In my book, a well-made cookie beats just about any other candy bar or protein bar every time. Especially when the cookie is oversized and chock full of crisp, golden nuts, chunks of dried fruit and tiny chocolate chips. Who can resist?
The base of my jumbo cookies — to share at the table or toss in a backpack to replenish on hikes or bike rides — uses creamy nut butter. The nut butter adds protein and a bit of sweetness. I particularly like the toasted almond butter, but the peanut butter is also delicious here.
Hearty oats add crunch and fiber. Instead of plain rolled oats, I often use a muesli cereal mix that includes seeds and nuts. Dried fruit also adds fiber with a nice chewy texture. Other complements can be customized according to taste. Broken salty pretzels and chocolate chunks keep things interesting. Sweet and savory trail mixes work too.
When baking large cookies, keep the additions in larger pieces. If you choose to make smaller cookies, break up the pretzel pieces or chop the fruits and nuts a bit more. Make these gluten-free cookies using gluten-free muesli or oats, gluten-free 1 for 1 baking mix in place of all-purpose flour, and gluten-free pretzel sticks.
Raw cookie dough balls can be frozen for up to several months. Place on baking sheet and bake from frozen; increase the cooking time by a few minutes.
Be sure to check for nut allergies before sharing these cookies at the lunch table.
Giant back-to-school cookies
Makes 16 large cookies OR 40 small cookies
Note: try Bob’s Red Mill Muesli cereal here, or substitute 1 1/2 cups rolled oats and 1/4 cup each: raisins and sliced or chopped almonds. The granola will make a sweeter cookie. Substitute your favorite sweet and savory trail mix for dried fruit and chocolate if desired.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup each: granulated sugar, packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup creamy toasted almond butter or peanut butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups muesli cereal with sliced almonds and raisins or not too big granola
2 cups (about 4 ounces) split thin pretzel sticks
1/2 cup dried fruit (chopped if large), such as dried cherries, cranberries, or apricots
1 cup (8 ounces) milk chocolate covered candies, such as M&M’s, OR white or dark chocolate chunks or dark chocolate bars, roughly broken into 1/4-inch pieces
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
2. Beat together butter and sugars in a large bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat eggs, one at a time, until smooth and creamy. Beat almond butter, baking soda, vanilla and salt until smooth. Stir in flour until incorporated. Use a wooden spoon to stir in muesli, pretzels, dried fruit and chocolate candy pieces.
3. For jumbo cookies, divide dough into 16 equal portions (about 1/3 cup dough weighing 4 ounces). Roll into balls and place on prepared baking sheets, about 3 inches apart and flatten slightly with a spoon. Bake until set and bottoms are lightly browned, about 20 minutes. (For smaller cookies, form 40 balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter; bake 12 to 15 minutes.)
4. Cool cookies on pan for 5 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a wire rack to cool completely. (You can reuse the paper-lined baking sheets to bake the remaining cookies.)
5. Store cookies in a covered container for up to several days or freeze for up to two months.