Traditional French Madeleines

Here’s the thing about these little treats– they are my all-time favorite.  And by all time I mean literally all time.  There’s something about the spongy, zesty, sweet cakes being dipped into a hot coffee or tea that just… it brings me to my happy place.

And let me tell you something else about these sumbitches… they’re hard.  The preparation is a pain in the butt, the flavor is fickle, and the batter is so delicate one wrong move will cause it to fall and the whole thing turns into bitter failure.  They also require a pan which you literally can’t use for anything other than madeleines.  Except maybe a chocolate mold if for some reason you want some weird sort of sea shell shaped chocolates?  Hey it could work, right?

Either way, buying the pan for me was worth it.  Modifying the recipes I’ve been playing with was too.  If you can make it work though, trust me, you’ll want to treat yourself to something nice and snazzy as a reward.

So here we go.

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Ingredients-

1- large egg and 2 egg yolks (this can also be substituted as two large eggs) all room temp

6- tbsp butter (melted and then brought to room temp, but still liquid)

1- tsp vanilla

1/3- cup granulated sugar

1/2- cup cake flour (this is important)

3- tbsp lemon zest (depending on your desire for lemony flavor.  I used the zest of three lemons for this batch)

 

For this recipe we will not be preheating our oven.  The dough must chill at least 2 hours before baking, so keep that on hold.

Start by putting your eggs and/or yolks into a mixing bowl and add in the sugar.  With your stand or hand mixer, use the whisk attachment and set to medium. 

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Whisk for five to seven minutes, or until the mixture reaches the ribbon stage.  The ribbon stage is basically when you lift the whisk (while it’s off– yes I made this mistake– more than once.  I know, I am ashamed) out of the batter and it slowly drizzles down in a sort of ribbon pattern.  There are some fantastic youtube videos if you need clarification on what exactly the ribbon stage is going to look like.  Also if you’re using a hand mixer be prepared for epic muscle aches.  Seven minutes is a long, LONG time.

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Next you’re going to add the lemon zest to the butter and give a good stir.  Let it sit for a good minute or so.  The next step can be done one of two ways. 

Option one you can add the vanilla to the butter and lemon, and add that to the egg mixture and slowly fold in with a rubber spatula.  Then you add in the flour folding in about two tbsp at a time until fully incorporated.  Doing this prevents the egg mixture from falling because you want to keep it light and airy.

Or, option two (which is what I prefer) you add the flour into the butter and lemon mixture and stir until fully combined.  Add the vanilla to the egg mixture and fold in with the rubber spatula.  Using a hand whisk (not the mixer) gently whisk together the eggs and flour-butter until combined into a light dough.  This method will give you slightly denser cakes.  Be very careful you don’t over-whisk and cause the dough to fall completely.

Next prep your madeleine pan with a little bit of butter and flour (shaking off excess flour into the sink).

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Fill your madeleine molds almost completely full, leaving just a slight bit of room at the top.  Make sure you clean up any excess that spills on the side because it won’t have a pleasing smell in the oven when it starts crisping.  (And yes, I also learned this the hard way.)

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Place the pan into the fridge and let set at least two hours, preferably three.  You can even cover and let set overnight, or up to two days if necessary.  Once the dough has been chilled, set on the counter, preheat your oven to 375F.  Place pan in the oven once preheated and cook for about 7-8 minutes, or until the edges are a golden brown.  I usually check about a minute early, and pat the tops.  If they spring back, the cakes are done.  If they depress, they need another minute or two.

Remove from oven and remove from pan and set on a cooling rack.  When cookies reach room temperature, sprinkle with some confectioner’s sugar and serve.

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These cookies keep fairly well if you keep them in an airtight container.  They last about a week and a half, and even longer if frozen.  Enjoyed best with a hot beverage for dunking.

If you don’t want to take on this task, feel free to place an order with my etsy shop and have some shipped out asap.

Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

Sit down kiddies and let me tell you a story.  Once upon a time this morning I made this post and hit the backspace key by accident and suddenly my post was gone.  And along with it, there was no saved draft category in my dashboard.  Cue throwing of things, swearing, stomping of feet, and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Pretty much this was me

 

Then suddenly, like a miracle, as I sat down at my computer to redo all my work (and those who know me personally know how much I HATE REWRITING THINGS), I hit the new post button and what do I find?  The post has appeared!  So without further ado, the cinnamon rolls!

 

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So let’s face it, there’s nothing better than a hot, sweet, sticky cinnamon roll.  You know the moment you step into any mall, the first thing you smell, (and crave to the point of actual pain) is a Cinnabon.  That frosty, squishy, tasty–sometimes crunchy if you’re like me and get the sticks– treat that permeates every shop within a 5 mile mall radius.  And yeah, the task of making a huge, delicious, squashy cinnamon roll is, well, intense.

These are not cinnabon cinnamon rolls.  I know, I led you on for a minute there.  I apologize from the bottom of my heart.  Honestly what I have here is a decent sized, flaky, buttery roll with just enough filling and frosting to get you through the morning.  Not something that will leave you with cinnamon-belly (trust me, it’s a thing) all day long.  Something you can prop up next to your coffee and nosh down with relish and not want to die a little inside after.  Save the cinnabon for the mall, and serve these up at your next breakfast.

Now, these buns I made are overnighters.  Mostly because I didn’t want to get up at the butt-crack of dawn to prep, mix, and knead dough.  I wanted to be able to pull out a pan, let them rise, bake, frost, and serve.  As breakfasts should be.  No kneading before 8 AM, dang it!

However, if you’re more ambitious and awesome than I am and you want to prepare this the morning-of, you can.  Instead of the overnight step, just let the rolls rise in the baking pan for about an hour, then bake as instructed.

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Ingredients for the dough:

4- cups flour (plus 2 tbsp reserved)

1/4- cups white sugar

1/2- tsp salt

1- packet yeast (1/4oz)

6- tbsp butter (melted)

1- tsp vanilla

3- large eggs room temperature

3/4- cup buttermilk

 

Ingredients for filling:

1 stick butter

5 tbsp cinnamon

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

 

Ingredients for the frosting

1 stick melted butter

1 1/2- tsp vanilla

Confectioner’s sugar

 

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Start by attaching your beater or paddle attachment to the stand mixer.  In the bowl, combine the four cups flour, sugar, and salt, and give a good mix until ingredients are fully combined.  You can also do this with a whisk.

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Next you want to start activating the yeast.  If you’re using an already active yeast, you can add it right to the dry mixture as the wet ingredients you’ll be adding later will be warm.  If not, add the yeast packet into the warm buttermilk.  I use powdered buttermilk because it keeps longer, and it allows me to add the powder to already warmed water.  If you’re using already prepared buttermilk, microwave it about 45 seconds to a minute, then add the yeast.  Stir until dissolved and let activate.  You’ll know it’s ready when bubbles form at the top and it has that oh-so-awesome yeasty smell.  (FYI, if you’re using powdered buttermilk, just remember it’s one tbsp per quarter cup, so for this recipe it’s three tbsp)

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Microwave the six tablespoons of butter until completely melted, but not boiling.  This usually takes about thirty seconds depending on your microwave.  Set aside, and in a separate bowl, whisk together the room temp eggs.  The temp is important because you need to temper the eggs with the melted butter to keep them from cooking.  The closer the egg temp is to the butter, the easier it is to temper.

Add the vanilla to the butter and mix thoroughly.  Once combined, slowly drizzle the melted butter mixture into the eggs while whisking.  It should thicken but the eggs shouldn’t cook.  If you notice any scrambling (and trust me, it happens) it means you’ve poured too fast and you’ll have to start over.  Once combined, whisk in the buttermilk and stir another few seconds.

With your mixer on low, begin to pour in the liquid.  It should combine and thicken right away.  The dough will become tacky and sticky and might not combine all the way.  This is where you might need to get your hands a little dirty and use your fingers to combine it all.  When the dough is fully combined, turn the mixer off and switch to the dough hooks.  Knead for ten minutes.

Now, if you have the world’s crappiest mixer with the world’s crappiest dough hooks (here’s looking at you, Hamilton Beach thirty dollar stand mixer on amazon), you’ll need to do this part by hand on a smooth, floured surface.  If you’re lazy or like me, you get the joy of employing someone else for this momentous task of kneading for ten straight minutes.  Props and shout-out to my husband for undertaking what I find to be the biggest pain in the butt part of any recipe that requires kneading and rising.

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Look at this handsome fellow with his fancy smile and alien shirt!

 

So, back to the recipe.

As your kneading, pay attention to the texture.  You want it sticky but pliant, and won’t stick to your finger if you pinch it.  If it does, add in the reserved two tbsp flour one tbsp at a time.  When I did these last night, I needed about one tbsp extra.  Once the dough forms a tight, smooth ball (heh heh, smooth ball) place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  At room temp, let the dough rise 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.

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Use this time to play games, write a book, or maybe dig into that fanfic you’ve been eyeing.  Play a game of bubble blast (curse you level 53!!!), watch some Buffy.  You know, just go about your business.

When the dough has risen (IT HAS RISENNNNN!) remove from the bowl and lay down on a floured surface or rolling board.  Punch down and knead an additional two minutes by hand.  With your rolling pin, roll your dough out as rectangular as possible (which as you can see by the below picture was about zero much rectangular), and a little under a quarter inch thick.  (My dough was extremely springy last night so I had to go pizza-dough on it and sort of stretch it by hand to get it to a quarter inch).

The butter by this point should be room temp.  Now, this is the fun part.  With clean hands, squash the butter up in your fingers and spread around the dough like you’re giving it a kobe-beef style massage.  You want there to be chunks of it, not melted, but definitely spread around to every edge.  After de-greasing, sprinkle the cinnamon over the top, then the brown sugar, and dig right back in and massage that ooey-gooey concoction until every corner of the dough is covered.

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Stretching out the edge of the dough, begin to roll up tightly, pulling the edges out to the sides as you go to keep them uniform.  Once rolled tightly, cut into one and a half (or one if you want smaller– or two if you want huge) sections.  This dough should make approx. 12 rolls.

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In a glass, greased and floured pan, lay the rolls out with about half an inch between them.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.  (or leave out to rise and bake if this is morning time)

The next morning, drag yourself out of bed and before you start guzzling your coffee, pull the rolls from the fridge and with your oven on warm (meaning like almost no temp, just a gentle, soft, comfortable heat) place the pan in and let the rolls rise in there for about an hour, or until double in size.  You can do this on the counter but if you’re like us and have your AC down to like 70F and you used a glass pan, the warming and rising part will take for-flipping-ever if you don’t use the oven.

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They actually can get bigger than this, but I was impatient.

 

Once the rolls are sized, remove from oven and begin the preheat to 350F

Once the oven is heated, place rolls in the center rack and bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until rolls are to your desired brownness.  I like mine a little more doughy than most.

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When the rolls are done and resting, melt 1 stick of butter in the microwave.  Add in the vanilla, and then tablespoon by tablespoon, add in the confectioner’s sugar until the mixture becomes almost dough-like.  I probably used close to half a cup, maybe more.

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While the rolls are still warm-to-hot, spoon large globs of icing on top of each roll and let melt and ooze down the sides.  Then you can either wait until they’re cooled, or you can risk the searing mouth-burns and shovel them down immediately.  Guess which option I chose.

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OMNOMNOMNOMNOM

 

Garnish if you like with another sprinkle of cinnamon and confectioner’s sugar, or enjoy as is.

Remember to follow me on facebook, or on instagram @muchadoughaboutbaking (where you can see updates of my food, kids, dogs, and random pictures of things around town that amuse me.  I’m not very thematic)

 

Note- If you like a sweeter bun, feel free to increase the sugar up to 1/2 cup.  I like my rolls more bread-y because the glaze is so incredibly sweet, but if you want to go full sugar, by all means, go full sugar!

 

 

 

Chocolate Dipped Butter Cookies

I don’t know about you, but those flaky, rich butter cookies were a huge part of my childhood.  Often purchased in one of those big tins around the holidays, my grandma always had a full stock to be enjoyed with a cup of hot, sweet mint tea at the end of the night. 

Some of my fondest memories are sitting on the couch with the coffee table pulled right up to the edge, the tea-tray laid out with mint tea, sugar cubes, a little pot of cream, and the plate of butter cookies.  Some were plain, some chocolate, some with a sprinkle of decorative sugar.  The Hallmark made-for-TV version of The Secret Garden played on VHS (remember adjusting tracking…. yeah…).  I’d be curled up in my favorite soft white blanket trying desperately not to get crumbs everywhere.

Those days are long-gone of course.  We don’t even have a coffee table, and though we do have a tea-tray if I mention anything mint to my children they act like I just tried to offer them rat poison.  And we could watch The Secret Garden, assuming it’s on Netflix (it’s not, I checked.  Thanks Netflix, for refusing to acknowledge my childhood).

I figured I could recapture a little of those memories with a delicious, homemade butter cookie recipe.  It’s not exactly the same, not as perfect as the mass-produced store kind.  My shapes are so amateur I think any proper baker reading this is probably cringing and crying at the sight of them.

But the taste is spot on, and you can’t go wrong with things dipped in chocolate.  You just can’t.  So without further ado, here’s one of the simplest cookie recipes out there.

 cokies7Cookie Ingredients:

1- cup butter- room temp (this temp is very important.  You can mimic room temp butter by microwaving the sticks for about 20 seconds)

1/2- cup white granulated sugar

1- tsp vanilla

1- egg

2 1/4- cups sifted white flour (I use bread flour)

1/4- tsp salt

Dipping Chocolate Ingredients

1- cup chocolate chips

1/4- cup butter

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Start by preheating your oven to 350F, and line a cookie sheet with either non-stick foil or parchment paper.

In your stand mixer with the beater or paddle attachment, add butter and sugar, and beat until creamy, about 2 minutes on medium.  Remember to stop in between and scrape the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula.

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Once combined, reduce speed to slow and add in egg and beat until thoroughly combined.  Scrape down sides, add in vanilla, and mix on medium for another minute or so until batter is creamy.  In a separate bowl, use a whisk to blend flour and salt.  With mixer on low, slowly add flour and beat until the mixture is fully combined.

It’ll be crumbly at first, so make sure you’re scraping the sides and bottoms to make sure it’s combining.  Final mixture should be very doughy and creamy, a lot like a wet chocolate chip cookie dough.  This usually takes about four minutes in the mixer.

When mixture is fully combined, prep your pastry bag with a size 7, pronged tip (depending on your cookie design preference).  I just did some circles and squares, but I’ll be experimenting with other shapes as I go.

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Pipe your cookies directly onto the cookie sheet, leaving about an inch and a half of space between cookies.  If you’re having trouble piping the dough, you can leave it out for twenty minutes to soften.  This will happen if your butter wasn’t at a proper temperature when mixing.

Place directly into the oven and bake for about 7-10 minutes, or until bottoms of the cookies are lightly browned.  Keep a close eye though because they can cook a lot faster than expected.  Mine were done in about six minutes.

When finished, remove from tray and place directly onto cooling rack.  Fresh baked, the cookies will be much harder than a traditional drop cookie, so the transfer is pretty easy.  Cool cookie sheet fully before piping your second batch.  (this is important, do not pipe dough onto a hot sheet).

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Once baked cookies have cooled, prepare the dip.  You can do this either on the stove or microwave.  Combine chocolate chips and butter in pot or bowl.  For microwave, set for one minute, then stir.  If chips are not fully melted, continue to microwave every thirty seconds until butter and chips are combined and you can drizzle chocolate from the edge of a spoon.

For the stove, melt either over a double boiler or on low heat until chocolate and butter is melted.  Transfer into a room temp bowl and dip half the cookies into the chocolate, and lay on cooling rack to harden.  (or just eat them melty and messy.  In fact, you probably should you know, just to make sure it’s good. It’s for science…and stuff.)

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Cookies are perfect for dipping in coffee or tea or cocoa, or just you know, hoarking down by the dozen.

Up next:

Vegan chocolate pudding tart with vegan shortbread crust.  Peanut Butter Fudge.  From-Scratch Chicken Tikka Masala.

If there are any recipes you’d like to see on the blog, don’t hesitate to send an email or leave a comment.

Oh and for those of you in the UK, here’s a handy conversion chart for the measurements!

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Whoopie Pies

Okay now who doesn’t love a good Whoopie Pie, huh?  All cakey and delicious and soft and moist and filled with delicious cream and…

You there, with your hand up?  Yeah you.  Get out.  Little Debbie loving SOB.  No one cares about YOUR opinion!

Okay now where were we.  Ah yes, Whoopie Pies.  I mean half the fun is in the name, right?  Whoopie.  All good things are named Whoopie.  Whoopie Goldberg, Whoopie Cushions, Whoopie Pies…

Now, for a budgeting mother of three, who am I kidding.  They’re like a buck fifty each.  I mean that’s almost five bucks a pop for my three kids to have this tasty treat.  So I decided I’d have to give it a try.  And trust me, a moist, delicious, cakey, cream-filled slice of heaven was intimidating.

But my new (and very first ever) Stand Mixer just arrived and I figured, what better way to break it in than attempting this tasty treat.

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Even Princess Anna looks super stoked for this.

Well come to find out I’m freaking out of butter and my hubby is at work until four (WITH THE CAR) so instead I made Banana Bread with coconut oil.  (spoiler alert, it was amazing and that’s going to be my next post).

Cue five minutes after discovering my butter crisis, a near-hysterical email to my hubby about my butter needs.  (and add to that some baking soda, hamburger buns, cheese, peppers, and squirt.  Haha squirt.)

Of course he gets home then dinner must ensue, (homemade ground turkey sloppy joe’s, don’t mind if we do) and by the time the kitchen’s cleaned, it’s time for the kids to get into bed, and I’m only half motivated to make these things.  But I do because I’m the best mom ever and my kids are SO LUCKY TO HAVE ME.  Seriously kids if you’re reading this– YOU’RE SO LUCKY.

Anyhow, so it’s time to begin, and it’s going to be with a modified cake recipe, since you want them to be a mixture of cookies and cakes.  Now with cake, you usually want baking powder to get that nice, fluffy rise out of them.  But with this, I want some rise, but not too much.  So we have to nix that.  But you want it dense so there’s going to be a lot of batter beating (heh beating), especially when you add the egg.  Trust me, the extra time is worth it.  So you’re going to start with the basic ingredients.

Recipe makes about 10 assembled whoopie pies.

Wet

1/2- cup butter (salted or unsalted but I recommend salted)
1- cup brown sugar (preferably dark but will work with light or dark.)
1- Egg
1- tsp vanilla extract
1- cup milk (can use any type of milk.  Soy and almond are preferred as alternatives vs rice milk simply because they’re creamier.  Since this is the first time I made this I went with whole cow’s milk but normally I bake with Almond)

Dry

1 2/3rds- cups all-purpose flour
2/3rds- cup dutch processed, unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

 ingred(not pictured is butter.  And you can substitute coconut oil though remember oils will make your cookies spread more.  Coconut oil can be used in the batter as a solid but if you’re going to do that, refrigerate it first and try and keep your ingredients all cold, including your mixing bowl.  They’ll still spread more but it helps.)

So here we have unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, cake-flour, brown sugar, egg, and milk. (and the sadly missing butter.  I’m not good at the whole photographing stuff.)

Preheat oven to 375F

Now, the first thing you want to do is put your butter (room temp) into the mixer, add on either the paddle attachment or the egg beaters attachment (NOT the whisk) and cream it alone for about a minute.  Once it’s fluffy, add in the brown sugar and let that whip up about two to three minutes, until combined.  Remember to turn off your mixer and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.  Then add in egg and vanilla and beat for about two minutes.  (see why having a stand mixer is so awesome.  I swear my arms are already singing my praises).  You want the batter to be fluffy and airy.  Not meringue-level but you know, fluffy.

While that’s beating, in a bowl combine the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda together in a separate bowl.  Stir with a whisk to make sure it’s all evenly combined.

Now this next step is super important.

Turn your mixer onto low, then add in half the milk.  Let it stir for about thirty seconds, until just combined, then add in half the flour mixture and increase the speed to medium and beat until just combined.  Repeat those steps with the remaining milk, then flour mixture.  Once mixture is just mixed, lift up your paddle and/or egg beaters and finish with a good stir with your rubber spatula.  scrape the bottoms and sides to make sure it’s all combined.

Once done, line a cookie sheet with your preferred lining (parchment paper, silicone baking mat, no-stick foil etc) and use a tablespoon to drop heaping rounds onto the sheet.  For the larger cookies you’ll want to give about two to three inches of space, for smaller ones one to two.  Make rows down the cookie sheet in pairs til you have a total of ten.

Pop in the oven and set the timer for ten minutes (for a properly pre-heated oven).  Cookies are done when you can press down on the centers of them and they don’t stay depressed.  (they’re happy cookies!)

Remove from baking sheet immediately and place onto a cooling rack.

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Mmmm yep that IS my bread cutter.  I don’t have a cooling rack yet.  Judge away.

Now, while those are cooling (and ideally your second batch is baking) you can get started on the filling.  To be honest, you can pretty much fill them with any frosting or filling recipe you want, but I went with a Marshmallow variant because I find it holds up better than most.

And while I could have gone extra fancy and created my own from-scratch marshmallow cream, I wasn’t feeling that ambitious.  So I used Marshmallow fluff.

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Here we have Peanut Butter, Marshmallow Fluff, and Vanilla

For the filling you need:

1 Jar Marshmallow fluff

3-4 tbsp Peanut Butter

1 tsp vanilla.

Now… here’s a quick note.  I love love love (and I mean LOVE) homemade peanut butter.  Like… it’s a whole thing with me, fresh nut butter.  (heh nut butter) but it doesn’t work well in this recipe unless you can make it factory-processed levels of creamy.  If you experiment and it works, please let me know what you did!

Back to the mix.  In a bowl combine the PB and Vanilla and mix until the PB has a more doughy consistency.  Add in the marshmallow and combine with a fork (not a whisk or spoon– trust me on this).  The marshmallow will congeal for a second, but just keep at it and you’ll eventually have sticky-sweet, peanut buttery goodness in your bowl.

When the cookies have cooled sufficiently, (and I mean like almost cold-cool.  In fact, throw them in the fridge for ten minutes if you can), begin filling.

You can use a spoon if you want, but I prefer a pastry bag.  Or in my case (because I am under resourced here) a plastic baggie with the corner cut off.

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It ain’t pretty, but it works.

Fill with the desired amount of filling until it looks all gooey and delicious like this…

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EAT ALL THE FROSTING!

Then press the top down until it’s all sandwichy and wonderful.  Then enjoy.  Beware though, they’re rich.  Like wow.  Super rich.  But good.  But rich.

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But also soooo pretty.

They don’t keep well for longer than a day or two, so you know, EAT ALL THE BAKED THINGS!  Or like, take them or send them to work with your SO or friend or neighbor so you/they can get cussed out for temping everyone with sugary goodness.  Or praised like the Baking God that you are.

Also just a few notes, remember to adjust the recipe accordingly to high altitudes (add 2 tbsp extra flour).  Always remember to taste your dough.  Always lick the bowl.  Never lick the beaters while they’re on.  And you can always adjust the PB content in the frosting to your liking.