May 23, 2012

"Smart" cookie

I have a special little place in my heart for Smarties - not the American candy rolls you see during Halloween but the sugar-coated chocolate ones that are basically the European version of M&M's.
Growing up as a kid in Hong Kong, they were probably my favorite candy/chocolate after the Toberlone.  I certainly enjoyed the taste but I think the colors - those bright yet pastel hues that make me think of Easter - appealed to me just as much.  The ones we had in Hong Kong came in a round paperboard tube, with a little plastic pop top that I'd take on and off (I think the tops came in different colors too but I can't be sure now).  I loved shaking my little tube around.
While it's not impossible to find Smarties around here in the States, they're not exactly everywhere in your local drugstore either.  Whenever I see them, I can't resist snapping one up, particularly if I'm on vacation and feeling indulgent.  So when I saw Smarties while shopping in Paris recently, I grabbed a few packets to bring home.  Just couldn't resist...

So I found myself with extra tubes of Smarties even after divvying up some of my stash, and thought it'd be fun to make some Smarties cookies.  I've dubbed them "Smart cookies" but I'm certainly being tongue in cheek about the whole "smart" thing since we are talking candy in our cookies here (although you'll notice they're no longer made with artificial colors or flavors - that's something, right?).  So we won't take the name too seriously; I wouldn't make these very often but I was in the mood to do something silly and fun.  I made an oatmeal cookie dough and stirred in some Smarties as well as mini chocolate-chips (since my cookies are on the small side) to make these.
My "Smart" cookies
I thought about incorporating the Smarties as part of monster cookies and throwing in some salty pretzels (another thing I have a lot of lying around since my son decided he was no longer into them - right after I'd bought a 50-pack sack of them for his school snack, of course).  In the end, I kept it simple and used an easy oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe and substituted some of the chocolate chips with Smarties.  Truth be told, you can't see the Smarties too well in the cookies after baking but I think they're fun nonetheless.  And if Smarties aren't your thing, stick with regular chocolate chips and make yourself and your family a nice batch of chewy oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies instead.  I divided my cookie batter in half and did both.
Plain oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies

When I make oatmeal cookies, I generally go with this recipe that's chock full of oats and uses maple syrup to create a very chewy and yummy result.  Once in a while, I also like to use this similar, slightly simpler recipe that I saw once on the show, Mad Hungry .  This recipe also produces a tasty, chewy cookie.

With this recipe, you can get up to 24 cookies but it depends on the size you make them in.  I generally prefer relatively small cookies, packing the dough into a small ice cream scoop.  You can make yours bigger and just adjust the baking time up.

Start these by simply whisking the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) together and setting it aside.  Into the bowl of a standmixer, place a stick of room temperature butter along with 6 tablespoons, each, of brown sugar and granulated sugar.  Mix until just combined.
Then add an egg, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon of water.  I confess I'm not sure about the purpose of the scant amount of water.  I'm guessing the extra moisture helps in some way, maybe creating steam when baking?  If someone knows what the water is all about, I'd love to know!  In the meantime, I add the water since I don't want to mess with the good results I've gotten.  Mix the wet ingredients into the batter before stirring in a cup of old-fashioned rolled oats.
For these "Smart" cookies, mix in 3/4 cup of Smarties and 1/4 cup of miniature chocolate-chips.  For plain oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, simply use a cup of (regular size) chocolate chips.  I actually divided my batter in half and made both kinds. 
I was shopping at Chelsea Market in NYC a few weeks ago and spotted some Callebaut semisweet chocolate chips, which I'd never seen before.  I use their block chocolate very often but I've never seen chocolate chips.  I decided to try them out here in my plain oatmeal-chocolate chip version.  They are very good and the interesting thing is they do not hold their shape as much as other semisweet chocolate chips (their flatter shape helps), which I really like.  They melt into the cookie dough and gives the effect of chopped chocolate, without the work.  I'd definitely buy more of them again. 
Drop generous scoops of cookie dough packed into a small ice cream scoop (about a tablespoon or so) and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes until the cookies are slightly browned.  The corners will be a bit more golden in color than the center, giving them a nice crispness around the edges, with a softer, chewier center.  The smell of cookies baking in the oven is so fantastic!
Here are the "plain" oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies using the Callebaut chips.  Notice how the chips have spread and melted into the cookies much like chopped chocolate would.
Not surprisingly, I have to tell you I preferred the basic oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies more than the "Smart" ones.  My son, however, is one smart cookie (tongue in cheek again)!  He devoured the "Smart" cookies readily. 
These "Smart" cookies would be fun to make around Easter.  Their color reminds me of another favorite, Cadbury mini eggs!  It was funny when this cookie below inadvertently came out looking like an Easter egg! 


"Smart" Cookies
Adapted from Mad Hungry via Martha Stewart

- Approximately 24 small cookies -

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon water
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup Smarties candy-coated chocolates*
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a small bowl.

In the bowl of a standmixer, beat the butter and sugar together until just combined.  Then mix in the egg, vanilla extract, and water.  Add flour mixture until just incorporated.  Add oats, mixing for a few seconds until combined.  Stir in the Smarties and mini chocolate chips.

Scoop cookie dough using a small ice cream scoop or by about tablespoonfuls, spacing about an inch apart, onto the prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until cookies are lightly golden brown in color.  Remove cookies from the oven.  Let cool for two minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

*For Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, substitute the Smarties and miniature chocolate chips with 1 cup of regular size chocolate chips.

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