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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies with Hot Chocolate Buttercream

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The other day I mentioned visiting my brother in Minnesota. Even though the trip itself was our birthday gift to him, I knew we couldn't show up empty handed! It hasn't been too long since I was a college student, so I remember how wonderful it was when my family or my friend's families showed up bearing gifts, usually in cookie form.

These cookies would be just as good with a peanut butter filling, but I had some extra chocolate buttercream on hand (from an amazing cake I'll be sharing next week!) and decided to take advantage of one of Quinn's favorite flavor combinations. It turns out he isn't the only one who loves this combination, and he quickly decided to keep these cookies hidden from his other roommates, lest they disappear too quickly!

The peanut butter cookies are sturdy, but chewy, making them ideal for sandwiches. However, you could easily just make the peanut butter cookies and enjoy them plain. I made them a lot smaller than usual because I wanted mini sandwiches, so if you decide to make larger cookies you may need to adjust the baking time.

Need a last minute Christmas cookie? These may be just the thing!
One Year Ago: Mint Oreo Truffles
Two Years Ago: S'mores Bark

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies with Hot Chocolate Buttercream
cookies slightly adapted from Our Best Bites, buttercream from What's Megan Making

-1/2 cup shortening
-1/2 cup peanut butter
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1/2 cup packed brown sugar
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-2 eggs
-1 1/2 cups flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt
*additional granulated sugar for rolling

for the buttercream (this makes a full batch--enough to frost 24 cupcakes or an 8-inch layer cake...you can easily cut the quantity in half or use the leftover frosting for something else!):
-1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
-1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
-1 tsp pure vanilla extract
-2 tbsp milk
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1/3 cup powdered hot chocolate mix

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Cream shortening, peanut butter, and sugars in a large mixing bowl until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and eggs, beating after each egg.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix to combine.
3. Roll dough into 1/2 inch balls, roll in granulated sugar, and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Use a fork to make criss-cross marks in each cookie, flattening slightly.
4. Bake cookies for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are puffed and set (not brown). Remove from oven and allow cookies to sit for 2-3 minutes before transferring cookies to a cooling rack.
5. To make the buttercream, cream together the butter, cocoa powder, and salt. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the confectioners' sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat slowly until sugar is incorporated. Increase the speed of the mixer and beat frosting until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix together heavy cream and hot chocolate mix. Add to frosting mixture slowly while beating until you have your desired consistency (I used it all--use less for a thicker frosting).
6. Once cookies have cooled, spread a thick layer of buttercream on one cookie and top with a second cookie to create a sandwich. Makes about 2 dozen sandwiches.