When I first arrived in Oregon after years of living in Texas, I had no idea what Trader Joe's was. There was one a few blocks away from my college campus, and I remember walking over with the intent of purchasing a bottle of Coca Cola and some trash bag liners, unaware that Trader Joe's sold neither of those things. I'd mistaken it for a regular supermarket, and was miffed by the Trader Joes brand snacks, cereal, sauces and more.
Eventually, I came to rely on Trader Joe's. To say that I did my grocery shopping there during my college years was a bit of an understatement — I survived off of their frozen foods section, and purchased the obligatory servings of fruit and vegetables needed to be healthy there. I'm pretty sure there was a good three or four years of my life in which every meal I'd made for myself consisted of food entirely from Trader Joe's. Later, as I grew older and tried to eat healthier, I eventually realized that I could purchase far superior and fresher produce at farmer's markets and other local grocery stores.
Which leads me to today. These days, I only ever head to Trader Joe's when I'm feeling particularly uninspired for my blog. Specifically, I'll head straight for their snacks section — because although Trader Joe's is lacking in their produce department, they've got their snacks game DOWN. I'll troll up and down the aisle to examine every single one of those plastic buckets filled with chocolate covered nuts and other candies to see if there's anything I can use in my baked goods.
And on my latest trip, I decided to purchase this plastic bucket full of mini peanut butter cups. Now exactly how mini are these peanut butter cups? Pretty mini. Like, the size of a chocolate chip-mini. I've daydreamed about using these mini peanut butter cups in cookies since college, but it's only now that I've actually come around to doing it.
And how was the result?
Some baker's notes:
- No Trader Joe's in your area? No worries! You can still purchase mini peanut butter cups online at King Arthur Flour's store. Alternatively, you can use peanut butter M&Ms or Reese's Pieces, but the texture will be different on account of their candy coating.
- So, this recipe allows for some flexibility. I threw in a lot of salt because I love the flavor of salted chocolate and salted peanut butter — for a more tampered taste, reduce the salt in the recipe by 1/2 teaspoon. Similarly, I love cookies that are soft on the inside, and crunchy on the outside. If you prefer cookies that are soft, bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool on the pan. For extra crunchy cookies, bake for 14. Bear in mind that you can choose your cookie texture by altering almost all cookie recipes in this way.
- Also, in this recipe, it'll seem like the ingredient quantities are off — that is, there's not enough flour to hold the chocolate chips and peanut butter cups together. But trust the recipe! It'll work, I promise. But it's very important that you chill the dough for the time I suggest, otherwise the cookies will spread too thin and flatten out.
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, tightly packed
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks
- 1 cup mini peanut butter cups (see baker's notes)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar and 6 tablespoons granulated sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. When the mixture is light and fluffy, lower the mixer speed to its lowest setting and add 1 large egg and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Continue mixing on low speed and add the dry ingredients (from the 2nd step), mixing until just incorporated. Add 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks — be careful NOT to overmix. At this point, it's okay to have one or two flour streaks left in the batter.
- Once the chocolate chunks have been dispersed throughout the dough, turn off mixer. Add 1 cup mini peanut butter cups to the dough, and use a spatula to mix them into the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is completely chilled, at least one hour.
- Once the dough has been chilled, center a rack in the oven and preheat o 350 (F). Prepare 2 baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.
- Use a 1-tablespoon cookie dough scoop to measure out heaping dough balls onto the parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing each dough ball at least 3 inches apart. Use your palms to roll each dough ball into a circle.
- Bake the cookies until the bottoms and edges are lightly browned and the tops feel firm, about 13 minutes. In my oven, only one cookie sheet will fit at a time — place the other cookie sheet in the fridge to chill while the other bakes. When the cookies are finished baking, transfer the cookie sheets to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.