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5 Sweet Candy/Cookie Combinations

In the kitchen, it can be all too easy to stick to what you know and love. This is especially true when it comes to baking, where an experiment gone wrong can land you with a batch of rock-hard gingersnaps, bitter brownies, or cake so gooey you would need a spoon to eat it.

On the other hand, playing it safe means your results are reliable, but never a delightful surprise. Some of the most delicious foods out there came from bakers and chefs who tried something new, often by mixing things that they love. So we decided to experiment by putting two of our favorite things together: cookies and candy. 

Between those two types of treats, there’s a seemingly endless list of possible combinations, and not all of them are going to be a match made in heaven. We tested a variety of cookie/candy combinations to take the pressure off busy home cooks who might not have time to bake and eat several batches of treats. (You’re welcome!) These are a few of our favorites.


1. Reese's Pieces + Double-Chocolate Cookie

Reese's Pieces

Why it works

Chocolate and peanut butter are always a winning combination when it comes to taste, but these cookies have a beautiful feel as well. The crunch of the candy shell followed by the buttery smoothness of the Reese's Pieces adds a nice creamy texture to a type of cookie that can often taste a little dry. The option of boosting the peanut butter flavor with extra Reese's Pieces or adding more chocolate in the form of chocolate chips also lets you customize this cookie to get the taste you like best.

Recipe

Based on the Hershey's recipe for Chewy Chocolate Cookies: https://www.hersheys.com/recipes/en_US/recipes/5366/reeses-chewy-chocolate-cookies-with-peanut-butter-chips.html

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt (or just a pinch if you’re using salted butter instead of unsalted)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/4 cups (2-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine , softened
  • 1-2 cups of Reese’s Pieces
  • 1-2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional -- change the amount of Reese’s Pieces accordingly, so you have about two cups total)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Then mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl -- flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt -- and set it aside.
  2. Combine the butter and sugar together in large bowl until fluffy. This works best with either a stand mixer or a handheld one. Then add the eggs and vanilla, and mix well. Gradually add the dry ingredients mixture, beating well as you go, but stop stirring when the ingredients are all combined, so you don’t overbeat the flour. Stir in the Reese’s Pieces and the chocolate chips, if you’re using them.
  3. Spoon out small rounds of cookie dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Each one should be about two teaspoons’ worth of dough.
  4. Bake for eight to nine minutes, or until the cookies look set but are a little soft in the middle. Be sure to let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving them to a rack. This recipe makes about four dozen cookies.

2. Heath Bars + Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie

Heath Bar

Why it works

We've tried the recipe below with both Heath bars and the chopped peanut butter cups it calls for. Both are delicious, but we think the Heath bars have a stronger flavor than the peanut butter cups, so in this version of the cookie, the candy stands out more. The toffee complements the chewiness of the oatmeal and the subtle peanut butter flavor in the cookie beautifully. As a bonus, you get more texture contrast with the caramel crunch that comes every time you bite into one of these mini masterpieces.

Recipe

Based on the recipe for Peanut Butter Cup Oatmeal Cookies from Sally's Baking Addiction: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/07/24/peanut-butter-cup-oatmeal-cookies/

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (light brown works, too)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (not the natural kind where you have to stir in the oil)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (160g) oats
  • 1-1/4 cups chopped Heath Bars

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients -- flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder -- together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, use a whisk to stir the melted butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar together until all the lumps are gone. 
  4. Stir in the egg and then the peanut butter, mixing until everything is combined.  Finally, stir in the vanilla.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix them together with a large spoon or rubber spatula until they are just combined. The dough will be very soft and slick. Fold in the oats and the chopped Heath bars.
  6. Roll the dough into balls, about three tablespoons of dough each, and place on parchment paper on baking trays. If you have a cookie scoop, it’s very helpful with this recipe.
  7. Bake for about 11-12 minutes. The cookies will look very soft and under-baked, but take them out of the oven anyway. They won’t spread out all the way while baking, so lightly press down on each cookie using a spatula to help them flatten. Leave the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes, and then move them to a wire rack, so they can cool completely.

3. Peanut Butter Cups + Peanut Butter Cookie

Peanut Butter Cups

Why it works

This cookie has two upsides: First, a delicious peanut buttery flavor. Second, thanks to a mini muffin pan, a cute style that looks like you spent a lot of time crafting these treats, when in fact you just bought a log of dough at the store, because you can do that with this recipe. We didn't, but our test kitchen has a lot of time on its hands and a great deal of enthusiasm for its new stand mixer.

But even without the premade dough, the peanut butter cookie recipe we used is straightforward, so this is a quick and easy way to impress your date. Just make sure you freeze the peanut butter cups ahead of time -- it makes them much easier to press into those fresh-from-the-oven cookies.

Recipe

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies from AllRecipes.com: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/9471/peanut-butter-cup-cookies/

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (not the natural kind)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 40 miniature chocolate covered peanut butter cups, unwrapped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix together the dry ingredients -- flour, salt and baking soda -- and set the bowl aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk.
  4. Add the flour mixture little by little, and mix well. Stop stirring once the dry ingredients are fully combined with the wet.
  5. Shape into small rounds and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan. Each round should be about 2 ½ teaspoons to 1 tablespoon, depending on your muffin pan.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F for about eight minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press a mini peanut butter cup into each ball. Let them cool and then carefully remove from pan.

4. Whoppers + Chocolate Chip Cookie

Whopper

Why it works

This is a candy you don't often see baked into desserts. Until we stumbled across these recipes, we didn't know our love of chocolate malts could be turned into a cookie at all. The chopped up Whoppers add both an unusual taste and texture, and the malted milk powder ensures that the delicious malt flavor is present in every bite. As a bonus, the bottoms of the cookies are almost caramelized.

We loved both versions of this cookie, so it comes down to whether you prefer a rich chocolate cookie or a buttery, lighter-flavored cookie. If you want to go for a retro sweetheart look with the finished batch, put out a plate of these alongside a classic chocolate malt -- one glass, two straws.

Recipe

Malted Chocolate Chip Whoppers Cookies from Two Peas & Their Pod: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/malted-chocolate-chip-whoppers-cookies/

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar (or light brown)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped Whoppers candies (or any malted milk balls)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  2. Mix the flour, malted milk powder, cornstarch, baking soda and sea salt together, and set the bowl aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a handheld mixer, beat the butter and sugars until smooth and creamy, which takes about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat until combined.
  4. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients. Mix until they’re just combined.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips and malted milk balls last.
  6. Shape the cookie dough into tablespoon balls and place on prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until they’re slightly golden brown around the edges (but not in the middle). Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for two minutes, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. M&Ms + Brown Butter Cookie

M&Ms

Why it works

M&Ms do a great job of adding color to baked goods, and all of the different seasonal options make these an ideal candy for customizing your cookies. Take Valentine's Day, for example. Those pink, red and white candies just radiate true love, don't they?

But as colorful as they are, M&Ms aren't the most flavorful candies out there, so we like them in a brown butter cookie, which has a richer, deeper flavor than your basic recipe, thanks to the nutty aroma of that butter. The milder candy taste provides a delicious balance with the buttery cookie, and it brings out the best in both. The original recipe calls for pretzels to create a lovely salty-sweet combination, but we'll be honest: We were testing out all sorts of different candies, so we threw in some Twix bars for their crunch and a hint of caramel. It was awesome.

Recipe

Based on the recipe for Brown Butter Pretzel M&M Cookies from Sally's Baking Addiction: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/03/05/brown-butter-pretzel-mm-cookies/

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flours
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of M&Ms
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of pretzels, Twix or another treat (you want to have 1 1/2 cups total between this and the M&Ms)

Instructions

  1. First, make the brown butter. Melt the butter in a saucepan, over low-medium heat. Constantly stir the butter.  The butter will begin to bubble and get a bit foamy, and after a few minutes, you'll see its color change to amber. Once you begin to see brown specks in the butter, remove it from the stove, pour into a shallow dish and refrigerate for one to two hours.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the solid brown butter for one minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. This works well with either a handheld mixer or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
  3. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar, and mix on medium speed until it’s nice and fluffy. Then mix in the egg and vanilla, making sure everything is evenly mixed.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.
  5. On low speed, slowly mix the dry and wet ingredients until just combined. You don’t want to over mix the flour. The cookie dough will be quite thick.
  6. Add the M&Ms and mix for about five seconds until evenly disbursed, using either the mixer or a wooden spoon. Cover the dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and chill it in the refrigerator for at least one hour and up to two days. Chilling is not optional with this recipe!
  7. Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator, and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line a large baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
  8. Once it’s been chilled, the dough may be slightly crumbly, but it will come together if you work the dough with your hands as you roll it into individual balls. Each ball of dough should be about one tablespoon.
  9. Bake for eight to nine minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges. The cookies will look extremely soft when you remove them from the oven, but that’s normal. Let them cool for five minutes on the cookie sheet. (The cookies will deflate slightly as they cool down.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Additional Sources:

  • "Cupid to Shower Americans with Jewelry, Candy this Valentine's Day," National Retail Foundation, Jan. 26, 2015, https://nrf.com/media/press-releases/cupid-shower-americans-jewelry-candy-this-valentines-day

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