These cookies….oh boy, these cookies. I’m not sure where my inspiration for these came from; all I know is that it came. My favorite soft vanilla pudding cookie dough (same recipe as these awesome Dark Chocolate Coconut Pudding Cookies) is baked in a miniature muffin tin, then miniature Reese’s cups are pressed into each cookie while they’re still hot out of the oven, letting the peanut butter cups melt into the still-soft cookies. After the chocolate cools back down to room temperature, you are left with 24 tiny pieces of heaven. Incredibly soft, sweet vanilla cookie shell on the outside, and creamy chocolate peanut butter cup in the middle. Be still, my heart.
I half-expected to over bake the cookie shells like I always seem to do, which makes for cookie cups that are delicious albeit a little crunchy/crumbly, but this time I made sure to pull the pan out after no more than 8 minutes, when the cookies were just barely turning golden around the edges. The cookies will be very soft and melty while they’re still warm, so I recommend letting them cool completely before attempting to remove them from the pan. To speed things up a little, I stuck the pan in the freezer for about 10 minutes, then used a butter knife to carefully remove each cookie cup. At room temperature, the cookie shell is still perfectly soft and chewy and the peanut butter cup is nice and soft as well, making it way too easy to eat these babies in one delicious bite. Which is a good thing. I think.
Sometimes the most delicious of desserts are the simplest. Nothing fancy here, certainly nothing to brag about in the health department (but like I always say, moderation is key), just wonderful little bite-sized pieces of goodness. Note that the cookie dough recipe will make way more than 24 cookie cups (about 7-8 dozen total), but you don’t have to use all the dough at once. After filling up my miniature muffin pan with the vanilla dough I stirred some white chocolate chips and coconut into the leftover dough, scooped it into balls, and froze them in a tupperware for a quick and easy cookie fix. When you’re ready to bake, just preheat the oven to 350, place the frozen dough balls on lined cookie sheets, and bake for 10-12 minutes or until done. Two different desserts out of one recipe!
Peanut butter cups never tasted so good. Neither did my vanilla pudding cookies, for that matter. Soft, chewy, full of vanilla/chocolate/peanut butter flavor, mighty addictive, and pretty darn cute, these just might be my new favorite cookie. At least until another inspiration comes my way, that is!
Soft Vanilla Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3.4-oz box instant vanilla pudding mix
2 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
24 miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups, unwrapped
In a large bowl, beat the butter on low speed until creamy. Add in the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed, followed by the vanilla. Beat in the pudding mix until the mixture is well-combined.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, mixing just until combined. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 24-cup miniature muffin pan. Scoop the cold dough into 12 balls, 1 rounded tablespoon each, then cut each ball in half. (There will be leftover dough). Place one dough half in each mini muffin cup. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until cookies are just turning golden-brown. Don’t over-bake!
While the cookie cups are still warm, press an unwrapped Reese’s cup into each muffin cup. Let the cookies cool for several minutes in the pan before carefully removing with a spoon. Serve.
*Note: the process can be repeated to use up all the dough (it will make 7-8 dozen cookie cups), or you can form the leftover dough into balls and freeze for future use.