Peanut Butter Shortbread Sandwiches with Nutella Buttercream

This cookie represents what love is all about. I am a peanut butter addict. I don’t see the need to hide this from the world. To paraphrase Sex and The City‘s Miranda (on her unseemly addiction to tabloids) “I just love it, it’s my thing, get over it.” 

I love to stir things into my peanut butter like honey, cinnamon, raisins, shredded coconut, white chocolate chips…you get the idea and then spread out my concoction onto celery. Celery is the perfect foil for nearly any combination, but the real reason that this method works is because to me, it’s pretty much the same thing as eating the peanut butter plain, but is less unpalatable to non-pb-addicted bystanders. 

I’m marrying a man who really likes peanut butter, but Nutella is this guy’s true love. I tried Nutella, I like it, but I’m not mad for the stuff like some people. It’s the hazelnut flavor, which I find overwhelming and somewhat bitter. As an interesting aside, I found this article on the history of the good old hazelnut which says that the nut’s alternative name, the filbert, is based on the though that “the nut’s long husk was considered a ‘full beard’ in Old English,” which is pretty funny. 

So, while F indulges in old British beard, I prefer to stick to peanut butter, please and thank you. This cookie is a divine shortbread that is a simple way to turn a little cookie into a show-stopping dessert. I have visions of wrapping these up in pretty twine and serving them at dinner parties.  

Because it’s a shortbread, I feel obligated to issue a PSA reminder that you have got to really work the dough if you want to end up with anything that you can serve. Shortbread is notoriously crumbly, which is why is tastes so amazing, like it’s dissolving into buttery goodness with each bite. The cost of the crumble is the risk of the cookies all falling apart. The only thing that binds them together is the butter and peanut butter mixture. You have now been warned are free to proceed to the recipe: 

Peanut Butter Shortbread Sandwiches with Nutella Buttercream 
Makes 12 sandwiches

For the peanut butter shortbread, you will need:
  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
For the Nutella buttercream, you will need:
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. heavy whipping cream

To make the shortbread:
  • In a large bowl, cream the peanut butter, butter, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. 
  • In a separate bowl, stir together flour (sifting recommended), salt, sugars, and cinnamon. 
  • Incorporate flour mixture in thirds into the butter bowl. 
  • Stir thoroughly until the mixture is no longer dry and crumbly, about five minutes in my Kitchen Aid (but I’m cautious and hate to ruin a cookie). Be patient. 
  • Prepare two large pieces of plastic wrap and transfer half of the dough to each piece. Flatten into large circles and cover securely with the wrap. Refrigerate for two hours or up to overnight. 
  • When you’re ready to use the dough, preheat the oven to 350 and remove discs from the fridge.
  • Transfer to a well-floured surface and roll as flat as you like (I like mine on the thicker side, maybe 1/3 inch), then cut with cookie cutters (or perfectly-shaped drinking glass, in my case).  
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool for a couple of minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. Be careful handling these as they can crumble easily. 
To make the Nutella Buttercream:
  • Beat the powdered sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl (I used my Kitchen Aid’s paddle attachment) on low speed until combined. 
  • Add Nutella and continue to mix (you may need to increase the speed a bit) for three minutes, until the Nutella is incorporated into the butter-sugar mix. 
  • Add vanilla extract and cream and mix until the color lightens in the frosting. You may need to adjust to taste for your desired thickness (i.e. adding in more Nutella to thicken or more cream to thin).
To assemble: Add desired frosting between two cookies and press slightly to make sure they adhere. If you go heavy enough on the frosting, you could roll some chocolate chips or sprinkles onto the sides of the cookie. 
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