It’s amazing how much I accomplished this weekend without a computer (or a sense of security) to distract me. I mean, I went DOMESTIC on my apartment. Seriously. So much laundry and cleaning and clearing and organizing and planning and shaking out the bad juju. The place is gleaming. I polished wood furniture. I hung pictures. I tidied my desk (a little). I cleaned out the fridge. When 7:00 p.m. rolled around Sunday night, I looked at my shining, spotless, never-been-cleaner kitchen, and I immediately wanted to mess it up.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
pinch of flaky sea salt
1 cookie cutter, shape of your choosing. Pick one towards the smaller end of the size spectrum, otherwise you’ll wind up with A LOT of cookie.
For the cookies:
Beat butter in an electric mixer until smooth, light, and creamy, about three minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat until smooth, then add the sugars. Beat the mixture for about 2-3 minutes until well-combined, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl (is there anything that smells better than brown sugar and peanut butter combined? Well, yes, but not in this moment). Add the egg and mix until combined.
Set a sifter on tip of the mixing bowl and measure the dry ingredients into it. Sift the dry ingredients into the wet, and mix on low speed until combined. Dump the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap, gather into a loose ball (it will be very crumbly), flatten into a thick disc, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2-3 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Lightly flour your work surface and break out the rolling pin.
Unwrap the chilled dough and place on floured work surface. Deb, in her book, tells you that the dough will be crumbly, and you’ll be all “psh, I am an EXCELLENT baker, I got this,” and then the dough will crumble all over the place, just like Deb said it would, and you will be humbled. I actually recommend using your fingers to press the dough out and then using the rolling pin towards the end to smooth and level things out. You want the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out cookies and transfer them carefully to the prepared cookie sheets. An offset spatula or dull knife will help with this process, although there will still be some crumbling. Just press the cookie back into shape, and the oven will fix everything.
Bake the cookies for about 10-12 minutes, until the tops are set and the edges are ever-so-lightly browned. Allow to cool while preparing the filling.
For the chocolate peanut-butter ganache filling:
In a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl set over simmering water, combine the butter, peanut butter, chopped chocolate, and sea salt. Stir over heat until chocolate and butter are completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and let cool until thickened and spreadable. I confess that I got bored/impatient and used the refrigerator to hurry things along, but you must keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t solidify.
Assemble the cookies:
Transfer the cooled ganache to a pastry bag, or do as Sweets did and use a ziplock bag with one of the bottom corners snipped off. Pipe a generous teaspoon (or more, depending on the size of your cookies; I probably used about a tablespoon for each of mine) onto one cookie, top with a second cookie. Repeat. Allow cookies to sit at room temperature about 30 minutes until set.
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This is a cookie that is full of delightful contradictions. It’s tender yet sturdy, light yet rich. The flavors are classic and nostalgic, the execution refined. My lingerie pick is perhaps unexpected, yet it perfectly captures the cookie’s many moods, and it’s so, so appropriate for Valentine’s Day. Behold, from Dottie’s Delights:
Sophisticated, elegant, retro, and sexy as hell. I will have a robe like that one day, as God is my witness.