Nothing says romance quite like chocolate.
Seriously, say these words to yourself: “warm chocolate”. You can’t just blurt it out, whether voluntary or not you say it slowly, drawing out the vowels. Waaarrrmm Chooooocoooolaaatte…. The words bring to mind images of sexy lips savoring a bite of deep, bittersweet, deliciousness. The scent makes you feel instantly cozy, like a cup of hot chocolate, homemade cookies in the oven, s’mores by a campfire. Maybe that’s why these chocolate peanut butter hand pies by Sally’s Baking Addiction spoke to me so strongly. They’re like heart-shaped pockets of chocolaty romance. They pair great with a cup of hot coffee for a cozy morning, or a glass of red wine for an after-dinner snuggle. They also fit quite nicely in a lunch box.
I put this category first on this one because I wanted to talk about technique.
Sally offers a couple of different options in putting this recipe together both in technique and ingredients. And I love that. When making the pie dough she gives instructions for using a food processor, and a pastry cutter. I chose to use a pastry cutter because A) my food processor is not large enough for these types of projects, and B) I enjoy the control of cutting pie dough together by hand. The ritual and rhythm of it appeals to me, so that’s just how I always do it. I’m sure if I am ever in the position of needing to bake in large batches that will change, but for now, a good old-fashioned pie cutter is best (I use this one).
I also chose to use cocoa to “flour” my work surface, as suggested. I didn’t want to sacrifice any rich chocolate color on the final product or risk a floury taste. She offers great descriptions, tips, and notes throughout to help you along the way and allow you to “personalize” your bake.
And finally, my favorite, she includes both weights and measures in her ingredients. Like most Americans, I learned to bake using measures (cups, tablespoons, etc.), but more recently I bought myself a food scale and started weighing my ingredients. I have to say it’s a world of difference.
The only thing that I thought was missing was concrete numbers. For instance, there was no description as to how thick the pie dough should be after rolling (1/4 inch? 1/8 inch?). I made an educated guess based on the pictures. But pictures can be deceiving because I found after baking that my dough had puffed up quite a lot (which is great), but then left me with a rather thick crust and bad crust-to-filling ratio. Which could also be due to there being no indication as to how much filling to use in each pie. I ended up using about a teaspoon, which looked to be enough to give a good filling but leave enough room to seal the pies and not have any leak out during baking.
Well, the combination of a too-thick crust and too-little filling meant that much of the filling soaked into the crust, causing the final product to be rather dry. After making this recipe, my recommendation is 1/8 inch thick dough, and a teaspoon and a half (if you can fit it) of filling. You will have to stretch the top heart as she said to fit it over the filling. You may end up with a little leaking out in the oven, but you’ll end up with better pies in the end.
A little tip of my own – To fit two baking sheets into the fridge without having to clear out two damn shelves, use a cooling rack to create a shelf on top of the first baking sheet for the second. It also works great for when you need to fit a lot of food in the fridge, like thanksgiving. If you need something a little taller, put aluminum foil or cling wrap boxes under the legs of the cooling rack.
I think that these will be great if I ever decide to make them again, now that I know about the thickness and filling issues. This time around, however, they turned out rather dry. The thickness of the pastry soaked up a lot of the filling, so I didn’t get the creamy center that I was expecting. It was instead very thick and paste-like. The flavors were great though! The filling (that I tasted a bit before baking of course) had a nice creamy balance of chocolate and peanut butter. The chocolate pastry wasn’t too sweet, which complemented the sweet filling well. It was nice and flaky, but not so much that it didn’t hold up well. The topping was just enough to add a little extra pop.
They’re clearly adorable. And it was rather simple to make them look just as pictured on Sally’s website. A cookie-cutter and a fork are all you need.
I decided this was a level 3 because although the steps aren’t terribly complicated, there are a lot of them, and some require a modicum of delicacy. Pie crust can be temperamental. If you don’t have the patience to properly chill the ingredients, and can’t work quickly, then it just won’t come together. Thankfully this was a rather simple dough and came together rather easily. Stretching the dough-hearts was also a rather delicate process.
Broken down by the exact amount of ingredients used, this recipe came to $10.87 from my local Marianos. But you can’t buy just 1 teaspoon of salt. This recipe would cost $28.40 if you had to buy each ingredient in the standard amounts. I ended up only having to buy chocolate, cocoa powder, and cream, so it was a rather inexpensive bake for me. The minimal cost was worth it for how pretty they came out.
The time shown in the recipe of 2 hours and 45 minutes was fairly accurate for actual hands-on prepping. As previously stated, stretching the dough-hearts to fit over the filling was somewhat tricky, but not overly time-consuming. It’s the chilling of the dough that delays things the most. However, she does state that the dough can be made up to 5 days ahead of time. The time it took to prep the filling and topping was sufficient to firm up the hearts.
All together I would make it again, and hopefully better the second time around. Also good to note is that they kept pretty well for several days on the counter in a covered cake stand.
Want more chocolate recipes? Check out these quadruple chocolate cookies!