Double Chocolate M&M Cookies

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These cookies are chewy, chocolaty, and can be easily dressed up for any holiday or occasion.

Chocolate M&M Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Since it’s February, I can share these now, right? Right.

Truthfully, I’m not very big on Valentine’s Day. Never have been. My idea of a nice Valentine’s Day is staying in, ordering takeout, and watching a movie in our PJs. I don’t want or need much more than that.Chocolate M&M Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

However, I can’t really resist an excuse to bake cookies. And these little chocolate numbers are all dressed for Valentine’s Day. Though you could easily swap out the red/pink/white M&Ms for red/green for Christmas, your team colors for the Super Bowl, and so on.Chocolate M&M Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe is an adaptation of the one used for these Peppermint Mocha Cookies, originally found on Sally’s Baking Addiction.

You’ll need (makes ~24 cookies):

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder (I used half regular and half dark, but use whatever you have)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup M&Ms candy, for pressing into tops of cookies (I went with the Valentine’s Day variety M&Ms)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set the bowl aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together for a few minutes, until they are light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and add the vanilla extract.

Little by little, add the dry ingredients to the wet, on low speed.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the mini chocolate chips.  Turning the speed up a bit higher helps to incorporate them throughout the thick dough.

Next, you’re going to want to scoop and chill the cookie  dough. Scoop and roll the cookie dough into 1.5 tbs-sized balls. Place them on the prepared cookie sheet. Cover the dough balls tightly with plastic wrap and chill it for at least 3 hours, and up to overnight.  I opted for overnight.

Once you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line another baking sheet with parchment paper. Move half of the dough balls over to the other cookie sheet and re-position all of the dough so that it is evenly spaced, leaving a couple of inches between each dough ball.

Bake the cookies for 9-10 minutes.  The cookies will look pretty soft in the middle, and that’s okay.  Remove them from the oven and gently press the M&Ms into the warm cookies. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes or so before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Chocolate M&M Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Chocolate M&M Cookies | A Nerd Cooks<div?

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Funfetti Cake Dip – Updated!

This dip is sweet, fun, and couldn’t be easier to whip up.

Funfetti Cake Dip | A Nerd Cooks

You know Funfetti, right?  In case you don’t… Basically, it’s white cake with a butt ton of sprinkles swirled into the batter.  When baked, the sprinkles look like confetti.  And we all know that confetti = a party.  Ideally the frosting is covered in sprinkles, too.

I’ve been bringing this dip to parties lately, and it’s consistently a hit.  It tastes just like Funfetti cake, but in the form of sweet, fluffy dip.  I actually took this batch to a friend’s house last weekend, which explains the disposable pie plate in the photos.

Funfetti Cake Dip | A Nerd Cooks

One really nice thing about this dip is that it’s not that terrible for you, if you ignore the entire box of cake mix that goes into it.  I like to think that the fat-free yogurt and whipped topping count for something.  This recipe is also easily made gluten free by using GF Funfetti cake mix (found in most grocery stores) and GF treats for dipping.

ALSO!  You can totally customize this dip for holiday celebrations.  Wanna make it for your Christmas celebrations?  Top with red and green sprinkles.  I’m going to be making this on Christmas Day, when family comes over to my parents’ house in the evening.

Need more Funfetti action?  Check out these Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes!Funfetti Cake Dip | A Nerd Cooks

I originally found this recipe on the blog Eat Yourself Skinny, and posted about it nearly 4 and a half years ago, here.

You’ll need:

  • 1 box Funfetti cake mix (easily made gluten free by using GF Funfetti mix)
  • 2 cups plain, fat-free yogurt (I use 0% Fage Greek yogurt)
  • 8 oz Lite Cool Whip
  • Extra sprinkles, for garnish (optional, but definitely recommended)
  • Graham crackers, Nilla Wafers, animal crackers, cookies, etc. (for dipping)

In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, yogurt, and Cool Whip together until everything is combined.  An electric hand mixer can help speed things along.  Top with additional sprinkles, if desired.

Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or so.

Serve with graham crackers, Nilla Wafers, animal crackers, or whatever you’d like to use as a vehicle for getting this dip into your mouth.

Funfetti Cake Dip | A Nerd Cooks

Funfetti Cake Dip | A Nerd Cooks

Eggnog Cookies

Simply put, these cookies taste like Christmas.

Eggnog Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

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What are your opinions on eggnog?  Love it?  Hate it?  It’s a pretty divisive holiday beverage!  It’s the winter holiday equivalent of candy corn.

Personally, I am staunchly anti-eggnog.  At least when it’s in liquid form.  I cannot abide any dairy-based alcoholic beverages.  Adding it to these cookies, however…  The eggnog imparts a really nice flavor to the cookies.  They’re sweet, warmly spiced, and, well, taste just like Christmas.

So, what I’m saying is, leave your preconceived notions about eggnog at the door.  If you’re an eggnog hater, these cookies just might change your mind.

Eggnog Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

 

This recipe comes from the blog Liv for Cake.  I doubled the recipe listed on her blog, and subbed bourbon for the rum that she used.  Because, bourbon.

You’ll need (makes ~36 cookies):

For the cookies –

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp bourbon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup eggnog

For the glaze –

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp bourbon
  • 2 tbs eggnog
  • freshly grated nutmeg and/or colored sanding sugar, for garnish (optional)

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Set the bowl aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the bourbon, egg, and and eggnog.  Beat until combined.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Bit by bit, add the flour mixture and mix until combined.  Again, scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least 3 hours.  I scooped the dough, using a ~1.5 tbs cookie scoop, onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets before tucking them into our chest freezer.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Transfer the chilled cookie dough to the prepared baking sheets.

Bake 9-11 minutes or until the cookies are golden around the edges.  Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, bourbon, and eggnog in a small bowl.  Stir until the glaze comes together.  Drizzle over the cooled cookies and top with some freshly grated nutmeg and/or colored sanding sugar, if desired.

Eggnog Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Eggnog Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Double Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes

These cupcakes have the texture of brownies and are intensely chocolate-y . Frosted with chocolate buttercream and decorated with mini chocolate chips, these cupcakes are a chocoholic’s dream.Double Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

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I made these super chocolate-y cupcakes for Sean’s birthday, which he celebrated last week.  He’s a pretty serious chocolate lover.  Check out this epic chocolate cake I made for him a couple of years ago.  These cupcakes seemed like a fitting choice for his birthday this year.

Double Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes | A Nerd CooksNot only was it Sean’s birthday, but he turned 30!  I managed (with help, of course) to arrange for three of our good friends and some of his family to come down to Durham to visit for the weekend.  He had no idea that anything was happening, and was completely surprised.

After the surprise visitors arrived, we went to the Hurricanes-Canadiens game, and then had a party at our house the day after.  I made these cupcakes for the party.Double Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

The recipe for these brownie cupcakes, along with the basis for the buttercream frosting recipe, comes from Joy the Baker’s 2nd cookbook.

You’ll need:

For the cupcakes (makes 12) –

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with paper or foil liners and set aside.

Put the butter and dark chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure that the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water).  Stir the butter and chocolate together until they are completely melted and combined.  Whisk in the brown sugar and vanilla extract.  Remove from the heat, set aside, and allow it to cool slightly.

After the chocolate mixture has cooled just a bit, whisk in the eggs one at a time, making sure that they are each thoroughly combined before adding another.  Whisk in the flour, salt, and baking powder.  Fold in the dark chocolate chips.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick, when inserted into the center, comes out clean.  Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

For the buttercream frosting (makes more than you’ll likely need for 12 cupcakes) –

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tbs milk/heavy cream
  • mini chocolate chips, for decorating (optional)

Add the softened butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat it on medium for about 1 minute.

While the butter is being beaten, whisk together the cocoa powder and powdered sugar.

Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar/cocoa powder mixture, the salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until the powdered sugar is incorporated.

Add another 2 cups of the powdered sugar.  Beat on low speed, and add the additional 1 cups of sugar as needed to thicken the frosting.  Use the milk/heavy cream to thin things out as needed.

Once the frosting is as stiff as you’d like it to be, beat it on medium speed for about 4 minutes, or until the frosting is fluffy and smooth.

Frost the cooled cupcakes and decorate with mini chocolate chips, if desired.

Double Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

double-chocolate-brownie-cupcakes-long-pin

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

These bars have it all. They are full of sweet and salty caramel, spicy cinnamon, and sweet-tart apples.Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars | A Nerd Cooks

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For my birthday this year, I picked up a few new cookbooks.  One of them was the Cookies & Cups Cookbook.  Though I’ve salivated over many a thing in Shelly’s lovely book, I’ve made Key Lime Pie Cookies and these amazing apple pie bars.  Both undisputed winners.  I can’t wait to keep cooking and baking my way through this cookbook.

These bars are out of control good.  The salted caramel and tart Granny Smith apples are perfect for one another.  They’re perfect for enjoying some really classic Fall flavors.  And, let’s face it, the near-obscene amount of butter in these bars doesn’t hurt, either.  Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe is modified slightly from the one found in the Cookies & Cups cookbook.

You’ll need:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 14 oz (about 55 pieces) soft caramels (like these ones), unwrapped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbs flaked sea salt
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced*

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment paper, lightly coat with cooking spray, and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla extract and mix well.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour little by little until the dough just comes together.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Press half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish in an even layer.  Reserve the other half of the dough for later.  You can wrap it in plastic wrap and stash it in the refrigerator.

Bake the base for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden brown.  Place the baking dish on a wire rack and allow it to cool almost completely.**

When the bottom crust is nearly cool, you can start making the caramel sauce.  In a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, combine the unwrapped caramels and heavy cream.  Stir frequently until the caramel is melted and smooth.  Pour it over the cooled bottom crust in an even layer.

Sprinkle the sea salt (seriously, I’m having a love affair with Maldon sea salt) over the caramel and layer the apples on top, evenly.  Overlap the apples a bit if necessary.

Take the reserved dough out of the fridge.  Crumble it onto the apples in an even layer.  You probably won’t totally cover the apples, and that’s okay.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the caramel is bubbling.

Allow the pan to cool completely before cutting it into bars.

These bars are pretty amazing no matter how you eat them.  But may I recommend reheating a bar and topping it with a little vanilla ice cream?

*I found that using one of these apple corer/slicers made the job go a lot faster.  Use one of those bad boys after peeling the apples.  Take each segment of apple and cut in half lengthwise.  Then cut each of those pieces in half again, lengthwise.

**Make sure that the base is pretty firm, and adequately cooled, before moving on.  The first time I made these bars, I was impatient.  I didn’t allow the base to cool much at all, and poured the salted caramel on top, thinking that all would be fine.  However, because the base never quite baked the whole way through, the bars didn’t retain their shape when cut.  It was still delicious, but was a bit of a sloppy mess.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars | A Nerd Cooks

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars | A Nerd Cooks

Dark Chocolate Halloween Chip Cookies

These festive cookies are the perfect sweet treat to help you celebrate Halloween!Dark Chocolate Halloween Chip Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

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These cookies are all dolled up for Halloween.  They’re made with dark cocoa powder so they’re nearly black.  PLUS they’re full of white chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, peanut butter, AND orange candy baking chips.Dark Chocolate Halloween Chip Cookies | A Nerd CooksDark Chocolate Halloween Chip Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

I found this recipe on the blog House of Nash Eats.

You’ll need (yields ~3 dozen cookies):

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Nestle Halloween baking chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter baking chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure that each one is combined before adding the next.  Add the vanilla extract and mix well.

In a couple of batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Mix until just combined.

Add 1 3/4 cups of the baking chips/chocolate chips, mixing until they are well distributed throughout the dough.  Reserve the remaining 1/4 cup of chips for topping the cookies.

Using a cookie scoop, or two spoons, scoop dough into 2 tbs-sized balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each ball of dough.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until just set.

Once you remove the cookies from the oven, press some of the leftover chocolate chips into the dough.  Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Halloween Chip Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Dark Chocolate Halloween Chip Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Apple Oat Streusel Muffins

These muffins are moist, tender, and full of apples and fall flavors.Apple Oat Streusel Muffins | A Nerd CooksYes, it’s muffins again.  If you’ll recall, I shared these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins with you all a couple of weeks ago.

But now we’re back with another really great fall flavor combination: apples and cinnamon.  They’re really tender, and an unrealistic part of me likes to think that they’re sort of healthy because they’re full of apples, coconut oil, and oats. See other apple and cinnamon-related goodness here: Apple Crisp.

This recipe comes from Celebrating Sweets.

You’ll need (makes 12 muffins):

For the muffins – 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup cooked plain oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup finely chopped apple (I used Gala and left the skin on)

For the streusel –

  • 2 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbs old fashioned oats
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder.  Set aside.

In another medium-sized bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, brown sugar, eggs, oatmeal, and applesauce.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined.  Add the apple and stir until combined.

Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups.

Make the streusel – In a small bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon. Work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles wet sand.

Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the 12 muffin cups.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick, when inserted into the center, comes out clean.  Allow the muffins to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Apple Oat Streusel Muffins | A Nerd Cooks