Tender Peanut Butter Cookies with a special hidden center

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(Peanut butter cookies with melty chocolate center – recipe in post)

In the past few months, The Step Dad’s work has taken him across several states. Working so far from home has certainly not been a plus, but during his travels last week he found himself in Hudson, Kansas – home (apparently) of Hudson Cream Flour. Although I’d never heard of the stuff, he had and knew it to be considered a good brand. He called me up to ask if I wanted any, and I immediately jumped on the opportunity – I’ve been going through flour pretty quick these days, so I told him whatever he brought back would get used.

Little did I know he would bring back two of these twenty five pound bags:

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Fifty pounds of flour? No problem. I’ve got plans.

In exchange for his offer to buy me the flour, I agreed to repay him in baked goods. This would be installment #1 of my debt.

I started off with what I know – he loves peanut butter. This, we share (which made it hard not to eat all the cookies before I could deliver them). Although I’ve made peanut butter cookies before – delicious and only 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies – I wanted to try something new, and of course with the use of flour. I wanted big, soft, classic peanut butter cookies.
But wait! That wouldn’t be good enough. There had to be something else… something to make you weak in the knees when you bit into it… chocolate! Or caramel? I couldn’t decide, so I made both.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Hidden Centers
(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan)

2.5 Cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt (if peanut butter is unsalted, double this amount)
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Cup peanut butter (I used natural, creamy)
1 Cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 Cup sugar (I used just shy of this amount, to keep things from being too sweet)
2 large eggs
optional: 1 Cup chopped salted peanuts
Chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, or soft caramels

Extra sugar for coating the cookies.


Preheat oven to 350f. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Stir together all the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda/powder, salt), and set aside.
Using a hand or stand mixer, beat butter until smooth and lightened in color. Add peanut butter, and  beat until combined, then with the mixer on low add both sugars. Beat for 2-3 minutes to combine thoroughly, then add eggs, one at a time, and continue mixing. Scrap down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Turn your mixer to low speed and add the dry ingredients, blending just until all the dry spots have disappeared. Mix in chopped nuts if using.
Pour some extra sugar into a small bowl for rolling, and get out the chocolate chips or caramels.
In the palm of your hand, form the dough into a ball. Press an indentation into the middle with your thumb, then fill with chocolate chips or caramel. Wrap the dough ball around the filling and roll between palms to seal any seems.

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Roll ball in sugar, then place on your prepared baking sheet leaving 1-2 inches between each cookie. If the dough gets too soft to work with, refrigerate for 20-30 minutes before continuing.

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Bake on middle rack for 10-12 minutes. The edges may darken slightly, but they should maintain a fairly light color and still be soft to the touch when done. Remove and let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish setting up. If you can, try to wait for them to cool most of the way before digging in – trust me, they taste better and they burn less. Both good things.

Makes between 30-40 cookies, depending on size. Mine were pretty honkin’ big, because if you’ve ever seen me try to fill something (tacos, burritos, sandwiches…) I’m damn near incapable of not over-filling. I just get so excited!

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(Mmm, still warm inside!)

I made half with chocolate, and half with caramel, using up some of the leftover caramel sauce I made for This Stuff. The ‘sauce’ had thickened up in the fridge, so I thought it would work okay, but because the caramel liquefied so much during the baking it got absorbed by the cookie. Not a bad thing, it’s just a little harder to see than the chocolate. A soft caramel candy, such as Werther’s, or salted caramels, would have worked better.

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(Top half cookie has chocolate, bottom half cookie has caramel)

Still, both were delicious, and perfect with a tall glass of milk. Firm with a bit of crunch on the outside, soft and full of tender on the inside. Somebody catch me, I’m feeling faint!

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Me being allergic to peanut butter would probably be the equivalent of an athlete being paralyzed. It’s an awful comparison to draw, but there you have it. It’s an obsession. I put aside most of the batch to be delivered to the Step Dad, but needless to say, upwards of four of these cookies became my dinner.

What’s your biggest addiction? Is it peanut butter, or something else? Let me know in the comments!

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15 Responses to Tender Peanut Butter Cookies with a special hidden center

  1. Divine Bird December 5, 2011 at 4:30 am #

    In the pic with the chocolate chip, what kind is that? I don’t recognize it and I am intrigued. :)

    I love your blog, btw. I found it through the honey facial scrub post and it was an insta-subscribe. :)

  2. CarinE December 5, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    wow, this is really cool!! I love melted chocolates..this one is with cookies! even better!

  3. Willow December 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    @ Divine Bird – wow, thank you so much! The chocolate is Valrhona 64% Manjari. It has a surprising bit of fruitiness to it, and although it isn’t my favorite it worked well baked into the cookies.

    @CarinE – Thanks!

  4. Leigh December 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    I have been wanting to try this cookie combo and now you’ve given me the perfect place to start! My peanut butter obsession is the same as yours. I couldn’t imagine never being able to have it! Also,I recently moved to KS and saw the Hudson Cream Flour at a grocery store but have yet to try it. How do you like it?

  5. Willow December 5, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    Yeah – quick confession: I just polished off a jar of Peanut Butter for breakfast. :P

    I honestly haven’t seen a big difference in using the Hudson Cream, but I’ve only tried it in a few things. I would probably have to do a comparison test with identical loaves of bread to see if it had a different rise, water absorption, gluten development, etc. All I can say is, it worked like regular all-purpose flour and got the job done. The cookies turned out great, so no complaints!

  6. lorrie December 5, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Mmmm….one more filling. Miniature marshmallows…a fluffer nutter cookie!

  7. Willow December 5, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    Nice one! Anything you want to put in the center would work – M&M’s, nuts, candies, engagement rings… huh? What? Oh, peanut butter – I do!

  8. Anonymous December 6, 2011 at 2:25 am #

    something to make you weak in the knees when you bit into it… chocolate!

  9. Willow December 6, 2011 at 3:05 am #

    Some say chocolate goes to your hips, but I say it hits your knees first. ;)

  10. cameronrolka December 11, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    @divine Bird and @Willow. We actually use the same brand of chocolate at Restaurante Martin Berasategui’s I don’t recall the exact type we use though.

    By the way Willow, you now have me craving two things, peanut butter and cookies (both separately and together.) Two things Spain isn’t really well known for.

  11. Willow December 11, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

    @Cameron – sweet! I like Valrhona for some things, but I think my current favorite is Michel Cluizel.
    And as for the cravings, I guess I’ll just have to make you a batch of cookies and send them to you sometime… unless, of course, you’re going to be in town *wink wink, nudge nudge*.

  12. Leanna September 13, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    these cookies look delish! im going to make them this weekend. what sort of caramels do you recommend? like little individually wrapped caramel squares?

    • Willow September 13, 2012 at 11:51 am #

      Great – I hope you like them! And yes, I would suggest trying chewy caramel candies in the middle… using caramel sauce the way I did just melted right into the cookies. Good luck!

  13. Anonymous January 8, 2013 at 3:59 am #

    Instead of chocolate I used raspberry jam and it worked out very well! Just like a PBJ sandwich… huge hit in my house!

    • Willow January 8, 2013 at 4:11 am #

      Wonderful, glad to hear it! Jam is a great idea. :)

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