Alright, alright… I’m coming to terms with the need to re-evaluate my ambivalence towards the combination of chocolate and peanut butter. I’ve baked a number of chocolate/PB items for Baked Sunday Mornings, and I keep saying, “chocolate and peanut butter is not my favorite, but this is pretty damn good…” While it won’t by my actual favorite (over, say, caramel or vanilla), I keep getting proven wrong about the deliciousness of these two harmonious ingredients for dessert. I have seen the light– this week the group made Peanut Butter Chocolate Whirligigs from the Peanut Butter chapter of Baked Elements, and they are FREAKING DELICIOUS. In fact, my Head Taster said that these are THE best cookies I’ve ever made and requested them weekly!
These fun, whimsical cookies consist of a peanut butter cookie dough with a chocolate filling rolled up inside. I had never made a roll-up cookie before, and I had visions of my filling spilling out all over the place; my trepidations were all for naught, as the dough was relatively easy to work with and the cookies turned out beautiful.
Making the dough was pretty straightforward: Combine the butter, white and dark brown sugars, smooth peanut butter, and canola oil in a stand mixer, and paddle until everything is fluffy. The batter will lighten in color considerably as the fat and sugar molecules get to know each other. Then add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, and mix again. Add half of the dry ingredients and mix, then repeat with the remaining half.
I was a little concerned about the consistency of the dough at first. While tasty, it had an unusual texture unlike most other cookies I’ve made. It was not at all elastic, instead shaggy and… wet? I wasn’t sure if I had messed something up or if roll-up cookie dough necessitates a different consistency, so I proceeded to form the dough into two disks, wrapped them, and put them in the fridge as directed, with fingers crossed…
When it came time to roll out the dough, I was pleased to see that it rolled pretty nicely– not too sticky, not too hard. It was still not terribly elastic, so it cracked around the edges, but this was fairly inconsequential, except that I couldn’t really form a proper rectangle as instructed. But no matter– these are meant to be imperfect, playful cookies, so they did not need to be uniform. By the way, make sure to roll your dough on parchment paper, as you will use the paper while rolling up your dough later.
The rolled out dough then needs to be chilled again while making the chocolate filling. The recipe calls for melting dark chocolate with a bit of corn syrup, but I elected to go with milk chocolate because I think it goes better with peanut butter, which was a lovely decision. I used Guittard 41% “Orinoco” couverture wafers, which I liked much better than my usual go-to 38%– I’m officially switching! However, when I want to make them extra-special, I will use my precious TCHO “SeriousMilk” chocolate, because it will be amazing.
Anyway, the melted chocolate then gets generously slathered onto the dough; I drizzled it right out of the bowl and spread it with a spoon. You want to leave about a ½-inch on one of long edges without chocolate, and double up on the opposite side– the chocolate-heavy side will be the center of the cookies, and this is where you’ll start rolling.
So this is where I expected the whole thing to go awry. Rolling the dough is a little awkward– use your parchment paper to help guide it into a log shape. Grasp that long edge and gently start folding over so you can get a roll going. My dough cracked in a number of spots while rolling, but I was able to patch it back together easily along the way. Try to roll up your dough fairly tightly; you will end up with pretty, tight spirals in your cut cookies.
I wrapped my two logs in their parchment sheets, and because I was short on time, I popped them in the freezer for 2 hours instead of the prescribed 3+ hours in the fridge. They chilled just right (without freezing), so I’ll do this in the future as well. Either way, the dough must be really solid for cutting.
Run a knife under very hot water and dry it off, then cut your logs into rounds about ½-inch thick. You will see the pretty spiral cross-sections of your logs and they will make you happy. Place the sliced cookies on parchment-lined cookie sheets– the dough should be firm and cold when going into the oven so they hold their shape.
My little spirals baked perfectly in 11 minutes; these are supposed to be soft, chewy cookies, so you don’t want any browning. They will look and feel a little underbaked when you take them out– go with it, trust me. My kitchen smelled oh-so-peanut buttery as I baked off the cookies– this is usually not that much of a draw for me, but these gave off such a heavenly aroma; I could barely keep from scarfing them up right then and there! But, I managed to let them cool– leave them on the sheet pans for a few minutes, then slide the parchment directly onto your wire cooling rack to keep the cookies from baking further.
I was beyond delighted with the baked cookies– they were rascally and pretty at the same time. (Did I just describe cookies as ‘rascally’??) I just loved the spiral, both for its visual appeal and because it ensures a good amount of chocolate in every bite. Because that’s the sort of thing I think about when I lay awake in bed at night– how to optimize my chocolate consumption. ;-)
As for flavor, I could not have been happier! I daresay… these whirligigs were pretty perfect– peanut buttery warmth and goodness with that aforementioned chocolate punch, and a wonderfully soft and chewy texture. These are undoubtedly new favorites in my house. Somebody around here was pretty bummed when they were all gone…
Now, in the spirit of always wanting to get better, if I had to change anything about these cookies, I would add a little more chocolate for a thicker spiral. I erred on the side of caution in order to avoid filling spillage, but 20/20 hindsight says MORE CHOCOLATE. The recipe calls for a whopping 12 ounces, and I only used about half. I think the full 12 would still be too much, but I will definitely be a little more heavy-handed with the chocolate next time! Still, these received overwhelming rave reviews as-is, so I’m just nitpicking here.
You’ve probably realized by now that you need these cookies in your life. Like, today. Therefore, I strongly suggest heading over to Baked Sunday Mornings for the Peanut Butter Chocolate Whirligigs recipe, pronto! Check out the dark chocolate versions made by my baking homies too– either way, you cannot go wrong! :)
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2014.