The Hunt

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers after the AMBER Alert sent on my behalf. In my case, AMBER = America’s Missing Baking Emergency Response. I DID, in fact, find the M&Ms I’d stashed deep in the recesses of my dark pantry, away from my kids. It took 40 minutes.

Oh, you didn’t hear about the Great M&M Panic of Early 2020?

I just assumed everyone between here and Barrow, Alaska, heard me shouting and carrying on about the lost candy. Well, let me fill you in.

You see, I’d bought some Hot Cocoa M&Ms — 50 percent off! — a few days after Christmas. I knew they’d be perfect for this recipe I’d come across with the bold proclamation “The Best M&M Cookies Recipe.” I am always up for a challenge, if it’s baking related. Something involving math or running, not so much.

Problem was, I tossed those M&Ms into the pantry and then thought about how I didn’t want anyone to get their grubby hands on them, so I hid them. Well. Very, very well. It was like Christmas 2007 all over again where I stashed the presents so thoroughly from my nosy little nuggets that I couldn’t find three of them* until Dec. 28. From that day forward, I started adding the latitude and longitude of stash spots into my Yule Log, which is the notebook where I keep track of the gifts I buy for people all year long because I am just that organized.

As in 2007, I had a vague recollection of the general vicinity where I slipped the M&Ms, but I couldn’t see them. I checked my usual hiding places — behind my tea and all the coffee-perker-upper supplies (and by that I mean flavorings not alcohol). Not there. I looked behind the canned beets. Nope. Not there either.

Where could they be?

Could someone have eaten them?!

“Hey, did anyone find some M&Ms and eat them?”




Dang it.

Well, I figured I was probably overdue to spelunk through the pantry. It was time to get serious. I pulled out a step stool and a head lamp and turned my sights (and lights) on the baking shelf, which was, um, a wee bit disheveled.




So maybe I’m not that organized.

I found not one but SEVEN tins of cocoa powder, alllllllll opened. Also unearthed on my pantry scavenger hunt:

•a bird saltshaker (no sign of the pepper) that had been lost for years

•the ugly sweater cookie kit my mom bought on sale AFTER Christmas in 2018, still unused and still good, weirdly, until May 2020

•the cap for the nonstick spray that I lost a month ago, and then I used up all the nonstick spray and bought a new container

•two smoked salmons

•a plastic Twinkie the Kid container HOLDING AN ACTUAL TWINKIE. It was at least three years old. True story: Twinkie came out with a chocolate version stuffed with peanut butter and I became obsessed with finding them, thinking they would be Pastry Perfection. I did find them and bought two packages and they were… bad. Like, pump-your-stomach bad. I don’t know how such a winning combination could go so wrong, but they were not a good snack cake, people. It’s hard to describe how disappointing this was, it was the dessert equivalent of having a promising kid get accepted into an ivy league school only to watch that kid flame out. Or something like that.

But back to my findings…

I also discovered:

•TWO bags of coconut, both half used because I didn’t spot the open one before ripping into that second bag.

•the Valentine’s Day plastic bags I thought I’d used up.

•truffle spread

•THREE boxes of plastic wrap

•a two-pack of Jif from Costco, which meant I didn’t really need to buy more peanut butter last week

And then, tucked BEHIND the circular, silver containers that hold my chocolate chips and butterscotch chips and Heath bits, I found them! The lost M&Ms!

Cue the heavenly angel music.

Oh yes, there would be cookies.

So, I continued on with my recipe (I was halfway through the creaming when I realized I had lost track of the main ingredient) and poured out the M&Ms only to discover I was half a cup short. Yeah. That’s what I thought, too.

Undeterred, I threw in some chocolate chips, maybe even extra (definitely extra), and I told No. 1 — who was the reason I was making the cookies in the first place so she could take them back with her to school in California and who oh-so-quietly watched her mother lose her mind — that if these weren’t the best M&M cookies she’d ever eaten, she should definitely not tell me.

After 40 minutes of hunting for M&Ms and then another 45 minutes of prep and an hour of chilling and 11 minutes of baking, we had these babies. Fittingly, the Hot Cocoa M&Ms were brown because these cookies were such turds to make.
How’d they taste?
Well, when I asked No. 1, she enthusiastically said, “These are THE BEST!”
I nibbled one. Huh. I thought they were only meh.
“Really?” I asked.
“You told me that was the only answer I could give you.”
So, while that was overall a maddening experience, I guess I can’t totally complain because I learned something really, really valuable: Sometimes my kids DO listen to me. Oh, and that really, I should go through the pantry more often.
*the gifts, not the kids

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