I’ve realized what has driven me to enjoy cooking and baking in the past few years, and it came as a little bit of a surprise: science. Although a lot of people get great satisfaction from successfully reproducing a recipe developed by someone else, I prefer stumbling my way onto something delicious by throwing together ingredients that I suspect complement each other.
I am aided in this exploration by sharing my experiments in the kitchen with someone who’s not afraid to eat something that only qualifies as “pretty good” or even “okay.” This means even my weaker efforts are still appreciated as supplying essential vitamins and minerals, and I can use such failed attempts as lessons learned without depriving anyone of nutrition.
I cannot do this at work. Science requires meticulousness and austere attention to detail. Science requires skipping lunch to do 20 five-minute washes in a row; waiting eight days for results; doing something until it works, even if you have to do it fifty times and the one time it works you followed exactly the same protocol as the previous thirty failed attempts; wearing long pants and close-toed shoes all summer; and keeping REALLY good notes regarding every single move you make in the lab. I find these things comforting about science, because that’s how I think science should work. And because when I’ve had to perform other people’s experiments, I’m glad they abided by the extremely-detailed-note-taking rule. But when I’m cooking… sometimes I just want to throw stuff together and see what happens. Wearing flip flops.
All of this explaining (read: stalling) has led me to present you with the following picture, preceded by an apology: I am sorry I am showing you these cookies. I cannot transmit smells over the internet, but even the morning after I baked them— well, you can imagine. The reason for my apology is simple: while I can tell you every ingredient contained within these little delights, I certainly cannot indicate, aside from butter and flour, the amount of any of them. If you are bold, daring, adventurous, or willing to accept the possibility of failure, you will delight in trying to recreate them. If you are a recipe follower, then you will never attempt to make these. Please forgive me.
Now. Cookies. “Recipe.” Below is an ordered list of every ingredient in this cookie, with the amount disclosed in the event that I measured it, and the method. If you have ANY confidence in yourself as a baker, I encourage you to try it and reap the benefits. If you don’t, well… try it anyway!
raw cane sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 (cage-free) egg
Step one: Add 2C flour, your preferred ratio of brown and raw sugar, cocoa powder, a dash of salt, and baking soda to a bowl, and mix with fork until homogenous. Now go back and add more cocoa powder, because I can tell you only added about two tablespoons. These cookies have more than that in there!
Step two: The mushy stuff! Add butter and mash into mixture until crumbly. Now add the egg and however much vanilla you feel is appropriate, and some vegetable oil—maybe two tablespoons. That’s a guess, because I just poured it in there, but remember that it’s easier to add more oil than more flour to dough. Now mix and mash with fork in earnest, and hopefully you will have a somewhat moist, somewhat crumbly, reasonably distributed mixture.
Step three: The FUN part! I purchased pre-chopped hazelnuts because they were cheaper per ounce, but also because it’s easier. The M&Ms, however… buy M&Ms in a plastic bag, and you can open the bag (to free yourself of any air-pressure-kitchen-candy-explosion worries) and then slam the M&Ms inside the bag on your counter with the bottom of a glass. It’s freeing. It’s fun. It makes a loud noise. All of these are reasons just to do that. But now you have a use for your smashed M&Ms! So add M&Ms, hazelnuts, and sprinkles in a ratio of your choosing to your batter. Stir in with fork.
Step four: The work part! Spread parchment paper on two cookie sheets if you don’t have nonstick cookie pans. Then mix the dough with your hands! Mush it together until there are no obvious flour or sugar or butter globs (takes a couple good minutes). Should form a nice ball of dough that’s easy to work with—if it isn’t, add either a couple tablespoons of milk or more oil until you get the consistency you desire. If it’s not confettied enough, add more sprinkles or M&Ms or nuts. Form about 1.5″ balls of dough with your hands, and put them on the cookie sheets, mashing down lightly with your hand to give you an idea of how big they will be.
Step five: Bake! Now is when you preheat your oven to 350F. Stick your cookie sheets full of cookies in the fridge (I got about 20 cookies out of this “recipe”)—this helps prevent the cookies from expanding too much and drying out. When your oven is preheated, throw those bad boys in there! Cook for 8-10 minutes depending on your oven, then allow to set on the counter for about—what? You’re already eating one? (Enjoy after approximately five minutes.)
I don’t know how long these store in an air-tight container because they only lasted for a day, and I imagine you’ll never find out either unless you’re a hoarder. Enjoy!