Last weekend I went to Tahoe and stayed in a cabin with a bunch of people. When I say cabin, I don’t mean little 4 walled thing with 20 people crammed in. No, this place was insane… big enough that with 20 people it did not feel crowded. At all. Anyhow, remember my cupcake disaster where a dozen pink cupcakes jumped off of my counter in some sort of a cult suicide ritual? Well, those cupcakes were intended for the crowd in Tahoe, but their premature end left me disheartened but not down for the count. I packed a box of Duncan Hines brownie mix, a bag of Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix, chocolate chips, heavy cream and butter, and dreams of these insanely decadent looking brownies from Bakerella (she used chocolate chip cookie dough, I opted for peanut butter because… I love peanut butter and chocolate). Brownies with peanut butter cookie dough baked into it topped off with chocolate ganache. How to describe it… decadent? Yes. Delicious? Yes. Bomb-diggity? Foshizzle.
Unfortunately, I did not bring back any photographic evidence of the pb-brownie-deee-light, but rest assured it was a smash-hit. By Monday (a whole 3 days later), I wanted to recreate it but this time in a bite-sized format using homemade brownies and homemade cookies. Sounds like a winning combination, no? I broke open my trusty copy of The Good Housekeeping Baking and whipped up a batch of Cocoa Brownies. Then I turned to the page with the Peanut Butter Cookies recipe and proceeded to throw things into a bowl.
This is where I pause to say that I was not a good little baker. I did not collect my mise en place. Instead, I scrolled down the list of ingredients and one-by-one threw it into my mixing bowl. Literally. When I started adding the dry ingredients, I thought: Wow, this dough looks dry… and when exactly do I add the peanut butter???
And this is where I ask you, dear reader, to take another look at that recipe page. Peanut Butter Cookies to the left, Snickerdoodles to the right. Yes, that’s right folks. I was in such a hurry to get ‘er done, that I in fact made a sorta-snickerdoodle-wannabe-peanut-butter cookie combination which at this point in the story is still sans peanut butter. Hmm. I am smart, s-m-r-t, … as Homer would say.
There I was with a mixer full of quasi-snickerdoodle cookies. What I wanted was peanut butter cookie dough to put into my brownie bite cupcakes. Do I start over? Ugh. No way… too wasteful and there was no way I was going to admit defeat. Ok, so how many scoops of peanut butter does it take to make snickerdoodles into peanut butter cookies? One. Two. Three… the world may never know. What I do know is that the imprecise amount I added was enough to impart some peanut flavor to the mountain of dough but it was not enough to make true peanut butter cookies. But in the middle of a brownie, dipped in chocolate ganache or on their own, the frankendoodle cookies weren’t half bad… some might even say they were good (they were good, just not as peanut buttery as I intended). If you are someone (ahem, D…) who doesn’t like a lot of peanut butter, these are actually good peanut butter cookies. If however, you and peanut butter are like totally BFF… well, these are good cookies but not peanut butter cookies.
1. mix your brownie batter…
2. mix up your cookie dough
3. make your ganache.
4. Assemble (see below)
5. Eat. Enjoy.
Cocoa Brownies (adapted from The Good Housekeeping Baking)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 36 mini-muffin cups with paper liners.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in the sugar with a wooden spoon. Add eggs 1 at a time. Stir in vanilla until well blended.
3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Stir flour mixture into the saucepan until blended.
4. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups (to about 2/3 full for straight-up brownie bites). ** If making peanut butter cups, fill 1/3 full and add a small ball of cookie dough to center, then top with a little more brownie batter.
5. Bake for about 9-11 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
3/4 cup heavy cream
3-4 tablespoons butter
1. Heat cream to almost boiling (microwave or on the stove… careful, as it likes to bowl over).
2. Put chips in a bowl, pour hot cream over it. Let it sit for about 2 minutes.
3. Slowly stir until cream and chocolate become one (I use a whisk for this and pick up speed as the cream gets more incorporated).
4. Add butter and whisk until combined (this makes it shinier… besides, butter is love).
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4-1 cup peanut butter (smooth)
1/2 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted peanut butter like I did… why did I buy unsalted?! It’s so bland)
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1. (If you’re making the peanut butter-brownie cups, bake it at 350. Otherwise…) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Stir together flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda (and salt).
3. In a large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs (both of them). Beat in vanilla.
4. Reduce mixer to low speed; beat in flour mixture until well combined.
5. Stop and realize that you are missing peanut butter in your peanut butter cookies. Then add 3/4-1 cup peanut butter to A. loosen up the dry dough and B. make it taste like peanut butter (Add more if needed).
6. Roll dough into balls and place on cookie sheet. Use a fork to press them down, if desired. Or put a small ball of dough inside of your brownie bites.
7. Cool completely on a rack. Dip them in chocolate ganache. Forget about the mistakes you made and enjoy…