m&m cookie bars | confections of a dietitian

It’s December which means it’s Christmas cookie season! In the past, every Christmas vacation at home meant spending countless hours in the kitchen with my mom, sister and friends baking dozens of different kinds of cookies to send out as gifts. I have so many fun memories from doing this that baking cookies has become one of my favorite things about this time of year. Even though I will be spending Christmas in Oki again this year, baking cookies makes me feel a little closer to home and always puts me in the Christmas spirit. It must be the magical combination of mouth watering smells coming from the oven and Christmas music playing in the background. Since I’m already starting to feel nostalgic about Christmases at home (the sunny, 70 degree weather sure isn’t helping), Christmas cookie baking has begun in our house, which means I get to start sharing some of my favorite recipes, both old and new, with all of you!

m&m cookie bars | confections of a dietitian

Fortunately for my waistline, as well as Colin’s, our base holds a cookie drive every year for all of the single men and women stationed here. I love volunteering for this event because it gives me an excuse to make dozens of cookies, while knowing they are going to people who could really use some holiday cheer around this time of year (from past experience, I know how hard it is to be alone and very far away from those you love on Christmas.) This year, they needed over 2,500 dozen cookies. That’s a lot of cookies! I decided to make a couple different kinds, the first being these M&M Cookie Bars. I realize the recipe is neither a cookie per-say, nor is it specific to Christmas, but it is my favorite, large batch “cookie” recipe.

m&m cookie bars | confections of a dietitian
All 6 dozen cookies packed up and ready to go!

As I’ve mentioned before, bar cookies are a great option when you need a large amount of cookies because they bake all at once, rather than only a dozen at a time, like drop cookies. These bars are particularly fast because the dough is very simple (think chocolate chip cookie dough) and isn’t difficult to scale up, if needed, which I always do. Much like chocolate chip cookies, these bars are soft and chewy on the inside, while the outside still has a nice crunch, even on the bars from the middle of the pan. These bars are loaded with chocolate, just the way I like it, but not overly sweet, since I use a combination of m&m’s and bittersweet chocolate chips. They are sturdy, easy to package and look very festive too, thanks to the red and green m&m’s (although the normal or other seasonal m&m’s always look great too!)

m&m cookie bars | confections of a dietitian

Whether you need cookies for an event or just want to get your baking all out of the way at once, these are a great option. I hope you love them just as much as we do. Stay tuned for a new cookie recipe, that’s sure to become a classic in our house, in a few days!