Trail Mix Monster Cookies

Trail Mix Monster Cookie RecipeI frequent Panera Bread and they recently switched up their menu items, including a few of their cookies (still missing the original Chocolate Duet - bring it back, please!) While the new "gluten-conscious" chocolate cookie is just okay, I do like their version of a Monster Cookie, so I decided to make my own. It's similar to my original monster cookie recipe, of course, but I swapped out the M & M's for raising, dried cranberries, and nuts. I couldn't give up the chocolate, though! Stir in whatever dried fruits, nuts, or chocolate pieces you want; aim for at least three cups of add-ins.

Trail Mix Monster Cookie Recipe (inspired by Panera Bread's Jan 2016 version)
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter (my favorite is Smuckers Natural Creamy)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
3 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 cups quick-cook oatmeal
1 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
1/2-1 cup dried raisins and/or cranberries
1/2-1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugars, butter, and peanut butter. Mix well.

3. Add vanilla extract and honey, then eggs - one at a time.

4. Next add baking soda and gradually add oatmeal. (If this is getting to be too much for your mixer, stir by hand.)

5. Stir in chocolate chips, dried fruit(s), and nuts. 

6. Prepare a baking sheet by lightly greasing it or by covering it with parchment paper.

7. Use a medium or large ice cream scoop or a 1/4 or 1/2 cup measuring cup to portion out the dough for the cookies. A regular baking sheet will accommodate six large cookies at a time.

8. Use your palm or the bottom of a measuring cup to slightly flatten the mounds of cookie dough.

9. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes if using a medium scoop, or 12 minutes if using a large scoop. The centers of the cookies will still be soft, edges will be set and will turn slightly golden.

10. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.