Chocolate Peanut Butter Pillow Cookies (Vegan)

I was orginally inspired to look into vegan baking (no eggs, butter, milk, etc) because of a vegan co-worker of mine who is always raving about her super-diet. When I started looking up vegan recipes online, I found that the pictured desserts almost always looked incredibly rich and moist, and just… different. So I checked out a book from my local library titled: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Upon flipping through the pages of this small, photo-stocked book, I instantly fell in love. So many great recipes I couldn’t wait to try! I am now strongly considering purchasing this book, and doing the now-popular, try-every-recipe-from-the-book-and-blog-about-it adventure, as in Julie and Julia. It would force me to branch out and bake things I normally don’t consider (i.e. biscotti, shortbread, etc). Plus it’s all vegan, so my baking power would surely expand!

This is the only recipe I’ve tried so far, but man are the resulting cookies heavely! The maple syrup in the cookie dough is so-so yummy, and really compliments the rich chocolate. I found their odd UFO-like shape to make them kind of fun. They are rich, but worth it. The book tells you the recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies, but I think one could get away with divided the dough into even smaller portions for those who don’t want a major sugar-high off just one. But no matter what size you make these, you just plain old HAVE TO MAKE THEM. I promise you won’t even miss the eggs or butter. You can’t tell they are missing one bit! I pinkie swear it.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows
From Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

Makes 2 dozen cookies

For the chocolate dough:
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tbsp nondairy milk (can use regular milk)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

For the filling:
3/4 cup natural salted peanut butter, crunchy or creamy style (I used creamy)
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tbsp nondairy milk (can use regular milk)
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine oil, sugar, maple syrup, milk, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Sift in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Mix to form a moist dough.

2. Make the peanut butter filling: In another mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together peanut butter, powdered sugar, 2 tbsp of the milk, and vanilla to form a moist but firm dough. If peanut butter dough is dry and crumbly (natural peanut butters have varying moisture contents), stir in the remaining tablespoon of milk. If dough is too wet knead in a little extra powdered sugar.

3. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Shape the cookies:
1. Create the centers of the cookies by rolling the peanut butter dough into 24 balls (try dividing dough in half, then each part in half again and roll each portion into six balls). Scoop a generous tablespoon of chocolate dough, flatten into a thin disc, and place peanut butter ball in the center. Fold the sides of the chocolate dough up and around the peanut butter center and roll into a smooth ball between your palms. Place on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart, and repeat with remaining dough. If desired, gently flatten cookies slightly, but this is not necessary.

2. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and let the cookies stand for 5 minutes before moving them to wire racks to complete cooling. Store cookies in tightly covered container.

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