Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich (Wedding) Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich (Wedding) Cookies

A year ago today, I married Bobby. It was truly the best day I could ever have imagined, but the planning was incredibly stressful. I did a lot of the detail work myself – I made the invitations and a lot of the centerpieces, which, looking back, I don’t really recommend. I would have enjoyed the planning process a lot more, if I’d been a little more hands-off. One DIY thing that I highly recommend is doing baked goods for wedding favors. But not just any baked goods: these peanut butter and chocolate sandwich cookies are absolutely perfect in every way. They’re delicious (we got SO many compliments on them), they freeze very well, and they’re that wonderful combination of salty/sweet, chewy/crunchy – and they look super cute in little boxes, tied with ribbon.

I asked my mom to make the favors for my wedding, partially to save money, and partially to send guests home with a favor that they would actually enjoy having. The wedding best favors are edible, tasty, and of course visually pleasing, and you can personalize them with a simple tag or sticker added to the packaging. We decided on peanut butter and chocolate for the cookies, since I chose a white chocolate raspberry wedding cake – something Bobby would have absolutely no interest in eating. And if you read my last post, you know that peanut butter and chocolate is the only flavor combination in the world, according to Bobby. We were inspired by Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Ganache Sandwich Cookies from Two Peas & Their Pod, and didn’t do a lot to change the look of the cookie itself, because they really are stunning. But the original version wasn’t exactly what I was looking for flavor-wise, or make-ahead-wise, so we had to do some serious recipe experimentation.

The first task was finding a peanut butter cookie recipe that was stiff enough to sandwich without falling apart, but soft enough to give when bitten into, so the frosting wouldn’t squish out the sides. It also had to freeze well, so it could be made ahead of time – I can’t imagine how we would’ve pulled this off if my mom hadn’t been working on them in the months leading up to the wedding. After rounds of testing, with different brands of peanut butter, flourless vs flour-filled dough, (The version we made is not gluten-free, but the original is, so give it a look if you want something gluten-free) and different levels of sweetness, we settled on our cookie, and got to work creating the fillings. We loved the way Two Peas & Their Pod did it, piling on a sweet creamy peanut butter filling and a rich chocolate ganache, but needed to experiment with them to make sure the flavors went perfectly with our peanut butter cookie. The thing about chocolate and peanut butter is that you have to be very careful with the balance of sweetness/saltiness/bitterness to keep the flavor from being cloying or bland. We used my brothers as taste testers, and had them try so many combinations that they actually started joking about wanting to eat anything but wedding cookies. They’ve gotten over it, I think, because the batch I made for this post got eaten in all of two hours, once I’d finished photographing it.

We put three cookies in each favor box, which meant we had to make about 300 of them – 600 peanut butter cookies to sandwich together. Starting about two months out from the wedding, we made the peanut butter cookies and the fillings in large batches, frosted and sandwiched them,  and then froze them. We weighed the dough and the exact amount of frosting that went on each cookie so they’d be perfectly uniform. They keep so well in the freezer, even with the frosting, that when they defrost they taste and feel like they were baked that morning. They’re little peanut butter and chocolate miracles. We put them in favor boxes the evening before the wedding, straight from the freezer. Since the frosting was rock-solid, they were easy to package neatly, and they defrosted perfectly overnight.

The process of making tons of these cookies wedding-perfect is time-consuming and repetitive and demands attention to detail and lots of freezer space. It would be monumentally more difficult to execute for a very large wedding, especially if you’re not already an experienced baker. That said, these can be made literal months in advance – so you’ll have plenty of time to practice, and the effort yields superbly satisfying results. The recipe I’m posting here is scaled to make about 36 sandwich cookies, as opposed to 300, so the concept is perfect for smaller events as well. If you don’t require perfection and uniformity, you can skip weighing the dough and fillings and the results will still be completely delicious. It’s my plan to make these every October 8th for the rest of my life…and freeze a bunch and save them to eat later in the year, because why not? They will always remind me of the most wonderful evening, being surrounded by my friends and family, wearing my princess dress, and marrying the love of my life. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a cookie, but I there’s no cookie better suited than these.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich (Wedding) Cookies

This recipe is heavily adapted from Peanut Butter Chocolate Ganache Sandwich Cookies from Two Peas & Their Pod

Ingredients

Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups flour 300g
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 14 Tbsps butter 198g
  • 1 cup sugar 200g
  • 1 cup brown sugar 215g
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsps peanut butter 284g
  • 2 eggs

Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting

  • 2 Tbsps peanut butter 32g
  • 1 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 3 Tbsps powdered sugar 25g
  • 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar 125g

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 85g
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 Tbsps salted butter 56g
  • 6 Tbsps cocoa 30g

Instructions

  1. Make the cookies: stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter with the two sugars, and then cream in the peanut butter. Stir in the eggs.

    2. Chill the dough at least 4 hours, or overnight. Roll into 18 g balls, and place on baking sheet. Press the balls with the back of a fork to create a criss-cross pattern on the tops. Chill dough balls while preheating oven to 350 degrees (or while previous tray is baking). Bake for 7 minutes, 40 seconds; turn tray, bake for 2 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

    3. Make the peanut butter frosting by adding all of the ingredients to a mixer in the order listed, and beating until well combined and fluffy. 

    4. To make the chocolate ganache, heat the heavy cream in the microwave for 25 seconds. Pour over chocolate chips in a heavy bowl. Let sit 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Melt the butter, stir in the cocoa until smooth. Combine the two chocolates. Allow to cool to room temperature.

    5. To assemble the cookies, place 8g of ganache (roughly 1/2 Tbsp) on one cookie, and 16g of peanut butter frosting on another cookie. Press the two cookies gently together. 

    Cookies will be good in the freezer for up to a year, but will be at their best quality if used within 4 months of freezing. 





 

 

Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookie recipes are a dime a dozen, but this is the one that always breaks my diet when I’m trying to eat clean. This is the one that I return to over and over, because it’s just that good. These Chocolate Chip Cookies have achieved something like cult-status in my family. My mom has been making this recipe, which is a Betty Crocker original, since she was eight years old. It’s gone through minor adaptations over the years, and is essentially the cookie that every single person in my family loves, without fail.

The texture of these Chocolate Chip Cookies is nothing short of perfection. They have those crispy edges and soft middles that I can’t get enough of. If you like over-done, crunchy cookies, leave these cookies in the oven a minute or two longer – they’ll develop more flavor while they’re in there too. They’re made with butter and shortening, so they taste rich without feeling too dense, something I’ve found that break-and-bake type cookies seriously lack.

The texture is wonderful, but I think the flavor is what really keeps me coming back to these. They have a slight hint of salt, so there’s no overwhelming sweetness, and it amplifies the chocolate hit in each cookie. The butter and sugars are balanced exactly right, and there’s just enough vanilla to complement the chocolate, so these taste like the Chocolate Chip Cookies of your dreams. If we’re being honest here, I could eat the whole bowlful of cookie dough before any of it makes it to the oven. Apparently that’s bad for you or whatever, but I’ve never gotten sick. I think someone is just trying to keep me from living my best life.

The thing about this cookie recipe is that it took me 26 years to master it. I’ve tried making it several times over the course of my adolescence and early 20’s, and for some reason, I could never get it exactly right. This recipe is a perfect example of why precision matters in baking. Even a little extra flour can throw off the dough and leave you with sub-par cookies. Fortunately, I found a way to solve my problem a while ago: with a food scale.

I’ve given the measurements for the ingredients in grams (I try to do it with most of my baking recipes,) and it’s pretty important that you actually weigh them on a food scale to get the cookies exactly right. I promise it’s worth it. Baking with a food scale instead of measuring cups means way less clean-up, and no more trying to measure things like shortening or peanut butter by squishing them into a cup. If you haven’t already invested in a food scale, this is me begging you to do so. Your entire life will be better for it.

I sort of view this recipe as my mom’s family legacy. That’s completely ridiculous, as she has six children (I know, it was like growing up in a zoo), but baking is something I’ve always done with my mom and learned from her, so her beloved cookie recipe stands out to me as particularly important. I love the idea of a family recipe that gets passed through generations, and I plan to keep this one going forever.

This dough unfortunately isn’t the type that will do best if you mix it up and pop it right in the oven. It generally needs at least three hours to chill to achieve good results, and you’ll get even better results if you let it chill overnight. My mom mentioned that she discovered this years ago while running her zoo, as she had to work during toddler nap times and do things in stages to get anything done! The wait time for this dough lets it develop the proper flavor and texture. You can chill the dough for up to two days if you want to make it ahead, but the quality will start to decline after that.

Both the cookies and the dough freeze well. If you bake more cookies than you can eat, they keep okay for a day in an airtight container – but nobody has ever found out if they keep well longer than that.




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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe adapted by Laura Landi from Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Servings 72 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened 150g
  • 2/3 cup shortening (I use Crisco) 128g
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 200g
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed 215g
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups plus one Tbsp flour 751g
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 170g

Instructions

  1. 1. Cream together butter, shortening, and both sugars. Stir in eggs and vanilla until well combined.

    2. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix thoroughly, and add to the sugar mixture. Stir gently just until everything is combined. Don't over-mix. Fold chocolate chips into the dough until evenly dispersed. 

    3. Place dough in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least three hours, up to two days. 

    4. Roll cookies into 1 inch balls and bake at 375 degrees for 7 minutes. Turn the tray in the oven and bake for an additional 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, depending on how they look. The bottom edges should look golden and baked through, the tops should look pale, but not doughy. Remove tray from oven and set on a cooling rack. Allow the cookies to remain on the tray for an additional 3 minutes before transferring to the cooling rack. If cookies look brown all over, skip this step and transfer to a cooling rack immediately. 

    Note: Freeze dough by rolling it into balls first. You can bake them directly from the freezer like this, increasing baking time by 30 seconds to 1 minute.

    This recipe makes quite a lot, as it's technically a double batch. It can be halved if you don't need 72 cookies, although I don't know anyone who has ever experienced that!


 

Triple Chocolate Hearts

Triple Chocolate Hearts

This recipe really counts as four recipes, because there are four homemade components that go into it. Triple Chocolate Hearts begin with a gooey brownie base. Next is a layer of smooth, pink, vanilla buttercream, followed by a layer of fluffy, moist, chocolate cake. The whole thing is topped with rich chocolate ganache, dripping down the sides of the cake. I wanted to create individual desserts of a similar size and cuteness as cupcakes, but in a more interesting form. I think these fit the bill perfectly.

Before you go running away because there are way too many parts to this recipe, let me make it easier. You can use a box brownie mix, a box cake mix, and a can of frosting if you so desire/don’t happen to have some extra time on your hands. Your treats will still be adorable and delicious, and you’ll only need to make a quick ganache from scratch. That said, baking is clearly my favorite hobby, so if I can find the time, I like to do it all from scratch. If you do have a little extra time, a quick way to improve canned frosting is to whip it with your mixer. This gives it a lot more volume, so you can put a nice thick – yet light and fluffy – layer between the brownie and the cake.

Triple Chocolate Hearts are extraordinarily rich, but I feel that Valentine’s Day calls for it. What is Valentine’s Day, if not an excuse to eat a lot of decadent chocolate-y desserts? Yeah, yeah it’s about love and all that, but the rest of the year can be about love if you make it, and wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing? Letting yourself indulge in desserts like this all year is definitely not going to work out as well. Love all year, eat extraordinary treats on Valentine’s Day.

These fit perfectly in little individual cupcake boxes, so you can package them with a pretty ribbon and hand them out to your favorite people. Be careful who you give them to, though – as soon as they take the first bite, I pretty much guarantee they’ll fall in love with you all over again.

You’ll be left with scraps of brownie and cake, and maybe extra frosting and ganache. I think it would be an absolute crime to waste all of this. Instead of just eating all the leftovers the very same day, I like to work them into other recipes. You can make mini triple chocolate parfaits, cake pops, or use the extra bits to top off yogurt or an acai bowl if that’s your thing. Of course, I’m not always the best at following my own re-purposing advice. I ate basically all of the scraps myself when I made these for co-workers last year. I was in the thick of planning my wedding; I promise I needed to eat the extras to keep from losing my mind. You can easily freeze the leftover cake and brownie pieces for self-medication purposes down the road, if you don’t want feel like turning them into something else.

You can change the concept here, and make adorable non-heart-shaped cakes with different sprinkles and white or chocolate frosting in the middle instead. These would make perfect birthday treats if you’re looking for something to make besides cupcakes. The only thing that won’t change is how delicious they are.

Every layer of Triple Chocolate Hearts has a different level of sweetness, so they aren’t overwhelmingly sugary. The varying textures of the layers make them much more interesting than a typical cake,  so you’ll keep coming back for another bite, and another. Just, do yourself a favor and have some milk on hand – anything this chocolatey requires milk.

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Triple Chocolate Hearts

I use the standard Hershey's Collector's Chocolate Cake recipe for Triple Chocolate Hearts.  I didn't invent this one, but I wish I had!

The brownies and frosting are just typical recipes for brownies and buttercream - nothing super special or innovative (but extremely delicious).

The ganache is an original recipe. 

Ingredients

Hershey's Collector's Chocolate Cake

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups cocoa
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cup water

Brownies

  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate (I used Baker's)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Fluffy Pink Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar - divided use
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 2 dashes salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp milk
  • 4 drops red food coloring

Chocolate Ganache

  • 4 Tbsp melted, unsalted butter 56.5g
  • 6 Tbsp cocoa 30g
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 85g
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Instructions

Hershey's Collector's Chocolate Cake

  1. Cream butter and sugar in large mixer bowl. Add eggs and vanilla; beat 1 minute at medium speed. 

    2. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; add alternately with water to creamed mixture (quickly, with the mixer running - takes about 3 minutes).

    3. Pour batter into two greased and floured 8-inch or 9-inch layer pans, or 13x9 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 - 40 mins for 8-inch; 30 - 35 mins for 9-inch; 37 mins for 13x9. 

Brownies

  1. Melt together butter and unsweetened chocolate, stir until smooth. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla, and chocolate chips. 

    2. Stir in salt and flour. Pour batter into a greased and floured 8x8 pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Do not over-bake. 

Fluffy Pink Buttercream

  1. Cream together butter and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Stir in vanilla, salt, and milk.

    2: Stir in remaining powdered sugar. When sugar is completely incorporated, add food coloring and stir until frosting is uniform. 

    3: Optional, but highly recommended: Whip frosting in a mixer on high until very fluffy, about five minutes. 

    - Keeps well in the refrigerator for several weeks. 

Chocolate Ganache

  1. Combine melted butter and cocoa in a small bowl. 

    2. Pour chocolate chips into another bowl. Heat heavy cream for about 25 seconds in the microwave - you can also do this over the stove. You just want it hot enough to come barely to a boil. Pour cream over chocolate chips and let sit for one minute. Stir until chocolate has melted and the mixture is completely smooth. 

    3. Combine the two bowls of chocolatey essence into one bowl of nirvana.

Tripe Chocolate Hearts

  1. Make Cake (I did a 9x13) and Brownies. While these are baking, make frosting and ganache. When cake and brownies are cool, use a cookie cutter to cut heart shapes from each. Cut off the excess cake/brownie that sticks out over the top edge of the cookie cutter so that both sides of your heart shapes are even and flat. 

    2. Use the brownie hearts as the base. Frost with a generous layer of the pink buttercream. Top with a cake heart, bottom side-up, to give you a smoother surface for the ganache. 

    3. Spread a thick layer of ganache across the top of the cake, allowing some to drip down the sides. Decorate the hearts with sprinkles, and try not to eat all of them immediately!





Chocolate Chip Crater Cake

Chocolate Chip Crater Cake

I’m going to tell you a secret that I hold close to my heart. I don’t always tell people, because they often react in shock and horror, but I think it’s time to proclaim it to the world. Click away now if you’re easily distressed. Ready?

I don’t like coffee.

I know you’re staring at your screen right now, mouth agape, wondering how this could possibly have come to pass. Who doesn’t like coffee? Most people practically live on the stuff! I don’t have anything specific against it, I’ve just never enjoyed drinking it enough to make it a part of my life.

You know what I do like? Coffee cake – all versions of it. Chocolate Chip Crater Cake makes an absolutely delightful coffee cake. You can also choose to enjoy it sans coffee, perhaps with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, as I do. It’s versatile that way.

Chocolate Chip Crater Cake is a long-standing favorite from my childhood. My mom couldn’t tell me exactly where we got this recipe, although she suspects that it came from Betty Crocker. This isn’t exactly a new recipe, but I haven’t seen it around at all lately, so I figured it was time to start bringing it back.

This cake is a different creature from a lot of typical go-to desserts. It’s got a fluffy, cake-ybase, a layer of gooey, melted chocolate chips, another layer of cake, and a buttery, cinnamon crumble topping that ties the whole thing together. It’s baked in an 8×8 pan, so the recipe doesn’t make a huge amount. I tend to prefer that in dessert recipes I know I love. If I don’t bake too much of it, I won’t eat too much of it. Seems pretty rudimentary, but portion control has never quite been my strong suit. Especially when we’re talking about something this delicious.

Chocolate Chip Crater Cake is the dessert equivalent of those tiny restaurants that don’t look like much, but serve amazing food. It’s not the prettiest or the most intricate, but the balance of flavors and textures really makes up for what it lacks in appearance.

This recipe originally calls for Bisquick, which you are perfectly welcome to use – your results will be perfectly fine. I use a homemade version of Bisquick that I like to keep on hand – it keeps well for a long time in the refrigerator. I’ve included it below the recipe for the cake, in case you decide to make it from scratch as well. I know a lot of people like to know exactly what ingredients go into their food, and commercial mixes can make that more difficult.

Whether you enjoy it by itself, with ice cream, coffee, or coffee flavored ice cream, Chocolate Chip Crater Cake is a dessert you’ll want to make again and again. It’s simple yet rich, and about as comforting as a dessert can be. Try it hot out of the oven, and I promise you won’t even remember that it’s winter.

5 from 1 vote
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Chocolate Chip Crater Cake

Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 cups Bisquick 216g
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Topping

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Bisquick
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Step 1: Stir together Bisquick, sugar, and cinnamon. Add egg, vanilla, and milk, and stir until well combined. It's alright if there are some lumps; these won't matter once it's baked. 

    Step 2: Pour half the batter into a greased 8x8 pan. Top with chocolate chips in an even layer. Pour remaining batter over the chocolate chips and spread to cover them.

    Step 3: Use a fork to stir together topping ingredients, and sprinkle evenly over batter. 

    Step 4: Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until the topping is golden brown and crispy. Cool completely and cut into squares.

 

 

5 from 1 vote
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Homemade Bisquick

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour 240g
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp buttermilk powder
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, unsalted

Instructions

  1. Step 1: Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. 

    Step 2: Cut in butter to the size of small peas. Refrigerate if not using right away - may also be stored in the freezer.