Chocolate treat for a Valentine sweet

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(MS) — Restaurant reservations, red roses and sparkling jewelery all are par for the course on Valentine’s Day. However, nothing may epitomize the holiday more than a decadent chocolate treat. When heart-shaped chocolate boxes are not enough, resourceful gifters can turn to homemade desserts to really capture the spirit of Valentine’s Day.

This recipe for “Hot Cocoa Cookies,” courtesy of King Arthur’s Flour, marries the decadent taste of chocolate with the notion of a warm and soothing hot cocoa that’s ideal for a chilly February day. Even though the premium cocoa mix is baked right into the recipe, don’t hesitate to enjoy a steaming mug of cocoa on the side as the perfect complement to this rich and tasty cookie.

Hot Cocoa Cookies

Yield: 51/2 dozen cookies

Cookies:

8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature, 65 F to 68 F

1/2 cup King Arthur hot chocolate mix

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional, for enhanced flavor

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup cocoa nibs, optional


Topping:

About 5 1/2 dozen Belcolade bittersweet disks, or other high-quality chocolate wafer

Marshmallow fluff, cocoa nibs, or chopped nuts, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment.

To make the cookies: Combine the butter, hot chocolate mix, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder in a mixing bowl. Beat until the mixture is smooth. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until thoroughly combined.

Weigh out your flour. Or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Add the flour to the cookie mixture, stirring to combine. Mix in the chips and cocoa nibs.

Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets — a teaspoon cookie scoop works well here. Space the cookies at least two inches apart. Bake the cookies for 8 to 9 minutes, until the surface is set, but the cookies aren’t quite fully baked.

Take the cookies out of the oven and press a chocolate disk into the center of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes longer, until the chocolate begins to turn shiny and softens. Remove the cookies from the oven once again, and sprinkle the melted chocolate disk with your garnish of choice.

Allow the cookies to cool right on the baking sheet until the chocolate disks are set. Store well-wrapped cookies at room temperature for a week or so; freeze for longer storage.

Tip: King Arthur hot chocolate mix is a proprietary blend of sugar, ground chocolate, dry milk, and cocoa powder. If you’d like to use a store-bought hot chocolate mix, try to find one with a similar list of ingredients.

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