Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

A few days ago I was watching a Christmas cookie show on the Food Network – shocking, I know – and the host was making a recipe for chocolate cookies. It occurred to me that I hadn't made chocolate cookies before, despite the fact that I had a container of incredible cocoa in my pantry just waiting to be used.

I immediately felt guilty; how could I have not thought of this before? I'd been neglecting the cocoa, a gift from a friend who clearly knew what she was buying. I immediately went to the kitchen, dug out the container of cocoa and my Kitchen Aid mixer and never looked back. Here's how my experiment turned out.

To make the cookies, I used:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (30 seconds in the microwave usually does the trick)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup high-quality cocoa powder (I used Cacao di Pernigotti)
  • 1 cup mini peanut butter cups (I get them at Trader Joe's)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder in a medium-sized bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the softened butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until creamy and all lumps are broken up. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, a small bit at a time. Once both mixtures are combined and the batter is smooth, fold in the mini peanut butter cups.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or non-stick Silpat sheet. Using your hands, roll the batter into 1 1/2 inch rounds and place on the baking sheet. Keep about 3" between rounds. You should be able to fit about 8 rounds of batter on each baking sheet.

Bake the cookies for 9 minutes. Keep an eye on them as the cocoa color makes it impossible to see "golden brown" color around the edges. So if this is your first time making the cookies, try baking for 9 minutes and see how they do. Remove the cookies from the oven and wait about five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

These cookies are fantastic as is, but for an added kick melt 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter and use a spoon to drizzle on top of the cookies. Melt 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and drizzle on top of the peanut butter mixture. Finally, drizzle a small pinch of coarse sea salt while the peanut butter/chocolate drizzle is still warm. Cool the cookies either on a cooling rack or in the refrigerator until the drizzle sets. Enjoy!

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