Maida Heatter’s Chocolate and Peanut Butter Ripples
In my household, there is a clear division of labor.
My husband is responsible for mowing our minuscule lawn, unclogging drains, and figuring out which smoke detector in the house is causing that incessant beeping.
I make sure we always have a stash of home-made cookies on hand.
It’s an important job, and one that I take seriously.
Oh sure, my husband will indulge my whims to bake cookies with ingredients such as cardamom, rose water, chicharrones, corn nuts, or five-spice — as long as I don’t neglect the mandatory chocolate on a regular basis.
That’s why “Chocolate and Peanut Butter Ripples” appealed so much. After all, when I practically have to hide all the mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups from him until after Halloween, I knew this cookie would be right up his alley.
It’s a recipe from “Cookies Are Magic: Classic Cookies, Brownies, Bars, and More.” Have truer words ever been printed?
The cookbook (Little, Brown, and Company), of which I received a review copy, is by Maida Heatter, the legendary self-taught baker who inspired so many of today’s best known pastry chefs. Heatter passed away in 2019 at the age of 102, which just proves we all need to eat more baked goods for longevity.
The publisher decided to release new single-subject cookbooks of her greatest hits. “Cookies Are Magic” will have you grabbing your precious supply of flour and sugar to make everything from “Palm Beach Brownies with Chocolate-Covered Mints” and “The Farmer’s Wife’s Pecan Cookies” to “Rum-Raisin Shortbread” and “French Sugar Fans.” Instead of photos, the recipes are accompanied with whimsical illustrations.
These ripple cookies are made of two doughs — a chocolate one and a peanut butter one. For each cookie, you place a small mound of chocolate dough on a baking sheet, top it with a scant spoonful of peanut butter dough, then add a final mound of chocolate dough on top. Then, with the tines of a fork, much like making old-fashioned peanut butter cookies, you gently press down, compressing the three layers into one.
The cookies flatten more as they bake, leaving glimpses of the peanut butter dough peeking out here and there.
The recipe says it makes about 30 cookies, but for me, it was closer to 24.
The cookies bake up slightly crisp in texture. These aren’t over-the-top rich tasting like gooey chocolate chunk cookies would be. Instead, the taste is more deeply of cocoa, like chocolate wafers. The peanut butter filling has a sandy texture, almost like the inside of a Reese’s.
They are homey and nostalgic — and really hit the spot now.
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Ripples
(Makes about 24 to 30 cookies)
For chocolate dough:
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
For peanut butter dough:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup smooth (not chunky) peanut butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
Adjust two racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cookie sheets with baking parchment.
For the chocolate dough: Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot water on moderate heat. Set the chocolate aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the vanilla, salt, and granulated sugar and beat well. Beat in the egg and then the melted chocolate, scraping the bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula. On low speed, gradually add the flour and mix only until smooth. Transfer the dough to a small shallow bowl for ease in handling and set aside.
For the peanut butter dough: In the small bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter with the peanut butter. Beat in the brown sugar until well mixed. Add flour and beat to mix. Transfer to a small shallow bowl for ease in handling.
Shape the cookies: Divide the chocolate dough in half and set one half aside. By level or barely rounded spoonfuls, drop the remaining half on the cookie sheets, placing the mounds 2 inches apart. You will need two to three cookie sheets and will end up with 24 to 30 mounds of the dough.
Top each mound with a scant spoonful of peanut butter dough. And then top each cookie with another spoonful of the chocolate dough. Don’t worry about the doughs being exactly on top of each other. Flatten the cookie slightly with a fork, dipping the fork in granulated sugar as necessary to keep it from sticking.
Bake for 15 minutes, reversing the cookie sheets top to bottom and front to back once to ensure even baking. If you bake only one sheet at a time, use the higher rack. Do not overbake. These cookies will become crisp as they cool.
Let the cookies cool briefly on the sheets only until they are firm enough to transfer with a wide metal spatula to racks. When cool, handle with care. Store in an airtight container.
Adapted from “Cookies Are Magic” by Maida Heatter
More Peanut Butter Goodness: Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes