A week before my college orientation I made the somewhat questionable decision to sign up for a wilderness pre-orientation program. Five days traipsing through the Appalachian Mountains with seven other incoming freshmen, and two upperclass leaders seemed like a fabulous idea at the time. That was before I met my 50 pound hiking backpack, and realized there is no such thing as a broken-in pair of hiking boots.
I did, however, earn the nickname “Martha Stewart” for my campfire cooking abilities. Given that the only things I remember making are rice flavored with onion soup mix and pizza in a a skillet, I’m not sure this was deserved, but I’ll consider it a foreshadowing step to my life now.
Another integral part of the wilderness orientation was to bring your own GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts), otherwise known as trail mix. We were encouraged to be creative, unique, and fun with our personal trail mixes. Naturally, my wilderness mates showed up with all sorts of goodies in their GORP: Teddy Grahams, dried fruit, Reese’s Pieces. But me? I didn’t stray from tradition: peanuts, cashews, almonds, m&ms, and raisins. It’s a classic mix, and some might say boring, but I think it’s classic for a reason.
These cookies are filled with the same goodies I packed along in my backpack for those five days, and remind me that when you marry two classic things together, you get something great. Oatmeal cookies get a bad rep – they are usually the least exciting addition to the cookie plate, and easiest to write off as dry and flavorless. But combine a recipe for fantastically chewy oatmeal cookies with the perfect trail mix, and you’ve got a cookie that busts through the boring part of “classic” right to truly scrumptious.
I ate more of these than I’m willing to admit while, ahem, making the edges “rounder” for my photos. The things I do for you. Trust me, though, these are hard to put down. Every bite is filled with crunchy peanuts, sweet raisins, and chocolatey goodness. Just the sort of fuel you need the next time you’re hiking a mountain. Or, you know, as your 3:00 pick-me-up. I find that’s much more my style these days. 🙂
Trail Mix Oatmeal Cookies
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: 18 cookies
Adapted From: Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1 and 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins (or 1/4 cup raisins and 1/4 cup dried cranberries)
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup M&Ms
Start about 1/2 hour before you want to make cookies, by setting out your butter and eggs to bring them to room temperature.
In a stand mixer (or large bowl and hand mixer), beat the butter and white and brown sugar together until creamy. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat for another minute until everything is combined.
In a separate bowl, stir together flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Turn your mixer on low, and add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar in small batches. Once combined, add the raisins, peanuts, and M&Ms. The dough will be very thick, so using a mixer is definitely recommended.
Chill the cookie dough for 30-60 minutes. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
Using a cookie scoop or your hands, roll balls with about 1.5 tablespoons of dough and place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
Bake for 10 minutes, until very lightly brown on the edges. The center may still look a little soft, but should firm up as they cool – leave them on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before moving to a cookie rack to cool fully.
Store the cookies, covered, at room temperature, for a week. Cookie dough freezes well – I baked half of these and froze the rest of the dough. If baking from frozen add 2-3 minutes to the baking time.