Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies

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My grandma always used to make these giant peanut butter cookies, and dip them in chocolate. As a child, I thought she dipped them in fudge. My culinary adventures have led me to realize that it was just melted chocolate, but the allure of these cookies has only grown stronger as I’ve grown up. I wanted to attempt to recreate her recipe, and have altered it a bit to make the cookies slightly smaller, and a little bit chewier. I also used freshly ground, honey-roasted peanut butter from Whole Foods to give it a little something extra (and because I’m obsessed).

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup  granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature preferred
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup peanut butter (cream, chunky, or in my case, honey-roasted)
  • 3 cups + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

Chocolate Dip:

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups dark (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips

Yield: 16 Large Cookies

Bake Time: 12 minutes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the softened butter and both sugars together until smooth. Add the egg and mix on high until combined. Scrape down the sides  of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and peanut butter, and mix on high until combined. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Add to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Dough will be thick, yet very sticky. Cover dough tightly and chill for at least 1 hour (and up to 2 days) in the refrigerator. The dough is much easier to roll out once it has been chilled.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Roll balls of dough (the size of a small satsuma) and roll into granulated sugar. Place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Even though the cookies don’t seem like they will spread much, they will! I placed mine slightly too close together and got some interesting shapes…so make sure you give them enough room on the baking sheet!

Press a fork into the tops to create the criss-cross pattern. Bake for 12-13 minutes, or until very lightly browned on the sides. The bake time will vary based on the size of our cookies. Keep a close eye on them, and take them out just as they begin to brown. The centers will look very soft and undone. Remove from the oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will continue to firm up on the baking sheet while they cool, so don’t worry if they seem a bit soft.

Melt the butter over a double boiler, and add in the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Dip the cookies half way into the mixture, and then sprinkle with crush peanuts and chocolate chips.

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Cover cookies and store at room temperature for up to 1 week. Baked cookies and rolled cookie dough freeze well, and stay good up to 2 months. If baking frozen cookie dough balls, bake for 1-2 extra minutes.

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How To: Floral Vanilla Birthday Cake

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My dear friend Sijia is turning 25 today! To celebrate this momentous occasion, I wanted to make her a very special cake. Sijia is a very classy, elegant person, and I wanted her cake to reflect that. I ended up making my very first real floral cake. It required a beautiful bouquet, some floral tape, and a lot of thin wire. I made a classic, three-layer white cake, with my favorite vanilla buttercream.

Cake Batter:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream:

  • 1½ cups butter (3 sticks), softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit. Prepare and line three 7-inch round cake pans, then coat with nonstick baking spray.

Cream together butter and shortening until light and fluffy with a hand mixer or Kitchen Aid. Slowly add the sugar, one cup at a time. Make sure to fully incorporate each cup before adding another. Add eggs one at a time, also making sure to fully incorporate each egg before adding another.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the butter and shortening mixture, followed by 1/2 cup of buttermilk. Repeat, mixing in another 1/3 of the dry mixture, followed by the remaining half cup of the buttermilk. Mix in the remaining third of dry ingredients, and gently stir until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure the batter is fully mixed.

Evenly distribute cake batter between cake pans, and place pans into oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool slightly in cake pans for about 5 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.

While the cake cools, prepare the buttercream. Beat the butter on high for two minutes, until light and fluffy. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on high until the frosting is fluffy, and has reached the desired consistency. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 Tablespoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (half a cup at a time).

Once the cake has fully cooled, frost and stack the cake layers, applying a thin crumb coat to the exterior of the cake. Refrigerate for a half hour, to let the frosting harden. Frost the exterior of the cake with the remaining frosting, and use a spoon to make swirls for a textured exterior. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes to allow this layer of frosting to set.

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To decorate the top of the cake with flowers, gather a beautiful bouquet, green floral tap, sharp scissors, and a thin wire. Cut the flowers at the top of the stem, leaving about one inch of stem attached to the flower. Wrap the remaining stem with the green floral tape. Cut a piece of wire about 5 inches long, and insert it through the middle of the wrapped stem. Line up the flower in the center of the wire, and bring the ends of the wire down and twist together to secure the flower. Position the flower in desired location on the cake, and gently push the wire into the frosting, until the flower is secure. Repeat with each flower, until the arrangement on top of the cake is complete. Keep in fridge until the cake is ready to be served. Let the cake site out for about 1 hour before cutting, to ensure that the frosting has softened enough to cut through the cake.  If you have any questions about this process, this is a wonderful video about cake making and floral garnishes. Scroll through to minute 27, that’s when they get to the flowers 🙂

Chocolate Almond Birthday Cake

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I received a cake order for something chocolaty and nutty, and ended up with this: A Chocolate Almond Birthday Cake. I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe modified from one of my favorite bloggers, and my standard chocolate buttercream recipe.

Chocolate Cake Batter:

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup hot coffee
  • 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Buttercream:

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces chocolate (milk, semisweet or dark), melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line and grease three eight inch cake pans. Place the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Pour the hot coffee over the mixture and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate mixture for 20 minutes, until cool.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.Whisk the oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla extract into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Divide the batter evenly between three 8 inch cake pans. Bake until the cakes are set and just firm to the touch, 20-25 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cakes from the pan and place on the wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.

While the cakes cool, prepare the frosting. Whip the butter until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Gradually add in the powdered sugar and cocoa, alternating with splashes of cream. Mix in the melted chocolate, salt, and vanilla, until fully incorporated. Add additional cream or powdered sugar as needed until desired consistency is reached.

To make the chocolate ganache, pour the chocolate chunks into a heat proof safe bowl. Bring the cream to a boil, and pour over the chocolate. Let this sit for 2 minutes, then stir until the chocolate and cream are fully incorporated. Set aside and let cool for about 15 minutes, so that the mixture can thicken.

To frost the cake, frost the first layer of cake with buttercream, and top with chocolate chips and crushed almonds. Repeat with remaining cake layers, and apply a thin crumb coat to the exterior of the cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, to allow the crumb coat to harden. Apply a thick coat of buttercream, reserving about 2/3 cup of frosting to pipe swirls on top of the cake. Press crushed almonds onto the sides of the cake.

Once the ganache has thickened, pour onto the top of the cake, and push it towards the edge of a cake with a spoon. Let the ganache spill over the sides of the cake. Using a large open star tip, fill a frosting bag with the remaining frosting and pipe swirls around the top of the cake. Press chocolate chips onto the top of each swirl, and refrigerate to allow the frosting to set.

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