The Sun Will Come Out…

To add insult to isolation injury, it’s been very cold and rainy for the last two days. I thought at least we could get some lovely sunshine on my string of off days, but half of them are overcast and chilly. Boo! The only thing to remedy this is a good bout of baking. Honestly, I’m thankful for a little bit of time off to get back into the kitchen even if for a day or two. Today I’ve got a sourdough starter going and I’m whipping up a spin on Betty Crocker’s Cheese-Garlic Biscuits, but I’m also reminiscing about the Monster Cookies I made a few months back.

I was trying to clear some things out of the pantry that I felt weren’t quite moving fast enough. I’m always finding new things to explore and experimenting with new ingredients. I generally bring home at least one extra item not on the list from the store every week (I do my grocery shopping weekly). One week, it was SunButter (sunflower seed butter). SunButter is like peanut or almond butter, but it’s made with sunflower seeds and has every bit the wonderful creamy, oily texture that nut butters have. Mild and nutty, it’s unexpected and delicious.

So there I was with a 1/3 empty jar of SunButter in the pantry just waiting to be enjoyed on more than a piece of bread or a cracker. That’s when I remembered seeing something along the lines of “monster” cookies on Pinterest once years ago. I remember how delicious they looked and how they were an upgrade from your average oatmeal cookie. Also… they had M&Ms! What could be better than a cookie loaded with candy? It’s a cookie that’s both naughty and nice!

Among other pantry staples, I pretty much always have a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Oats in some form on hand just like my mother always had a canister of Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats on hand. Truthfully, this is mostly for baking reasons and less for making oatmeal in the morning — big surprise there. I was two-thirds of the way to the main ingredients for my cookies without even trying. All I lacked was the M&Ms, which were easy to grab at the store on my next shopping trip, and I was in business. Originally calling for peanut butter, these cookies are a unique spin on your “typical” Monster Cookies, but then again… Monster Cookies aren’t all that typical to begin with.

Monster cookies reportedly originated in the kitchen of Michigan State University photographer Dick Wesley’s father’s kitchen. It was an effort, much like my own, to use up leftover things in the pantry. While I don’t use the same volume of ingredients that Mr. Wesley used (he was baking for an entire house of kids and a troop of cub scouts), the ones I created were just as unique… and naughty… and nice!

1/2c salted butter, softened – or 1/2c avocado
1/3c raw cane sugar – you can use white, but I prefer the taste & smell of raw cane
1/2c packed light brown sugar
1/2c SunButter – or nut butter of choice
1 lg egg, beaten
1/2c wheat germ
1/2c AP flour
1tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt (optional)
2/3c oats
1pkg (~10oz) M&M candies

1) In a mixing bowl, whisk together wheat germ, flour, baking soda, salt (of desired), and oatmeal. Set aside.
2) In the workbowl of a standmixer fitted with the paddle attachment: cream together butter (or avocado), brown sugar, cane sugar, and SunButter until well combined. Blend in egg until fully incorporated.
3) Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture until fully combined. Add the M&Ms and stir until just mixed.
5) Cover tightly with plastic wrap (I prefer Glad Press ‘N’ Seal) and chill the dough for 24hrs.
6) Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
7) Scoop 1/4c chunks of dough spaced 2-3in apart on the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 8-10min. (If the cookies take on a greenish tinge, that’s completely normal. SunButter tends to oxidize somewhat if exposed to air too long or if the cookies are overbaked.)

After the first batch of cookies went so fast between us, family, and friends that I eventually worked my way through the remaining contents of the jar of SunButter with subsequent batches. So, be prepared with lots of ingredients to whip up plenty of batches to share with all you hold dear.

With all of the options out there, what is your favorite type of nut (or seed) butter?

Currently Reading: The Gluten-Free Revolution by Jax Peters Lowell

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