When peanuts are used in cookies, it is usually as peanut butter that is mixed in to the cookie dough. Peanuts are not typically mixed in in the same way that pecans or walnuts are stirred into a batch of cookie dough. But peanuts can make a great addition to a batch of cookies – especially when you’re talking about chocolate chip cookie dough. They add a great crunch, a distinct nuttiness that you don’t get from peanut butter alone, and they pair perfectly with chocolate chips.
These Salted Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies use a combination of roasted peanuts and chocolate chips, and they’re topped of with a sprinkle of salt. It may seem slightly strange to sprinkle salt directly onto cookies before baking, but that sweet-salty combination works just as well for cookies as it does for sweets like salted caramels. The salt is a great contrast to the sweetness of the cookie dough and the chocolate chips, and highlights the roasted peanuts. Use coarse kosher salt or sea salt to top these cookies. You’ll get a nice, noticeable kiss of salt with a larger-grain salt that you won’t get from regular table salt, and that will make these cookies addictive!
Be sure to use roasted peanuts in these cookies for the best texture and flavor from your nuts. Both unsalted nuts and salted nuts will work equally well, although heavily salted nuts may give the cookies a slightly more savory taste than unsalted will. If you start with untoasted peanuts, place them on a baking sheet in a low oven (325F) for 10-15 minutes to lightly toast them before using.
Trail mix is a term that refers to mixture of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, chocolate chips/M&Ms and other similarly small items that is meant to be an easy to eat, high energy snack. Trail mix gets its name because it is the ideal snack for hikers and campers, as it can be very filling and is easy to store. You can make it with any combination of ingredients you like, or simply buy a premade mix at the store. If you shop at Trader Joe’s, you’ve probably noticed that the store carries an unusually large variety of trail mixes. One of my favorites is the Sweet, Salty and Tart Trail Mix that includes peanuts, almonds, cashews, dried raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.
This particular mix seemed to have a lot of potential for off-trail snacking and I’ve been thinking of ways to incorporate it into a recipe for a while (Many bags have been consumed during this process, as I’ll buy one and eat as I think, then have to buy another and start the process again). I finally decided that a hearty breakfast muffin was the way to go, so that I could have a healthy and satisfying breakfast snack that still had a bit of indulgence to it from all the chips in the mix.
The muffins turned out beautifully, and the trail mix was better than I even expected. The variety of chips, nuts and dried fruits in the muffins meant that I never knew what I was going to get with each bite. It ranged from a sweet, melty combination of chocolate and peanut butter chips to a crunchy mouthful of peanuts and buttery cashews. The muffins themselves were light and moist, with a slightly sweet but plain flavor that made them a good back drop for the mix. They were good plain and sliced with some butter on top. They should freeze and reheat fairly well, and since this recipe makes a big batch of muffins (2 dozen), you should be able to save leftovers for later in the week easily.