Today felt like summer again, with temperatures that encouraged us to shed the socks and pants and re-embrace our leg-baring attire. When I felt how warm it was, I silently wished that the weather would make up its mind: is it winter or summer? But I didn’t really mean it. Summer can stick around all it wants, and I am happy to oblige.
It seems like everyone shares in my sentiments about this past summer: it felt too brief, cut short by the incessant rains of June and the short-lived hot spell. I was happy to barely run the air conditioner this summer, but would have loved a few more hot days where the best relief you can find is in a crystal clear pool. There just wasn’t enough of that.
Despite the summery temperatures today, it was an in-the-kitchen day for me today. I was able to purchase a big crate of tomatoes for a song this weekend, so they needed to be tended to (tune in tomorrow to learn all about that). But I also wanted to make something sweet. Peanut Butter Cup Cookies at Sweetnicks recently caught my eye, and having just picked up a bag of dark and milk chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures, that seemed perfect. Unfortunately, when I went to the kitchen, I discovered that we were missing a key ingredient: Peanut butter.
Maybe the warm air hit me in the right way or something, but as I contemplated what to do, I remembered a treat from my childhood summers. There were these shortbread cookies with a center of creamy chocolate that debuted when I was in elementary school. Totally smitten, I couldn’t get enough of them and ate them compulsively. I loved the way the milk chocolate was in smooth contrast to the crumbly cookie.
So, that’s how I ended up doing a shortbread cookie with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Miniature pushed into the center. The cookie itself is buttery with a punch of vanilla. It’s crumbly and on the dry side, but it holds its shape. Next to the smooth chocolate and peanut butter center, it’s just dreamy.
Not into the peanut butter cups? No worries, these work equally well with other small chocolate bites — Hershey’s Kisses, other miniatures, even Lindt Truffles. Heck, if you were in a pinch, you could just chop up a bar of chocolate and push a square into the center. Don’t you just love versatility?
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- about 26 candies unwrapped, such as Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures or Hershey Kisses
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Add the butter and vanilla extract to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream together until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together confectioners sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Add the sugar mixture to the butter mixture slowly, by the spoonful, with the mixer running on low.
- Use a small ice cream scoop to drop the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving about two inches between each ball. Cook in the preheated oven for about 12 minutes.
- As soon as you remove the cookies from the oven, press a candy into the center of the cookie. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Then transfer to a plate and place in the refrigerator to harden up the candy.
- To Store: Place in an airtight container and keep in the fridge.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.