8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), chilled and cut into small pieces
For the peanut butter filling:
1 cup natural smooth peanut butter (no added sugar)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the coating:
1 1/2 pounds milk chocolate couverture, separated into 1 (18-ounce) portion and 1 (6-ounce) portion
3 hrs 35 mins
Makes:About 70 cookies
Chocolate and peanut butter is a classic combination, but coating a buttery cookie in it takes it to the next level. Here’s our take on a Girl Scout Tagalong.
Special equipment: We’re assuming that you have basic tools like a rubber spatula, bowls, and measuring cups. The other items you’ll need are a kitchen scale and a chocolate thermometer such as CDN’s.
What to buy: Professional pastry chefs use a type of chocolate known as couverture, which sets up nicely because it contains more cocoa butter than regular chocolate. The only trick is, you need to temper it. For this recipe, we used El Rey 41 percent milk chocolate Discos; they can be found at many specialty grocery stores or online.
Game plan: The cookies can be baked up to 24 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container until ready to coat.
In our experience, it’s best to avoid tempering chocolate on a hot day or to work in an air-conditioned space. Chocolate behaves best at a room temperature between the mid-60s and low 70s. Also, chocolate stays in temper for only a short time, so have everything ready to go and work quickly.
1In a small bowl, beat together egg and vanilla extract until the yolk is broken up and evenly combined; set aside.
2Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse a few times to aerate and break up any lumps. Add butter and pulse until the mixture looks like sand, about 25 1-second pulses. Add egg mixture and pulse just until the dough forms into a ball, about 25 1-second pulses.
3Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and roll into 2 logs, each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate until just firm but still pliable, about 30 minutes. (The logs will flatten slightly while chilling. If you have a paper towel tube available, cut it in half lengthwise and nestle the cookie dough in there; this will help the dough keep its cylindrical shape while it chills.) Reshape the logs so they are perfectly round and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes more.
4Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Remove a dough log from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap, and slice the dough into 1/8-inch coins. Place the cookies 1/2 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. (About 30 cookies will fit on 1 sheet.) Rewrap the extra cookie dough in plastic and refrigerate until ready to bake the second batch. Bake the cookies until the edges are golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
For the peanut butter filling:
1Meanwhile, place peanut butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl and stir until smooth.
2Using a butter knife, evenly spread 1/2 teaspoon of the peanut butter filling on each cooled cookie.
For the coating:
1Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
2Prepare an ice water bath by filling a large bowl with 2 inches of cold water and adding 3 to 4 ice cubes; set aside.
3Bring a medium saucepan filled with 1 to 2 inches of water to a simmer over high heat; once simmering, turn off heat. Place 18 ounces of the chocolate couverture in a dry, heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over the saucepan and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and has reached 118°F. (Make sure the chocolate does not come in contact with water or exceed 120°F. If either happens, start over, as the chocolate will no longer be usable.)
4Remove the bowl from the saucepan. Add the remaining 6 ounces chocolate and stir until all the chocolate has melted and the temperature has cooled to 80°F. To speed up the cooling process—but only after all of the chocolate has melted—place the bowl over the reserved ice water bath.
5Once cooled, return the bowl of chocolate to the saucepan and stir until the chocolate reaches 86°F; immediately remove from heat. Do not remove the thermometer from the bowl; check the temperature periodically to make sure it stays between 85°F and 87°F. (The chocolate must remain in this temperature range while dipping the cookies or it will not set properly.) Keep the saucepan of water over low heat and, when needed, set the bowl of chocolate over it to reheat.
6To test if the chocolate is properly tempered, spread a thin layer on parchment paper and place it in the refrigerator for 3 minutes to set. If the chocolate hardens smooth and without streaks, it is properly tempered. (If it is not properly tempered, let the melted chocolate harden and start the tempering process over again: Bring the chocolate up to 118°F, then down to 80°F, then up again to 86°F.)
7Using a dinner fork, dip the cooled cookies one at a time, peanut butter side up, into the chocolate until covered. Lift each cookie out of the chocolate and tap the fork several times on the edge of the bowl. Scrape the bottom of the fork against the edge of the bowl to remove any excess chocolate.
8Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets by tilting the fork so that the edge of each cookie touches the parchment-lined pan, then pull the fork out. Repeat until all the cookies have been dipped. Let sit at room temperature until completely set, about 20 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month.