I was bored with Christmas baking, and I hadn’t even started yet. Let me back up.
On Friday, my mom called to ask how my Christmas preparations were coming along. I gazed out my window at the Halloween pumpkin still decomposing on my front porch and refused to assume her plan-ahead, Martha Stewart decorating drive.
I don’t like to pack my holiday celebrations too tightly, and I was still working off Thanksgiving dinner, thankyouverymuch. Still, an examination of the calendar did indicate that perhaps some hustle on my part was in order. While I wasn’t ready to make a public lawn statement quite yet, I figured that some baking might help ease me into the spirit of the season. When I turned to my usual Christmas cookie contenders, however–the peanut butter blossoms, the pecan tarts, the Hungarian half-moons–they were all so perfect and lovely and…uninspiring somehow. I decided that I needed to break tradition: Christmas 2011 needed a new cookie.
Thus began the epic Googling. (What? I’m a girl who likes her research!) In the end I settled on two experiments. This is the first, the “cozier” and less fussy of the duo. A friend came back from a block party raving about them a few weeks ago and even though they are laid back, they sure are tasty. I think what sold me is how they are kind of like a Buckeye–a peanut butter ball wrapped in chocolate; what’s not to love?–but (bonus!) in this version they also function as cookies. I was not disappointed.
Cooks all over blogland have gone to town on this recipe (which appears to have originated in an issue of Better Homes and Gardens), so whatever version you need, you can probably find one to suit (the vegans, in particular, have done a range of adaptions). I went with this posting by Culinary in the Country, mostly just because I liked his cookie flattening technique and the fact that he, too, whisks his dry ingredients.
Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cookies
Recipe from Culinary in the Country; adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 large egg
1 T milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
a few tablespoons granulated sugar
Measure flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream butter, sugars, and peanut butter until smooth. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla, and continue mixing until well combined. Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
Cover two baking sheet with parchment and divide dough into 32 pieces. (I only got 29 and wasn’t disappointed with their size, so use your own judgement.) Quickly shape into balls.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a medium bowl or stand mixer, mix powdered sugar, peanut butter, and salt until smooth. Divide into enough pieces to fill your chocolate balls. I found the filling coherent and malleable enough to roll it out into a log, so I did that and simply divided it evenly with a butter knife rather than guess on individual balls, as the original recipe suggested.
Flatten each chocolate ball in the palm of your hand and top with a piece of the peanut butter filling. Fold chocolate dough as evenly as possible around the peanut butter and shape back into a ball before placing it on the baking sheet again. My “round” ball cookies always come out slightly flat, which in this case actually worked in my favor (see next step).
Lightly flatten each cookie with the bottom of a glass dipped in granulated sugar. You might need to get it a little greasy first to get the sugar to stick.
Bake cookies one sheet at a time until the surface of the cookies begins to crack slightly, about 8 minutes. Allow cookies to cool for 1 minute on the baking sheet, then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.