Friday, February 24, 2012

Rebekah's Brownie Pillow Cookies

In addition to being a busy tax accountant, my sister Rebekah is also a wonderful baker.  She kindly agreed to do a guest post on how to make her brownie pillow cookies.  Bake carefully; I can verify what she says - they are addicting!

During my junior year of university, I moved into a house not far from campus with my sister, Elizabeth, and our friend, Beth.  After two years of the exuberance of the dormitories, it was nice to have a little space to spread out and study in peace. Plus, we had a whole big kitchen all to ourselves!

It became a weekly tradition for my wonderful and adorable friends, Bekah and Rachel, to come over on Sunday afternoons for lunch and to study.  With The Corrs crooning in the background, we always lunched on the same thing, procured from the Fresh Market down the street--hot shaved ham, drizzled with honey, on Ciabatta rolls and sliced Munster cheese. For dessert, we would get brownie pillow cookies--a moist brownie center enveloped in a smooth butter cookie. They were pretty much heaven on earth.

After I graduated, I moved on to the wonderful world of tax accounting in Atlanta, rarely eating shaved ham for Sunday lunch, and (as impossible as this sounds) quite forgetting about the glories of brownie pillow cookies.

Until one day in December. 

A friend from work had suggested a pre-Christmas cookie bake.  We invited several other mutual friends and each submitted a recipe for the group to make.  To my chagrin, none of the recipes submitted were of a chocolate variety. Not having chocolate at a cookie bake being paramount to criminal activity, I planned to rectify the problem by submitting a chocolate cookie as my recipe.

And with that decision, the brownie pillow cookies popped out of some buried subconscious and into my brain.

I had always figured they were made by magic, since how else were you supposed to get a brownie inside of a cookie!  But since I had to have them (and I couldn’t very well bring else-where baked cookies to a cookie bake), I decided to see if my dear friend Google could help me out.  And, lo and behold, someone else had also experienced the wonder of Fresh Market’s brownie pillow cookies; and--like a scene from one of those antiques shows where someone finds they are holding a priceless treasure long-buried in a distant relative’s basement, attic or, in this case, recipe book--she had found a recipe.

I did make the cookies.  And I took them to work so I wouldn’t eat them all.  My co-workers now also dream in brownie pillow cookies.

Since the recipe Bakerella posted made pillow cookies big enough to dress a bed, I modified it some to make a more bite-sized variety. The recipe also contains chocolate chips in the cookie dough, which she and I both think adds something, but which can be eliminated for a cookie closer to those from Fresh Market.

Tomorrow, I am attending a get-together with several of the ladies in my neighborhood.  We are supposed to bring a snack and a beverage. Since these are the people who keep an eye on my house for me when I am out of town, I figured I’d better make them like me.  So I am taking brownie pillow cookies.  Because, after all, it is a brownie inside of a cookie.  What is there not to love??

Brownie Pillow Cookies

For the brownies

1 package brownie mix for an 8x8 pan (you can make brownies from scratch as well, but since I’m eating, sleeping and breathing taxes at the moment, that’s really not an option for me, no matter how much I love my neighbors).

Make sure the brownie package is for a small square pan (8x8 or 9x9).  Prepare brownies batter according to package directions (I also like to add chopped pecans to my brownies, just make sure to chop up anything added to be very small so you do not wind up with large chunks on your brownies) or your favorite recipe.  Pour into a 9x13 pan.  It will create a thin layer, so you will need to spread out to the corners and smooth.  Bake just until set (about 7 minutes).  Cool to room temperature and then put in the freezer.

For the chocolate chip cookie dough

This amount of cookie dough will make about three dozen small (1.5”) cookies and will use up half the pan of brownies.

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 oz. bag miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

Beat butter with a mixer until creamy. Add brown sugar and beat until smooth. Add eggs, yolk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a medium bowl and stir together with a wire whisk.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until combined. Stir in mini chips. Let dough chill covered in the refrigerator for at least an hour. This will make it easier to handle when you’re wrapping the brownies.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the pan of brownies from freezer and cut into small squares (about a half-inch square).  I do cut away the very edges first so as to not wind up with any harder bits in my cookies. I was worried about the edges going to waste, but somehow they manage to disappear, so I stopped worrying about it.

Cover each brownie square with a thin layer of chocolate chip cookie dough.  I do this by rolling a small ball of dough (1+ tsp) and then creating an indent with my thumb into which I put the brownie piece.  I then work the dough around the rest of the brownie piece and form it back into a ball. If I’ve done it right, I won’t be able to see the brownie at all (See! It is magic!).

Place the cookie dough balls on a baking sheet (I line mine with parchment paper) and smoosh them down (they do not spread much).  Place in preheated 350 degree oven and bake until light brown (about 7 minutes). 

Cool on cooling rack.

Try to refrain from eating them all in one sitting.


  1. Yummy! Looks so much better that size than the original recipe. Do you know if they still sell those at the Fresh Market?

    1. They were still selling them last time I was there. They also sell almond pillow cookies and raspberry pillow cookies - but I liked Rebekah's homemade ones better.

  2. Delightful.
    I remember those little devils you made when I was down there.

  3. I had construction issues. I couldn't for the life of me get the dough to surround the brownie without making a mess. It wanted to stick to my hands while pulling off bits of the brownie. I ended up taking about 2/3 of the amount of dough per cookie and shaping it into a patty, putting a brownie ball in (I found rolling the brownie easier than squares) and then doing another patty of 1/3 of the dough on top and pushing down the edges to seal.

    1. Kelley, what a great idea! I have run into construction issues before as well and usually wind up sticking the dough into the fridge a little longer to firm back up. I will have to try your method next time. Were you pleased with how the cookies turned out?

    2. They turned out incredibly yummy. Unfortunately none are left. Guess I need to make more!


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