Hot Cocoa Cookies

I haven't given out a valentine since elementary school. This is a sad realization I made just moments ago, but it's the truth. When I was small, Valentine's Day was an event. My mother allowed me to pick out the valentines going out to my classmates and, for every year, I picked out exactly the same one. The front had a drawing of a featureless cartoon face. The back held a bunch of stickers featuring silly glasses, large noses, and big ears. It was, in essence, the Mr. Potato Head of valentine's.

I figured if I loved this valentine enough to hand them out year after year, my classmates wouldn't mind receiving exactly the same one.

The first Valentine's Day that I did have a sweetheart, we were separated by a state. By the time we were near each other once more, the holiday was long forgotten. Though I have the same sweetheart this year, distance separates us once more. Perhaps the third year is the charm?

Nevertheless, I've gotten very good at rocking the single gal's Valentine's Day. Romantic comedies, brownies, and copious amounts of carbohydrates are prominently featured. One year I made a stack of chocolate chip rainbow pancakes that stood at least a foot tall (or so it seemed). I managed to get through half before falling into the happiest of food comas in front of my favorite romance movie, Moulin Rouge. Another year I made a batch of chocolate rum truffles and gifted them to myself (because I'm worth it).

This year, I'm planning a low-key celebration. There will be a big bowl of pasta, a glass of wine, one (or three) of these hot cocoa cookies, and an order of Ryan Gosling's abs for dessert. My Netflix account has seemingly read my mind and devoted an entire section to him. Who says I can't be my own valentine?

Whether you have someone to share this holiday with or not, whether you choose to recognize this day as a holiday or whether it's just another Tuesday, there is one thing we can all agree onβ€”every day is made better with a batch of cookies.

The intersection of hot cocoa and cookies is sweet and gooey. These hot cocoa cookies have a thick, chocolate cookie base with a layer of chocolate and warmed marshmallow. These cookies are sweet and taste best when fresh from the oven (but then again, what doesn't?). If they are room temperature, I like to toss them in the microwave for a few seconds to melt the chocolate layer and soften the marshmallow. Though they wouldn't be amiss with a mug of hot cocoa, I love them with a tall glass of cold milk.

One Year Ago: Heart-Shaped Cinnamon Rolls (make these for your sweetheart!)

Hot Cocoa Cookies
Adapted from Rachel Ray

Yields about 3 dozen 2-inch cookies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
12 ounces (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips,
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (about 2 packets) hot cocoa mix
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, cut into 1/2-inch squares
18 large marshmallows, cut in half
Chocolate shavings (optional)

In a small saucepan, melt together butter and chocolate chips over low heat. Stir until smooth and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together brown sugar and eggs. Add vanilla extract. Slowly incorporate flour, hot cocoa mix, baking powder, and salt. Mix in melted chocolate. Refrigerate cookie dough for 1 hour to solidify (you must do this!).

Preheat oven to 325 degree F (165 degrees C).

Using a spoon or cookie scoop, scoop cookie dough and spread out evenly onto a baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, or until cookie tops begin to crack. Pull cookies out from oven and place 1/2-inch chocolate square onto cut side of each marshmallow. Press one marshmallow half chocolate side down on top of each cookie. Bake cookies for an additional 4-5 minutes, or until marshmallows are softened. Sprinkle chocolate shavings on top, if desired.

Serve warm or room temperature, with a tall glass of milk. I like to heat up my cookies for 5-7 seconds in the microwave before eating just because I love a gooey, warm marshmallow.