Soft, rich chocolate sugar cookie dough wraps around a peanut butter cup center for a perfectly decadent bite. These Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies are truly the BEST cookie.
What makes these the best cookies?
Ok, I haven't tried every cookie ever (obviously), but these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies have been the best cookies I've tried this year. They've become my go-to and I just had to share these sweet nuggets of joy with you.
What I love most about these is the peanut butter cup center. When you eat them warm, they are gooey (which I love). Once they cool completely to room temperature, the filling turns into the exact taste and texture of a peanut butter cup. It's actual perfection.
I also love that the chocolate sugar cookie dough uses dutch processed cocoa which makes them extra chocolatey and the cookie stays oh so soft.
I found this recipe from Smitten Kitchen about a year ago, and it was honestly life changing. Keep reading for my personal tips on making these cookies, but if you're just trying to get right to it, here is Deb's recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies. Happy baking!
Ingredients for the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
- Creamy peanut butter. You have to use creamy peanut butter.... not the natural stuff (too much oil). We're talking Jiff, Skippy, Peter Pan type situations.
- Powdered sugar.
- Unsalted butter. I have tried this both with softened butter in the stand mixer, and cold butter in the food processor. I personally prefer the softened butter method, but you can totally do either way.
- Granulated sugar.
- Dark brown sugar. If you don't have dark brown sugar, you can use light brown and it will be just fine.
- Vanilla paste or extract.
- All-purpose flour.
- Dutch processed cocoa. This specific type of cocoa powder is extra dark and provides that punch of chocolate flavor you really want. If you only have natural cocoa powder, that's totally fine, but you will need to switch to ½ teaspoon of baking SODA instead of the two teaspoons of baking powder. This has to do with the differences in acid between the two cocoa's -- dutch processed can only be used with baking powder, natural cocoa needs baking soda to leaven.
- Baking powder (or baking soda...). See above. If you are using natural cocoa, you need to use ½ teaspoon of baking soda and NO baking powder. If you are using dutch processed cocoa, you need to use 2 teaspoon baking powder and NO baking soda. #science
- Sea salt.
Making the peanut butter cup filling
When making the filling, you may feel like the peanut butter and powdered sugar will never come together. Be patient! Keep using the tines of your fork to mix and mash, and it will come together perfectly. I like to do this in a larger bowl -- sometimes the powdered sugar goes rogue.
Once mixed, scoop a heaping teaspoon of the filling into a teaspoon measure (will be closer to 1.5 tsp), roll them into balls, and place on a parchment lined plate or pan and pop into the freezer while you make the dough.
Making the chocolate cookie dough
You have two options on how to make the dough. If you're using room temperature butter, you will do this in a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) with the paddle attachment. If you're using cold butter, you'll do this in a food processor.
Both work just fine. I personally prefer the softened butter method, as I feel the dough is easier to work with when assembling the cookies, but that is a total personal preference.
Assembling the cookies
Once you're ready to assemble the cookies, you'll want to work relatively quickly. This is because the cocoa powder absorbs a ton a moisture, and once you get down to the last few dough balls, the dough become a bit more dry and not quite as easy to work with.
Measure out a scoop of dough that's a bit less than 2 tablespoons. If you have a #40 scoop, that's perfect. Place the dough into your palm, and flatten it into a disc. Add the peanut butter filling, then carefully close the dough around the peanut butter ball. Give it a roll in between your hands to smooth it out, then roll it in sugar and place on a cookie sheet. Repeat the process until you have no more dough. I pretty much always have a few leftover peanut butter balls - enjoy the sweet snack 😉
Upon trial and error, I have found that you should roll each cookie in the sugar as you assemble. If you assemble all the cookies, then try to roll them in the sugar, they'll have lost their "stickiness" and the sugar won't adhere nicely. Don't forget to gently press down on each cookie with the bottom of a drinking glass before baking. If they crack a bit, no worries. The filling will stay put.
Possibly the best part about these is that they only need to bake for about 8 minutes because the cookie layer is so thin surrounding the peanut butter! Yay for short oven time!
If you missed the recipe above, head over to Smitten Kitchen to make these!