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Who doesn’t like a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie?  No one I know.  At the same time, if you put 100 people together in a room and had them each describe their perfect chocolate chip cookie, you would get 100 different answers.  My dad, for one, LOVES crispy cookies.  He likes to bite into a chocolate chip cookie and have it crunch and crumble inside his mouth.  My mom would take half-baked if you had them.  Who needs to wait for cookies to bake and cool when you can take them out of the oven after a few minutes when they are gooey, warm and delicious?  My sister will take her cookie and eat around the chocolate chips (who is she?).  And the Husband, he is happy as long as you give him a glass of milk to dunk into.

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I am somewhere in between.  While I don’t love extra crispy cookies, I can recognize their appeal.  And really, who can resist warm and melty cookie dough?!  There is a time and a place for all forms of chocolate chip cookies, and yes that includes a plain old Chips Ahoy in times of desperation.

However, right now, I am on a quest to reinvent the most delicious chocolate chip cookie I have ever had.  Every year someone sends the most amazing cookies to our office, and let me tell you, I don’t eat office treats unless I think they are really worth it.  These cookies, worth it.  They are dense and chewy with the perfect hint of salt and a lot of chocolate chips.  Something about them is so addicting.  I’ll go into the kitchen and grab one, because look at me, I can eat just one cookie.  But about two seconds after I take that last bite, I am back for more, because who am I kidding, I can’t eat just one cookie.

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On my way to figuring out a recipe to recreate this “perfect” cookie, I found something quite different, but quite tasty.  These Doughy Chocolate Chunk Cookies are about as addicting.  To me, they exemplify the flavors of freshly mixed cookie dough in baked cookie form.  Moist, chewy, doughy and slightly underbaked with the perfect amount of big chocolate chunks.  I used Christmas colored dark chocolate M&M’s to give them a festive appeal and chunks of milk chocolate Hershey’s Kisses for the sweet contrast.  Any form of chocolate chip would work just as well.

kisses and M&Ms

To begin, lightly chop your Kisses and set aside

chopped kisses

Combine flour with the other dry ingredients

dry ingredients

Whisk together and set aside

whisked dry ingredients

Next, combine the butter and sugars until light and fluffy

butter and sugars

Then, add your eggs and vanilla and combine well

add eggs

Reduce the speed of your mixer to low and gradually add in the dry ingredients

adding dry ingredients

Scrape your bowl a couple of times to make sure flour is fully mixed in

dry ingred mixed in

Stir chocolate pieces into your batter

adding chocolate

Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnightchocolate mixed in

Use a cookie dough scoop or tablespoon for cookies

scooped

Lay them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

dough on sheet 1

Once done, allow cookies to cool on a cooling rack

cookies on rack 2

Doughy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup dark chocolate M&M’s

1 cup milk Hershey’s Kisses, lightly chopped

Directions:

Lightly chop Hershey’s Kisses; set aside

Combine flour with the other dry ingredients and whisk together; set aside

Next, combine the butter and sugars; beat well until light and fluffy

Then, add your eggs and vanilla and combine well

Reduce the speed of your mixer to low and gradually add in the dry ingredients

Stir chocolate pieces into your batter

Chill your dough in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight

Once ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Scoop heaping tablespoons of cookie dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper

Bake in the oven for 9-10 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges; cookies will not change color much

Set the cookies aside on cooling racks

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Any tips for me on making this “perfect” cookie? I am having trouble finding that dense chewy texture that was so enjoyable.

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I love peanut butter.  If a day goes by where I don’t have it, I experience withdrawal symptoms.  A few days without it? Don’t mess with me.

peanut butter

As much as I loved being in Italy for my honeymoon this summer, going without peanut butter for almost two weeks may have been enough to convince me that getting back to real life still kind of sucks isn’t so bad after all.

Oatmeal with peanut butter? Good.  Banana and peanut butter? Yum.  Ants on a log? Underrated children’s snack.  Chocolate and peanut butter? The pair should have its own show.

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You may remember that my Thanksgiving with Friends featured eight desserts.  I enjoyed coming up with a fun and delicious variety of pick-up baked goods, but was stuck when it came to THE peanut butter and chocolate item.  You have seen my fan favorite cookie bar and the peanut butter brownies with chocolate ganache.  So have my friends.  Both items were a hit, so I knew when it came to my peanut butter loving friends, I was going to have to outdo myself.

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Well, I did.  If you are human like peanut butter and chocolate, you are going to LOVE these.  The one upside to marrying a crazy wonderful man who DISLIKES peanut butter? More for me!

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These Chewy Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Filling start with a rich chewy cookie dough, used here, and are slathered with a creamy peanut butter filling that is irresistible.  Salty and sweet, chewy and creamy.  Oh, and these cookies are even good eaten right out of the freezer, not that I would know.  Have I mentioned my pants don’t fit?

Begin by making the cookies

dry ingred 2

Mix together the dry ingredients- flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, and set aside

dry ingred 3

Cream butter and sugar with a mixer

butter and sugar for cookie

Beat until light and fluffy

butter and sugar for cookie 2

Beat in the sugar, eggs and vanilla

adding eggs and vanilla

Mix well

egg mixed in

Gradually add your dry ingredients with mixer on low, then mix at medium speed until well-combined

mixing dry ingred

Next up, milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips

choc chips

Stir in the chips

mixing chips

Use a cookie dough scoop for the most uniform cookiesscooping dough

A tablespoon will also work; beware, the dough will be sticky when shaping into balls

dough to bake

Cookies will flatten while baking, that is expected

cookies baked

Let them cool on wire racks

cookies baked 1

While cookies are cooling, make your filling

butter for icing

Cream softened butter until light and smooth

butter creamed

Add peanut butter and cream some more

add peanut butter

Beware of the incredible aromaPB mixed in

Mix in sugar

adding sugar

When mixture is smooth and creamy, it is done

filling done

Time to make your sandwiches

set up

Slather a tablespoon or two onto the bottom of one cookie

filling on cookie

Cover with another cookie and gently press down

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Repeat

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Chewy Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Filling

Cookie recipe from Hershey’s

Makes ~2 dozen cookie sandwiches

Cookie Ingredients:

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

Dash of salt

1 ¼ cup (2 ½ stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

2 cups granulated Sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup milk chocolate chips

Filling Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 3/4 cup salted natural creamy peanut butter

1 cup powdered sugar

Cookie Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375

Mix together the dry ingredients, except for sugar, and set aside

Cream butter and sugar

Beat in the, eggs and vanilla

Gradually add dry ingredients with mixer on low;  then mix at medium speed until well-combined

Stir in chocolate chips

Drop dough in heaping tablespoons on baking sheets lined with parchment paper about 2 inches apart

Bake at 375 for 8 minutes or until cookies are slightly puffy

Let cool on cooling rack

Filling Directions:

Beat butter until light and creamy

Beat in peanut butter

Mix in confectioners sugar on low speed and then beat until light and fluffy

Sandwich Directions:

When cookies are cool, spread one to two tablespoons of filling on the bottom of a cookie

Top with a second cookie and lightly press down

Repeat

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Do you know anyone that can resist peanut butter and chocolate?

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It seems that there are two types of people when it comes to a Sweet Potato Casserole: Those who cover theirs with toasty melty marshmallows, and those who don’t.  Do you think I am biased?

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You already know I love to sneak dessert-like side dishes onto my table.  Why wouldn’t I top my Sweet Potato Casserole with candy? To be honest, this is the way I grew up eating sweet potatoes.  Each time I see a recipe for a casserole topped with something delicious like a pecan streusel or turned savory I’m tempted to try it, but why mess with something that is just right?

This recipe is actually a lot healthier than you might think.  It is filled with nutrient-dense sweet potatoes, canned pumpkin (yes, pumpkin!), spices and and a secret ingredient:

sweet potatoes 6

I got the idea of using pumpkin butter in a Food and Wine recipe a couple of years ago.  I haven’t turned back since.

The other secret to this recipe is the roasted sweet potatoes.  Yes, you can microwave them to cut down on time, but roasting them adds so much flavor.

To begin, line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with foil and non-stick spray.  Top with your sweet potatoes and poke holes in them to prevent any oven explosions

sweet potatoes 2

Roast them for an hour or so, or until they are nice and tender to the touch

The softer they are, the easier they will be to peel.  I usually roast the sweet potatoes the night before so that I can peel them easily when they are cool, no burnt fingers required

Place them in a mixer with a can of pumpkin and combine until most of the mixture is pureed but some chunks still exist (you can also mash by hand if you don’t have a mixer)

Add in your pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin butter, a dash of salt and a bit of vanilla

sweet potatoes 7

Once well-combined, place in a large greased baking dish

sweet potatoes 8

Cover with foil and bake until hot

sweet potatoes 9

Remove the baking dish from the oven and top with marshmallows

sweet potatoes 10

Broil for a minute or two, until your marshmallows are lightly browned.  I recommend putting foil or a sheet pan below the baking dish in case you have any drippings

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Sweet Potato Casserole

Serves 12

Ingredients:

8-10 medium sweet potatoes, about 5 pounds

1 15-ounce can of pumpkin, (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 cup pumpkin butter

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1-lb bag of mini marshmallows

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

Line jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with foil and non-stick cooking spray

Poke sweet potatoes with a fork and spread out on baking sheet; roast in oven for about an hour or until they are tender

Once sweet potatoes are cool, peel them; cut a slit in the skin of each sweet potato and then peel with fingers

Place them in a mixer with pumpkin and combine until most of the mixture is pureed but some chunks still exist (you can also mash by hand if you don’t have a mixer)

Add pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin butter, salt and vanilla

Once well-combined, place in a large baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray

Cover with foil and bake about 30 minutes or until hot

Remove the baking dish from the oven and top with marshmallows

Put oven on broil and bake casserole for 1-2 minutes, or until marshmallows are lightly browned

Which camp are you in? With marshmallows or without?

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