Long Reads

Why Snacktime Should Always Include Cookies

March 26, 2015

Every other Thursday, we bring you Nicholas Day -- on cooking for children, and with children, and despite children. Also, occasionally, on top of.

Today: An everything-but-the-kitchen sink pantry cookie that doubles as a perfect snack. 

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Snack is the land of infinite possibility. Snack is what California once was.

Unlike breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there is nothing that is obviously not okay to eat at snack. (Even semi-edible food is okay for snack these days.) For a kid, this means that the highs are higher, the lows are lower, the parental failings are greater. The other day I put out some bananas and oranges for snack and our six-year-old sighed loudly and said, more in sorrow than in anger, “Dada, you know I have just about had it with bananas and oranges.”

I believe he’s currently looking for new roommates. (Contact me if you’re interested!)

Although our children would deny it, they do occasionally have things other than bananas and oranges for snack. And not just raw cabbage, either.

I am here to tell you that the cowboy cookie -- the kitchen sink cookie, the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink cookie -- is the perfect cookie for snack. Not simply because it has the nutty, whole-grain heft of a granola bar in the more dissolute shape of a cookie. But because it is highly accommodating. The cowboy cookie is the Jeeves of the cookie world: It will find a way to make snack happen. So if you do not have pecans, it will take almonds; if you do not have dried cranberries, it will accept raisins; if you do not have chocolate chips, it will be happy with butterscotch, or a chopped chocolate bar. Or it will wait while you go out for chocolate chips. 

It’s not a cowboy cookie, really. It’s a pantry cookie. 

More: Go overboard in the bulk aisle? These snack bars are for you.

A couple of notes: First, this recipe calls for melted butter, partly for reasons of convenience (no waiting for butter to soften), but mostly because melted butter makes for a chewier cookie that spreads more. If you want a more cakey cookie with some height, don’t melt the butter; cream it along with the sugars and the egg. Second, my version of this cookie includes toasted pecans, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips. But your version may be different. Try almonds and dried apricots, or walnuts and dried cherries, or pistachios and dried figs. Or sunflower and pumpkin seeds in place of the nuts. Or a Heath bar in place of the chocolate chips. 

They all go well with bananas and oranges. 

The Pantry Cookie

Makes about 20 cookies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter 
2/3 cup white or whole wheat flour
2/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or other chips, or chopped chocolate)
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped (or other toasted nuts or seeds)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit, chopped if large)

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Monette Pangan
    Monette Pangan
  • Dina Moore-Tzouris
    Dina Moore-Tzouris
  • morgan
I'm the author of a book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World. My website is nicholasday.net; I tweet over at @nicksday. And if you need any good playdoh recipes, just ask.


Monette P. March 23, 2017
I love this recipe! I just made them again today using some dates and leftover macadamia and hazelnuts. I also used coconut sugar instead of regular sugar. This one's definitely a keeper.
Dina M. May 30, 2015
these were great! I only had golden raisins, so I used raisins, chocolate chips, and pecans. half whole wheat, half white flour. I added an extra tablespoon of flour and refrigerated the cookie dough for an hour. not sure if either were necessary, but the cookies were crispy, chewy and delicious!
morgan April 17, 2015
I made these cookies last week and am already planning on remaking them this week. I used chocolate chips, raisins and dried apricots. They were absolutely delicious! I would suggest under baking them a little bit because the center will finish cooking once you pull them out of the oven.