M&M cookies: 7 cents each

Yep, you read that right: SEVEN CENTS. It’s not often a dessert qualifies for inclusion in the $35-a-week budget, but this one does. You may have to freeze them to ensure you only eat one or two at a time, but they’re the perfect dessert to make after a candy-related holiday—Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Easter, Christmas—to take advantage of on-sale holiday-themed M&Ms. Most of the time they’ll be cheaper than a bag of chocolate chips.

You may also be wondering what in clown-cookie hell is behind the plate in the picture.

Well, you asked. (OK, maybe you didn’t ask. Just humor me.)

It’s a cookie jar in the shape of a bear. And not just any bear; a bear who happens to be into all manner of sports. It’s kind of a long story how we came into possession of such an item, but it had to do with a friend who was inspired by our wedding reception, which was flea-market themed and included a wide variety of items not unlike this as guest favors (including, but not limited to, a 3-foot-tall concrete clown complete with concrete balloons, and a plastic bas-relief print of Pope John Paul II). In any case, it’s a very roomy and practical-sized cookie jar, and as seems to happen after years of ownership of certain things, we are now using it completely unironically.

It may seem like a stretch to get 60 cookies out of this recipe, but it’s easy if you use a tablespoon measuring spoon, and even though the dough balls look small, they all end up normal cookie size.

• 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour: 30 cents
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar: 20 cents
• 3/4 cup packed brown sugar: 20 cents
• 1 tsp table salt: 1 cent
• 1 tsp baking soda: 2 cents
• 2 eggs (garden): $0
• 2 sticks butter, softened: $1
• 1 T vanilla extract (I keep a Costco bottle in the fridge): 5 cents
• 1 12-oz. bag M&Ms (I originally hoped to find some Valentine’s ones on sale, but did not): $2.50
TOTAL: $4.28/60 = 7 cents each

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or regular bowl with a hand mixer), beat the butter, sugars, and vanilla until combined. Add the eggs and beat until fluffy. Gradually stir in the flour, salt and baking soda until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the M&Ms.

Let the mixture sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour to chill.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat liner (I highly recommend the latter). Using a tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop out 1 T worth of dough, roll it into a ball, and place the balls evenly spaced on the cookie sheet. (A regular-sized cookie sheet will hold a dozen; I have a very large one that holds 16.) Bake for 10-11 minutes. While those are baking, prepare another cookie sheet with dough balls. When the cookies are just starting to turn golden on top, take them out, let them sit for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack (with all-butter cookies like these, low-to-the-counter cookie racks are best). Put the new batch in the oven and repeat. I had to do this in 5 batches.

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