Friday, October 16, 2009

Magic in the Middles (Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cookies)

I can be a hard person to surprise. I tend to want to know what's going on, and my dogged efforts to establish plans can make it hard for someone to spring something on me. Which is a shame, because I love surprises. Like these cookies.

If ever a cookie lived up to a six syllable name, it's this retro gem. Biting into the sugar-dusted chocolate cookie is like opening the door to a darkened room, only to find that your friends have been huddled inside in party hats, waiting for you to arrive. Hello, peanut butter filling! How lovely! I had no idea!

As my previous foray into dumplings illustrated, a Thing Wrapped in Dough is always something of a project. Instead of just making a Thing, you have to also make the Thing to Wrap it In, and then spend time Wrapping the Things Together. Again, a free afternoon or an army of helper kitchen monkeys is advised. But, I must stress, these are worth the trouble. You can make a full recipe and freeze some, or halve it if you're not up for the hours of cooking.

Magic in the Middles

makes ~2 dozen cookies

adapted from King Arthur Flour

As mentioned, there's a bit of fussing involved in assembling these cookies. You want a dough that is just moist enough to work with (it should just crack a teensy bit at the edges as you shape the cookies), but not so moist that the cookies spread disappointingly in the oven. Also the cooking time seems ridiculously short. But trust me, it works. Don't overbake -- you want a soft outer cookie, to meld with the moist filling.

Chocolate Cookie:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar (plus extra for dredging)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Peanut Butter Filling:
3/4 smooth peanut butter
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 spoonful or two of milk, if needed

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line two cookie sheets.

Prepare the chocolate cookie dough: In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugars and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg, stirring to combine. Add the dry ingredients, and mix until combined. Add additional flour if needed to get a firm consistency (see note above). Set aside.

Prepare the peanut butter filling: In a mixing bowl, beat the peanut butter and powdered sugar together. Add additional powdered sugar or milk, if needed, to yield a mixture that is smooth, yet moldable.

Assemble the cookies: Place some sugar in a shallow dish. Using a cookie scoop or two spoons or your hands, roll the peanut butter filling into 1" balls (you should get about 2 dozen). Scoop out a heaping Tbsp of chocolate dough, and press it flat between your palms. Place a ball of peanut butter filling in the center, and bring up the chocolate dough around it, sealing it with your fingers and rolling it in your palms to smooth it. Set aside. Repeat to shape remaining cookies.

When cookies have all been shaped, roll them in sugar to coat, and place them 2" apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Press them with the underside of a glass, to flatten them to a thickness of 1/2". Bake the cookies for 7-9 minutes, until they're just barely set and are smelling delicious. Remove them to a rack to cool


  1. Brilliant! These are now on my Autumn to do list.

  2. I know what's next on my cookie list... Doesn't King Arthur Flour have great recipes?!

  3. Gemma: These cookies certainly have an autumnal color palette! And chocolate + peanut butter, as we know, is good for any season.

    Cakewalk: Any particular KA recipes you'd recommend? I was about to say that this was the only one I'd tried, but now that you mention it I have vague memories of dipping into a roommate's KA cookbook one summer during college....

  4. I just checked back on this comment feed... I am currently obsessed with the KAF cracked honey wheat grain mix, that you just add to a favorite bread recipe-but if you check their website, I know you will be inspired! I have so many new things to try lately in the sweets department, and certainly have a few of theirs earmarked! They also have a nice blog with some good ideas, though I tend not to be as excited about the "baking mix required" type recipes. When I do try something I love, I'll remember to let you know!