Secret Kiss Cookies

By Laura Levine

Readers who know my heroine, Jaine Austen, know that she practically needs a GPS to find her oven. The only time she uses it is to reheat cold pizzas and dry out wet jeans. So there’s not a whole lot of baking going on at Casa Austen.

But when Jaine goes to visit her parents for the holidays, she gets to chow down on her mom’s Secret Kiss Cookies—a burst of luscious chocolate in sugar-frosted cookie dough.

Here’s the recipe that makes 3 dozen cookies.

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
  • 36 Hershey’s kisses, wrappers removed
  • powdered sugar for rolling
  1. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes; slowly beat in flour, salt and nuts until combined.
  2. Cover dough and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 375ºF; line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Scoop out 1 heaping Tbsp. of dough, flatten, and wrap carefully around a Hershey’s Kiss, covering it completely; place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough and Kisses.
  5. Bake cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until just set; let cool for 5 minutes, then roll in powdered sugar.


This treasured cookie recipe comes from my neighbor Edna Lindstrom’s adorable niece, Jordan Serchuk, who writes:

Sandies. Russian tea cakes. Mexican wedding cookies. Those nutty, buttery cookie balls rolled in powdered sugar are a Christmas classic: easy yet delicious and pretty, with a resemblance to snowballs that makes them perfect for the season. Yet whenever I’ve tried to make the traditional version, they’ve always fallen flat – literally. I don’t know if it was my oven, the quality of the butter or flour, or the lack of freezing temperatures outside, but my California sandies never turned out perfectly round and snowball-like the way my grandma’s always did in North Dakota. But just when I was resigned to cutting them from my Christmas cookie repertoire, I discovered a recipe from the website 12 Tomatoes that provided a delicious solution: a Hershey’s Kiss in the middle of every cookie. Not only is the chocolate center a luscious surprise, perfectly complimenting the not-too-sweet nut cookie that surrounds it, but it also improves the cookies’ structural integrity, keeping them from spreading in the oven. Thanks to the genius of Milton Hershey, adorable cookie snowballs have finally found their place on my annual holiday platter.

After the holidays, when you’re looking for healthy comfort food recipes, you might want to check out Jordan’s blog: Clear Conscience Comfort Food.

It’s homicide on the funny side as freelance writer and long-time Ben & Jerry’s addict Jaine Austen battles crime (and cellulite) on the mean streets of Beverly Hills!

Freelance writer Jaine Austen’s life is suddenly full of romance. For one thing, she’s reconnected with her ex–though her cat, Prozac, isn’t happy about it. And Jaine’s also got a new ghostwriting gig, working on a steamy novel called Fifty Shades of Turquoise…

Daisy Kincaid is in her sixties and heiress to a fortune. Now she wants to make a name for herself as a romance author…with a little help from Jaine, that is. As Jaine labors away on love scenes, she gets to know the wealthy woman’s gentleman friend, her household staff, and her social circle–every one of whom is horrified when Daisy falls under the spell of a much younger stud named Tommy, a rude, crude lothario who’s made himself a fixture in Daisy’s Bel Air mansion.

After Tommy and Daisy shock everyone by announcing their engagement, it doesn’t take long for someone to stab him in the neck–with the solid gold Swiss Army knife that Daisy gave him as a gift. But to narrow down the list of suspects, Jaine will have to put a bookmark in that love story–and focus all her creative talent into untangling a tale of money and murder…