Tag Archives: chocolate-dipped cookies

“The Heat is On” Spicy PB Shortbreads

Heat Is On PB Shortbreads -Title Shot

I love peanut butter. This one time, in high school, a friend’s dad got me to run 5 miles for a giant jar of it on a dare. It was 1980, and there was a peanut butter shortage. I did what I had to do.

Fast forward to June of this year, when I attended the BlogHerFood conference in Austin. I had the best time and met so many fabulous food bloggers, but I was also fortunate to meet some really nice people from companies represented at the event like Adam Shapiro from Peanut Butter & Co.

Adam & I sat at the same breakfast table the first morning of the conference, but didn’t get a chance to talk. Later that weekend, I bumped into him again and got a chance to strike up a conversation and share how much I love their peanut butter (most especially their Dark Chocolate Dreams – it’s sin in a jar). Adam asked if I’d heard about their new flavor – The Heat is On. It’s a crazy blend of peanut butter and spicy chilies.

When I say crazy, I mean crazy genius. We talked about the standard things that came to mind, like using it in a peanut satay or in a dipping sauce for egg rolls or dumplings. But as we were talking, I kept thinking about what it would be like in a cookie. Specifically, a peanut butter shortbread cookie dipped in chocolate.

Adam was intrigued by the idea. Enough so that he offered to send me some peanut butter to play with. This was truly one of the greatest and most unexpected pleasures of attending my first food blogging conference – connecting with fascinating people you’d never have a chance to meet otherwise and sharing a passion for food. True to his word, here’s what Adam sent:

PB&Co Box

Not just one jar, but an entire box of various Peanut Butter & Co flavors. I was simultaneously stunned and thrilled. He even included a jar of the Dark Chocolate Dreams. What a guy! Lilly Bug (our granddaughter) immediately fell in love with the dark chocolate peanut butter. She’s a girl after her Nana’s heart. Jonah Bear (our grandson) loved the maple. He’s a pancake kind of dude, so that’s not really surprising. Personally, I went into that jar of Cinnamon Raisin Swirl with a spoon and almost didn’t come back out. I’m officially obsessed with it.

PB&Co The Heat is On

But this spicy The Heat is On is what inspired these cookies. This richly roasted peanut butter combined with a spicy blend of heat is as bold as it is fun. It’s just spicy enough to feel the burn spread across your palate, but not so spicy you’re running for a glass of water. It’s a party in a jar, and now it’s a party in a cookie. And all because I stepped out of my comfort zone and initiated a conversation with a super guy who just happened to work for a peanut butter company that I love.

The Heat is On Peanut Butter Shortbreads – for Adam
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup ‘The Heat is On’ spicy peanut butter
1/4 cup plain crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt

In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and peanut butter, beating with an electric mixer until well blended. Add the brown sugar, honey or agave nectar and vanilla extract, beating until combined. Sift together the flour and salt and add it slowly to the butter mixture, beating until the flour is fully absorbed.

Heat Is On PB Shortbreads - Pressed with a Glass

To press with a glass for a decorative cookie:
Scoop enough dough into the palm of your hand to form a ball roughly the size of a golf ball. Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper. Space the balls of cookie dough about 2″ apart and press with the bottom of a decorative glass. If the glass tries to stick to the dough, dip it in granulated sugar.

Heat Is On PB Shortbreads - Slice & Bake style

To use the slice & bake method:
Shape the cookie dough into a log and roll in plastic wrap, twisting the ends to seal them shut. Refrigerate at least one hour, then unwrap and slice into 1/4″ slices. Place the cookies 1″ apart on a lined cookie sheet.

To bake:
Pre-heat your oven to 275F. Place your oven rack in the middle portion of the oven, and bake the cookies for 40 minutes. Remember – everyone’s oven is different and some run hotter than others. Start checking the cookies at 30 minutes. If you gently press the center of the cookie and it gives a little, let them stay in a few minutes longer. I baked mine for exactly 40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheets until completely cooled. Store in an airtight container for up to one week. If you want to kick it up a notch, consider dipping them in chocolate. I did. #NoRegrets.

Heat Is On PB Shortbreads - Dipped Close-Up

To dip in chocolate:
I let the cookies cool overnight to make sure they were completely cooled. Next, combine 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips with 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips and set them over a double-boiler to melt. Once melted, whisk until the chocolate mixture is perfectly smooth, with no lumps. Scrape the chocolate into a small glass or ramekin and dip each cookie individually, placing them on waxed paper to set.

Heat Is On PB Shortbreads - Drizzed in Chocolate

In a rush? You can scrape the melted chocolate into a zippered plastic food storage bag, press it all down to one corner of the bag, and snip the corner off. Using a quick back & forth method, drizzle the cookies until all are decorated. Then squeeze some into your mouth for good measure, and throw away the used bag. After that, it’s just a matter of waiting for the chocolate to set up, if you can wait that long. I’ve never been good at waiting, especially with cookies.

Heat Is On PB Shortbreads - Final Close-Up

Tip: If you live in a warm, humid climate like I do (hello, Houston), spread your waxed paper onto a cookie sheet before you dip or drizzle your cookies with chocolate. Once done, you can pop the entire pan into the fridge for 30 minutes or the freezer for 10 minutes to help the chocolate firm up.

Note: This recipe is adapted from a shortbread recipe at Living Tastefully. This post is not sponsored by Peanut Butter & Co. As stated above, the company provided me with a box of product to sample. All opinions (and drooling) are my own. Special thanks to Adam Shapiro of Peanut Butter & Co for his generosity.

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Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies

This year’s Bake Sale for Beka (aka Cookies for Crohn’s) was a great success, raising $1,680 for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Wahoo! Great job and high fives to all the bakers, bloggers & bidders who participated!

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Inside NanaBread's Head

My contribution to this year’s bake sale was these luscious Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies – so buttery and delicious! My winning bidder was Taryn from the Pacific northwest (Seattle area). To my surprise, she bid a whopping $60.00 for four dozen of my shortbreads. Thank you so much, Taryn! I hope you and your friends and family enjoy them!

Now that they’re baked and shipped, I thought I’d share them here so you can make them as well. And trust me – if you love buttery shortbread cookies, dried cherries and pecans, you ARE going to want to make them. This recipe has been doubled so that it makes approximately 5 to 6 dozen cookies, depending on how big you cut them. Mine were approximately 1 1/2″ squares and made 6 dozen.

NanaBread’s Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies
adapted from The Grand Central Baking Book (Classic Buttery Shortbread)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal (almond flour)
1 1/2 cups powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, room temp
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1 1/2 cups dried tart cherries
1 1/2 cups whole almonds, toasted
granulated sugar, to sprinkle on top

Pre-heat your oven to 375F. While your butter is softening, spread the flour, almond meal and almonds onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the flour just starts to take on some light color and the almonds are fragrant. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Reduce your oven temperature to 325F.

In a food processor, combine the dried cherries and cooled almonds. Pulse until both are chopped into small chunks. Don’t pulse too long, or you’ll end up with cherry/almond paste. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the toasted flour and almond meal, the powdered sugar, salt and cherry/almond mixture; whisk to combine.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the softened butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy (2-3 minutes). Reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla and almond extracts, beating just until combined. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment or a silpat mat. Scrape the dough onto the pan and with lightly floured fingers or a flat spatula, spread the shortbread dough into the pan, working it all the way out to the corners. To get a nice even layer, place waxed or parchment paper on top of the dough and use a rolling pin.

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Pressing Into Pan - Inside NanaBread's Head

If you don’t have a rolling pin, lay some waxed or parchment paper on top of the cookie dough then top with a second cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and press to form a nice even layer. Peel the paper off and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar, then pop the pan in the freezer to chill for 20-30 minutes.

Next, use a bench scraper (my favorite tool) or a metal pancake spatula to score the cookies into squares. I like to hold the bench scraper vertically and press until I feel it hit the bottom of the pan. (Because the bench scraper has a fairly sharp edge, just be sure not to press so hard that you damage your silpat mat!)

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Cutting into Squares - Inside NanaBread's Head

Once the cookies are scored, place the baking sheet into the oven on the middle rack and bake for 40-45 minutes (time may vary depending on how hot your oven gets – each oven is a little different). When the shortbread is firm to the touch in the middle of the pan and the cookies are a light golden brown, they’re done. Remove from the oven and allow then to cool 15-20 minutes, then use your bench scraper or spatula to re-cut the cookies along your score lines.

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Out of the Oven - Inside NanaBread's Head

Once they are completely cool, you can remove them from the pan and layer them with parchment or waxed paper into an air-tight container. These will stay fresh for about 2 weeks at room temperature, or up to one month in your fridge.

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Cut into Squares - Inside NanaBread's Head

Love chocolate? Then why not dip them? For that first Bake Sale glamour shot, I dipped a few cookies in dark chocolate. For Taryn, my winning bake sale bidder, I created a variety pack of white, milk and dark chocolate dipped (1 dozen ea.) as well as one dozen plain so she could enjoy them in their pure just-baked form.

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Dipped in Chocolate - Inside NanaBread's Head

Have mercy – the dark chocolate coated are my personal favorite. What a winning combo! Now I just have to hope they make it to the west coast without all that gorgeous Guittard chocolate melting. I packed them in an insulated lunch cooler with those blue ice freezer packs, so keep your fingers crossed.

Note to Self: Next year, don’t dip anything in chocolate. It’s summer, dummy.

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