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Friday, February 1, 2013

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Nora Ephron Cookie
This last week of January just flew by. Every day I kept looking at the calendar. I can't believe two whole months have gone by since my job ended. I feel like I'm getting in the swing of things, developing a routine. This whole being unemployed thing isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. At the same time, I have been unemployed for two months! That's without a job, without regular income for two whole months. The interesting thing I have learned is that going to work is expensive. There are so many ways I was spending money every day that I didn't even think about. Just being in town every day, it was so easy to pick up a nice bottle of wine or some expensive chocolate at the end of the day (usually both).
So even though my finances are fine for now, it feels like my whole life is on hold because I don't know what I will be doing or where I will be three months from now.  For now, I have discovered that it is kind of nice staying home every day. I honestly thought I would be stir crazy by now. I'm the kind of person who always likes to be going somewhere or doing something. I know it is time to start thinking about moving forward, but how about one more batch of cookies first?
These cookies are everywhere, I think they started with Thomas Keller at Bouchon Bakery. He called them Better Butters, as in they are better than Nutter Butters. Then Tom Douglas from the Dahlia Bakery in Seattle started making them. Apparently the story is that Nora Ephron fell in love with them while shooting Sleepless in Seattle. She would have the Dahlia Bakery ship then to her and eventually requested the recipe. Tom Douglas asked if he could name the cookies after her in his cookbook and apparently she was thrilled. It is rumored that Nora Ephron was quite a good cook, so I had a feeling these were going to be some pretty good peanut butter cookies. I actually own both cookbooks, but every time I pull out one of the Thomas Keller cookbooks I feel like I am attempting the Everest of cooking, so I decided to go with the more user friendly Dahlia Bakery version. I found that I liked these cookies both filled and unfilled. I purposely left a few without filling to go with my morning coffee. So if you just wanted a good oatmeal peanut butter cookie, these would be great for that too.
Also, I put specific brand names for the peanut butter I used. There seems to be a huge variety in brands of commercial peanut butter as far as sweetness and amount of oil. If you decide to use another brand you may get different results. I have not been compensated to recommend the following brands of peanut butter (just so you know).
Nora Ephron Cookie

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

1 1/2 cups creamy commercial peanut butter, such as Jif
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar *see note
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt

To make the filling, combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat mixture until light and fluffy. You may have different results with different brands of peanut butter, so taste the filling and adjust the amount of sugar as needed. Cover and chill the mixture until you are ready to fill the cookies.
*An added note about the type of peanut butter. I'm hearing mixed results on the consistency of the filling. I upped the amount of sugar because my filling was pretty runny using Jif and I wanted to thicken it up. Others have said that even with the original amount of sugar that it was hard to scoop the filling, even at room temperature when using Skippy. I would start with 1 tablespoon of sugar and add 1 tablespoon at a time until you find the right consistency and flavor.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 2/3 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup crunchy natural peanut butter, such as Adams, well mixed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To make the cookies, in a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Stir in the oats and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, chunky peanut butter, and sugars and cream on medium-high speed until very fluffy and pale, at least 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Turn the mixer to medium-low and add the eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate each egg and scraping down the bowl. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients on low speed in 3 to 4 additions and mix until just combined. Do not overmix. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a wooden spoon to makes sure all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, check all the way down to the bottom of the bowl.
Use an ice cream scoop to portion all the cookies in 1-ounce scoops (or use about 1 heaping tablespoon per cookie), placing the scoops on a parchment lined baking sheet. You should have about 48 cookies. (You can place all the cookies close together for the chilling step—you will space them for baking later.) Chill the scooped cookies in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 375°F. Arrange 8 cookies, spaced evenly apart and staggered, on each parchment-lined baking sheet. (Note: Do not flatten the cookies) Set the baking sheet inside another baking sheet to insulate the bottom of the pan and place it in the oven. Bake until evenly golden, about 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before removing the cookies with a spatula. Allow the cookies to cool completely before filling them.

To make a cookie sandwich, turn one cookie flat side up and spread with a little less than 2 teaspoons of filling. Alternately you can put the peanut butter filling in an icing bag and pipe the filling onto the cookie for a more decorative touch. Top with another cookie, flat side down, pressing gently. Repeat until all the cookies are assembled into sandwiches. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Nora Ephron Cookie


  1. I know what you mean when you say working is expensive. There are so many places to stop on the way home and so many ways to spend money! Since my commute is only 15 minutes I've taken to leaving my money and debit card at home. Can't spend if I have no way to.

    My mom has been making my Dad crunchy oatmeal cookies lately and he's been spreading almond butter on them. These cookies reminded me of those. :-)

    1. Yeah, and that's not even to mention the clothes. It's funny, I wear the same clothes for three days now. Nobody sees me so it doesn't matter. I'd say I don't have to do laundry as often, but I seem to be doing a lot of kitchen laundry these days.

  2. These look SO GOOD! I can't wait to make them. :)

    1. Let me know how you like them if you make them.

  3. First off, I love these cookies. . I also have the Dahlia Bakery cookbook (I live here in Seattle and have met Tom Douglas, who I adore) and have baked these myself . . yours look so much prettier! Love the icing bag tip! Totally going to do that next time. My filling was a little on the thick side but since I love pb, I was ok with it. :P
    Glad I found your blog on foodgawker. . and glad to hear you are enjoying being at home for the time being. I don't know what the circumstances were that happened, but just enjoy it while you can and everything will fall into place. I am now at home full-time too (to be a stay-at-home-mom) after working my entire life, running like 10-15 projects at once and I was going stir crazy but cooking, baking, blogging and photography have helped me stay sane. :)

    Adams is now my favorite peanut butter. . I had never heard of the brand until I saw the mention in the cookbook! :)

    1. I must confess that I got the icing idea from the Bouchon Cookbook. That is how they did it for the Thomas Keller version. Although it looks like theirs have about 5 times the amount of filling!
      I'm not sure what I would be doing if it weren't for this blog. Well, actually I would probably be more focused on finding a "real" job.

  4. These cookies look wonderful! I have been wanting to make them a long time as I love homemade versions of store bought treats.

    1. I highly recommend them. Although, don't make them when you are home alone!


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