There are a lot of Valentine’s Day haters out there, and I get it. The holiday can feel like a lot of pressure, whether you’re in a relationship or not. If you are, you’ve probably had one of those probing conversations, where you try to figure out just how important Valentine’s gifts are to your significant other. You want to know if gifts and dinner are expected, flowers at the door, or maybe just a four-pack of caramels in a heart-shaped box. Decidedly unromantic, this guessing game of interpretation and expectation usually only leads to letdowns, arguing, or awkward silences at best.
If you’re not in a relationship, you’re probably even more conflicted about this whole cupid thing. You’ve got several contradictory takes on Valentine’s in your head right now. There’s the “Valentine’s Day was invented by greeting card companies. It’s about commercialism, not love!” And then there’s the, “I don’t want anything for Valentine’s Day because I think we should show our love all year, except I do maybe want just one rose from someone.” The quite possible, “It’s Valentine’s Day? Oh.” The classic, “I just need chocolates.” And don’t forget the spiteful, “I guess I’ll just be my OWN Valentine this year.”
I’ve never been much for doing anything because you’re supposed to, and that usually includes scheduled love fests. Still, this year I’m latching onto Valentine’s Day because I just want to get away from New Year’s. If our year is really just a series of holidays, as Hobby Lobby leads me to believe, then I’m ready to leave behind judgy low-fat New Year’s and move on to a holiday that celebrates love, acceptance, and sugar.
I especially love holidays like Valentine’s because I feel like it’s more okay to eat packaged candies. A lot of them have no appeal for me, but Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups still give me googly eyes. These cookies are the perfect way to eat em–nestled in more confection, and in shapes! Dunk them in milk, give them to your shorty, or pass them to a friend who needs to feel like a special snowflake.
Peanut Butter Heart Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
1 stick (¼ lb.) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup + 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup milk chocolate chips
About two dozen Reese’s peanut butter hearts (unwrapped)
*You can definitely make this without a stand mixer, but you’ll want to make sure your ingredients are all at the ready when you start mixing. You also might get a cramp in your arm at the egg stage, but it’s probably worth it.
1. Set the oven to 375 F, and grease two cookie sheets (or cover with silpats!)
2. In a stand mixer*, cream butter until smooth (15 seconds or so). Add sugars and beat until fully incorporated, 2-3 minutes. Add egg and beat for 7-8 minutes, until mixture changes texture, becoming light in color, fluffy, with a slight sheen. Beat in vanilla.
3. Meanwhile, mix flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. When egg mixture is ready, add flour in two increments, beating on a low-medium setting, just until flour is incorporated (less than 1 minute). Be very careful not overmix at this stage, or your cookies could turn out tough. Add chocolate chips when flour is almost fully incorporated.
4. Using a Tablespoon measure, portion out cookies onto greased pan, leaving two inches between all the cookies (and from the edges!). Chill portioned cookies 30 min – 1 hour before cooking. This keeps cookies from spreading, and ensures they cook evenly.
5. Bake for 8-9 minutes, watching for browning near the end. Start checking at 7 minutes. When cookies are golden brown on the edges and just setting in the middle, remove from pan. While cookies are still quite warm and gooey, place a Reese’s heart in the middle of each one, pressing down slightly. Let cool over a wire rack and serve. Store in an airtight container for up to three days.