I've been daydreaming about M&M cookies for awhile now. They weren't something we made at home when I was little, but my mom had a recipe in her files for them anyway, and so do I. They're just right when you want a cookie but chocolate chip isn't crunchy enough. I started thinking about replacing the M&Ms with Skittles or some other dairy-free candy, but it just didn't sound appealing enough to try (because nothing really replaces M&Ms for me)...until now.
Why now? I missed out all of the holiday baking this Christmas while I was completing cardiac rehabilitation (and I officially "graduated" on New Year's Eve!). Our holiday dessert effort this year was Oreos (how are they vegan?) dunked in melted safe chocolate chips. The kids loved them, but I missed my baking time. I've made great recovery strides in 2017 already, so I decided that I'm ready to shower the people I love with cookie tins for Valentine's Day instead.
I'll be returning to some favorite treats (last year's truffles, for sure), but I also wanted to make some new variations on my standards. My youngest, the one with the most (and the anaphylactic) food allergies, recently developed a taste for spicy Red Hots, that old cinnamon imperials hard candy. And they happen to be sold in bulk at the store across the street from our neighborhood. That scenario was sort of begging me to come up with a cookie.
The key to M&M cookies, I've learned, is to bake a cookie soft enough to press the candies into just after they come out of the oven. I was game to try that; I used some old M&M cookie examples and my own chocolate chip recipe, but I increased the sugar-to-oil ratio and shortened the cooking time. But pressing in candy after baking just didn't seem like enough spicy goodness to me, so I added Red Hots into the dough, too.
On day 1, I used half of the dough for baking; I added 1/4 cup flour to the other half and froze it in a log. After my first batch of cookies, with candy in the dough that I dropped onto cookie sheets to bake, I was pretty happy. The cookies were soft, even the next day, and the candy was softer but not burnt or melted. The cookie jar emptied rather quickly, so I pulled out the frozen long on day 2.
Slicing the cookies frozen was something new for me, but I baked this batch exactly the same way as the first. At the end, though, I pressed more Red Hots into the tops of each cookie to see if they really would settle in like M&Ms do. And yes, they did!
You might wonder why this post is called "Red Hot Hearts" when there are no hearts to be found. Well, my initial goal was to use the M&M cookie variation and some extra flour to roll the dough out and bake in heart shapes. I think that my next attempt with this recipe might pull that goal off...but I need some extra patience before I succeed there. For now, here's the recipe I used for the fresh and frozen doughs. Enjoy, and happy Valentine's day!
Hi, I'm Nicole.
ABOUT THE BLOG
An apothecary is a person or a place. Either one implies healing and relates to pharmacy in its truest sense, as a source of treatment and advice.
This blog is my way of uniting my pharmacy training with my efforts to provide a healthy and safe lifestyle for my family. In true apothecary form, I research and prescribe alternative ingredients that work just right in each specific recipe, and I would like to share the results with anyone who needs help making their own family’s kitchen allergy safe and heart healthy.
Nicole Van Hoey's books on Goodreads
Bakery Bites: Breads and Treats Without Dairy, Eggs, Nuts, Seeds, or Soy
ratings: 1 (avg rating 5.00)
Kitchen Adventures With Multiple Food Allergies: A Recipe Collection for Celebrations Without Dairy, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Seeds, or Soy