Wing It Wednesday: Valentine’s Day Cookies

Buckle up because this recipe is going to become your new favorite. This cookie is [cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die] perfect. It’s got a crunchy outside but then when you bite into it it’s so soft and chewy, and the texture and dough is so dense and thick that you know that this cookie is legit. Make this cookie. Save the recipe forever and ever. Memorize it. Customize this cookie for any season, reason, and/or occasion.

Usually, by the time I’m posting a recipe on the site, I’ve made it a few times. You know? I’m going to make sure I know what I’m doing, that I’ve gotten it exactly how I want it before I’m going to share it with you and publish it. This means that I’ve looked at a few different recipes for the same thing and created some sort of hybrid of a few different things, taking a little bit from this one over here and a little bit from this one over there and learning from mistakes. That’s cooking, you know? Dump and stir, trial and error.

Enter: Wing It Wednesdays. I’m going to find a recipe, take the usual pictures and hope for the best. Whether it works out great or turns into a hot mess and goes off the rails, I’m going to share it with you. I’ll tell you where it worked, where it didn’t, what I learned, what I would do differently next time, if there will even be a next time.

Let’s go!


I’m letting caution go to the wind this week, you guys. I am -50 in my points this week because I really lived my best life on our quick jaunt to Florida last weekend and I have a Gal-entine’s Day Cookie Exchange on the books. Life’s all about balance, we say it all the time. So, with that comes a time and a place for real sugar and real butter and a whole lotta chocolate! I chose to make Soft M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies by Averie Cooks!

Same, girl, same.

These cookies aren’t what we would call WW-friendly, and I haven’t tried baking them with substitutes so I don’t know how that conversion would go, but boy are they good! I found these cookies by searching Valentine’s Day Cookies on Pinterest and they just looked so darn cute (and easy!) that I wanted to give them a try, points be damned!

Step 1: Combine Wet Ingredients

The most beautiful part of this cookie recipe is that it’s, like, super, super easy. I didn’t even have to start with “prep your ingredients” it’s so easy, and I usually ALWAYS start all recipes with “prep your stuff” – there’s just nothing to prep. Aside from the normal amount of measuring that all regular baking requires, that’s it – there’s nothing else.

Actually, I’m a liar. I did line a couple baking sheets with parchment first thing, but this is such a tiny “prep” thing that it doesn’t even need to be mentioned here because you can totally do it later. But I tend to be of the mindset of “don’t put off ‘til later what you can do now” so before I was in the thick of things, I just got it done.

Now, when I say “wet ingredients” I am assuming all of you know that I really mean cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla together. That’s pretty standard for most baking recipes. For the sake of transparency, I’ll tell you that I used salted sweet cream butter because that’s what was in my fridge (even though most recipes, when baking, suggest using unsalted butter), I just don’t care that much.

The recipe also said “softened” butter, which is standard for most baking recipes. I didn’t plan far enough in advance to get my butter out and let it soften on the counter over the course of the day, so I used the “soften butter” feature on my microwave, and I was apparently pretty impatient because I should have let it soften just a little but longer than I did, but everything still came together nicely eventually. I also never use to really understand what it meant to be “light and fluffy” in recipes when it talked about creaming butter and sugar, but I’m pretty sure I understand now because even though it’s kind of gross, I’d probably be fine eating this with a spoon 🙈😂.

Step 2: Add Dry Ingredients

Our dry ingredients in this case are AP Flour, baking soda, & vanilla pudding mix. Guys, pudding cookies and cakes are a thing, but I had not made anything that required me to add pudding mix to it aside from making pudding before. I don’t know where I’ve been. I have been converted and I believe strongly in adding pudding mix to things. A quick search of Pinterest has told me that this is a common practice and the possibilities seem endless. I’m interested in this.

Additionally, the recipe said salt is optional. Now, had I been paying actual in-depth attention, I would have skipped the salt because I used salted butter, but I did decide to add ¼ tsp of kosher salt because even in an absent-minded attempt at baking I believe firmly that chocolate (and most sweet things) taste better when there’s salt added for contrast. (We’re getting very into my beliefs about baking right now. Here we are, in my feelings, just like Drake.)

Something a little weird about this is that most of the time I add my dry ingredients to a separate bowl to get things mixed together and to allow for easier adding to the wet ingredients. The recipe didn’t specifically say to slowly add the dry ingredients, so I stopped my mixer, dumped that stuff in and that started it back up. Sometimes recipes indicate to slowly add the flour etc to prevent it from billowing upwards and to ensure adequate incorporation without over-beating the dough, but apparently this is not a concern with this dough? Either way, I just dumped it all in at once.

Step 3: Add Chocolate

This is the part where these cookies become entirely riffable for any sort of theme or taste you were going for. Once the base is done, all you need to do is add your chocolate chips and you could be done. These would just be chewy, perfect chocolate chip cookies. But because I (and let’s be honest, all of us on the internet) want things to be just so, so cute, it makes sense that we’d need to throw in some candy.  I picked up some Valentine’s Day themed M&Ms and threw those one so I would be on-theme for this Gal-entines Day cookie exchange with my mom friends.

I am imagining all of the other types of things, aside from other color-themed M&Ms, I could throw in this dough and be over the moon about, including but not limited to (and in no particular order):

  • Twix
  • Snickers
  • Reese’s (chunks of actual peanut butter cups or just Reese’s Pieces!)
  • White chocolate chips & dried cherries
  • Andes mint chips

Step 4: Scoop & Chill

I used a medium cookie scoop to portion out my cookies. This is what allowed me to get 32 cookies out of this dough, as opposed to the 15 that the recipe said it makes. I could have made the larger cookies and used a bigger scoop, but I did want more bang for my buck (effort) and I was trying to make sure I had enough for our exchange. Plus, I actually love the size that this scoop makes and these turned out to be cute little puffs of cookies.

Additionally, the tip to making cookies look so cute and good is to top the mound of dough with the actual ingredient within the cookie. Depending on what’s in the cookie, my rule of thumb is 3-4 of each topping within the cookie. So for this cookie I did 3-4 M&Ms with 3-4 chocolate chips on the top of each ball of dough.

When I read the recipe for this cookie, I saw that the total time was over 3 hours and was like:

Yeah. This dough has to chill.

I don’t know why I’m so salty about it, but it annoys me. It’s not even that big of a deal other than the fact that this task just seems unfinished for such a long time. I read further and saw that Averie suggests chilling the dough for at least two hours but up to 5 days. With how my day was going, I figured I’d just get it out of the way for that day, chill them overnight and bake them the next day so that I could at least feel settled for a period of time and not in a rush. So, that’s what I did.

I get it, you know? Like, if the dough is chilled, there’s less of a chance of spreading as the cookie bakes and this way the cookie will stay thick and full rather than flat and sad looking. Sometimes you do things because you have to, not because you want to. I am curious, though, how these would have turned out if I would have ignored this part because sometimes the waiting is just too much to take.

Hindsight is 20/20 and I know now that I should have flattened my cookie dough balls just a little bit if I wanted them to be more disc-shaped as opposed to ball-shaped once they were baked. Live and learn.

Step 4: Bake & Enjoy

These cookies bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes. I baked mine for 10 minutes because I was worried they’d be, like, too gooey in the middle since they didn’t flatten out that much at all. The outside looks crumbly and I was a little bit nervous that I’d chilled them too long or baked them too long or that I was just going to be bummed out because they weren’t as good as I was hoping they’d be. But then… then, I ate one, and I knew all that worrying was for nothing.

The Verdict

Difficulty/Approachability: Low/Easy. This is an awesome beginner recipe. This is also extremely approachable because it’s low effort and has simple ingredients that people usually always have on hand, aside from any kind of candy you might want to throw in. I don’t usually have candy in my house because self-control is hard. The base of this batter is basically that of a chocolate chip cookie with vanilla pudding mixed in to keep the cookie so dense and chewy. You can also totally add whatever else you want to zhuzh it up.

Taste: This cookie is bomb dot com. I calculated out the WW points before I even ate one just so I could know how naughty I was being, and it was WORTH. EVERY. POINT. I’m telling you. It has the perfect texture – everything you want in a cookie. It’s got a crunchy outside but then when you bite into it it’s so soft and chewy, and the texture and dough is so dense and thick that you know that this cookie is legit. Make this cookie. Save the recipe. Memorize it. Customize this cookie for any season, reason, and/or occasion.

What would I do differently? I spoiled this earlier, but I almost wish I would have flattened my cookie dough balls to be more of a disc shape instead of such a ball shape. They didn’t flatten out like I had figured they would and that would have made topping them with the M&M’s and chocolate chips even easier. That’s for the ‘gram, though, you know? That’s all for the optics of it. Otherwise, they’re perfect as is. Oh, and I want to try them without chilling them just to see what would happen. Oh, and maybe I’d try a sugar substitute and swap in some applesauce for some of the butter to see if I could lower the points on this. So much experimenting to do in the future! Oh! And I bet a chocolate version wouldn’t be that hard either! Guys, truly, the possibilities are endless.

Would I make this again? Oh, 10/10 yes. I’m already thinking of all the ways I could keep eating these. The answer is whole heartedly yes and I will be doing it soon!

Soft & Chewy M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies

Averie Cooks
Buckle up because this recipe is going to become your new favorite. This cookie is [cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die] perfect. It's got a crunchy outside but then when you bite into it it’s so soft and chewy, and the texture and dough is so dense and thick that you know that this cookie is legit. Make this cookie. Save the recipe forever and ever. Memorize it. Customize this cookie for any season, reason, and/or occasion.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 11 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 32

Equipment

  • stand mixer w/ paddle attachment
  • OR large mixing bowl with hand mixer

Ingredients
  

  • 3/4 cup butter (1.5 sticks) (I used salted but the original recipe calls for unsalted)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup vanilla instant pudding (see below for notes)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt (optional)
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate M&Ms mixed into the dough (Plus approx. 1/2 cup for placing on top of each cookie dough ball)

Instructions
 

  • In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugars, egg and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until creamed and well combined, about 4 minutes.
  • Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the flour, pudding mix (or cornstarch), baking soda and optional salt. Beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
  • Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the chocolate chips and 3/4 cup of M&Ms. Beat on low speed until just combined, approximately 30 seconds.
  • Using a cookie scoop, form [32] equal sized mounds of dough, roll into balls, and flatten slightly on the top.**
  • Add about 1 tablespoon M&Ms to the top of each mound of dough. ***
  • Place cookie dough mounds on a large plate or tray, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate/chill for at least 2 hours, up to 5 days. Do not bake with unchilled dough because will bake thinner, flatter and be more prone to spreading.
  • Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a Silpat, [parchment paper], or spray with cooking spray. Place cookie dough balls on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart, and bake for 11 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just set, even if slightly undercooked, pale and glossy in the center. Cookies firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before serving. ****
  • Cookies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired at a time and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.

Notes

  1. The original recipe notes to be sure to use instant pudding instead of cook & serve or the sugar free versions. Additionally, if not using vanilla pudding mix, it’s OK to substitute 2 teaspoons of cornstarch instead.
  2. Original recipe indicates using a large cookie scoop, a 1/4 measuring cup, or your hands to form 15 (instead of 32) equal cookie dough balls.
  3. Rather than using a measuring spoon, my rule of thumb usually works out to 3-4 pieces of each cookie filling (M&Ms and chocolate chips) to the top of each cookie.
  4. Since I made smaller balls of cookie dough, I baked mine for 9-10 minutes instead of the full 11 the original recipe called for based on the larger size of her cookies. Original recipe also indicates to let cookies cool on a baking sheet; this is fine, I did let mine cool slightly on the sheet but then moved them to a cooling rack. To each her own, I think.
 
  • 7 WW Smartpoints for all three plans 💙💚💜 
    • Serving size is 1 cookie of the 32 the recipe creates.
    • Note: you may need to change the serving size if your batch creates more or less cookies, which would likely change the point value for this recipe.
    • Calculated using the WW Recipe Creator.
Keyword candy, candy cookie, chilled dessert, chocolate, chocolate chip, cookie, cookie exchange, cookies, dessert, easy, easy cookie, galentine’s day, m&m, make ahead, riffable, snack, sweet treat, sweets, theme, theme cookie, theme dessert, valentine’s day

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see how it turned out!
Snap a photo and tag @glimpseofgrace on Instagram!

Other Wing It Wednesdays:

 

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