Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Peanut Butter & Cream Cheese Filling

whoopie pie peanut butter

Confession: I don’t care for the name “whoopie pie,” but it’s really the quickest way to say “soft, cake-like cookie sandwich with awesome frosting inside.” And these really are awesome. Incredibly light and soft chocolate “cookies” filled with an I’m-so-tempted-to-eat-this-by-the-spoonful peanut butter cream cheese frosting. One of my labmates requested a pairing of chocolate and peanut butter for group meeting this week, hence the veering from traditional marshmallow cream filling. Mm peanut butter and chocolate… oui, s’il vous plaît!

I have a theory that the ugliest cookies taste the best, probably because they get eaten almost directly out of the oven (after an approximate 6.72 second wait for them to cool down). You couldn’t possibly serve an ugly cookie to other people. The only logical action is to put these cookies out of their misery as quickly as possible. And of course, ugly cookies eaten directly out of the oven only have half the calories, right? Right?!

Lucky for me (and you, if you make these), this recipe produces quite a few ugly cookies if you don’t have a cookie scoop. Which I didn’t. Until one arrived in the mail after making these. (Thanks, Lauren!! Once again, that Williams-Sonoma card is making my life!) These are best the day that you frost them, but often that’s not practical, so you can store the sandwiches in the fridge if you’re not going to eat them within a few hours. (Keep in mind everyone in my building ate them the next day and had nothing but praise for them, so it’s perfectly fine to make these in advance!) Make sure to remove them at least two hours before you plan to serve them, though, so they can soften up a bit.

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WHOOPIE PIES WITH PEANUT BUTTER & CREAM CHEESE FILLING

Cookies (from Annie’s Eats)

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tbsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 cups buttermilk, room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Filling

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 cup peanut butter

4-6 cups powdered sugar

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1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2. In a medium bowl, stir/whisk together the flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs individually, beating well after each one. Add the buttermilk and vanilla extract and beat until just incorporated.

4. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients until just mixed.

5. Using a 1-oz cookie scoop (or a spoon and your talented estimating eyes), drop batter onto the prepared cookies sheets, leaving 2-3 inches between cookies (these spread!). Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on the pan for ~5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. When you’ve baked all the cookies and they’re cool, make the filling. Put the cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter in the bowl of the electric stand mixer and beat until smooth and evenly-mixed. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar until you’re happy with the consistency. It should be easily spreadable but thick enough to hold its shape between the cookies.

7. Pair cookies up by size and spread a generous amount of filling on one of the sides. Press the pairs together and store in an airtight container (in the refrigerator if you’re not going to eat them within a few hours).

8. Eat. Smile. Repeat.

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Happy Face Cookies (Nutella-Stuffed Peanut Butter Oatmeal)

Happy Face Nutella Cookies

Many things make me smile. Using my boots to make a giant heart in a field of freshly-fallen snow. Getting to know the bus driver through weekly morning commute conversations. Hallway high-fives. Discovering simple fixes to potentially time-consuming problems with the field instruments. Recognizing your friend’s handwriting on a letter in the mail. Carpool karaoke. Skype dates with best friends and phone calls home.

And these cookies, which smile right back at you. And have crunchy peanut butter oatmeal edges and soft centers. And are filled with a creamy, delicious layer of Nutella. Yes indeed, these cookies are something to smile about!

I adapted this recipe ever-so-slightly from Not Your Momma’s Cookie. I added extra butter to avoid buying shortening (we’re only in this house for a little while and wouldn’t use it all). Also, because the batter seemed too wet/weak and knowing that the butter-for-shortening substitution would make the cookies spread more, I added an extra 1/4 cup oats to boost structural support. The balance between the oatmeal, peanut butter, Nutella, and a few chocolate chips is perfect. Make these; they’re a little bit of work but nothing too crazy, and the payoff is well worth it. Trust me, one bite is all you need to fall in love with these sweet faces!

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HAPPY FACE COOKIES (NUTELLA-STUFFED PEANUT BUTTER OATMEAL)

¾ cup all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

½ cup unsalted butter, softened (or: 1/4 cup butter + 1/4 cup shortening)

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

⅔ cup peanut butter (any kind; I used chunky)

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

¾ cup quick cooking oats

½-1 cup Nutella

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1. Cover a cookie sheet/pan/large flat plate with parchment or wax paper. Using a teaspoon, scoop 25 balls of Nutella onto the paper. Freeze for at least 20 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a cookie sheet by covering with parchment paper.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the butter, sugars, and peanut butter. Add the egg and vanilla; stir until combined. Add the dry mixture in thirds, stirring just until incorporated each time. Gently stir in the oats.

5. Take about a quarter-sized scoop of dough and flatten it into a mini pancake in your palm. Place a frozen Nutella drop into the center and fold the edges of the batter up around the Nutella until no Nutella is exposed. Gently shape into smooth, slightly flattened balls. Place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

6. Press in chocolate chips in the shape of a happy face. Since these cookies will spread quite a bit, put the smile’s chips right next to each other and the eye’s chips far away from the smile.

7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Remove from the pan to cool. The chocolate chips will stay soft for a while, so wait a few hours for them to harden before you try to store these or you’ll mess up all the faces!

Nutella drops need to be in the freezer for at least 20 minutes before you try to use them. You'll have to keep re-freezing them, because they soften quickly.

The Nutella drops need to be in the freezer for at least 20 minutes before you try to use them or they’ll get all over your fingers. Right after you take them out of the oven, pop them off the paper. Then when you’re assembling the cookies, it’ll be easy to pick up a drop instead of trying to pop one off every time. You’ll have to keep re-freezing them, too, because they soften and start making a mess quickly.

The chips for the smile need to be as close together as possible because the cookies spread in the oven. Try to keep the eyes distinctly separate, too, or when the cookies spread you won't get a clear happy face.

The chips for the smile need to be as close together as possible because the cookies spread in the oven. Try to keep the eyes distinctly separate, too, or when the cookies spread you won’t get a clear happy face. (Side note: aren’t they just the cutest?! I practically want to hug them!!)

SMILE!

Look at how happy they are! I bet it’s the secret Nutella layer inside. That would make anyone grin!

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Checkerboard Cookies

Stop drooling & get baking!

I love these. Everyone enjoyed them, but I loved them, probably because I’m obsessed with anything that contains peanut butter and chocolate. And in this recipe, there are chocolate chips in the peanut butter dough and peanut butter chips in the chocolate dough so anywhere you bite, you’ll get a mouthful of peanut butter and chocolate heaven.

I’m also partial to these cookies because they combine two of my favorite cookies growing up: Easy Cake Mix Cookies and Peanut Butter Blossoms. The cake mix recipe came from a good friend in elementary school. Whenever we’d hang out after school, her mom would make us these amazing cookies. Warm from the oven with a glass of milk, these cookies taste like childhood. Ever since, these have been my go-to cookies when I need something fast, easy, and delicious. (My friend wrote the recipe card for us back in second grade; at the end, it says in the sweetest little-kid handwriting, “And now you have cookies!” So, so cute.) The peanut blossoms recipe came from my mom, who got them from an old coworker. I know there are lots of recipes out there for peanut blossoms. My mom has the best recipe. Really. So, with these two cookies coming together to make one super cookie, I highly recommend you give this recipe a try!

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PEANUT BUTTER HALF (Peanut Butter Blossoms)

Sift together:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Cream together: 

1/2 cup shortening + 1/2 cup peanut butter

Gradually add to shortening & pb, and cream well:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Add, and beat well:

1 large egg
2 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend in dry ingredients gradually; mix thoroughly. Stir in until well-mixed:

1 ½ cups chocolate chips

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CHOCOLATE HALF (Easy Cake Mix Cookies)

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tbsp. water
1 cup peanut butter chips

Mix all ingredients (except for the chips) together, then stir in the peanut butter chips. 

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ALSO HAVE ON HAND

~1 cup granulated sugar
Parchment paper or non-stick baking spray

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1. Preheat oven to 350F. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper (or spray with non-stick baking spray).

2. Make the peanut butter and chocolate cookie doughs (separately) as detailed above.

4. Take about a tablespoon scoop of the peanut butter dough and a smaller scoop of the chocolate dough (about ¾ of the size of the PB scoop). Roll each of them into a ball (separately) then make them slightly elongated so they resemble a fat baby carrot. Push them together side-by-side then gently tear in the middle so you have two halves with both kinds of dough. Flip one of the halves, and re-connect them so that the chocolate side of one half now matches up with peanut butter side of the other half and vice-versa. Squish them together really well (so they don’t fall apart while baking), and gently shape them into rounded cookies (like a slightly flattened ball).

5. Roll the cookies in granulated sugar and place on the prepared cookie sheet (parchment paper or baking spray). Bake at for 10-12 minutes. The cookies will be soft to the touch. Transfer carefully to a cooling rack to firm up.

“And now you have cookies!”

Chocolate Caramel Cookie Dough Peanut Butter Cups

Lucky for you, they weigh enough to double-time as paperweights!Let me break this down for you: Chocolate shell. Chocolate cake + peanut butter layer. Caramel sauce layer. Chocolate chip cookie dough layer. Chocolate lid. Sprinkles. AKA everything that is good about baking. Happiness in a cup. Bliss made tangible. Need I go on?

These are brought to you by my insane, driven-crazy-by-research brain. The recipe was dreamt up over the course of a very stressful week, with the caramel added by a last-minute stroke of genius (even though you can’t see it in the photo, the caramel layer is there. Oh yes, it is there.)

Just make these. It might take you a few hours, but it’s worth it. I mean, LOOK AT IT. Did you read what’s inside?! Pure joy.

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CUP SHELLS

4 cups semi-sweet chocolate (2 for now, 2 for the top)
2 tbsp. shortening
cupcake liners (I used foil ones)

1. Microwave 2 cups of chocolate chips plus 1 tablespoon shortening for a minute.

2. Stir until all the chips have melted and it’s smooth, microwaving at 15-second intervals as necessary (stir first; usually simply stirring will work out the un-melted chips).

3. Drop a spoonful or two of chocolate into each cup, using your finger to push it up the sides of the cupcake liners. You might have to do this a few times to get a good coating on the sides and bottom.

4. Let these harden in the fridge or on the counter; I used foil liners so once the chocolate hardened, I could take the liners out of the muffin tin (the foil will hold the shell’s shape, and you can place these chocolate-filled foil-liners on any baking tray or plate) and make another round to get 24 cups.

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COOKIE DOUGH

¾ cup unsalted butter (softened)
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp. milk
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar
1 ½ cups mini chocolate chips

1. Use an electric mixer to combine the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until fluffy (1-3 minutes).

2. Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until combined. Add the flour and powdered sugar until well-mixed.

3. Stir in the chocolate chips.

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CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CAKE

Chocolate cake mix
1 cup peanut butter

1. Prepare the chocolate cake mix according to instructions, bake, and let cool completely (the refrigerator can help with this).

2. Cut off all edges (and eat, obviously). Crumble the cake into a bowl.

3. Microwave the peanut butter for 30 seconds; stir until it’s smooth and almost liquid-y.

4. Mix the peanut butter into the cake crumbles. You might need to use your hands to mix it in really well and get the cake sticking together.

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ASSEMBLY

More chocolate
Caramel sauce
Sprinkles

1. Push about a ping-pong ball-sized scoop of chocolate & peanut butter cake into each cup, spreading it out to the edges.

2. Pour in a thin layer of caramel sauce.

3. Top with another ping-pong ball-sized scoop, this time of the cookie dough, and press down until smooth.

4. When all the cups are filled, melt another 2 cups of chocolate chips plus 1 tablespoon shortening. Top off each cup (about 1 tablespoon) with the chocolate and spread a spoon or tilt/shake the cup gently to get the chocolate to spread out.

5. Decorate with sprinkles before the chocolate hardens. If the chocolate hardens before you get the sprinkles on, a quick blast with a hair dryer on the highest heat setting will melt the top layer of chocolate so you can add sprinkles. Cool on the counter or in the fridge.

Inspired by: Cake-filled Peanut Butter Cups on Vanilla Sugar

Trifecta “Cupcakes”: Chocolate Chip Cookie + Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup + Brownie

You aren't dreaming, I promise - these are real. And really, really good!

A few people audibly gasped when they took a bit and discovered the Reese’s cup inside. It was a good gasp. These “cupcakes” are incredible! Definitely worth baking up, as they impress both the mind and the stomach. They were inspired by a post I saw on Pintrest.

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CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH LAYER

(adapted from Savory Sweet Life)

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

REESE’S PEANUT BUTTER CUP LAYER

~24 Reese’s peanut butter cups (unwrapped)

BROWNIE LAYER

any boxed brownie mix + necessary ingredients (usually eggs, water, vegetable oil, etc.)

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1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a cupcake tray.

2. Make the chocolate chip cookie dough first. Cream the butter and the two sugars until fluffy (~3 minutes on medium-high speed). Add eggs and vanilla; beat for 2 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour. Slow beat dry ingredients into the wet until fully incorporated. Mix in chocolate chips evenly.*

3. Press cookie dough into each cupcake well, to a depth of ~1 centimeter.

4. Place a Reese’s peanut butter cup (unwrapped!) in each well, on top of the cookie dough.

5. Whip up any boxed brownie mix you like, and pour brownie mix on top of the Reese’s cup to just above 3/4 full.

6. Bake for about 22 minutes, until done in the center. Remove from the tray once they are cool enough to touch, place on a rack to finish cooling, and enjoy!

*Note: I had enough cookie dough leftover to (a) eat a ton while baking, and (b) make about 20 cookies. Which is great news, because this recipe makes very chewy and delicious cookies!