Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chocolate Hug Cookies

When you live in Texas and it gets cold enough to turn your heater on and that heater smell of toasting lint (is that what it is?) wafts through your house it feels like Christmas. Or at least it does to me.

So here we go with my first Christmas cookie post of the season. Hooray commercialism! And malls! And sugar!

My hands down favorite cookie at the holidays (AT the holidays? Southern much?) are peanut blossoms. AKA chocolate kiss cookies or Hershey Kiss peanut butter cookies. My mom made them for us growing up and for me they are edible childhood. I honestly can't be trusted with them. An entire batch will disappear into thin air David Blaine-style.

The only problem is my husband isn't a fan. I try not to let this change my deep endearing love for him but it's tough. Who doesn't like peanut blossoms? WHO???

Anyway I recently had an idea to try and appease his tastes while keeping with my own traditions, now that we have a kid and all. He is a bonafide chocoholic so when I saw a few recipes for Nutella Kisses I thought - SCORE!

Well it was a score alright but of course there was a minor drawback. They didn't taste so much of Nutella as they did chocolate. Personally I thought this was a bonus given the fact a lot of people don't like Nutella. So I changed the name to something that reflected their intensely chocolate, chewily rewarding, chocolate-studded chocolate-kiss topped vibe.

Will they replace my personal favorite in the holiday lineup? We'll see. Actually the tie breaker will be when my son is old enough to taste between the two of them and choose. Though if his tastes are as similar to his father's as his looks are, I'm screwed.

Thankfully I like the alternative almost as much...

* As the picture indicates I made these for Halloween and rolled them in orange sugar before baking. If making for the holidays simply choose another color if desired.

Chocolate Hug Cookies
Adapted from All Recipes

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 cup salted butter, at room temp
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
2 cups chocolate chips
2 packages dark chocolate Hershey kisses
colored sanding sugar, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder in a bowl. Mix with a whisk to break up any lumps.
  3. Beat butter, brown sugar, and white sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time until completely incorporated. Mix in vanilla and chocolate-hazelnut spread.
  4. Slowly add in flour mixture and stir just until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Use a small cookie scoop to keep the cookies a uniform size and roll each scoop of dough between your hands to form a ball. Roll the ball in sugar, if desired.
  5. Bake in preheated oven until edges look dry and cookies are fragrant, about 8-9 minutes. Press a chocolate kiss in the center and let cool slightly on the sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

German Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Bars (Queen of the Potluck Bars)

These were inspired by the blog Crazy for Crust and I'm not going to lie - they are too much. Thick, chewy peanut butter cookie bar. Layer of sticky gooey caramel slash chocolate. Topped with sweetened coconut. But wait. Stop the presses. The season of 'too much' is upon us! Make these right now and embrace your calling as Queen of the Potluck or Book Club or OM group (look up OM-ing - I dare you.)

I should also warn you that they freeze well and are even better pulled from the freezer and heated for 30 seconds in the microwave. It's criminal. I'm not kidding. I'm going to go fast now.

Lastly I only mentioned OM-ing because we recently had a group of them living across the street from us and were convinced they were a scary underground group plotting to do something crazy. And it turns out they were. Oh they certainly were. Gotta love living in South Austin.

German Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Bars

Cookie Layer, adapted from Crazy for Crust

1/2 cup salted butter, at room temp
3/4 cup peanut butter (I used chunky)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, room temp
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon whole or 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups AP (all purpose) flour

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2-2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2-2 cups shredded sweet coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9x9 inch pan with foil (so that you can lift it out later) and spray well with nonstick spray. Or just grease a ceramic 9x9 inch pan that you can cut them in later and serve from. Up to you.

Cream the butter, peanut butter and both sugars well in a mixer with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer. When smooth and well mixed, add the egg, vanilla, milk, baking soda and salt and mix until combined, scraping down sides. Slowly add flour in 2-3 additions and blend until just mixed each time.

Carefully press the cookie dough (it will be thick, not pourable) into your greased pan and bake for 18-22 minutes just until golden on top and set.

Remove and spread the chocolate chips in an even layer over the top followed by the coconut.

Stir the sweetened condensed milk and drizzle it as evenly as possible over the top. If using an 8x8 inch pan you may not be able to fit it all so just be careful and don't over fill!

Put in the oven for another 5 minutes just until the coconut has lightly begun to toast but not brown (you don't want to burn the cookie layer.)

Remove and let cool completely before cutting and serving.