Sunday, May 16, 2010

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies with Milk Chocolate Filling

I want to start off this post by apologizing in advance for the poor quality of my pictures this time around. You see, my Mother's Day gift this year was a new camera (yay!) and I have been getting myself used to it. Therefore, I had a lighting issue with some of my shots, and then by the time I (okay, Andy) corrected the problems, the cookies were gone. Polished off. Demolished.

Maybe that's because these cookies are heaven. Wonderful, magical little treats. As long as you are down with the tried and true chocolate/peanut butter combination, you will not be disappointed by these little yummies.

I checked a book out of the library called The Craft of Baking, and I was really excited to try several of the recipes contained within. This is actually the second one I attempted. The first, a coffee cake muffin with pecan streusel, was absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, the muffins were also ultimately a failure. I couldn't get them out of the muffin tins; they were stuck to the bottom, despite my generous dose of cooking spray in each cup. When I tried to carefully carve them out of the tins with a paring knife, I wound up with 12 little piles of crumbs. I transferred these to one giant plate of crumbs, and we all picked at them and called it a day.

So I was a little wary about making these cookies, since my only experience with this book had been such a colossal flop. Still, they sounded too delicious for me not to try them out. And I am very glad I did.

They are very easy to make. A simple, peanut-buttery cookie dough is put together with the help of a mixer, and then the dough is shaped into rounds (made easy by using an ice cream or small cookie scoop). Bake them off, then let them cool completely before assembling them into sandwiches.

I froze these cookies before they were sandwiched, because I had a chance to bake them at one point, and then I wanted to serve them over a week later. They froze just fine; no problems.

When it was time to whip together the peanut butter/milk chocolate filling, this simple step took almost no time at all. The consistency of the filling seems thin when you first make it, but the instructions state to chill the filling so that it firms up. Once it is ready to be spread, it almost feels like a truffle consistency; thick, sort of pliable, and solid rather than liquid. Oh, and utterly scrumptious. Forgot to mention that part.

Eek! There's the really bad shot! And unfortunately it was the best of the shots I had of me spreading the filling. Oh well. Pictures can only do these cookies so much justice. The real proof is in the tasting. Trust me.

I find it easier to assemble these as you eat them, rather than assembling the sandwiches all at the same time and then storing them that way. I will take as much filling as I need out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Then, when it is soft enough to slather, I put the cookes together. No matter what method you use, these cookies are worth the minimal effort it takes to make them. You really should try them. Really!

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies with Milk Chocolate Filling

from The Craft of Baking, by Karen DeMasco

makes about 24 sandwich cookies


For the Cookies:

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. lightly packed dark brown sugar

3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I used reduced-fat, with great results)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 large egg

For the Filling:

6 oz. milk chocolate, roughly chopped

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I used reduced-fat for this, too)

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

3/4 cup heavy cream


1. For the Cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and confectioners' sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the oil, vanilla, and egg. Beat until jut combined, about 20 seconds, then add the flour mixture and beat to just combine.

3. Lightly flour the palms of your hands, and roll the dough into balls about 1/2 inch in diameter. Place them about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the cookies are golden brown on the edges, about 12 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks to let cool completely. (The cookes can be stored, unfilled, in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.)

4. For the filling: combine the chocolate, peanut butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Remove the cream from the heat and pour it over the chocolate mixture. Stir with a spatula until the chocolate is completely melted, and mixture is smooth.

5. Set the bowl in an ice bath, or chill it in the refrigerator, until the filling has cooled to room temperature and is thick enough to spread. Use it immediately or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 1 week (let it come to room temperature before using).

6. Using an offset spatula, spread 1 teaspoon of the filling over the flat sides of the cookies. Sandwich with the remaining cookies, flat sides together. Once filled, the cookies are best eaten the same day, but they can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator, up to 3 days.

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