Peanut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Cookies
Yes, I know, I didn’t invent the chocolate-peanut-butter flavor combination, but, I DO embrace it wholeheartedly. In the absence of known peanut allergies, the chocolate-PB combo is about as safe a bet as you can make when baking for other people. As such, you will find quite a few chocolatey, peanutbuttery recipe options in my archives!
For my day-to-day peanut butter needs (oatmeal stir-ins, banana toppings, celery smearings, & straight-out-the-jar spoonfuls), I like the plain old natural peanut butter — the kind whose only ingredient is the humble peanut. The one “thing” about these 100% peanut peanut butters is that they separate. As instructed on the jar, you can stir the separated oil into the peanut layer and store in the fridge to prevent re-separation, but I normally just dump off the oil layer because I’m really bad at stirring it in; no matter how hard I try, I can’t get it into a uniform consistency (if at first you don’t succeed, quit). I used to discard the oil layer, but, one day, I had an epiphany.
That peanut oil layer is a flavor powerhouse (especially if you scrape off that top limbo layer between the solid peanut concentrate on the bottom and the overlying flowy oil)! My favorite uses for purposing this super-peanuty peanut oil is mixing into a peanut sauce for a Thai peanut shrimp stir-fry or adding into a cookie dough — case en pointe, these cookies.
These cookies are kind of the converse of the Nutella-stuffed cookies that I posted last month. What can I say, I’ve been on a bit of a stuffin’-it kick lately.
Though my recipe calls for the oil layer of an all-peanut natural jarred peanut butter, you can’t use this type of peanut butter for the stuffing step; if you do, you can get weird separation complications during baking (unappetizing oozing isn’t a good look for any cookie…or incision site). You can still use a natural peanut butter for the innards, just make sure it’s a no-stir kind — the kind that’s already homogeneous at room temp.
Freezing the peanut butter blobs prior to stuffing them inside the dough balls makes your life SOOOOOOO much easier! If it’s a hot day, and your PB blobs start to soften before you’ve finished assembling the cookies, just pop ’em back in the freezer for 10 minutes, and pick up where you left off. No harm no foul.
These cookies are perfectly tasty, as is, once they’ve cooled after baking, buuuuuut, they can get EVEN BETTER! Since I was giving these cookies as a Mother’s Day gift, I wanted to make them extra festive, so I topped them with a pretty smear of melted chocolate & a sprinkling of chopped, salted peanuts — the perfect sweet & salty topping for these cookies! Don’t feel pressured to top yours this way, just feel strongly encouraged 🙂
Peanut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Cookies
YIELD: ~2 dozen large cookies
24 – half-teaspoon dollops of creamy peanut butter (if using “natural,” make sure it’s the no-stir kind)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons espresso powder
~3 tablespoons of peanut oil, poured off the top of a new jar of natural peanut butter (go ahead and scrape that top oily layer off, too, for an extra peanut punch!) — setting the jar in a warm spot helps encourage this separation
1 stick unsalted butter, melted & cooled 20 minutes
1 egg + 1 yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces milk chocolate bar, very finely chopped/shaved
Optional toppings: melted chocolate & chopped salted peanuts
Cookie dough assembly: Use a half-teaspoon measure and small rubber spatula to scoop half-teaspoon portions of creamy peanut butter onto a wax-paper-lined plate. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, stir together granulated sugar, brown sugar, & espresso powder, and set aside for 20 minutes for full flavor infusion. Add the scraped peanut oil & cooled melted butter, and cream together on medium speed until nice and fluffy, ~ 3 minutes. Add in egg, then yolk, then vanilla, and beat for an additional 2 minutes. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, use a fork to fluff together and aerate the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, & salt. Turn mixer to low, and gradually add in dry ingredients, mixing only until JUST combined. Stir in chopped chocolate.
Cookie assembly: Line a large plate with wax paper and retrieve the chilled peanut butter blobs from the freezer. Use a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie dough scoop to scoop up a portion of just-mixed dough. With the dough still in the scoop, press your thumb into the center of the dough, forming a depression that stops just shy of the bottom of the scoop. Place a frozen PB blob into the depression, and use your palm to gently press the dough over the submerged PB blob. Release the now-stuffed cookie dough portion onto the wax paper lined plate, and repeat with the remaining dough/PB. Cover plate with plastic wrap, and chill at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
Cookie baking: Remove chilled dough from the fridge, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slightly dampen your palms with cold tap water, and gently roll each chilled dough blob into a smooth sphere, re-dampening your palms when the dough starts to stick to your hands (this step will give you perfectly round cookies). Place 8 re-rolled dough spheres onto the prepped baking sheet, spacing at least 2″ apart to allow for spreading. Bake for 8-9 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through bake time. Allow cookies to cool on hot sheet for 3 minutes, then remove to wire racks for complete cooling. Keep rolled dough spheres in the fridge between batches.
Optional cookie topping: Zap ~3/4 cup milk chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring between 10-15 second nuking increments, to prevent burning, until totally smooth. Use an offset spatula to smear a thin layer of chocolate on top of a cookie, and sprinkle immediately with chopped, salted peanuts.
Store cooled (+/-topped) cookies in airtight containers for up to 5 days.