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High Country Baking: Peanut butter and chocolate cookie-cake

Vera Dawson
High Country Baking
Peanut butter and chocolate cookie-cake
Vera Dawson / Special to the Daily

Peanut butter and chocolate: a marriage made in heaven. In this dessert, the pairing will remind you of one of America’s favorite candy bars, the peanut butter cup, in a size big enough to share with friends. An extra-large shortbread cookie, flavored with brown sugar, is buried under sweetened peanut butter, beaten until it’s as soft and smooth as frosting, and crowned with a rich, dark chocolate ganache and an optional sprinkling of chopped peanuts. So simple, so universally appealing.

The recipe is straightforward, and very little can go wrong. Just be sure to use peanut butter with a taste and texture you love and to top it with high-quality chocolate. (Chocolate chips melt differently and won’t work here.) Don’t have canola oil? Use any mildly flavored vegetable oil instead.

Peanut butter and chocolate cookie-cake

Make in a shiny metal 8.5-inch springform pan. Works at any elevation.

Base ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (one stick)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling ingredients

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  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

Topping ingredients

  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoon chopped peanuts, optional

Directions

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Grease your pan with a baking spray that contains flour and set it aside.

2. Make the base with a food processor: Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl fitted with the metal blade. Pulse to combine. Cut the butter into 16 pieces, add them with the vanilla extract and use long pulses until the mixture is evenly moistened and comes together in large clumps. Make the base with a mixer: Cut the butter into 16 pieces, place them in a mixing bowl and let them come to room temperature. Add the sugar, salt and vanilla and beat until blended and soft, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the flour in four additions, mixing on low speed until fully incorporated after each addition.

3. Dump the dough into the prepared pan, level and smooth it, and prick it all over with a fork to prevent it from puffing up in the oven. Bake until the top is set and colors lightly, about 20-25 minutes. Remove it from the oven and cool completely in the pan on a rack.

4. Make the filling: Cut the softened butter into 6 pieces, add them to a mixing bowl along with all the other filling ingredients. Beat with an electric mixer, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed until the mixture is light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Remove the side of your springform pan, leaving the cooled cookie base on the bottom, and spread the filling evenly over it. Smooth the top, cover lightly and refrigerate until the filling firms up and is chilled.

5. Make the topping: Finely chop the chocolate and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the oil and cream and stir to roughly combine. Place in a microwave oven and heat at a medium temperature for 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the oven, stir the mixture and continue to heat it for short bursts at medium temperature until almost all the chocolate is melted. Stir until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is smooth and shiny. Set it aside to cool until tepid and slightly thickened, 3-5 minutes. Remove the cookie-cake from the fridge, pour the topping over the filling, let it run down the sides and spread it evenly with an offset spatula. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if using. Chill until the chocolate is set and cool, up to overnight. Cut into pieces with a thin, sharp knife, warming the blade in hot water and drying it between slices. Serve cold or room temperature. Store covered in the fridge.

Vera Dawson

This recipe is a variation of one published by The New York Times.

Vera Dawson’s column “High Country Baking” publishes biweekly on Thursdays in the Summit Daily News. Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks. Her recipes have been tested in her kitchen in Frisco, where she’s lived since 1991, and altered until they work at elevation. Contact her at veradawson1@gmail.com.


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