Rocky Road Cookies

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Rocky Road Cookies are fudgey, sweet, and downright delicious! These irresistible cookies are packed with pools of melty chocolate, dry-roasted and lightly salted nuts, and gooey bites of marshmallow. A dream cookie for Rocky Road lovers!

What Is Rocky Road Flavor?

Rocky road flavored treats are chocolate-based with nuts and marshmallows.

Image of the Rocky Road Cookies on a plate

Rocky Road Cookies Recipe

For when plain Chocolate Cookies just won’t do, we add marshmallows, nuts, and maybe even a sprinkle of sea salt flakes for good measure!

These are the best Rocky Road Cookies around, thanks to a few special ingredients you won’t find in a typical chocolate cookie recipe.

And while this recipe is easy to re-recreate, it’s vital that you start with the right ingredients. So wait for a grocery store run if you don’t have the right cocoa powder or flour; the wait will be worth it so you don’t end up with lackluster cookies — or worse, cookies that don’t bake up properly. More on this below!

Process shots-- images of the butter and brown sugar being creamed together; adding eggs and vanilla

What Are Rocky Road Cookies Made Of?

Typically, rocky road cookies are made with a chocolate cookie base and loaded with chocolate, peanuts (or a similar nut), and marshmallows. You’ve likely tried this flavor in ice cream cones before or perhaps in some homemade fudge. But, in cookies, this combination of these ingredients is next level!

As mentioned above, there are a couple of ingredients in particular that aren’t super common in cookie recipes. You’ll want to pay close attention to these for this recipe:

  • Cake flour
  •  Dutch-process cocoa powder.

Depending on how often you bake, you may already have these ingredients in your pantry. But if not, you can readily find both ingredients in most grocery stores.

Special ingredient #1: Dutch-process cocoa powder

  • Dutch-process cocoa powder offers a more robust and intensely deep chocolate flavor and also adds a darker color to the cookie. It produces a softer and moister cookie. Regular cocoa powder will create a less-flavorful and drier texture. 
  • Hershey’s® “Special Dark” cocoa powder is a Dutch-process cocoa powder that is delicious in these cookies and is readily found at most grocery stores. 
  • We’ve also had a lot of luck finding Dutched cocoa powder made by Ghiradelli® in local grocery stores. You’ll know you have a Dutch-process cocoa powder because the container will say either “Dutch process” or “Dutched” cocoa. The cocoa powder shouldn’t be sweetened.

Special ingredient #2: Cake flour

  • Cake flour isn’t a typical ingredient in cookies but is integral to the structure and flavor in this recipe for Rocky Road Cookies.
  • Cake flour has been milled to a fine consistency. It’s a low-protein flour (which essentially means less gluten is formed when mixing the cookie batter). Less gluten is going to produce a softer, gooier cookie texture. For reference, cake flour has about 7-9% protein while all-purpose flour clocks in at about 10-12%, and bread flour has an even higher protein content. Protein=gluten=denser structure.

QUICK TIP

There are loads of tutorials and ways to make your own cake flour, but we did not find these DIY cake flours to have consistent results in these cookies. For best results, use packaged cake flour which can be found near the all-purpose and other types of flour in the grocery store.

Process shots of Rocky Road Cookies-- adding cocoa powder, baking agents to the bowl and mixing together

What Is The White Stuff in Rocky Road?

Marshmallows! We tested these Rocky Road Cookies with marshmallow creme stuffed in the cookies and then marshmallows mixed into the cookie dough — neither had consistent results. Finally, we found pressing the marshmallows into the tops of partially baked cookies was the secret to success!

The cookies go back into the oven with the marshmallows on top so they have a chance to melt and meld into the cookies, without burning or leaking out onto the cookie tray.

QUICK TIP

The fresher the marshmallows, the softer and more enjoyable these cookies are. When purchasing marshmallows, feel the bags to find the softest ones, and use them soon after purchasing.

Rocky Road Cookies process shots: mix dough well; add chocolate chips and peanuts; mix well again and chill; add flour and roll balls of dough.

What Nut Is In Rocky Road?

Almonds and/or walnuts are thought to be the original nuts used, but since the inception of the “Rocky Road flavor,” many other nuts have been used. We like peanuts best in these cookies, but the good news is that pretty much any nut will work!

  • Use your favorite shelled nut — almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans…even pistachios! For larger nuts, coarsely chop them down to the size of peanuts.
  • Look for dry roasted and lightly salted nuts — more flavor without any extra effort on your part. 

Favorite Cookie Baking Tools

  • Silicone liner. We recommend baking Rocky Road Cookies on a silicone tray liner — they bake evenly and the bottoms won’t get overly crispy when baking on a mat.
  • Food scale. A food scale ensures even-sized cookie dough balls, which yields evenly baked cookies. If you’re simply eyeballing portions, you may end up with some slightly over-baked cookies while other cookies aren’t fully baked through because of inconsistent sizes.
  • Hand mixer or a stand mixer. To get the right dough consistency, you’ll need to use a mixer. When creaming together the butter and brown sugar, we’re looking for a thick and creamy mixture similar in consistency to peanut butter. You can’t achieve this consistency with a wooden spoon.

Overhead image of the cookies out of the oven

How To Make Rocky Road Cookies (Tips)

  • Don’t substitute ingredients. This cookie recipe has been tested (and re-tested some more–I love my job!). For best results, follow the recipe carefully, using the correct ingredients. I know there are some unique ingredients called for, but I recommend using those ingredients instead of trying random substitutes. Baking is finicky — it’s hard to say what will and won’t work out in place of what has been tested.
  • Don’t skip or shorten the chilling time. Not only does the dough become more flavorful as it sits, but the chill time is also important for the texture and structure of the cookies. The chilling time ensures these cookies bake up nice and thick instead of spreading too much.
  • Get the right texture of butter. We’re looking for room temperature, not softened or melted butter. Don’t let the butter get too soft– a common mistake with recipes where the butter needs to be creamed with sugar. Without the proper butter and sugar creaming, the cookies could end up greasy. To get it right, leave the butter out at room temperature for about 45 minutes to an hour before baking.

QUICK TIP

Better butter temperature check: If you touch the butter and are left with greasy fingers and a deep indent, the butter is too soft. Pop it in the fridge for a bit before using it. If the butter is cool to the touch and makes a slight indent when pressed with a finger, it is the perfect temperature!

Overhead image of Rocky Road Cookies on a plate, ready to be enjoyed

STORAGE

Rocky Road Cookie Storage

These cookies store well at room temperature in an airtight container for 2-3 days; the marshmallows lose texture, however, every day they are stored.

Can You Freeze Rocky Road Cookies?

Instead of freezing already-baked cookies, freeze the dough!

To do so: Drop the cookie dough balls on a large sheet pan and freeze until solid. Once solid, transfer the frozen cookie dough balls to an airtight container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To bake: You can bake these cookies straight from the freezer. There is no need to thaw, but you may need to add a few extra minutes to the baking time.

Image of one of the cookies being pulled apart

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Rocky Road Cookies

5 from 1 vote
Rocky Road Cookies are fudgey, sweet, and downright delicious! These irresistible cookies are packed with pools of melty chocolate, dry-roasted and lightly salted nuts, and gooey bites of marshmallow. A dream cookie for Rocky Road lovers!
Print Recipe

Rocky Road Cookies

5 from 1 vote
Rocky Road Cookies are fudgey, sweet, and downright delicious! These irresistible cookies are packed with pools of melty chocolate, dry-roasted and lightly salted nuts, and gooey bites of marshmallow. A dream cookie for Rocky Road lovers!
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword rocky road cookie, rocky road cookies
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 13 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 38 minutes
Servings 35 cookies
Calories 143kcal
Cost $5.76

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (Note 1)
  • 1-1/2 cups light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon each: cornstarch, baking soda, fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (Note 2)
  • 1 cup cake flour (Note 3)
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips
  • 1 cup roasted and lightly salted peanuts (or other nut you enjoy)
  • miniature marshmallows not full-sized ones
  • Optional: sea salt flakes for topping

Instructions

  • CREAM BUTTER AND SUGAR: Add room temperature butter (not softened or melted) and brown sugar into the base of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat until completely combined and ultra creamy, about 3-4 minutes. The mixture should be the consistency of peanut butter. See the tips in the notes section below this recipe for important considerations.
  • ADD REMAINING INGREDIENTS: Add in the eggs and vanilla. Beat until combined. Add the cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Beat until just combined, scraping down the sides with a spatula as needed. Add the cake flour and regular flour (Note 3) and again, beat until combined. Don't overmix the mixture. Fold the chocolate chips and peanuts into the dough with a spatula. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for 45 minutes up to 2 hours. (If longer than 2 hours, you may need to let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or so to be able to roll cookie dough balls.)
  • FORM COOKIE BALLS: After 45 minutes, remove the bowl from the fridge and form cookie dough balls. Each ball should be just over 2 tablespoons of dough (40g) each. You should get around 35 equal-sized balls from the dough. Roll into large and tall (instead of round and wide) balls and place on a parchment-paper-lined sheet pan or plate and return to the fridge or freezer to chill for 15 more minutes.
  • BAKE AND ADD MARSHMALLOWS: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (162 degrees C). Line an extra-large sheet pan with a silicone liner (parchment paper works, but cookies bake even better on a liner). Add 6 cookie dough balls to the sheet pan, leaving plenty of space in between each cookie. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove cookies and press 3 marshmallows into the tops of each cookie. Return to the oven and bake for 2-4 more minutes or until no longer gooey on top and set at edges. Slightly underbaked is best -- they will firm up to a nice and fudgy/chewy cookie as they set (Note 6.)Optional: Right out of the oven, press a few extra chocolate chips and/or peanuts into the tops of the cookies. Let cookies stand on the cookie sheet pan for 5 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack. Allow cookies to cool and finish firming up here. Repeat this process with the remaining cookie dough or freeze the remaining cookie dough (Instruction #6)
  • STORAGE: We like these cookies best the day they're baked. They do last up to a week, but they begin to lose texture and flavor after 3-4 days. To store: Place in an airtight container and keep at room temperature. Wait until cookies are completely cooled before adding to the container. Rewarm in increments of 10-15 seconds in the microwave.
  • FREEZING: Instead of freezing the baked cookies, freeze the dough instead! Drop the cookie dough balls on a large sheet pan and freeze until solid. Once solid, transfer the frozen cookie dough balls to an airtight container or bag and freeze for up to three months. You can bake these cookies straight from the freezer. There is no need to thaw, but you may need to add a few extra minutes to the baking time. Bake until the edges are lightly browned, and the center is still soft.

Video

Recipe Notes

TIP: We highly recommend using the exact ingredients called for in this recipe to achieve the best results in creating these cookies. So wait for a grocery store run if you don't have the right cocoa powder or flour; the wait will be worth it so you don't end up with lackluster cookies -- or worse, cookies that don't bake up properly.
Note 1: Room temperature butter: If you touch the butter and are left with greasy fingers and a deep indent, the butter is too soft. Pop it in the fridge for a bit before using. If butter is cool to the touch and makes a slight indent when pressed with a finger, it is the perfect temperature! Softened or melted butter won't cream properly.
Note 2: Cocoa powder: I don't recommend using plain cocoa powder (you'll end up with dry, less flavorful cookies). Hershey’s® “Special Dark” cocoa powder is a Dutch-process cocoa powder that is readily found at most grocery stores.
Note 3: Cake flour: Cake flour is usually found in the baking supplies aisle in the grocery store near other types of flour. I don't recommend a different flour substitute or making homemade cake flour -- it doesn't work the same in this recipe.
Note 4Measure flour correctly: If you press a measuring cup into a bag of flour and scoop, you will pack in way too much flour which affects the texture of these cookies. To properly measure your flour, spoon the flour into the measuring cup until it’s overfilled. Then use the back of a table knife to level the measuring cup at the top. (Video visual here)
Note 5: Chill the dough. Don’t rush the chilling time or you’ll find yourself with cookies that spread too much.
Note 6: Ever so slightly underbake. If you overbake these cookies, the taste and texture will be off. Slightly underbaking these cookies keeps them soft, chewy, and flavorful. Remember, the residual heat on the pan continues to bake the cookies for a couple of minutes even after they’re pulled out of the oven. Visual cues to look for: firm edges and set center (they shouldn't be overly gooey/wet looking).

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 143kcal | Carbohydrates: 18.7g | Protein: 2.4g | Fat: 6.9g | Cholesterol: 24.9mg | Sodium: 53.9mg | Fiber: 0.7g | Sugar: 10.1g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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