*nibbles on a Monster Cookie*
Not only have I reread this totally scrumptious companion book to It’s Raining Cupcakes (Aladdin, 2010), but I made Monster Cookies — one of two recipes included in the book (the other is Isabel’s prize-winning Chocolate Jam Tarts). Perfect way to get into the holiday spirit AND indulge my neverending cookie cravings.
Just in case you haven’t read Sprinkles and Secrets (please remedy that immediately!), it’s about Isabel’s best friend Sophie, an aspiring actress who gets her big chance to audition for a television commercial. She’s thrilled, of course, until she finds out she’d be advertising for Beatrice’s Brownies, the chief competitor to Isabel’s family’s cupcake shop. She tries to keep the specifics of the commercial under wraps for fear of jeopardizing her friendship with Isabel, but things go from bad to worse when she wins the audition and still can’t bear to tell Izzy. How do you choose between your fondest dream and your BFF?
Just like in It’s Raining Cupcakes, each chapter in Sprinkles and Secrets is named after a specific treat. Instead of cupcake flavors, chocolate (Sophie’s favorite) rules the day. Drool-worthy desserts like Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Old Fashioned Chocolate Cream Pie, Chocolate Pudding and Rocky Road Cupcakes are skillfully folded into the plot. At the beginning of the story, a sad and jealous Sophie consoles herself with chocolate ice cream, and while she’s anxiously waiting her turn to audition, she snacks on a peanut butter chocolate-chip granola bar.
*reaches for a big Monster Cookie*
The Monster Cookies sweeten up a touching scene with Sophie and her father. Thanksgiving evening, Sophie can’t sleep, agonizing over brownies vs. cupcakes, going after what she really wants vs. loyalty to Isabel.
At midnight, I get up to see if a glass of milk will do the trick. And a cookie. We didn’t eat anything after Thanksgiving dinner because everyone was so stuffed, but now, I’m kind of hungry.
I reach into the cookie jar and pull out one of Mom’s homemade monster cookies. Hayden’s favorite. They’re made with peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chips, and M&M’s. Mmmm, so good. As I’m pouring myself a glass of milk, I hear someone behind me.
There’s nothing like a good, reassuring talk with Dad and the comfort of chocolate, peanut butter, oatmeal and milk! And the next day while shopping, Sophie shares Hazelnut Chocolate-Chip Scones with her Mom.
The Alphabet Soup kitchen helpers were totally psyched about the Monster Cookies. There was a little problem of consuming all the M&M’s ahead of time, but luckily we had purchased a second bag. Of course they had to be red and green M&M’s because of the holidays, and the chocolate chips were Guitard Semisweet.
I admit that when first reading the recipe, I thought the cookies would be too sweet, with chocolate chips AND M&M’s AND brown sugar AND white sugar — but surprisingly they weren’t. I opted for a natural, unsweetened peanut butter, which I think made a difference, and also didn’t go overboard with the chocolates. I always feel “healthier” with an oatmeal cookie, and this recipe calls for 4-1/2 cups. Very little white flour (only 1/2 cup), for those who might be wheat sensitive.
As with all chocolate chip cookies, I like these best warm out of the oven or reheated in the microwave. I enjoyed thinking about both Isabel and Sophie while eating them — twelve-year-olds reaching for their dreams, testing the waters of friendship, surrounded by caring adults. The small, friendly town of Willow, Oregon, the setting for both books, is the kind of place I’d like to live, where the right things matter and most of the Moms bake!
I’m guessing peanut butter, besides chocolate, is one of Lisa’s personal favorites, because in this book, in addition to Monster Cookies and the aforementioned granola bars, there are chocolate covered bananas dipped in peanut butter, and Sophie also eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’m anxiously hoping that Nutella (also a nice complement to PB) will appear in a future book!
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1-1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon Karo syrup
4-1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup M&Ms
1 cup chocolate chips
With a mixer, beat together sugars, butter, and peanut butter. Add the eggs, vanilla, and Karo syrup, and mix well. Gradually add in the rolled oats, flour, and baking soda, and mix until well blended. Stir in the M&Ms and chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for at least 3 hours (can even be overnight) to help cookies mound up better. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees, and use a teaspoon to drop onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake about 12 minutes, until a light golden brown.
These companion books are perfect for the middle grade/tween readers on your gift list, especially those who like to bake. But even if they don’t, I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t like eating cupcakes or chocolate. If you bake Isabel’s Chocolate Jam Tarts, let me know how they turn out!
*scarfs down two more Monster Cookies*
♥ Visit Lisa’s website for more goodness!
♥ Click here for my Soup of the Day (pub day) post on It’s Raining Cupcakes.
♥ Have to post one of Lisa’s adorable Sprinkles and Secrets promo videos. I love an author who dresses up as a cupcake! (There are several more on YouTube.)
READ AND FEED: What else is there?
Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.