Some old habits never die, because they shouldn’t. Take Nutella, for instance. I’ve been addicted since kindergarten, and as calorie-ridden and sugar-infused as it is, I have no intention of ever quitting. My only issue is that I wish I had more uses for it. Of course, there’s the classic, straight-up Nutella sandwich. Then there’s that moment in every Nutella-obsessed kid’s life when you realize the wonders of adding peanut butter to that sandwich. My brother Joey had his own strange version of this moment, only for him it was the discovery that Nutella and American cheese go well together. The idea always made me gag, but once I realized the brilliance in salty/sweet combos, I came to understand his love.
Never underestimate the power of an empty spoon, a jar of Nutella, and an open refrigerator/freezer door. Once you fill half the spoon with Nutella, set aside your inhibitions and embrace the possibilities before you. Nutella and jam. Nutella and peanut butter (just on the spoon—forget the bread). Nutella and ice cream. A Nutella spoonful speckled with blueberries. Then venture over to the cupboards for Nutella and maple syrup, Nutella and cookies, Nutella and crackers. Hell, dip the spoon into an open cereal box and crunch on Nutella and whatever else sticks to the spoon (mmmm…Nutella and Frankenberries). Kids, just make sure your parents don’t catch you double-dipping your Nutella spoon into a month’s worth of groceries.
These days, while I’ve taken my Nutella beyond the spoon, my trusted go-to is still the classic Nutella/peanut butter combo. I recently adapted an amazing peanut butter cookie recipe from King Arthur Flour’s website by stuffing them with…you know. My only complaint with the outcome is that I wish I’d put *more* Nutella in each cookie. I worried it would ooze out if I over-stuffed them, but this cookie dough is solid enough to encase the Nutella without any worries. So next time, I’ll be doing a whole teaspoon of Nutella instead of a half teaspoon per cookie. Because as wonderful as these cookies are, they are ultimately a vehicle for the warm, gooey Nutella that hides inside.
Nutella-stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Classic Peanut Butter Cookies.
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup supermarket-style smooth peanut butter
1 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup Nutella
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
Beat together the shortening, sugars, egg, vanilla, and peanut butter until smooth.
Add the flour, baking soda, and salt to the peanut-butter mixture, beating gently until everything is well combined. It may take awhile for this dough to come together; and when it does, it’ll be quite stiff. I added two tablespoons of water to my version, just to make them a little softer for molding around the Nutella.
Drop a heaping teaspoon of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie (I did 3 cookies per row). These will be your cookie bottoms. Use your fingers to press each cookie into a well shape.
Drop a teaspoon of Nutella into the center of each cookie well. My photo shows a half teaspoon, which I mentioned is ***not enough Nutella!*** These could definitely hold more. Don’t short-change yourself.
Cover each cookie with another teaspoon of dough. Use your fingers to mold the dough around the Nutella, making sure it wraps down the side of each cookie bottom to keep the Nutella from seeping out. Use a fork to flatten the tops and make a cross-hatch design.
Bake the cookies for 12 to 16 minutes, until they’re barely beginning to brown around the edges; the tops won’t have browned. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.