Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies (Magic Middles)

February 20, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: These sugar-crusted, dark chocolate cookies *magically* hide their peanut butter bellies. (Allergies, beware!) My family has been obsessed with the recipe for decades but, because I can't help it, I made a few adjustments: adapted to natural—that is, unsweetened—nut butter (this means you can swap in any nutty/seedy cousin, from cashew to sesame); added flaky salt; decreased the flour; and increased the cookie-smush, so they turn out extra slim. Emma Laperruque

Food52 Review: Featured in: The Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies Our Staff Can’t Stop EatingThe Editors

Makes: about 28 cookies
Prep time: 45 min
Cook time: 10 min


Peanut butter filling:

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened, salted peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Chocolate cookies:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened, salted peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus 5 tablespoons
  • 1 pinch flaky salt, for sprinkling
In This Recipe


  1. Stir the jar of peanut butter to incorporate any separated oils. Stick in the freezer for about 15 minutes, or until it’s very firm—imagine the texture of standard, sweetened peanut butter.
  2. Make the filling. Combine the peanut butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Start on low, then gradually increase the speed to medium-high, until completely smooth. Form the peanut butter mixture into 28 little balls (figure 1 heaping teaspoon each). Stick in the fridge while you make the cookie dough.
  3. Combine the butter, peanut butter, and sugars in the bowl of the standing mixer (no need to clean it out). Cream until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg and vanilla. Continue creaming until fluffy, scraping as needed. Add the salt and baking soda. Mix to distribute. Add the cocoa powder. Mix until just incorporated. Add the flour. Mix until completely incorporated.
  4. Form the cookies. Fill a small bowl with white sugar. Use a cookie scoop to scoop 1 tablespoon of chocolate dough. Flatten into a thin patty in your palm. Place 1 peanut butter ball in the center and wrap the chocolate dough around it. Roll around in your palm a few times to smooth out. Roll the ball in the sugar. Place on a plate. Repeat with the remaining chocolate dough and peanut butter filling.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Fill a cookie sheet with the balls, spaced a few inches apart—figure 9 to 12 per tray. Smush the balls each with a water glass—they don’t spread much, so you want them fairly thin, 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Sprinkle with flaky salt and press in slightly so it adheres. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through—they’ll puff up but they shouldn’t crack. Cool slightly, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough balls.

More Great Recipes:
Cookie|American|Chocolate|Peanut Butter|Dessert

Reviews (32) Questions (0)

32 Reviews

Mo December 14, 2018
Love this recipe! So rich and peanut buttery! The only change I would suggest is adding more cocoa. Couldn’t taste the chocolate whatsoever. I used unsalted pb and left off the salt flakes. Everything else worked out perfectly.
Monique November 25, 2018
No. Something’s not right The chocolate dough kept cracking as I was trying to encase the filling. There was no way to keep the oozy peanut butter inside.
Author Comment
Emma L. November 25, 2018
Hmmm! The recipe is accurate written as is, so two theories on what might be going wrong: The chocolate cookie dough is too cold, or there was too much flour added (volume measurements can vary slightly). Ways to troubleshoot: You can try letting the dough sit out to soften, or add a tablespoon or so of water to the dough to loosen it up. Hope this helps!
Taylor S. August 10, 2018
DANG these are goooood. I used crappy supermarket peanut butter (full of sugar and oil) for the filling and dough and cut back on the powdered sugar slightly. This recipe was super easy to follow, tastes amazing, bakes beautifully, and is totally addictive. Gifted these cookies to a few different people and got rave reviews.
Author Comment
Emma L. August 12, 2018
So happy to hear that, Taylor—thanks!
Sinamen78 May 19, 2018
Good taste but more work and trouble than worth it. More chocolate cookie dough than peanut butter balls ( and I weighed each one out) , once rolled together, peanut butter broke thru lots of them, edges ragged not neatly round like picture. I did the like the flaky salt addition on top.
jane G. April 13, 2018
Oh God ...don't do this to me ...i'm trying to low carb... not i'm gonna have peanut cookie dreams...
Sandy S. March 9, 2018
Can you please elaborate on the type of cocoa powder that you would recommend for this recipe? Thanks.
Author Comment
Emma L. March 11, 2018
Great Q! I used natural cocoa powder—so, not Dutch-process. Because this recipe only uses baking soda—no baking powder—it benefits from the acidity of natural cocoa.
MoDo March 4, 2018
Another vote for weighted measurements... got myself a digital scale a while back and just about the best kitchen "tool" ever. The cookies are great but wow, a lot of work & still trying to figure out how to keep the filling in the middle.
Author Comment
Emma L. March 4, 2018
Hi MoDo—the dough-wrapping step is key to the peanut butter staying hidden. Make sure the dough completely surrounds the peanut butter and that there are no cracks peeking through. If a cookie is being fickle, you can snag a little extra dough to do some patchwork.
Nancy S. March 1, 2018
These cookies are out-of-this-world good! Thank you Emma Laperruque for your work on this recipe. Instead of using a glass to smoosh the balls before baking, I used Nordicware 3-inch cookie stamps. I wish I could post a photo here—they look incredible. The filling still stayed put in a thin layer. Big hit. <br />
Author Comment
Emma L. March 1, 2018
Such a fun idea! Thanks, Nancy!
Diana B. February 26, 2018
Thank you for correcting the recipe.
Marcie February 25, 2018
And here's a vote for keeping the old fashioned cups and tbsp from somebody who tried a scale with precise weight. I didn't like the nuisance of add a bit, subtract a bit until it's spot on accurate. Give me a cup measure and I'll whack off the excess with a stroke of the knife. Done! <br />
Pamela_in_Tokyo February 25, 2018
Peanut butter cookies are my favorite and wrapping peanut butter in chocolate sounds even better! Thanks for researching this interesting recipe!!<br /><br />I can not get natural peanut butter here in Japan so I will have to use plain ol’ Skippy which is all I can get. I guess I could reduce the amount of powdered sugar in the filling. I want to reduce the amount of sugar in the cookie part too. Would reducing it by about 1/4 be okay, I wonder??<br /><br />I vote for weighted measurements too!! This is the web, it’s international, isn’t America about the only country in the world still using cups?? Grams and ounces are so much more accurate. Please, please, grams/ounces too.
Knightcraft February 25, 2018
My guess is that most households in the United States dont have kitchen scales. Aren't measuring cups available in Japan? Seriously, not being a jerk.
penelope February 25, 2018
If you go to the King Arthur Flour site to see their version of this cookie, you can click the option to convert volume measurements to weights in grams:
Pamela_in_Tokyo February 26, 2018
Hi. Yes, Japan has cups but flour, sugar etc are weighed on a scale, like in the UK, Europe, Australia, China, etc. CUPS are used for liquids in Japan. In America, professional bakers as well as bread makers, use scales. Also, America is just about the last country not using GRAMS. <br />Just saying. <br />The scoop and scrape method is not accurate. Not even close. <br />;-)
Author Comment
Emma L. February 26, 2018
Hi Pamela_in_Tokyo, Skippy works, too! If you want to reduce the sugar, here's my recommendation: Drop to 1/2 cup powdered, then each sugar in the cookie dough to 1/3 cup (so, 1/3 cup white, 1/3 cup light brown). Note, I haven't tested this myself, but I'm hopeful. Thanks, also, for your note about weight vs. volume.
Pamela_in_Tokyo February 26, 2018
Emma: Thanks for the ideas on reducing sugar. Just about every Japanese female friend I have who has had American sweets say they are TOO SWEET for their taste. I always try to reduce the amount of sugar when I bake here. <br /><br />I saw an interesting measuring experiment in the States once. Some women who said they were not so good at baking were asked to measure out some flour and sugar for scones. They were asked to use two methods. The scoop and scrape cup method and a scale. None of them had ever used a scale and it had to be explained to them. What was interesting was that in the scoop and scrape method they simply scooped too much flour practically packing it in. And that was one reason why their baked goods were not so great perhaps. Using a scale, they, of course, weighed out the exact correct measurement. I have a feeling that some people are better at the scoop and scrape method than others. Whereas the scale is always more accurate.<br />;-)
Sharon February 27, 2018
If you can get salted peanuts (or even unsalted), why not just grind your own peanut butter? Seems like you could skip all the steps relating to oil separation then also.
Karen B. February 25, 2018
this sounds AMAZING!!
The P. February 25, 2018
You got your peanut butter in my chocolate. Will try.
Claudia February 25, 2018
These cookies are wonderful!! I even made them with a “Rolo” tucked inside (instead of peanut butter) YUM!
Lauralou February 25, 2018
These are a lot of work but were very worth it.
mimiwv February 25, 2018
Weights, please. Me too!<br />
Stacy I. February 24, 2018
also.. 3/4 tsp kosher salt is WAY too much.
Stacy I. February 24, 2018
I made these.. and while good, they could use a bit more sugar and cocoa.<br />The directions are not clear- even for an avid baker.. it just did not read well. Is the brown sugar packed? Is it light or dark? I cross referenced this with the smitten kitchen recipe after the fact, and really wish I had used hers instead. <br /><br />Yet another vote for weighted measurements on F52 instead of volume (1 C + 5 TBSP flour really drove me crazy)!
Author Comment
Emma L. February 26, 2018
Hi Stacy Isabel, I'm sorry to hear that the cookies didn't turn out to your taste, but appreciate your feedback and your note about volume vs. weight. I used packed, light brown sugar and updated the recipe accordingly.
Diana B. February 22, 2018
OK. You lost me in this recipe: Make the filling. Start on low, then gradually increase the heat to medium-high, until completely smooth. What heat?
Author Comment
Emma L. February 22, 2018
Hi Diana, it should be gradually increase the *speed*. Just updated—thanks so much for the catch!