Peanut Monsters

Redemption is sweet, folks. Alison may have won the first round, but I won the second (that’s two-to-one in my favor, but who’s counting?)

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Drumroll please…. introducing Mint Madness!!

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I know it seems like we’re constantly apologizing here at Two PhDs, and yet again here I am, apologizing. I am a very slow writer/ blogger, and I have really awesome excuses for my tardiness, but they are dumb: we moved to a new apartment, and then we got a kitten who demands my attention at all times. But really I’d rather be playing with a kitten than writing a blog post. So there!

photo (4)I mean, seriously. Look at that face!

But really, I’m not *that* sorry– I’m here to gloat. I won! I won! Okay, I shouldn’t brag. But since I lost last year, I’m pretty psyched that I won.

I’ve previously made a holiday version of this cookie, which I will post in the winter. I couldn’t resist making this when one of Sarah’s preferences included chocolate and mint. I modified a great chocolate espresso sandwich cookie from Tish Boyle’s book, The Good Cookie, and switched the ganache to a chocolate-mint one.

Chocolate cookies:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup non-alkalized cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temp

Mint-chocolate ganache

6 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt until thoroughly blended.

In a small cup, combine the espresso powder with the vanilla extract and stir with a small rubber spatula until the espresso powder has dissolved.

In a medium bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 30 seconds. Add both sugars and continue beating until the mixture is light in texture and color, approx 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the egg until well blended. Add the vanilla extract. At low speed, beat in the flour mixture in three additions, scraping down the side of the bowl after each addition.

Drop the dough by slightly rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets, leaving about 1.5 inches between them (they will expand!).

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Bake, two sheets at a time, for 7-9 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are very lightly browned but the centers are still slightly soft. Switch the positions of the pans halfway through baking to ensure even browning. Be careful– chocolate based cookies burn easily.

Cool the cookies on baking sheets on a wire rack for 1-2 minutes, and then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling, you can whip up the ganache!

Place the chocolate in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. With the motor running, add the hot cream to the chopped chocolate and process for 25-30 seconds, or until completely smooth. Add mint extract and process for another 20 seconds, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary. I added quite a bit of mint extract to this recipe because I really wanted the mint to stand out– if you would like it to be more subtle, feel free to add it to the ganache 1/2 tsp at a time, tasting in between, so that it’s to your desired minty-ness.

Spread a gently rounded teaspoonful of the ganache filling onto the bottom half of the cookies. Top with remaining cookies and very gently press the sandwiches together. Let sit at room temperature or fridge for at least 30 minutes to set the ganache.

I dare you to make both of the recipes we submitted to Sarah and decide for yourself!

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Espresso chocolate chip cookies

2013 will not be known as our finest year, it seems. At least in terms of follow-through.

Four months ago, we held our second annual baking madness contest. Sarah won both the men’s and women’s brackets, and kindly gifted her second win to Claudia. Our job was to each create a baked good based on their preferences and send it to them to vote on their favorite. About two and a half months after Sarah won, we FINALLY sent her a package of treats. (In our defense: we don’t live together for most of the year, and we were doing a lot of traveling during the spring and summer).

In any case, the results are in for the first batch of baked goods! (Claudia’s round will come later). Alison won this round! She will post her recipe soon, but here’s a preview of our cookies together:

IMG_0633Alison made some kickass sandwich cookies. You will want to make these!

In the meantime, allow me to introduce the humble espresso chocolate chip cookie. It may not have won, but it’s pretty great. And I tweaked it after receiving Sarah’s feedback, so they are even better than the original.

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Those are some pretty tasty cookies.

Ingredients

3 tbsp espresso or espresso powder*
1 and 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 and 2/3 cups bread flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt + additional for sprinkling on top of cookies
11.5 oz milk chocolate chips**
2 and 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup plus 3 tbsp light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla (I recommend bourbon vanilla, if available)

Instructions:

  1. Using a fork, stir the dry ingredients (first five) together until well-combined.
  2. Add chocolate chips and stir to coat
  3. Using a stand or hand mixer, blend butter and sugars at medium speed for 5 minutes, stopping occasionally to incorporate the batter that spreads up the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula
  4. Add eggs and vanilla and blend at medium speed until well-combined
  5. Using a wooden spoon to mix the batter, slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the batter
  6. Separate dough into four disks and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate over night, or at least 8 hours. (The first batch I made were actually frozen for a few days before baking, and they came out just as nicely, so you can also freeze the batter if you do not plan to bake right away)
  7. When you are ready, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Form dough into 1.5-inch round balls with your hands and place on ungreased baking sheet, about two inches apart. Flatten each ball of dough with your palm and sprinkle some good quality salt on top.
  8. Bake for 13-15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Let cool for about five minutes, then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

* I always use real espresso because I find it brings out the flavor better, but most recipes calling for a coffee/espresso taste will recommend the powder.
** I’m wary of too much sweetness, so I rarely use milk chocolate in anything I bake. I wanted to try something new here, though, and I thought the milk chocolate would balance the espresso, which it did. You can use dark or bitter/semi-sweet chocolate if you prefer. If you use milk chocolate, use a good quality chocolate!