Hot chocolate cookies capture the essence of a warm cup of cocoa on a cold winter’s day. Rich cocoa and semisweet chocolate are tempered by gooey marshmallow pillows on the top of each cookie for an indulgent treat worthy of any cookie monster. Be the buzz of the next holiday cookie exchange!
As a self-professed cookie recipe queen and recovering chocoholic (ok, not really), nothing makes me happier than fresh-from-the-oven chocolate cookies.
Remember how magical a warm cup of cocoa seemed on a chilly day as a kid? This hot chocolate cookie captures the very essence of childhood in every indulgent bite. Velvety marshmallows offer a swirl of sweetness to temper the rich cocoa flavor. I have a feeling that once you sink your teeth into these melty, eternally chewy, rich cookies, you might want to break out some cozy blankets.
While most of us love the standards like Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies, Monster Cookie Bars, Toffee Chocolate Chunk, and Oreo Balls, this hot chocolate cookie recipe is a pretty fun twist on a classic! Hot chocolate cookies are perfect for your holiday cookie exchanges or winter office parties.
Ingredients and Substitutions
I built this recipe around using the simplest ingredients from your pantry! Below is an overview of what you will need to make these with notes.
Flour. All-purpose flour is my preference, but you can substitute wheat flour for a 1:1 substitute. I haven’t used gluten free flour in this recipe specifically, but it should be fine.
Chocolate Chips. I typically choose a dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chip brand that I like to eat straight out of the bag!
Cocoa Powder. You will want to use unsweetened cocoa, but either natural or Dutch process works. Dutch process will produce darker cookies with more mellow flavor.
Sugar. A mix of white and light brown sugar is used. Dark brown sugar has more moisture in it from the molasses. Using dark brown sugar may give cookies a richer flavor, but they’ll also be slightly flatter.
Vanilla Extract. Only Pure Vanilla Extract for me personally, no imitation stuff. I like to use my homemade vanilla extract, but a good quality store-bought like Neilsen Massey lends a warm, earthy undertone that can’t be beaten.
Butter. Only UNSALTED when baking. Salt does add something to cookies, but we already have it measured perfectly. Stick with unsalted butter for perfect cookies.
Baking Soda and Baking Powder. Fresh leavening ingredients are critical to properly risen cookies. If your baking soda is over two years old (unopened) and six months old (opened), get some new stuff.
Eggs. Fresh, large whole eggs. I have seen fudgy chocolate cookies that are eggless and skip the baking powder without changing the other ingredients, but I have not made those myself.
Marshmallows in Cookies
What marshmallows to use in cookies?
Mini-Marshmallows. When I was experimenting with this recipe, we could only find these mini marshmallows. Plain or colorful ones are perfect. You will need to cut them in half however to put into the freshly baked cookies.
Freeze-dried bits. The BEST option is these marshmallow bits. You don’t need to cut them, and they tend to hold their shape better. These are the same types of marshmallows as you would find in Marshmallow Lovers® Cocoa.
How to prevent marshmallows from spilling out from cookies while baking?
The main problem baking marshmallows in cookies is that they very much deflate and disappear into nothing when they get hot. To counteract this, you’ll top those gooey hot chocolate cookies with some more chips and marshmallows immediately after baking, making for the most beautiful cookies you’ve ever seen that take just like a mug of hot chocolate.
The cookies will still be warm and soft, so the toppings should begin to melt so they look as though they were there the whole time! (See photo 3 in the collage below.)
My Secrets to Perfectly Baked Cookies
Once you have the perfect ingredients, there are a few dependable tricks I like to use for the perfectly baked results.
Secret #1-Soft, Unsalted Butter. I always like to use unsalted butter in any of my baking recipes. Not only does it affect the flavor, but it can also affect the texture in your cookies.
It is also really important to make sure your butter is completely softened. The best way to go about it is by leaving it on the counter to come to room temperature on its own. You can even put it out the night before for ease!
Make sure your dough is smooth and completely blended. If you still see little chunks of butter when you cream the butter and sugars, your butter may not have softened enough. Allow the mixture to sit for ten or so minutes longer and mix them again. Do not move on to the next steps until it is smooth and creamy.
Secret #2-Room Temperature Batter. Although some recipes call for chilling the dough, I’ve found I get the best results by getting straight to scooping. I also don’t mind one less step! The cookies come out more uniform in shape and I always get the perfect texture.
Secret #3. Use a Cookie Scoop. I use a slightly rounded scoop (4 cm or 2 tablespoon size) or a flat 5 cm, 3 tablespoon size with a spring-loaded wire scraper on the handle if you want jumbo cookies. The dough comes out of the scoop easily, and results in round, perfectly sized cookies. Game Changer!
Storing and Freezing
Leftovers: Store them in a well-sealed, airtight container at room temperature. To keep them soft, try adding a slice of bread to the container, but don’t lay it directly on the cookies. I use a layer of parchment paper in between to prevent the marshmallows from sticking. Marshmallows exposed to air may start to get a bit stale after a day or two, but they are easy to remove.
Freeze: If you’ve baked a huge batch, you can easily freeze them for later! After baking, allow the cookies to cool completely. Place them in a freezer-safe zip-top storage bag. They last about 8 months. To thaw, allow them to sit on the counter until they come to room temperature.
Freezing the Dough: Chill the cookie dough balls in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Place the cold cookie dough balls into a labeled zipped-top bag. Label the bag with the name, month, and baking temperature, and place the bag in the freezer. Freeze cookie dough for up to 3 months.
More Delicious Cookie Recipes
Here are some other cookies that would be perfect for Christmas cookie exchanges this holiday season:
- Easy DIY Marshmallow Pops
- Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies
- Pecan Pralines
- Coconut Pecan Cookies
- 34 Christmas Cookie Exchange Ideas
Hot cocoa is really just a mixture of sugar and natural cocoa. If you use hot chocolate powder, use ¾ cup (or about 3 packets) and reduce the white sugar by ¼ cup.
Chocolate that you like to eat straight out of the bag always produces the best cookies. It could be milk chocolate or dark, although most prefer semi-sweet because it highlights the sweet, buttery flavor of the cookie dough.
According to the USDA, bakery or homemade cookies can be stored at room temperature for 2-3 weeks or two months in the refrigerator. Baked cookies can be stored in the freezer for 8-12 months.
You can keep things simple and use standard mini marshmallows but beware that they might melt into disappearing when baking. You can counteract this by either using freeze-dried marshmallow bits or adding small bits on after baking!
Nope! I prefer not to chill my cookie dough. I have found out that they turn out more uniform and rises better when I do not chill the dough prior to baking for this recipe.
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Hot Chocolate Cookies
- 2 Cups All-purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 Cup Unsalted Butter room temp, 2 sticks
- 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
- ½ Cup White Granulated Sugar
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- ½ Cup Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder
- 2 Cups Chocolate Chips divided
- 1 Cup Mini-Marshmallows divided, ***See Note
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir until combined.
- In a large bowl or mixer, add butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat at medium-high speed until creamy and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla and mix until well incorporated.
- Add dry ingredient mixture to egg mixture, ½ cup at a time, and mix slightly between additions. Scrape the side of the bowl and mix until consistent. Do not overmix. (The point of mixing in smaller portions is to keep the flour from puffing into the air.)
- Set aside ½ cup each of marshmallows and chocolate chips for after baking. Stir in the rest of chocolate chips and marshmallows.
- Using a cookie scoop, drop dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
- Bake cookies in preheated oven for 10-13 minutes. While cookies are in the oven, cut the mini marshmallows in half.
- When cookies are finished baking, gently nestle remaining, cut marshmallows into the tops of each cookie and sprinkle with reserved chocolate chips. This should be done immediately after pulling from oven while cookies are very hot.
This recipe is built around mini marshmallows, but if you can find the super miniature marshmallows (the tiny kind you use in hot chocolate) you can substitute these instead. Use 1-1 ½ cup and stir them all into the dough rather than adding some after baking. Chocolate
Instead of chocolate chips, you could use 12 oz of coarsely chopped chocolate candy bars. Storing
Store them in a well-sealed, airtight container at room temperature. To keep them soft, try adding a slice of bread to the container, but don’t lay it directly on the cookies. I use a layer of parchment paper in between to prevent the marshmallows from sticking. Marshmallows exposed to air may start to get a bit stale after a day or two, but they are easy to remove.