Trail Mix Cookies: bites for on and off the trail

Having two hours free on a weekend is a rare occasion in Marin County. So I stood on my tip-toes to reach for my age-honored recipe box, tucked away in the recesses of a cabinet, high above my galley-like kitchen. A dig through a basket of snacks and a bin of baking supplies produced just the right ingredients for chocolate chip cookies, but I knew I could do better.

“What is an ingredient that I’m overlooking? Something we have a lot of and eat frequently?”

Most of you know the answer to this. Peanut butter. But I didn’t stop there. The scavenger hunt continued and because most weekends are filled with hikes, campouts, and bike rides, I found a variety of trail mixes to satisfy every outdoorsman and outdoorswoman’s cravings. I mixed this all into a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe with “Mag.” (This nicname is twofold. Not as much a shortened version of “Magic Cookie Maker,” but more so named after its gifter, my sweet Grandma Maggie, “Mag” is a teal Kitchen Aid mixer. It was the first appliance I bought for our home, and I organized its arrival before any boxes were even unpacked.)

Because they are firm on the outside and tender in the middle, these baked goodies will hold up in a backpack or lunch box and still be moist and delicious when biting into their salty-sweetness. Read below for the tastiest, softest, cookie recipe I’ve made yet!

1-1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar 

Better than traditional chocolate chip cookies, these nuggets are filled with sweet and savory crunchiness in addition to chocolate chips.
Better than traditional chocolate chip cookies, these nuggets are filled with sweet and savory crunchiness in addition to chocolate chips.

2 Tablespoons milk (or 2.5 T cream)

3/4 cup (3/4 stick) Vegetable shortning (You can use the equal amount of of butter too, but the cookies will spread more and be thinner, as described here.)

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1 egg

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup salted peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup trail mix (raisins, dried cranberries, almond slivers, cashew pieces, walnut or pecan pieces, sunflower seeds)

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Combine vegetable shortning, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Beat egg into mixture.

3. Combine flour, salt, baking soda and peanut butter. Mix into creamed mixture just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and trail mix.

4. Drop ice cream scoops of dough one inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Cookies will not expand much from original size if using vegetable shorting.

Bake at 375 for 8-11 minutes. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

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