Cookbooks from a century or so ago usually included "icebox cookies" in their desserts section. These were generally quite rich cookies that could be stirred up in the evening, formed into a roll, and chilled until the next day--probably when the woodstove was being heated up to bake the day's bread as well.
Today of course we have the refrigerated cookie doughs chilling at the grocery store, waiting for you to bring them home, slice, and bake. But why not go back to the "good old days" and make some "from scratch." The following recipe is really very simple. While one member of the family is clearing away the dishes after dinner, another could be stirring up a batch of these, all the while you are both carrying on a conversation about the events of the day. Family dinners are a wonderful time to be together, but the clean up time in the kitchen can be just as much fun--really!
I found a really good buy on some dark chocolate peanut butter a few weeks ago and thought this might be a good way to use it. For me, this is a product too sweet to substitute for plain peanut butter on a sandwich, but then, I'm not a big fan of Nutella either. (And, on a side note, most of the name brand peanut butters have begun to be sweetened far more than necessary.)
As noted at the end of the recipe, you can substitute "ordinary" peanut butter if you can't find this chocolate version. My guess is that you could also sub in Nutella for the chocolate peanut butter, but I haven't tried that.
Whichever version you try, I think you'll enjoy the convenience of having this dough stirred up and ready to go for your family or stashed in the freezer for unexpected guests.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Icebox Cookies
1/3 c butter, softened
1/3 c chocolate peanut butter
3/4 c sugar
2 T baking cocoa
3/4 t vanilla
2 T water
scant 2 c flour (this means that you will probably have about 1 7/8 c flour--err on the side of too little rather than too much!)
2 t baking powder
1. Combine the butter and peanut butter and beat until smooth with a wood spoon. Stir in the sugar, cocoa, and egg and mix thoroughly. Add the vanilla and water and combine all into a smooth mixture.
2. Sift or stir together the flour and baking powder and add to the peanut butter mixture. This works best if you stir in about half the flour mixture and mix until it is well blended before adding the rest of the flour and baking powder. The dough will be very stiff; don't worry!
NOTE: As in the picture, this dough is a little crumbly at first. That is okay. What you need to do is work with it like play dough, until it holds together.You do need to press firmly. If you don't, it may be more difficult to slice after chilling.
3. Cut a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper about 18 to 20 inches long and lay on the counter. Pour the dough onto the paper and begin to shape it into a long log, keeping the circumference as even as possible from one end of the log to the other. Use the waxed paper to help in this whole process.
Lift the sides of the paper and use it to keep rolling the dough so that it becomes as circular as possible. Then wrap the dough completely with the waxed paper. It will be best to slip the roll into a plastic bag to keep the ends from drying out.
4. Place the roll in the refrigerator at least several hours or overnight.
6. Lay the slices on an ungreased baking sheet. As you can see in this "before and after" baking picture, the cookies do not spread a great deal, so they can be placed relatively close together.
7. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes until a cookie springs back when pressed lightly in the center. Remove to a cooling rack. They will be quite tender while hot, so handle carefully.
Substitute regular peanut butter for the chocolate peanut butter and increase the amount of cocoa to 1/4 cup. Creamy peanut butter is best for this, as crunchy peanut butter will be harder to slice neatly.
If desired, you can tightly wrap the rolled up dough in a freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to a month or so. You do not have to thaw the dough to slice it--in fact, sometimes the frozen dough is easier to cut into very thin slices. Allow the sliced cookies to sit on the baking sheet for a few minutes to thaw before baking.
Quick Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies
These are also perfect for "mini" Ice Cream Sandwiches. You could make the cookie rolls larger in diameter, but keeping the cookies small makes these a nice size for the kids or for bite-sized desserts after a heavy meal.
The recipe is more just a method:
Soften a pint or so of ice cream just enough to press into shape. Put a cookie, upside down, on a plate and spread a teaspoon to a tablespoon of ice cream, any flavor, evenly on the cookie. Immediately press a second cookie on top. Repeat for as many sandwiches as you want.
Immediately return the ice cream sandwiches to the freezer for an hour or so, until the ice cream is again firm. For an extra rich sandwich, you can dip the cookies in your favorite fudge sauce and roll in crushed peanuts.