Black Cocoa Peanut Sandwich Cookies

Black Cocoa Peanut Sandwich Cookies

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These cookies are so ridiculously simple and so delicious. The cookie element is based around my melting moment recipe, a melt in the mouth, incredibly tender cookie. I use black cocoa but you can also use a regular dutched cocoa powder if thats what you have on hand. The balls of cookie dough are rolled in salted peanuts and pressed into flat discs and then baked. The filling is a simple white chocolate ganache mixed with peanut butter. Its the sort of cookie you want mid morning with a strong cup of coffee. 

Before we get to the recipe lets talk about cocoa powder for a second. Cocoa powder comes from the cocoa pods and specifically the beans inside those pods, so far so obvious. The beans are fermented and then dried. Generally they are then roasted (unless the product is destined to be used for ‘raw’ chocolate or cocoa powder but I wont be talking about that process here). The beans are then cracked open and the nibs are ground into what is called cocoa liquor and then, using a hydraulic press, the liquor is pressed under great pressure to extract most of the cocoa butter leaving behind a product known as a cocoa cake. This cake is dried once again and then ground into cocoa powder. 

Why then is there such a variety in cocoa powders, what is the difference between natural, dutched and black? Natural is the cocoa powder made as above with no additional processing, it is a light almost dusty brown colour and is bright and acidic in flavour. Dutched cocoa goes through an alkalisation process which lessens the acidity and makes a deeper richer tasting cocoa powder with a darker colour. In the UK and Europe this is traditionally the main type of cocoa powder available although natural and raw cocoa have become more popular over the last few years. Black cocoa, with its characteristic charcoal black colour, is a variation of dutched cocoa powder, the process of alkalisation taken to its limit to make an intensely dark and slightly bitter cocoa powder, if you’ve ever eaten an oreo you’ve had black cocoa. I like black cocoa for its colour and its flavour but its not suitable for everything, the flavour isn’t a pronounced chocolate flavour its much more roasted than that so if you want classic chocolate flavours I would a traditional dutched powder.

Whenever I use black cocoa I am always asked where to buy it as in the UK it is a relatively unknown product, at least until recently. I would always bring some home from the US when there on holiday or for work, King Arthur Baking sell my go-to version. Someone imports that brand into the UK but it is criminally expensive so I am thankful that a few new brands have sprung up to make it easier, and cheaper, to buy. Van Houten was the first brand more widely available, selling on Amazon, but I am yet to test this brand out. When I buy the cocoa myself I get it from De Zaan, a commercial cocoa powder producer that have recently started selling in a more direct to customer facing way. You can find there cocoa powder on Amazon and on from HB ingredients. 

Before we get to the recipe a brief note on peanut butter. When baking with peanut butter you need to be careful about what style you use. Generally you want to be using a commercial peanut butter and this is for the simple reason that it is less likely to split creating odd textures in the finished recipes. By all means you can use a natural peanut butter but be aware the result might not look like you envisioned or like the images of the recipe. 

Black Cocoa Peanut Melting Moments with Peanut Butter Ganache
Makes 15 Sandwich Cookies

Cocoa Melting Moments
250g unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
60g black cocoa powder
85g icing sugar
30g cornflour
175g salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Peanut Butter Ganache
100ml double cream
125g white chocolate
75g smooth peanut butter 

Preheat the oven to 160ºC (140ºC Fan) and line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper.

For the cookies place the butter into a large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until soft and creamy. Add the vanilla and beat briefly to combine. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, icing sugar and cornflour. Add the flour mixture to thee butter mixture and mix on slow speed just until a dough is formed. 

Divide the dough into 20g portions and roll them into balls. Roll the balls in the chopped peanuts, your not looking to fully coat the balls just get a decent amount of peanuts on each cookie. Place the balls onto parchment lined baking trays leaving a little space between each cookie. Using a glass or measuring cup press each ball into a flat disc. Spraying the glass with a little oil can help prevent them sticking. 

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Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the edges are set and dry.

Remove the trays from the oven and allow the cookies to cool fully. 

To make the ganache place the chocolate and cream into a small saucepan and place over low heat. Stir constantly, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent anything from scorching, until the chocolate has melted. Pour the ganache into a small bowl and stir to make sure everything is combined. Set aside for 10 minutes before adding the peanut butter and using a small whisk to combine into the ganache. The ganache needs to be a little cool before adding the peanut butter as the heat can make the mixture split. Refrigerate the ganache until thickened enough to hold its shape but still spreadable, 60-90 minutes. Pipe or spread a small amount of ganache onto half of the cookies and sandwich together with a second cookie. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until the ganache has fully set. 

Kept in a sealed container these will keep for 3-4 days.

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