Peanut Butter Cutout Cookies with Chocolate Creme Filling
I recently subscribed to The Baking Sheet, the newsletter from the good folks at King Arthur Flour. My first issue came last Thursday, and my only problem with it has been trying to narrow down what to make. Seriously, in the first four pages I found four recipes to try. Finally, I handed it over to Quinn and had him pick. So, that is how I came to make these cookies.
This recipe has an alternate vanilla creme filling. Yeah, right. I’ve made it no secret how much I love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate. I certainly wasn’t about to turn back now.
First, the cookies. Beat together 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. When this is light and fluffy, add 1 egg and mix well. Add 1/8 cup of heavy cream (or sour cream), 3 tablespoons of corn starch, and 1 & 1/2 cups of AP flour. When this is mixed, add another 1/8 cup of cream and 1 & 1/2 cups of AP flour.
Divide the dough in half. Flatten each portion a bit and wrap up. Put the dough in the refrigerator for about an hour. This will make rolling out the dough much easier.
When it’s time to roll out the dough, take it out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes. Then, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and lightly dust each side of the cookie dough with flour. Roll each half of dough into a circle 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out the dough and place on greased/sprayed baking sheets. A good “thinking ahead” hint: You’re making sandwich cookies, so you’ll want an even number of cookies.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes. The cookies should be “set but not browned.” Cool for a few minutes on the sheet, then remove the cookies to a cooling rack.
While the cookies are baking, there’s plenty of time to whip up the chocolate filling. First, mix together 1 & 1/4 heaping teaspoons of unflavored gelatin with 3 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl or cup. Place the bowl in a larger bowl of hot water and let the gelatin dissolve. This will take a few mintues. The mixture should be transparent when the gelatin has dissolved. Remove the small bowl from the hot water and let it sit for a few minutes until it reaches room temperature but hasn’t set.
In another bowl, cream 6 tablespoons of vegetable shortening. Add slowly 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/2 cup of Dutch-process cocoa, and 2 & 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar. Let me give you a heads up here that the recipe didn’t give me. This is quite the dry mixture. Don’t be alarmed. It will get better. Mix in the gelatin and all will be well. If you’re not using the filling immediately, cover and wrap it well, and leave it at room temperature.
I mentioned the alternate vanilla creme filling. For anyone interested, decrease the cold water by 1 tablespoon, increase the shortening to 1/2 cup, and omit the cocoa. I think using this would just be wrong, but to each his own. It might be good with some other cookie.
Now, for the fun-yet-labor-intensive part. Spread the filling on the underside of a cookie and top off with another cookie. The filling is quite thick and a bit hard to spread, but your efforts are worth it.
These are quite tasty. The filling is rich and a great complement to the crispy peanut butter cookies. The recipe describes these cookies as “Reeses-inspired.” I would agree in principle, but the flavor is much richer.