the peanut butter candy.  You better believe I picked up a bag the next chance I got.  Good golly, I forgot how tasty Reese's Pieces are.

I'd like to thank my mom for buying me a bag of walnuts.  Last week, she called from Sam's Club and asked if I needed any bulk items for baking.  I thought "almonds" but said "nuts," expecting her to read my mind.  (Apparently, mothers can only read their kids' minds when they're up to no good.)  Thankfully, my mom bought those walnuts.  I always seem to forget how much I like walnuts and how underused they are.

I'd like to thank Alton Brown for teaching me the science of baking, specifically how the addition or or removal of certain ingredients affects the taste and texture of a cookie.  That knowledge has stuck with me for years and is worth its weight in... super chewy cookies.

I'd like to thank my local Giant Eagle Market District for placing a very bright and visually appealing display of Easter candies near the freezer case of vegetables.  I did not plan to purchase them but am so glad I did.  Almond M&Ms are truly a gift to the human race.

Finally, I'd like to thank myself.  For turning a pathetic lack of willpower or restraint when it comes to sweets (in light of my decision to give up all sugary treats for Lent) into one of the best cookies I've made in a very long time.

The name says it all -- giant kitchen sink cookies -- since they contain a little bit of everything 'cept the kitchen sink.  All the goodies that needed to find their way out of our kitchen by Wednesday: chocolate chips, peanut buttery Reese's candy, crunchy walnuts, and sweet and barely salty almond M&Ms.  No wonder the cookies that are the size of my face and your face, too!

Call them Lent busters, Thursday afternoon sanity savers, or weekend breakfast.  Call them whatever you want, as long as you thank yourself for baking them.  You'll be so very grateful, I promise.

One year ago: Homemade funfetti cupcakes
Two years ago: Banana bread pancakes
Three years ago: Proscuitto-wrapped chicken with roasted green beans

Giant Kitchen Sink Cookies
-makes 18 very large cookies

A few notes: Regarding size, these can be made smaller/regular size using a cookie scoop; simply reduce baking time to roughly 12 minutes, but check on your cookies to make sure.  Also, feel free to use whatever mix-ins you like, just make sure the amount totals about 2 cups worth.

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large whole egg + 1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons milk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup Reese's pieces
1/2 cup almond M&Ms

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugars and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Add egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and milk and beat on low speed until incorporated.  Gradually add flour mixture and beat until just combined.  Fold chocolate chips, nuts, and candies into dough.

Place 1/4 cup portions of cookie dough on lined cookie sheets, leaving 4 inches between cookies.  Using measuring cup or hand, press tops of dough portions and flatten just slightly.  Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are set and turning golden.  (Centers will still be soft but will harden as they cool.  Do not overbake!)  Remove cookie sheet to wire rack to cool completely.  Enjoy with a tall glass of milk!

Cookies can be stored in containers between wax or parchment paper at room temperature for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months.

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