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June 26, 2013 at 6:01 AM

Nora Ephron’s favorite cookie comes from Seattle

ephronpic28The great Nora Ephron passed away last year today. I like to think that she’s looking over us, with that toothy, mischievous grin of hers, doing a happy dance as she leaves peanut butter cookie crumbs.

Seattleites remember Ephron for “Sleepless in Seattle.” But Ephron remembered Seattle mostly for The Dahlia Bakery’s peanut butter sandwich cookies. As she put it in the Dahlia Bakery cookbook, “This may be the greatest cookie ever ever ever.”  In honor of Ephron, playwright, journalist and director, that beloved cookie recipe is reprinted below.

My  head hurts just reading this recipe, but all you ambitious home bakers go for it. I’ll just stop by Dahlia Bakery and pick one up instead.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies aka “The Nora Ephron”

Nora Ephron's favorite is The Dahlia Bakery's Peanut butter Sandwich Cookies, which Tom Douglas has renamed "the Nora Ephron."

When the director of “Sleepless in Seattle” told Tom Douglas that she loved this peanut butter snack, , the chef sent her the recipe along with more than a dozen cookies. Douglas has renamed the cookie “The Nora Ephron.” (Photo courtesy of Tom Douglas)

From The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook, by Tom Douglas and Shelley Lance

Makes about 24 sandwich cookies, 3 inches in diameter

We use two different peanut butters in this recipe.  Skippy creamy peanut butter makes the filling smooth and creamy.  Adams crunchy peanut butter, which like other natural peanut butters must be very well mixed before measuring to evenly distribute the oil, has just the right almost-runny consistency and crunchy bits of peanuts to give the cookies the perfect texture.  To re-create our recipe we suggest you use the same or similar brands.  We prefer moist brown sugar, from a re-sealable plastic bag rather than from a box.

This recipe requires a 2 hour or longer chill of the shaped cookie dough, so plan accordingly.

Since you can only bake 8 cookies per baking sheet, and the cookies must be double panned, you’ll have to bake them in batches.  Be sure to cool the baking sheets between batches before re-using them.

The amount of salt in the filling is a perfect balance to the creamy peanut butter, but if you are substituting table salt for the kosher salt called for in the recipe, be sure to cut the amount in half.

Special equipment: electric mixer, one ounce ice cream scoop (also called #50 scoop) (optional, recommended for the most uniform cookie sandwiches.)

For the peanut butter filling:

1½ cups creamy peanut butter, such as Skippy (14 ounces) (400 grams)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (3 ounces) (168 grams)

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the peanut butter cookies:

1½ cups all purpose flour (8 ounces) (227 grams)

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 2/3 cups rolled oats, such as Quaker Old Fashioned (5¼ ounces) (150 grams)

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup plus 6 tablespoons (2 sticks plus 6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened (11 ounces) (320 grams)

1/3 cup chunky peanut butter, such as Adams, well mixed (4 3/8 ounces) (125 grams)

¾ cup sugar (5¼ ounces) (150 grams)

2/3 cup packed brown sugar (5¼ ounces) (150 grams)

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To make the peanut butter filling, combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl using a whisk.  Cover and chill the mixture until you are ready to fill the cookies.

To make the peanut butter cookies, in a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.  Stir in the oats and the salt.  Set the dry ingredients aside.

In the bowl of an electric 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 mixing 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 as needed.  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 scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula, going all the way to the bottom of the bowl to mix in the dry ingredients well.

Use an ice cream scoop to portion all the cookies in one ounce scoops (or use about a 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 for at least 2 hours or longer.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 375°F.   Arrange 8 cookies, spaced evenly apart and staggered, per parchment lined baking sheet. (Note: Do not flatten the cookies; they will flatten as they bake.)  Set the baking sheet inside another baking sheet to “double 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 about 10 minutes before removing the cookies with a metal 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. (If you have a one-ounce scoop, you can slightly under-fill it to portion the filling, or under-fill a tablespoon.)  Top with another cookie, flat side down, pressing gently.  Repeat until all the cookies are assembled into sandwiches.

Comments | More in Cookbooks, Cooking, Recipes | Topics: Nora Ephron, Tan Vinh, Tom Douglas

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