These gluten free chocolate kiss cookies are rich and fudgy with a thin, crispy shell, all topped off with a single Hershey’s kiss after baking. There’s even a chocolate and peanut butter-flavored variation!
Do Hershey’s kisses melt in the oven?
If you’re putting a milk chocolate Hershey’s kiss in an oven that has been heated to anything higher than about 200°F (93°C), it’s going to melt in a hurry. Even at 200°F, it will melt eventually.
Like chocolate chips, though, they tend to melt in a controlled way and then regain shape after baking. But in these chocolate kiss cookies, we’re not placing the Hershey’s kiss in the oven.
Instead, we’re pressing the kiss into the cookies the moment they come out of the hot oven. The cookies are softest then, and you can place the unwrapped kiss right in the center. I like to give it a small twist to melt the bottom of the kiss and ensure that it adheres to the cookie.
Which Hershey’s kisses are best?
The “regular” milk chocolate kisses will melt a bit, but they will firm right back up as the cookies cool. You can also place the finished cookies in the refrigerator to help them firm up, although I’d wait until the cookies are no longer hot.
I’ve also used dark chocolate Hershey’s kisses, and they melt less than the milk chocolate kisses. I prefer the sweetness of the milk chocolate kisses in these cookies, though.
If you watch the how-to video carefully, you’ll notice that I used the red and white striped “candy cane” variety of Hershey’s chocolate kisses in some of the cookies. I’m sorry to report that I really don’t recommend them here, though. ☹️
I love the white chocolate and candy cane taste, and they’re very festive-looking. But those kisses are super soft and melt sadly into a weepy lump with a tiny little point. Keep that in mind if you decide to try any of the other fancy kisses!
Ingredients and substitutions
Dairy: To replace the butter in this recipe, try using Melt brand vegan butter, my favorite butter replacement. Otherwise, you can try using Earth Balance buttery sticks, but the cookies will likely spread a bit more since Earth Balance has quite a lot of moisture. Be sure the semi-sweet chocolate you’re using a diary-free, and you’ll want to skip the kisses. Or make your own, even!
Eggs: The single whole egg should be able to be replaced by a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel). I really don’t know how to replace the egg yolk, but you could try 1 additional tablespoon of butter. Higher-fat European butter would be an even better bet.
Hershey Kisses: For a complete discussion of the chocolate kiss part of this recipe, please scroll up. If you can’t have or don’t want to use kisses, you can leave the cookies as is. I’ve also wanted to try using a Rolo, but I’m not sure how it would look.
Peanut butter variety: I originally developed this recipe as a chocolate adaptation of our fan favorite gluten free peanut butter blossom cookies. The recipe works great, but my son said they “taste like nothing,” and I think I know what he meant.
Peanut butter is a strong flavor, and so is chocolate. The richness from both the nut butter and chocolate compete with one another, without a ton of sweetness for balance.
I served equal numbers of the peanut butter and straight-up chocolate varieties to my family, and the peanut butter won with everyone other than my son. I decided to share the peanut butter variety, since it tastes great. Be mindful that the cookies will crackle a bit more when you press in the Hershey’s kiss after baking, since peanut butter makes for a slightly less tender cookie.
Coarse sugar and nonpareils: You don’t have to use coarse sugar, nonpareils, or anything else on the outside of these cookies. They won’t have the crisp outer shell that the candy creates, but they will still turn out great.
If you’d like to add the decorative shell, you’ll need to find gluten free ingredients. The white coarse sugar (Chef’s Select brand granulated sugar crystals) that I’ve bought in the past is no longer available on Amazon, but Sugar in the Raw brand coarse sugar is available most everywhere. It has more of a yellow tinge, though.
Cake Mate brand and Signature brand nonpareils are both made by Betty Crocker, and they’re reliably gluten free according to information I received directly from the company. If you’re concerned, please contact them directly using the contact information on the package or on their website (which is what I did!).