Cowboy Cookies with salted cereal brittle

Former First Lady Laura Bush’s famous recipe for cowboy cookies with a delicious twist: salted cereal brittle! These oatmeal cookies are also packed with cinnamon, chocolate chips and coconut.  Saddle up for your new favorite cookie!

There are a handful of things I’ve committed to since my recent half-move to Texas: loving my boyfriend Will (which means lots of adventures on motorcycles), perfecting my kolache recipe (still in the works, the dough must be that of a literal pillow), apparently relearning how to drive a car (because DANG Houston, y’all are wild) and making my own version of a Cowboy Cookies.

The cowboy cookies come easy.  They’re essentially a mash up of oatmeal cookies and chocolate chip cookies, with added sweetened coconut for chew and pecans (puh-cahns). They seem like a timeless classic though timeless most certainly has a timestamp with Laura Bush in the First Lady bake-off circa 2000.  Can you imagine a current presidential election that involves a bake-off?  Let’s not answer that.

A recent chat with my friend Deb about her latest cookbook Smitten Kitchen Keepers, in which she has the brilliance and audacity both to fold homemade salted walnut brittle into her chocolate chip cookies.   It seemed only fitting to smash my new found commitment to cowboy cookies into my new found brittle inspiration and this cookie was born.  Chewy and sweet with a hint of spice, a bitter bite from dark chocolate and a salty, crunchy brittle with pecans and corn flakes.  These cookies are stacked… like Texas’ finest cowboys, amen.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make these cowboy cookies:

•  all-purpose flour

•  baking soda, ground cinnamon, kosher salt

•  unsalted butter

•  quick cooking oats

•  brown sugar and granulated sugar

•  large eggs

•  vanilla extract

•  chocolate chips or chocolate chunks

•  Cornflake cereal

•  chopped pecans

•  shredded  coconut

• handheld electric mixer with a large mixing bowl or in a stand mixer

•  dried fruit; raisins or dried cranberries

First, let’s make the brittle. It needs to cool and set in the freezer while we make the cookie dough.  Making brittle can feel a bit intimidating but let me frame it for you this way: we’re just melting plain ol’ granulated sugar to hot and brown.

Place a small saucepan of sugar over medium heat.  I like to swirl the pan as the sugar starts to melt before stirring.  Eventually I stir the mixture so the sugar is evenly melted and browned but overstirring can cause lumps. Honestly, most lumps can be worked out by smashing and stirring them out over the heat.  Don’t stress it…. but also, melted sugar is screamin’ hot so don’t taste it or get it on your skin until it’s cool.

When the sugar is pleasingly browned, stir in nuts and Cornflakes.

Quickly spoon the golden brown, loaded brittle to a piece of greased parchment paper on a small sheet pan.  If you don’t get the brittle super thin (it cools quickly) – that’s fine! It’ll just take a bit more smash when it’s time to break it up.

Allow the brittle to set in the freezer for 15 minutes or, if space doesn’t allow, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

While the brittle sets, make the cookie dough.  In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until evenly combined.

Can you use old-fashioned oats for these cowboy cookies?

You caaaaan, but it’s not my preference for this cookie.  Quick oats are a much finer texture than old-fashioned oats. If using old-fashioned oats, will create a more dense and tall cookie.

Set the dry ingredients aside and cream together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar.  Cream on low speed until fluffy before adding the eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Stir the flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture until just barely combined.  Add chocolate pieces and sweetened coconut to your heart’s content.

Break up the hardened brittle with the handle end of a spatula or use a large knife to carefully chop it into small chunks. Shower all of the bits and crumbles into the cookie dough.

Stir the brittle crumble as best you can to evenly combine, then scrape the cookie dough onto a piece of plastic wrap to chill in the refrigerator before baking.

Scooping the cookie dough with a small cookie scoop makes for the most evenly round cookies.  Portion on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the upper rack of the oven.

I like sprinkling sea salt on top of the cookies before baking because that salty bit compliments the sweet brittle so well!

Look at this texture! The chewiness of the shredded coconut is matched by the toffee crunch of the brittle. This cowboy cookie recipe is a little extra but an absolute delight.

What do you think? Are you down for brittle in your cookies?

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