With the exception of substituting my personal crack, Cherry M&Ms, for peanut M&Ms, this recipe comes directly from the first cookbook I ever bought myself. It was at a book fair in the gym of my elementary school, and I believe I was in the fourth or fifth grade. It’s called Death by Chocolate Cookies by Marcel Desaulniers, whose restaurant The Trellis in Colonial Williamsburg had recently seduced my taste buds on an extra-special grown-up dinner out. I stalked this book for the entirety of the fair, defying anyone to purchase it before I’d had time to go home and check my savings bank. It’s such a ridiculously decadent book, and it’s totally nonchalant and open about its decadence. I read it and re-read it like a novel growing up, and I learned a lot about ingredients and baking techniques from the excellent cook’s notes. I also learned how to be a chocolate snob, to the extent that Mom still calls me in a panic from the grocery store to make sure she’s purchasing chocolate with the appropriate percentage of cacao solids. You’re welcome Mom! I’m a treasure.
I don’t know why Cherry M&Ms appeared a few years ago, disappeared and were gone forever in spite of a trip to the nightmare that is M&M World in Times Square, where the staff claimed they’d never heard of cherry ones, only for them to reappear suddenly as limited edition holiday offerings for Christmas and Valentine’s Day this year. I DO know that I had to force myself not to buy 100 bags of them, because I would have eaten all 100 bags at once. They are artificially flavored horrors, and they are magnificent. Up the ante by adding them to MASSIVE chocolate cookies? Don’t mind if I do.
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. Cherry (or, fine, if you have to, Peanut) M&Ms
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and line several cookie sheets with parchment paper (never waxed paper. Y’all know this, right? As a wee child, I didn’t. Waxed paper + heat = nothing good). Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and set aside. Melt chocolate in a double boiler over low heat, or use the lazy person method and melt it in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until melted and being careful not to let it burn. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars on medium for 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat for an additional 2 minutes until well combined. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Slowly incorporate the sifted dry ingredients. Dump in the M&Ms and stir gently until combined (dough will be very stiff). Use 3 heaping tbsp. of dough per cookie, place 6 on each cookie sheet, and bake for 12-14 minutes. Allow to cool 30 minutes before devouring.