Magical, Marvelous, Memorable Cookies Recipe on Food52

Christmas

Magical, Marvelous, Memorable Cookies

by:
February 28, 2021
36 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

Shakespeare proclaimed music the food of love, but in our family, it’s cookies. From the time my daughter could climb up on a stool and stir chocolate chips into batter, we baked. We created baking experiments for her science projects, and baked cookies and cakes for dinner parties and school functions. My stepsons married women who are both accomplished bakers. Blended families can be...complicated... but baking is the language of our family connection–chocolate chip cookies, apple pie, brownies, meringues–a connection that often feels like a miracle.

I am the oldest of four children, and we—my two sisters, my brother and I—are as close as people who live in four separate US states can be. We were all together for the Christmas holidays, and my sister Linda and I decided to (what else?) bake cookies.

Linda is a first grade teacher. For Christmas every year, her students give her boxes of candy, bags of pretzels, tins of popcorn. One of her good friends made delicious homemade granola, which we thought would make a great cookie. We decided to make our version of “compost cookies" by adapting a recipe for crispy oatmeal cookies and using some of her leftover snacks and candies. These cookies are fun, flexible, not fancy but really delicious—qualities I try to bring to all my cooking. My brother-in-law David (Linda’s husband) couldn't get enough of them, and my husband proclaimed them “best cookies ever.”

This weekend, at my daughter-in-law’s request, I’ll be making them for my grandson’s first birthday party. In our family, cookies make miracles. —drbabs

Test Kitchen Notes

"There is a lot to love about this recipe. First of all, it is not bossy. DrBabs gives us the ratios, and then she tells us to pick a salty snack, some candies, some cereal, some sort of nut, and cinnamon or other spices if we are so inclined. I like that. I like that these are pantry cookies because you are sure to have enough this and that to be able to make cookies without a trip to the store. My version had the following; crushed pretzel dipping sticks, a handful of leftover Reeses Pieces, some Ghiardelli semi sweet chips, two granola sample boxes from our last race expo (we don’t really eat granola but they were free!), cinnamon and walnuts. Out of the oven they are chewy with a great sweet and salt combination. After they cool they become the perfect crispy friend to an ice cold glass of milk. The only direction that I flat ignored is in step 3: Restrain yourself from eating the raw cookie dough—that’s just crazy talk." –aargersi

"I’m just going to come right out and admit that when I first looked over Magical Marvelous Memorable Cookies I was skeptical, because I did not believe the world was in need of a cookie that involved granola.

But the recipe’s author–the ever reliable drbabs–a certain Food52 staffer hectoring me with the determination of a hunger crazed Killdeer to “MAKE THE COOKIES!!!!!!!!!” and the realization that I had signed up to provide the pre-worship feed snack for our congregation on a Friday night three hours before I had to be there combined to inspire me to give these cookies a whirl.

As you can see, a lot of this recipe is left to whim and fancy. Want some nuts? Go for it. No? Okay never mind. Feeling spicy? Add some cinnamon. Got some pretzels lying about? Toss them in. Do not, as I didn’t? Find something else. (I had a cup of slightly stale toffee pieces. In they went as the substitute for nuts and pretzels both. I added no spices.)

What is deceiving about this cookie, which I figured would be mostly a newfangled chocolate chip thing, is that it’s actually quite delicate, more tuile than Tollhouse, with lots of crisp and snap. I am guessing this is due to its fairly high sugar content, made all the more so by granola and in my case the toffee bits.

This is a fairly standard cookie method, with butter creamed and eggs and vanilla added next, your dry ingredients following behind, with a good amount of scraping down. Your mix ins come last. Our author tells us to form these and then fridge them but I don’t have room in my fridge for such falderal so I just chilled the dough right in the mixing bowl for 20 minutes. I used a small sized scoop to get these guys on the pan, which is faster than hand rolling.

Drbabs wants you to cook these one sheet at a time, and I assume this is to prevent uneven cooking or burning. I was in a hurry so I did two sheets at a time and rotated them after seven minutes. You really need to watch these because they will burn if you are not careful, though I repeat, my toffee chips may be to blame. Please let them cool before moving them.

The taste? Delicious. Sweet, delightfully crunchy, complex in this really sort of best-bakery-in-the-neighborhood sort of way. I placed them on the table at my temple and watched the grown men and women go crazy. One older congregant ate three. 'That really is enough for me,' she chuckled as I looked on with delight. I am sure she doesn’t think I saw her stuff another into her pocket." –Jestei

—The Editors

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Makes 24-30 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 sticks (7 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granola (or other cereal)
  • 1/2 cup crushed salted pretzel pieces (or other salty snack food)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped chocolate candies, or a small bar of good dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or other nuts, optional
  • (If you don't use nuts, you may want to add more cereal, snacks or chocolate to compensate.)
  • You may want to add a little cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, or whatever you fancy. We didn't because we wanted the taste of the granola to come through.
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.
  2. In another bowl, beat butter and sugars at medium-low speed until just combined, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute longer. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. Add egg and vanilla and beat on medium-low until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl again.
  3. (For this step you can use a wooden spoon or your mixer on slow speed.) Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated and smooth. Gradually add granola, pretzels, chocolate and nuts, and mix until well incorporated, ensuring that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed. Restrain yourself from eating the raw cookie dough.
  4. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  5. Scoop dough into balls, each about 1 1/2 tablespoons, then roll between palms into balls. Place cookies on prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart, 8-12 per sheet. Freeze at least 20 minutes, or refrigerate at least one hour before baking. (They will still spread a lot.)
  6. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are deep golden brown, 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Let cool completely before gently moving cookies to wire rack. They will be fragile, especially on the edges.
  7. If cookies be the food of love, bake on!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Smelky
    Smelky
  • Stephanie  Pazoles
    Stephanie Pazoles
  • skehias
    skehias
  • aussiefoodie
    aussiefoodie
  • amanda russell
    amanda russell

    312 Reviews

    Messytalko February 28, 2021
    I don't understand why these cookies only had 3 stars. From when I first made this recipe for a group of friends, I get asked to make these so often. Family, friends and friends of friends seem to only know me for these cookies. That said, if you want to make a good impression, give this cookie recipe a try. A solid five stars! It truly lives up to its name: magical, marvelous, and memorable!!
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs February 28, 2021
    Wow. Thank you.
     
    Janew November 3, 2020
    The cookies were a huge hit- our new favorite! Used Cup4Cup gluten free flour and worked great. Thank you
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs November 4, 2020
    I’m so glad they worked out. Thanks.
     
    Janew November 3, 2020
    The cookies were a huge hit- our new favorite! Used Cup4Cup gf flour and worked great. Thank you
     
    David May 31, 2020
    I just made these cookies and they seem like they will be all the Ms that you say. I added cherries and am so psyched to eat more than the little pieces that I had when taking them off the baking sheet. Thank you!
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs June 2, 2020
    Thank you!
     
    Smelky December 5, 2019
    The best and most forgiving recipe ever! These cookies are delicious!
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs December 5, 2019
    So glad you liked them.
     
    Annie S. September 8, 2019
    I would prefer the granola to be unsweetened as the cookie is sweet enough.
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs December 5, 2019
    Sorry, I just saw this. It's a very forgiving recipe. Use what you like.
     
    Stephanie P. August 10, 2019
    I LOVVVVVE these cookies. I like the diversity . I use all the ingredients, add 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and now I chop Mexican dark chocolate into chunks, pretzel stick and pecans. Sometimes I reverse the sugars My only question is, they seem to not spread like it says. I wonder if I need to add the extra ounce of butter??? I do not refrigerate them anymore and they still don't spread out like the photo. Any suggestions?
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs August 10, 2019
    Thanks, Stephanie! I’ve made these countless times, and sometimes they spread more than others. I suspect it’s the ratio of flour and cereal to butter. If you want them to spread, you could try another ounce of butter. They’re pretty forgiving either way. I’ve thought about adding weights, but one of the great things about this recipe is that it more or less works with whatever you have on hand.
     
    Stephanie P. August 13, 2019
    Thanks, yes I though the same thing. I just made them nlast Saturday for Sunday ,made about 30. Had 12 people for a barbecue... they were gone 5 minutes after we finished dinner. LOL Making more today for a fundraiser! I AM ADDICTED :-)
     
    Mary April 5, 2019
    These are wonderful. Be aware that the granola you choose can make a difference in flavor. I do not like the cinnamon & chocolate combination flavor war. I made a batch with a brand of granola which had a good deal of cinnamon and I didn’t enjoy the balance of taste. Now I stick wth Back Roads Vermont granola, no cinnamon. I also use Utz’s extra dark pretzels, caramelizing is key for my taste buds.
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs April 5, 2019
    Thanks for commenting. I don’t like cinnamon either!
     
    skehias January 21, 2019
    These are favorite cookie to make when i have a 1/6 bag of pretzels lying around. This time left out nuts but used extra granola (chocolate flavor). Also have used regular and gluten free flour with great results. Also didn't have a problem with chilling them for only half the time.
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs January 21, 2019
    So happy you like them.
     
    aussiefoodie December 29, 2018
    I was gifted some chunky granola in the holiday food exchange - along with leftover pretzels and dark and white choc chips and walnuts they made amazing cookies!
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs December 30, 2018
    Sounds wonderful!
     
    Erin F. December 20, 2018
    These have become our go-to favorite Christmas cookies. My son loves to make cookies with me and says it is one of his favorite parts of the holiday. ❤️ He is 8 this year. Thank you for sharing!!
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs December 20, 2018
    I'm so glad that you enjoy them. Thank you! Merry Christmas!
     
    amanda R. July 4, 2018
    Delicious! I added m&ms, chocolate chips, potato chips and rice krispies. 1/2 cup of potato chips was not enough for the taste to come through, so I'd add more next time. Regardless, these are fantastic! I only chilled them for 30 minutes or so and that was plenty.
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs July 4, 2018
    Thank you, Amanda. I'm so glad you liked them. Try thick cut potato chips next time, and leave them in large pieces.
     
    eljay June 12, 2018
    Quite tasty! Made with ginger granola and no added nuts
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs June 12, 2018
    Sounds great! Glad you enjoyed.
     
    Dena A. February 2, 2018
    Do you think I could use coconut oil for these?
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs February 2, 2018
    Hard to say. Coconut oil has a much lower melting point than butter, so the cookies might spread all over the place.
     
    Dena A. February 2, 2018
    Good point. I want to make them for someone dairy - sensitive, so even half coconut half butter might help...? Let me know if you have any suggestions, and thanks for the quick reply!!
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs February 2, 2018
    You're welcome! I think if I were making them for someone sensitive to dairy, I'd just clarify the butter and use that. Here's how to clarify butter, in case you've never done it.
    http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2015/08/clarified-butter-recipe.html
     
    Dena A. February 2, 2018
    Great idea, thanks again! Although I might just get lazy and make it as instructed, since it's a very light sensitivity :)
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs February 2, 2018
    I hope you enjoy.
     
    Kelcey P. November 3, 2018
    If you check the vegan section of the milk isle there is usually some vegan butter that works great for baking and has no dairy :-) I'm lactose intolerant as well and it works great!
     
    Peg November 16, 2017
    Just finished my first (of many to come) batch of these wonderful cookies. So easy, so tasty! I used what I had in the pantry... Quaker honey and almond granola in the 2 or 3 oz bag and made up the 1/2 C with fiber one cereal (crushed). I’m always looking for ways to add fiber to my baking and this small amount did not affect the taste. Since the granola had almonds I used slivered almonds, crushed pretzels and semi sweet choc chips. My only addition to the recipe as written was just a dash or two of espresso powder. I baked smaller cookies in the convection oven at 375 for 12 min and they are perfect. This recipe is a true keeper and I can’t wait to try some of the varieties described in other comments. Thanks so much for sharing!
     
    Marty H. September 10, 2017
    Oh. My. God. Made these with homemade granola and crushed up 1/2 cup of Trader Joe's pumpernickel pretzel sticks, which gave them a really interesting depth. The chocolate came through great and balanced the saltiness of the pretzels. This recipe is a keeper!!!
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs September 10, 2017
    Hi Marty! I'm so happy you liked them. Thanks for commenting.
     
    Pam N. September 8, 2017
    Ok. I'm going to say it. I don't get the rave reviews. I made these a week ago for an event. Luckily I made another type of cookie as well. Had a lot of these left. I didn't think there was anything marvelous or memorable. Maybe I did something wrong?
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs September 8, 2017
    Hi Pam. As you can imagine, I make them a lot. They seem to come out best when I make my own granola and have a good mix of salty and sweet, crunchy and soft ingredients. They're definitely dependent on the balance of ingredients. I like them best when they're thin and crunchy, but sometimes they come out soft and puffy. Everyone's taste is different. I'm sorry they didn't work out for you.
     
    Camille April 12, 2017
    I made these cookies last weekend and absolutely loved them. Tons of delicious flavors.
     
    Author Comment
    drbabs April 12, 2017
    Thanks for letting me know. I'm so happy you liked them.
     
    dymnyno February 12, 2017
    Regardless...follow the instructions for baking at high altitude. The tweeks really do work and your baking will be perfect. Many, many cooks live at high altitude. Following the science of baking is important.
     
    Marcy February 12, 2017
    I live in Denver (mile high) and everything I bake, regardless of adjustments I read about, inflates and falls flat. If these cookies are supposed to be flat, can't imagine what they'll do at my altitude. Any suggestions?