Eight Christmases ago, Barbara Reiss was stranded in New Orleans. She was there to celebrate the holiday with family and, as often happens in late December, there was a snowstorm, a big snowstorm, a really big snowstorm in New York where she lived. So she stayed put. And then something magical happened:
This was, of course, somewhat inevitable. In Barbara’s crew, baking is the answer to science projects and school functions, dinner parties and holidays. “Baking,” she later wrote, “is the language of our family connection.”
Her family holed up with Barbara’s sister, Linda, who worked as a first grade teacher. “Every year, her students give her boxes of candy, bags of pretzels, tins of popcorn,” Barbara said. “One of her good friends made delicious homemade granola, which we thought would make a great cookie.”
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They decided to riff on Christina Tosi’s famous, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink compost cookies—started with an oatmeal cookie recipe, only to end up with something magical, marvelous, and memorable.
Barbara’s husband proclaimed them “the best cookies” ever and her family, to this day, can’t get enough of them. Neither can our site. Since Barbara—here known as drbabs—published the recipe in 2011, it’s been saved over 5,000 times. That’s a lot of cookies.
We love this recipe for its flexibility, its make-the-most-of-anything spirit. The base is a classic, buttery, sugary cookie dough. From there, you add: granola, or any other cereal; pretzel pieces, or any other salty snack; chocolate chips, or any other chopped-up candy; pecans, or any other nut. (Pro tip: Leave these goodies chunky and hunky for eaters to admire!)
“I’ve made them so many different ways that it’s hard to remember,” Barbara told me. “I almost always have balls of cookie dough in the freezer for guests and potlucks.”
Note to self: Get invited to one of Barbara’s potlucks.
Head here to try out the original recipe in all its glory, then explore the treasure map above for mix-and-match combos. Just remember, there’s no wrong path. Because it always leads to cookies. And they’re always, well, marvelous.
LEFTOVER POTATO CHIPS? MAKE COOKIES!
What combo would you make with the Magical, Marvelous, Memorable Cookie formula? Share your ideas in the comments!
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.