Friday, July 18, 2014

Trail Mix Cookies

How many of you guys are going camping this summer? Or hiking?  Or both? Or going out and exploring nature for hours and hours?  If you have these kinds of plans, you'll need to refuel at some point, and I have the perfect camping/hiking/nature-exploring snack for you.  These trail mix cookies are IT.  They're the perfect portable and cute little snack that you can munch on while doing all kinds of nature-type things, I think.  I'm not a camping kind of gal, but if I did go camping, or hiking, or nature exploring, these are the cookies I would bring. However, since that type of activity is not happening any time soon, I will settle for making a batch of these cookies and eating them while sitting on a blanket in my backyard, or maybe, if I want to get really crazy, while sitting on a blanket in the park.  Eating homemade cookies in the grass in the middle of the suburbs is my way of bonding with nature, and that's ok.

While I may not be the first to sign up for a hiking trip, I have eaten my fair share of trail mix and granola, and I think it's an understatement to say that I like both.  I mean, I haven't met anyone who doesn't like trail mix, because what's not to like about it?  There's M&M's, and nuts, and dried fruit, and all kinds of delicious things mixed up inside a single package.  Trail mix is something I can easily pick at without realizing how much I've actually eaten, so it's a dangerous snack.  Before I even realize it, the whole bag is gone, and I'm left alone, with a stomach ache, and without any trail mix.  In some instances, I'll only like a handful of the things mixed into the trail mix, so I'll pick at what I like and leave what I don't like behind.  Trail mix is just too addicting. 

Thank goodness for Joy the Baker; she came up with a brilliant, brilliant way to use trail mix in a totally new way that just might actually be better than trail mix itself- bake it into cookies!  These trail mix cookies have a base similar to that of a chocolate chip cookie, and the best part is that they're just as easy to make.  Joy's recipe seemed great on its own, but I decided to make a few minor adjustments to it.  For starters, I used brown butter in the cookies, because I haven't come across the first thing that hasn't been improved by the presence of brown butter.  It just adds so much flavor to cookies and other baked goods, and I'm always looking for an excuse to add some extra nuttiness and depth to my baked treats.  Once the brown butter change was made, I figured that the next obvious changes would be to change up the mix-ins in order to suit my tastes.  Aside from that, I stuck closely to Joy's recipe, and was oh-so-happy with the way the cookies turned out.  I personally found them a little too sweet for my taste (no surprise there), so I would reduce the sugar a little bit next time I make these.  Regardless of how sweet these cookies may have been, it sure didn't stop me from having one cookie after another.  I just couldn't stop eating them- my trail mix cookies were just as addictive as trail mix itself!

The recipe for these cookies at first glace looks like it has a laundry list of ingredients, and it kind of does, but if you look closely, you'll see that the last four ingredients are just the mix-ins that make these cookies awesome, so they don't really count.  Plus, they're four ingredients that you can change as you wish to suit your own tastes, so they're not set in stone.  They're like ingredient guidelines, if you will.  I used M&M's, raisins, coconut, and honey roasted peanuts because those are my favorite ingredients ever, but if you like peanut butter chips, cranberries, almonds, and chocolate chunks then by all means, go ahead and use them!  These cookies can be customized to suit your tastes.  You can dream up your perfect trail mix and mix in all the components.  Just try to keep the overall quantity of the mix-ins about the same.  This recipe uses a total of 3 cups of assorted mix-ins, so as long as you stick to that number, your cookies should turn out perfectly balanced and delicious!

These cookies are a breeze to put together, and one batch yields a TON of cookies- I was expecting around three dozen or so, but I kept scooping out cookie after cookie, and before I knew it I had over four dozen.  A cookie recipe that is this customizable and yields this many cookies is the perfect cookie to bring along on a big camping trip, a bake sale, party, or for whenever you have a massive cookie craving.  I loved these cookies, and I know that I'll be making them again and again.  They're just so fun!  Fun and sweet and full of interesting textures and flavors; what's not to love right?

Trail Mix Cookies
recipe adapted slightly from The Joy the Baker Cookbook


2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, browned
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup M&M's
3/4 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup honey roasted peanuts, chopped
3/4 cup raisins


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silicone liners.

In a bowl, whisk together the rolled oats, all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the browned butter, brown sugar, and white sugar.  Once mixed together, beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

Add in the flour mixture all at once, mixing only until it's just been combined.  Stir in the M&M's, coconut, peanuts, and raisins, mixing until evenly distributed.  

Using a cookie scoop, drop the cookie batter onto the prepared baking sheets.  Roll each mound of cookie dough into a ball and flatten slightly with your fingertips.  Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes or until they're lightly golden browned around the edges.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

Makes just over 4 dozen cookies


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