Friday, July 21, 2017

Apple Peanut Butter Cookies

I have been visiting farmer’s markets this summer, and sometimes pick up fruit that is in season to use in baking. I love doing that, but then I am not as inspired to bake during the summer since the house runs warm. I had some cherries, that I had planned to make a Bundt cake. I then decided to make some cookies with the cherries, but they turned out terribly! On to the next plan!

I had a lunch meeting this week and the standard campus box lunch comes with a small apple. At least they are a decent variety of apple, and not horrible red delicious apples! I didn’t eat my apple, but I figured I could use it in a recipe. I did a quick search and came across this recipe and I was intrigued. I needed 2/3 cup apple, so I grabbed a second apple that had been left behind.

Apple and peanut butter isn’t an odd combination, but I’d not seen it in a cookie before. You see a lot of banana and peanut butter concoctions, but I really dislike bananas. This is a simple recipe, and it is also dairy free, with shortening instead of butter. I mixed them up as the original recipe stated, and it was crumbly and dry as a bone. I was using a different mixer paddle than I usually do, but I don’t think that would make that much of a difference. I added a second egg and the dough was still crumbly but it held together to bake. These are quite nice, soft. I think you could add some peanut butter chips or some chopped peanuts if you wanted some texture, but they are good as they are.

Apple Peanut Butter Cookies
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup finely chopped, peeled apple

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a large mixer bowl, cream the shortening, peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium until light. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix on medium until incorporated. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture. The mixture will be somewhat crumbly. Stir in the diced apples with a spatula.

Scoop onto the prepared baking sheets, using about 1-1/2 tablespoons for each cookie. Flatten each ball of dough slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 12-13 minutes, until set. Allow the cookies to set on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have mentioned before that I work at a college library. When I travel I usually visit different libraries. Once I was visiting a university library during their finals week and they had signs in the library about cookies and milk in the library during finals. I thought that was such a nice thing. What is better than having a cookie when you are stressed out about a test?

We have a new vision in our library, and we now offer all sorts of fun, friendly activities in the library. We have puzzles and games and other activities to relieve the stress of school. One of the things we have implemented was offering snacks in the library when we are open later before finals. I really like that we’re doing this, and of course I am happy to bring cookies to share with the students.

I try to pick fairly sturdy cookies, since the cookies will be eaten in the library and I don’t want them to make too much of a mess. No powdered sugar here! These cookies are a variation of a chocolate chip cookie, with added pretzels and caramel bits. They are quick to put together and don’t make a huge batch, about 2 and a half dozen. My only advice for these cookies is to make sure you let them cool before removing them to a wire rack. The caramel bits get soft and sticky as the cookies bake, and you need to let the caramel cool before you try to move the cookies or you get a big sticky mess on your baking sheets. These are just as tasty as a chocolate chip cookie, but with the lovely salty/sweet combo that the pretzels and caramel add.

Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies
½ cup butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup pretzels, broken into pieces
½ cup caramel bits
½ cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium until light. Add the egg and vanilla and mix on medium to combine. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and stir on low to combine. Stir in the pretzels, caramel bits, and chocolate chips with a spatula.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, using about 1 tablespoon of dough for each cookie.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown along the edges. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Smores Bars

I hope that you had a good 4th of July! We didn’t do much, but it was a lovely day. We usually stay home and make sure that our kitties are ok. Thankfully, fireworks are banned in the city I live in, so we don’t hear too many, but on the 4th it is typically noisy. I did have time to bake on the 4th, and I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate that Smores Bars.

I’ve made a couple of smores-inspired treats, and I was really shocked that I hadn’t made a type of smores bars. Recipes vary a lot, and some don’t seem to have the classic three ingredients: graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate (Hershey) bars. These have all the right ingredients, with a graham cracker base, marshmallows in the cookie and as a topping, and Hershey bars as a topping.

Baking with marshmallows is always an adventure. So often they melt and become a gooey mess in the oven. I was a bit unsure about baking the marshmallows on top of these bars for the full baking time. They did melt some but are generally still recognizable as a marshmallow. It’s somewhat hard to tell when these bars are done baking, I made sure that mine were fully set and didn’t jiggle when I moved the pan. I’ve had bars that looked baked but were completely doughy when you cut into them. These do taste a lot like smores, but without the camp fire smoke!

Smores Bars
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs

3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows

1-1/2 Hershey chocolate bars (each "Hershey" section broken or cut in half)
1 graham cracker, broken into pieces
1/2 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Make sure the foil is long enough that it hangs over the sides of the pan. This will become a handle when you need to remove the bars from the pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together the ½ cup melted butter and graham cracker crumbs. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Place the pan in the freezer while you prepare the cookie dough.

In a larger mixer bowl, add the ¾ cup melted butter, sugar and brown sugar. Beat on medium until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Add the chocolate chips and 1 cup mini marshmallows. Stir into the dough with a spatula.

Remove the pan from the freezer. Drop the dough in spoonfuls over the graham cracker crust and then carefully spread the dough in an even layer. Top the dough with the broken Hershey bar pieces, graham cracker pieces, and mini marshmallows. Press into the dough slightly.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until lightly browned and the bars are set.  Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting into bars. To cut into bars, lift the cookies from the pan and peel away the foil. Cut into squares.

Recipe from Glorious Treats