Hot chocolate cookies

H

These hot chocolate cookies are the direct result of my inability to leave well enough alone. 

You remember the chocolate crinkle cookies from Cookie Week last year? The ones I said were perfect as-is, and more or less promised not to mess with?

Yeah…that lasted.

I wanted to make a cookie inspired by all the best parts of hot chocolate, and in my defense, that recipe is the perfect place to start. It’s richly chocolatey, has the sort of dissolving texture I always associate with drinks, AND it all comes together in one bowl. I couldn’t resist.

Six cookies on a cooling rack. The one in the upper right has had two bites taken out of it.

All I had to do was figure out how to make the cookies a little more like hot chocolate, and a little less like being punched in the face by a lava cake. 

I started by dialing down the intensity by replacing the unsweetened chocolate the original recipe called for with semi-sweet. (In the spirit of total transparency, I actually started by swapping it out for milk chocolate, but apparently there is a reason you don’t typically see it used in baked goods. My cookies turned out as flat as a pancake and about the size of hubcaps – turns out there’s a lot of fat and sugar in milk chocolate…) This also meant fussing with the amount of sugar, which wasn’t nearly as difficult as I was anticipating.

Baker’s percentages for the win!

A pile of hot chocolate cookies on a white plate. You can see a cooling rack with more cookies and a string of holiday lights in the background

I also wanted a milkier, creamier quality to the cookie so I made the obvious choice and added milk – powdered dry milk, to be exact. I didn’t want to throw off the texture of the cookies too much, and I knew adding more liquid would make everything screwy. The milk powder also had the added (and accidental) benefit of making the hot chocolate cookies just a hair chewier – they didn’t lose their wonderful dissolving quality, but it showed up a little later. 

Also, I added marshmallows. Because obviously.

This was more difficult than just adding marshmallows to the cookie dough – turns out if you do that, they pull a disappearing act in the oven and you end up with rich, chocolate cookies with big gaping holes. Apparently, there’s enough liquid in the dough that the marshmallows dissolve in the oven.

I put the cookies in timeout after that. 

Cookies on a piece of crinkled brown paper sit on a brown countertop. One of the cookies has been partially broken so the marshmallow inside stretches across the break

After I had enough time to calm down (and to do a bunch of frantic Googling), I had my solution: dehydrate the marshmallows. 

I was pretty skeptical at first – this isn’t a super wet batter to start with, and I was convinced that the marshmallows would end up as Lucky Charms-tasting rocks rather than the pockets of ooey gooey fluff that I was looking for. 

Luckily I was wrong. 

The marshmallows rehydrated beautifully in the oven, melting into pockets of stretchy, creamy, s’mores-y perfection amid all the chocolate. 

The result is, in my mind, exactly what I want from hot chocolate cookies. They’re rich, creamy, and deeply chocolatey, studded with pockets of melting chocolate and gooey marshmallows. The only thing that could make them better is a bit of peppermint extract or a pinch or two of cayenne, if you’re into that sort of thing.

A broken hot chocolate cookie. You can see two marshmallows stretching between the two broken halves.

…which is just more proof that I shouldn’t be left alone with a recipe. Even if it’s mine. 

Hot Chocolate Cookies


Yield: about 20 cookies     Time: 30 minutes, excluding dehydrating time   Source: Inspired by Cook’s Illustrated

All credit for the genius dehydrating technique goes to Kelly Neil, without whom I would still be banging my head against the wall, trying to figure out how to keep my marshmallows from melting. 

If you’re not into the whole spend 8 hours dehydrating marshmallows thing for silly reasons like “I need my oven for other things” or “My gas/electricity bill is already ridiculous” or “Who has that kind of free time,” I have great news. You can buy dehydrated marshmallows on Amazon! They might be a little smaller than what you’d make yourself, but they’ll still be delicious. 

  • 56 grams (1 cup) mini marshmallows
  • 142 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 44 grams (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
  • 18 grams (2 tablespoons) dry milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 115 grams (4 ounces) chopped semi-sweet chocolate, divided
  • 29 grams (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 225 grams (1 cup packed) light brown sugar
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 85 grams (1/2 cup) milk chocolate chips or chopped milk chocolate
  • Granulated sugar, for rolling

The day before you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 170°F.

Spread the marshmallows out evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet so that no marshmallows are touching. Place the baking sheet in the oven, and let the marshmallows dry for at least four hours (mine took about 8, and I left them in the oven to cool overnight) until they shatter into a powder rather than squishing when they’re completely cool. It’s super important that they’re completely dry inside – if they aren’t, they’ll go from marshmallow to tiny rock when you chew them and it’s really unpleasant. Be patient. 

When they’re finished drying, they’ll probably look a bit wonky – since they’re going in cookies anyway, don’t worry about it. 

On baking day, begin by preheating your oven to 325°F.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, dry milk, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, melt together the butter and chopped chocolate – I find the best way to do this is to microwave them together at 50 percent power in 30-second increments, stirring in between each burst. 

Once the chocolate is melted, whisk in the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla, making sure the eggs fall onto the sugar and not the melted chocolate so they don’t scramble. Dump the dry ingredients into the bowl, and fold until the mix is about 80 percent combined. Add the milk chocolate, and keep folding until everything is evenly incorporated and no dry flour remains. 

Let the dough rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, then fold in the dehydrated marshmallows.

Scoop the dough into two-tablespoon-sized balls – I like a #30 scoop for this, but regular spoons work just as well! Roll each ball into a rough sphere, then roll in a shallow dish full of granulated sugar until the entire surface is coated. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment and arrange the cookies so they’re roughly two inches apart.  

Bake until the cookies are puffed and cracked all over – the surface should be dry, but the inside of the cracks should still look a little bit moist – about 12 minutes. Rotate the cookies halfway through baking. 

Cool completely on the baking sheets. 

The hot chocolate cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to a week, or tightly wrapped in the freezer for up to three months. 

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Jessi Spell

A culinary degree and two years of professional experience has not stopped Jessi from making stupid mistakes – she just makes them more efficiently. She habitually reads cookbooks before bed, loses track of time on Wikipedia, and yells at cooking shows like dads watching football. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband Jackson, five plants, and more cookbooks than a 600 square foot studio should hold.


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