So this past weekend I competed in a cookie contest. What’s better than cookies and competition?! Milwaukee had its first Cookie Takedown, and it was a blast! About 20 of us home cooks entered, and brought 250+ of our best cookie to the table. Sadly, I did not win, but the whole process was a fun one!
I’m not much for recipe testing, but entering this contest, I knew I had to put my best morsel forward. So, my friend Shana came over and we test two different cookie recipes, marked down notes of any changes, compared them analytically (read: ate lots of cookies and commented on them), and finally chose the one I’d enter: peanut butter cookies rolled in colored sugar, topped with a homemade Kahlua espresso truffle. But that’s not much of a name, so our creative sides came up with: Peanut Butter Kahlua Clouds.
Making one batch of cookies is nothing compared to making 4 or 5 batches of the same cookie. The kitchen turns into a factory and the countertop is your assembly line. Stacks of cooling racks donned the table, and smells of peanut butter wafted throughout the house. It sure was work, but fun and edible work! Employing the changes noted from the recipe testing session, I successfully made 250 “clouds” and let Milwaukee eat them up (ok, there are a few leftover which are slowly being deployed to my friends and family.
Whether you need to make a ton of cookies, or just one batch, give this one a try! It does require some work – you’re not just squishing Hershey Kisses on these cookies, but the homemade truffles are SO WORTH IT. Seriously. Besides, you’ll most likely end up with leftover truffles…perfect for nomming on, or throwing into your next batch of brownies! Get baking, friends!
Peanut Butter Kahlua Clouds, adapted from The Kitchn
Makes about 4.5 dozen cookies
For the Kahlua Truffles:
- 1/2 C heavy whipping cream
- 10 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp Kahlua liquer
- 1 tsp espresso powder, finely ground
For the Peanut Butter Clouds:
- 1 stick (1/2 C) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 C creamy peanut butter (not the natural stuff!)
- 1/3 C brown sugar
- 1/3 C granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1.5 C all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- colored sugars for coating
Begin by making the Kahlua truffles. Fill the bottom pot of a double boiler halfway full with water. Place the top pot over it and bring water to a rolling simmer. In the top pot, mix the chocolate chips with the Kahlua and espresso powder. In a small pot, heat heavy cream until bubbles just begin forming
In a small pot, heat heavy cream until bubbles just begin forming – this won’t take long at all. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate chips. Stir well with a spoon and keep stirring until all the chocolate is melted and all ingredients are incorporated. Remove from the double boiler and let sit to cool. I found that it works best if you let the truffle mixture sit in the fridge for 10 minutes or so, to speed up the cooling process – just don’t forget it’s in there! Or you’ll have to simply reheat over the double boiler.
Once the chocolate is thick enough to hold it’s shape, start making the truffles. Line a small baking pan with parchment paper. Spoon chocolate into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Squirt out truffles to form small mounds like a Hershey’s Kiss. Continue this process until all chocolate is used. Place the pan in the freezer to get them as hard as possible.
Tip: if you don’t have enough baking sheets, you can use a glass baking dish, round cake tins, even a piece of sturdy cardboard! A flat surface covered in parchment is all you need.
Now, for the cookies! Or rather, the “clouds.” Preheat your oven to 345 (yes, that’s very precise). Line 2 large baking sheets with Silpat mats or parchment paper.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the butter and peanut butter until creamy. Add in the sugars and continue to beat together. Now add in the egg, vanilla and milk. Beat until light and fluffy.
While things are beating, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Pour half the flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture and mix on low until combined. Add the rest of the flour and mix until it’s all incorporated.
Pour about 1/4 C of colored sugar into a small bowl, for coating.
Using the large side of a melon baller (yeah, don’t use a cookie scoop for these – the size of a melon baller turns out perfectly when baked!), scoop cookie dough and form into a sphere with your hands. Roll in sugar, but leave one side sugarfree – place that side down on the cookie sheet and continue until the sheet is full. Be sure to leave about an inch or two between cookie balls.
Once the sheet is full, place in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for exactly 9 minutes at 345 degrees, turning the sheet around halfway through. While that’s baking, work on the next sheet of cookie balls!
When the cookies are done, remove from oven and immediately squish the frozen truffles on top, pressing down slightly. Let the “clouds” cool on the sheet for 5-10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack only once they are cool enough to pick up – any sooner, and they’ll fall apart in your hands…and you’d have to eat those!
Repeat this process until all the cookie dough is used up.
Store cookies in your favorite cookie tins or snowman shaped cookie jars. Eat and be merry :)
What recipe would you have used in a cookie contest? I’m always looking for the next best recipe!