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With these cookies, it's love at first bite


UNDATED -- BC-EVERYDAY-FOOD-CHOCOLATE-COOKIES-ART-NYTSF -- You can replace the caramels with chocolate ones, or even marshmallows (use four minis, or cut a big one into pieces). (Credit: Armando Rafael) -- ONLY FOR USE WITH ARTICLE SLUGGED -- BC-EVERYDAY-FOOD-CHOCOLATE-COOKIES-ART-NYTSF -- OTHER USE PROHIBITED.

The secret to this recipe is freezing the balls of dough for just 15 minutes before baking. That way, the centers cook more slowly, and you achieve that blissful balance of melted, gooey interiors and crispy edges.

Share this jumbo-size treat with someone lucky, or enjoy it solo and wait for the gold rush.

Carmel-stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Servings: 12

Preparation time:1 hour

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (1 whole bag)

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

24 caramels, such as Kraft, halved

1. Heat oven to 375 F, with racks in top and middle. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together flour, both sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add butter; beat on medium speed until combined but some pea-size butter chunks remain. Add chocolate chips and beat until combined, then beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla.

2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Scoop dough into 4-ounce balls (each about 1/3 cup); make a deep, wide hollow in each center.

Enclose 3 pieces of caramel in each; roll back into a ball. Place 6 balls on each sheet. Freeze 15 minutes.

3. Bake, with one sheet on each rack, 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F, swap sheet positions, and bake until centers are almost but not completely set (press gently on tops with your fingers to check), 7 to 10 minutes more.

Remove from oven. Bang sheets on a counter a few times to create cracks in tops of cookies. Place sheets on a wire rack; let cool completely.

Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Go for the deep cocoa flavor of Mexican hot chocolate with these cookies. They combine a melt-in-your-mouth texture, with the assertive kick of cayenne pepper and cinnamon. These cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Preparation time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Makes: About 3 dozen

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup packed dark-brown sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

12 ounces semisweet chocolate (61% cacao), chopped (2 1⁄3 cups)

1⁄2 cup turbinado sugar

1. Heat oven to 325 F. Whisk together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, cayenne and baking soda.

2. In a separate bowl, beat butter with brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined. Reduce speed to low and beat in flour mixture until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate.

3. Roll dough into 1-inch balls (each 1 heaping tablespoon). Gently roll each in turbinado sugar to coat; place 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until surfaces crack slightly, 11 to 14 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on sheets, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

For more recipes and additional tips, visit www.marthastewart.com. Questions or comments should be sent to: askmartha@marthastewart.com.