Some call these compost cookies, but I just can’t bring myself to do so. A cookie this good just shouldn’t be named after something that conjures the images (and stank) of decaying substances that wind up as fertilizer, even if that cookie is supposed to be comprised of random salty and sweet snacks left over from the lunches and desserts of yore.
“Conglomerate” is much more appropriate – both because it conveys the heterogeneity of snack foods in this recipe, but also because almost all of the snack foods I used are baked made manufactured (let’s just call the process what it is) by a subsidiary company owned by some corporate conglomerate. But enough of the lessons in diction and corporate structure. Let’s get to the good stuff.
These cookies are utterly ridiculous in a yes-I-did-eat-several-large-spoonfuls-of-this-cookie-dough-until-I-realized-what-I-was-doing kind of way. And even then, it wasn’t until 30 minutes later – when I discovered dried cookie dough on my face – that I realized how thoroughly I must have enjoyed the dough. (Luckily, that discovery occurred before my dinner guests arrived.)
These cookies have the salty-sweet thing going on that I lust after, and they’re infinitely adaptable in that you can use almost any snack food you have on hand. You could really make this recipe ten or more times without ever having the same cookie result, which makes it so much more fun than smashing up snack foods already is. Who wants to eat the same, boring old chocolate chip cookie recipe over and over again anyway?
I used a combination of semi-sweet chocolate chips, Snickers, Rolos, Reese’s, Butterfinger, Skor, Payday, Kettle’s Sour Cream and Cheddar Krinkle potato chips, Corn Nuts, and pretzels. The combination is a dream in that kid-in-a-movie-theater kind of way, but the idea of all that junk food together is – let’s face it – a little shameful.
And ashamed is exactly how I must have looked to the Walgreens checkout guy when I dumped this heaping pile of candy bars and salty snacks onto the counter – both because I knew that, at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday, it looked like I was going home for a binge dinner, and because the whole practical reasoning behind these cookies is to use what you have at home. But at home, I had no salty snacks, no leftover candy bars, and no leftover ingredients from random baking projects to toss into this cookie dough, and so I could not have the satisfaction of feeling like I had done some spring cleaning of my snack foods and baking supplies.
So instead, I spent 15 minutes staring at all the processed candy bars and salty, crunchy snacks that I’ve either avoided or been able to reproduce even better at home (ahem, Cheez-Its), and realized, in the process, that I apparently have a strong preference for peanut and caramel treats over chocolate ones and that my palette still has a profound appreciation for the wonders of Corn Nuts. And except for the Reese’s Limited Edition Peanut Butter Lovers, which I mistakenly grabbed instead of the original Reese’s PB cups, I also go for the throwbacks over the crazy new stuff in much the same way that I still play SNES Mario Kart when everyone else is playing on Wii.
As fun as it was to choose and chop up my favorite sweet and salty snacks, conglomerate cookies are even more fun to eat. Each bite is a surprise, tasting slightly different than the last. My friends and I found ourselves pausing after each bite to make observations such as “Mmmm … there’s a bit of Snickers … and a Corn Nut!” But for all the apparent randomness of flavors, they melded together perfectly in a salty sweet cookie that can satisfy both savory snack enthusiasts and the more traditional dessert fanatics.
Note: The original recipe called for using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but I don’t have one. The cookies came out just fine made with my hand-held electric mixer.
1 c. unsalted butter
1 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. corn syrup (you can probably leave this out, but I didn’t merely because I had some on hand)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 1/2 c. sweet snack foods (e.g., semi-sweet chocolate chips, Snickers, Reese’s, Butterfinger, Skor, Payday, Rollos), chopped
1 1/2 c. salty/savory snack foods (e.g., Kettle’s Sour Cream and Cheddar Krinkle potato chips, Corn Nuts, pretzels), chopped
Cream butter, sugars and corn syrup for several minutes until fluffy and pale yellow. Scrape down the sides with a spatula.
On a lower speed, add eggs and vanilla to incorporate. Increase mixing speed to medium-high and start a timer for about 15 minutes if using a hand-held electric mixer, 10 minutes if using a stand mixer. During this time the sugar granules will fully dissolve, the mixture will become an almost pale white color and your creamed mixture will double in size. (Note: Now that I see this, I’m somewhere between 80 and 90% sure I totally overlooked this step – amateur move, I know. Probably explains why my cookies came out a tad flat, but they still tasted amazing.)
When time is up, lower speed, and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Mix 30 to 60 seconds (or in bursts, which I found easier to do using my hand-held mixer) just until the dough comes together and remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. If using a stand mixer, do NOT walk away during this time or you will likely over-mix the dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.
On the same low speed, add in the hodgepodge of chopped up sweet snack foods and mix for 30 to 45 seconds until they evenly mix into the dough. Then add chopped salty/savory snack foods, mixing them in on low speed until they are just incorporated.
Using a 6 oz. ice cream scoop (I used a soup spoon and estimated), scoop cookie dough balls onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Wrap scooped cookie dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 1 week. (Note: Do NOT bake your cookies from room temperature or they will spread out like pancakes.)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove plastic wrap from the cookies, and bake 9 to 11 minutes. While in the oven, the cookies will puff, crackle and spread. (Note: At 9 minutes, the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. Leave the cookies in the oven for 1-2 more minutes if cookies still seem pale and doughy on the surface.)
Cool the cookies completely (or at least for 5 minutes) on the sheet pan. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.