Monday, March 15, 2010

Chocolate peanut butter sandwich cookies

On Saturday, the husband and I decided to do our taxes. Last year was rather traumatic, as  my employer didn't withhold enough throughout the year, and we ended up shelling out a big chunk of cash. To preempt a repeat, this year we each had additional taxes withheld. We expected to break even, if not get a return.

Sadly, Uncle Sam gave us a big old punch in the gut. Once again, we owe a ton of money.

I know we are not alone. But we both make modest salaries, and the fact that we have to pay more in addition to what we've been paying all year, especially in light of my impending  joblessness, landed us both in tears. Well, just me.

Now, I'm a pretty typical liberal. I'm pro-choice, pro-gun control, and pro-gay marriage. I think pot should be legalized and that everyone should have health care. And I believe that pitching in to help those who have less is the right thing to do. You know, spread around the wealth. Some of you would probably think I'm a socialist, which is fine. I stand by my beliefs. But I'm starting to wonder if I'm getting the short end of the stick with this tax business. And why am I punished because I can't afford to buy a house and don't want kids? Shouldn't there be some of us keeping the rental market afloat and not overpopulating the planet?

The husband looked at the percentage of our annual income we're paying in taxes.

"If I'm going to pay this much," he said, "where's my &*%$ universal health care?"

The rest of the weekend was spent trying not to think about the taxes, my crumbling job situation, and Frances not being well. To get your mind off things, I find it's best to spend time with friends, get out of your house, and busy yourself with small projects. Such as chocolate peanut butter sandwich cookies.

I know, it took me long enough. I'm wound up. But here we are.

I'd been eyeing this recipe for awhile, which is from Baking Illustrated. The base is chocolate icebox cookies, which sounded pretty good on their own, but then I noticed that the book recommended them for sandwich cookies, with any number of possible fillings: chocolate ganache, vanilla, mint,  peanut butter. Peanut butter!

The dough is basic. Mix it up and form it into logs and let them chill for a few hours. Slice and bake them while you make your filling of choice. Then make cute little sandwiches out of them.

I think everyone likes sandwich cookies, and I'm almost inclined to say it doesn't matter what the filling is. They just seem special. Let's break it down: for something that passes as a single cookie, you actually get two, glued together with some delicious creamy filling. What's not to like?


Nothing, I tell you.  And I found the process of assembling the dough, baking the cookies, filling them, and sharing them with the husband, neighbors, and friends very therapeutic. While it can't solve many problems, a good cookie can temporarily smooth life's rough edges, something I'm sure we all could use now and then.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
From Baking Illustrated

Makes about 30 sandwiches

2 c flour
1/4 c. sifted Dutch-processed cocoa
1/2 t. salt
16 T. (2 sticks) unsalted softened butter
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 t. vanilla extract
2 oz. melted and cooled semisweet chocolate

Whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add the yolks, vanilla, and melted chocolate and beat until incorporated, 15-20 seconds. Add dry ingredients and mix at low speed until a dough forms and is thoroughly mixed, 25-30 seconds.

The dough should be soft but not sticky. If the dough is sticky, chill it for 10-15 minutes. Divive the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough on a clean work surface in a log measuring about 6 inches long and 2 inches thick. Wrap each log in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. (Dough can be frozen up to one month).

Adjust the oven racks to the upper and lower middle positions. Heat the oven to 325. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Unwrap dough logs one at a time and with a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/4 inch thick slices (or thinner if you prefer). Place them on baking sheets about 1/2-1 inch apart.

Bake until the edges begin to brown, about 14 minutes (or a little less, depending on how thin you slice them), rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack with a spatula.

When cool, fill with peanut butter cream.

Peanut Butter Cream

Combine 1 cup smooth peanut butter, 4 T. softened unsalted butter, and 1 c. sifted confectioners sugar. Beat until smooth and fluffy.


  1. Beautiful cookies! And I'm sorry to hear about your bad Saturday. :( I have yet to do my taxes . . . been putting it off, but I should really get to it!

  2. Sending you lots of hugs from my side of the world, hope life gets a bit sunnnier soon. These cookies sound like a good mini-remedy. Chocolate and peanut butter can fix (almost) anything.

  3. For what it's worth your cookies look wonderful. I don't know too many people who can resist peanut butter and chocolate and your cookies sound delicious. I'm sorry you had such a difficult weekend. Hopefully, things will get better and all will be fine. Blessings...Mary

  4. Yum Yum. I love chocolate and peanut butter too! Shhhh, I have been snacking on girl scout peanut butter cookies slathered with chocolate spread.... Cookies do make you feel better. Hope your Sunday was better.

  5. Those are beautiful wonderful cookies... sad about the tax situation... "The power to tax is the power to destroy"

    Not sure if the powers that be realize that

  6. I feel your pain. Tax time is very stressful here too as hubby works for himself and only pays taxes at the end of the year. Nothing like delicious fatty cookies to take your mind off stuff.
    *kisses* HH

  7. Tiny Urban Kitchen: Thanks! And good luck with your taxes...

    shaz: You are so sweet! Thanks for the hugs.

    Mary: thank you. And yes, peanut butter and chocolate is a nearly universally appealing combo!

    foodhoe: whoa, I love your girl scout cookie idea--brilliant!

    A Year on the Grill: thanks!

    HH: Thank you. Good luck to your hubby when he does tackle the taxes--better make him something special that day!

  8. when i'm feeling frustrated, burdened, annoyed, angry, depressed, hostile, or tense, i eat. sometimes i eat cookies, and these look delicious. sorry to hear about your troubles with taxes--i can truly say that i feel your pain.

  9. Ugh, I'm sorry to hear about that. Owing on taxes is a overflowing bucket of suck. It's reached the point where I won't take any exemptions, I'd rather know I'm not going to get screwed at the end of the year. Course me and my girlfriend aren't married, so that makes our stuff much simpler.

    The cookies do look awesome though and if you need a pick me up, peanut butter and chocolate is the way to go. At least in my opinion. ;)

  10. Hell, I'd put mayonnaise inside those cookies!
    Sympathies over taxes and job. Who hasn't experienced similar? Not that there's anything right with that.

  11. There is nothing like a good chocolate and peanut butter cookies to wallow in the tax season. I feel your pain, happens to us every year too. Also, I have the same political and social philosophy as you too.
    Hang tight, it will get better.

    btw, I have your chocolate spice cake on my list to prepare. I have not forgotten.

  12. Tax season can bring out the worst of emotions! I find baking to be such a great solace in hard times. When my grandmother died this year, I immediately made her cheesecake recipe and it totally brought me comfort. I'm sorry things are so tough right now.

  13. Sorry about your troubles :( But the cookies look fabulous!

  14. grace: isn't eating the great go-to for all troubles? Doesn't exactly solve any problems but can be a temporary comfort.

    Bob: I appreciate your sympathy. And yeah, choc and peanut butter!

    cookiecrumb: wouldn't that just take it over the top!

    Velva: thanks.And I do look forward to your review of the spice cake!

    Apples and Butter: I'm sorry about your grandmother. But isn't it amazing how comforting baking (and then eating!) can be in tough times?!

    Sinful Southern Sweets: thanks--and thank you for stopping by!

  15. Tax time is always traumatic. Sorry yours is especially so. But you're right -- a good cookie can bring a bit of a smile even when times are tough. And these cookie sandwiches look awesome.

  16. Sandwich cookies are like getting two for one! Just what you need after a day of taxes.

  17. Can I come over? Cause those PB cookies look like they might be my new favorite thing. Oh well, I live in the east anyway so I guess I'll have to try them myself.

    I feel your pain with the tax situation. My hubby and I are in a similar camp - i.e. renters, no kids. We haven't done our taxes yet this year but we're holding our breath in anticipation.

  18. I just went and got our taxes done. Ugh. My husband worked a ton of overtime which put us in the next tax bracket. If it wasn't for a special tax deduction for our oldest daughter's first year in college we would have been paying through the nose. When I looked at how much we paid in federal taxes between the two of us? It was $2000 less than what I MADE 3 years ago at my old job. How could that not be enough to pay in?

    I"d bake to take my mind off it also but i'm in a cast and can't use the arm for a month. i wll have to buy cookies to drown mt sorrows

  19. Hungry Dog, it's time for a revolution. Short of that, your cookies sound like the perfect remedy.
    You have sound politics and your husband is right!
    Keep your chin up, everything happens for a reason and good things could be just around the bend.

  20. Carolyn: I suspect everyone will be eating a lot of cookies between now and April 15!

    croquecamille: two-in-one cookies--brilliant!

    Nicki: too bad we are on opposite coasts! Well, you might want to make these for yourself anyway...good luck with your taxes!

    tamilyn: good move getting your taxes done by a pro...I think we'll do that next year. Sorry about your arm--heal quickly!

    Pam: Thanks, you are so sweet. I do think better days are just ahead.

  21. Peanut butter and chocolate really do lift my spirits. Throw in a pepsi and I'm feeling a lot better. : )

    Maybe you could send some of these yummy treats to those folks voting on universal health care, eh? Sweeten them up a bit?

  22. Jessica: Thanks--and thanks for visiting! Love your blog too!

    oneordinaryday: Chocolate, peanut butter and pepsi--what could go wrong?! Good idea on lobbying with sweets...

  23. HD, if you come to Belgium, you'll find gun control, free choice, cheap and accessible (and high quality) health care. But you'll find veryvery high taxes too. Sigh. I'm dreading doing ours this year. We pay in two countries. Ouch.

    However, these cookies look like they'd make any booboo better. chocolate and peanut butter are a major food group IMHO.

    Knockers up, hon.

  24. peanut butter is my vice. I'll eat it with anything. These look fantastic!

  25. Kate: sounds like Belgium is the place for me, taxes and all. Thanks for your support--it does cheer me up! :)

    Elizabeth and Jared: Thanks! And thank you for stopping by!

  26. Hell, I'd put mayonnaise inside those cookies!
    Sympathies over taxes and job. Who hasn't experienced similar? Not that there's anything right with that.