Peanut Butter Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Another weekend, another peanut butter and chocolate craving. This time, I’m going to try thumbprint cookies.

Now, the nice lady from whom I got the recipe made these teeny, tiny divots and used only the barest amount of filling per cookie. Not me. The first thing I did when making them was double the filling recipe. Even though my cookies crack a little more from the deeper indention, it is worth it to have the extra filling.

I’m out of corn syrup so I did a one for one substitution with cane syrup. Had I wanted a slightly more neutral flavor, I could have used agave nectar instead.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies:
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup crunchy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon praline pecan liquor (or vanilla)

Chocolate Filling:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate baking bars
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ teaspoons cane syrup (or corn syrup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter with the sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the peanut butter, egg and liquor (or vanilla), mixing well after each addition. Gradually add in the flour mixture and mix until combined.

Pinch off pieces of dough and roll into 1 inch balls. Place at least 1 inch apart on two ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 10 minutes. Use a pestle or the back of a spoon to make indentions in each of the cookies. Switch and rotate pans when returning to the oven. Bake for 6 minutes more. When you remove from the oven, you may need to remake the indentions. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Melt together over a water bath the chocolate, butter, and syrup. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Use a spoon to fill each indention with the chocolate. Let the chocolate filling cool and harden completely – you can put the cookies in the fridge to speed that process up.

Store in an airtight container.

 

Show Me the Saint Louis Desserts!

Brian, Jennie and I ended our cross country odyssey in St. Louis, Missouri. Of course, I couldn’t leave the city without seeing the arch:

And I definitely couldn’t leave until I tasted some of their local treats. We started by going to Ted Drewes for a frozen custard concoction known as concrete. The place is a small house with several windows to order from along the street side.

They list out their menu on the side wall but along the front are other hand written signs about other offerings, all of which tempt you to change your mind. So I did. Several times.

I ordered the turtle with caramel and hot fudge sauce and pecans. Very, very tasty. Jennie got hers with Reeses peanut butter cups mixed in. Also, delish.

I wasn’t fast enough to get a picture of the server turning it upside down to show me how thick it is but she did flip them.

The custards were quite refreshing on a warmish afternoon and they’ve got benches along the edge of the parking lot, under some trees so we sat with many others to enjoy our treat.

We next needed to find some Gooey Butter Cake. We wanted to go to Gooey Louie but they were on vacation so we tried another version near where we were staying in Fenton.

Russell’s Cafe and Bakery does a shortbread crust on theirs plus several different options like chocolate chip and cinnamon and orange as well as the original gooey butter cake. I really liked the soft, gooey and creamy top over the crunchy shortbread and the hint of citrus in their cinnamon version helped cut the sweetness. It may not be true to the original but it was very good.

What started as a baker’s mistake (switching the proportions of flour and sugar) is quite delicious indeed.

St. Louis has many fine qualities and its desserts rank among them. I hope to return soon to explore more.

 

Spirited Puddin Pops

I’ve posted before about the chocolate pudding mix that Michelle makes for me and about how you can make delicious puddin pops with it. After a long Labor Day weekend acknowledging the contributions and achievements of American workers, it is time to celebrate with an adultifyied version.

I used RumChata in place of some of the milk. I love their blend of rum, cream, cinnamon and vanilla in drinks and baking and, now I’ve learned just how well it goes in puddin pops.

So good I chomped instead of licked!

So yummy and oh, so refreshing.

I’m thinking the next batch will be made with amaretto. Or maybe crème de menthe.

Spirited Puddin Pops

1 cup chocolate pudding mix (or 1 – 4 ounce box cook and serve chocolate pudding)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup RumChata
1 cup Cool Whip whipped topping

Place the pudding mix and milk in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once it begins to thicken, add in the RumChata and continue to cook until it comes to a boil

Scrape pudding into a metal mixing bowl and place over a large bowl of ice and water and stir to bring the temperature down. Once the bottom of the bowl containing the pudding is cool to the touch, mix in the Cool Whip. Stir until completely incorporated.

Pour into molds and place in the freezer. It will take at least five hours to freeze.

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Growing up, we called these Congo bars. Like chocolate chip cookies but with more chips and a gooey texture. I had some recently that added coconut, so I know they are still popular at potlucks. These aren’t blondies – the butter/shortening is melted before adding the sugar instead of creaming the two together. Here is a link to my blondie recipe.

Below is the version I’m using these days. The original recipe was in mom’s handwriting and called for oleo or shortening but I’m using about half and half butter and shortening. Using all shortening, you lose some flavor and the cookie bar crumbles. Using all butter, makes them too dense. Combined is the best of all worlds.

I’m also using bittersweet morsels instead of semi-sweet but put your preference in – heck, I’ve seen these with a mix of white and dark chocolate.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

2 1/4 cups flour, sifted
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup shortening
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup nuts, roughly chopped – I use pecans
1 package chocolate morsels – I use bittersweet

Lightly butter a 9×13 pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

Melt butter and shortening in the top of a double boiler. Stir in brown sugar until well mixed. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Add dry ingredients, then nuts and chocolate.

Pour into greased pan. For a prettier presentation, I scatter a few whole pecans and some extra morsels on the top before baking at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes. It should be golden brown all over, with the edges a slightly darker brown.

When almost cool, cut into finger length bars or squares (my preference).

Mom’s recipe says it comes from the Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper, dated February 22, 1942. Google helped me find the link to the advertisement in the comics section of that paper.

Old School Puddin Pops From Homemade Chocolate Pudding Mix

Michelle makes me a cook and serve chocolate pudding mix that I store in quart jars and make whenever the urge for rich, creamy chocolate hits. This is better than the box mix as it is 1) cheaper and 2) a deeper chocolate with the high quality cocoa in it.

But, when August is panting her fetid breath on the back of your neck and you want more than just pudding, you can use the mix to make puddin pops. I have very fond memories of that creamy frozen dessert that can beat Fudgsicles for depth of flavor.

Alas, puddin pops are no more in the store but they can be in your home. For richest results use whole milk. While 2% will work, any less fat makes for a thin pudding and not the best texture puddin pops.

These are so good, they taste like I should make more. Good thing she made me a whole recipe of pudding mix!

Chocolate Pudding Mix

4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
2 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/3 cup corn starch
1 1/3 cups Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all together and store in airtight containers.

To make pudding: Whisk 1 cup chocolate pudding mix into 2 cups milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Pour into a glass dish or bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap to keep a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cool before serving.

Once you have your pudding mix, it is time to cook the pudding for puddin pops.

Puddin Pops

1 cup Chocolate Pudding Mix
2 cups milk
1 cup Cool Whip Whipped Topping

Place the pudding mix and milk in a saucepan and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Scrape pudding into a metal mixing bowl and place over a large bowl of ice and water and stir to bring the temperature down. Once the bottom of the bowl containing the pudding is cool to the touch, mix in the Cool Whip. Stir until completely incorporated.

Pour into molds and place in the freezer. It will take at least four hours to freeze.

 

 

Chocolate Cherry Cream Cheese Bars

We had some cherries that we needed to do something with, so Michelle made a pie filling base with them by pitting and boiling them with some water, lemon juice, and sugar. She did this the night before so it would be chilled before adding to the top of the warm cheesecake.

We then used as a stepping off point the basic no-bake recipe from the Punta Clara Kitchen Cookbook on Cherry Cream Cheese Delights. If you’re ever in Point Clear, Alabama stop by for some of their delicious candy.

As Michelle doesn’t really care for sweetened condensed milk (I think she’s actually from another planet), we went with a more traditional baked cheesecake with Greek yogurt. We added two hits of chocolate with some semi-sweet morsels and some sweet ground chocolate.

While I’m not usually a fan of combining (adulterating) chocolate and fruit, these are a perfect match of deep chocolate flavor with creamy cheesecake and sweet-tart cherries!

Cherry Pie Filling

4 cups fresh pitted cherries, about 2 1/2 pounds
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cherries, water, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.

Cool slightly before using as a topping.

We used a little more than half the recipe of cherry filling in the bars. The rest we are putting in the Chocolate Pound Cake!

Chocolate Cherry Cream Cheese Bars

1  cups graham crackers
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa
1/4 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/2 recipe (or can) of cherry pie filling

Melt the butter in an 8×8 dish as the oven warms to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs evenly over the melted butter and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and scatter the chocolate morsels over the warm crust to begin melting.

Beat together the cream cheese and ground chocolate. Mix in the Greek yogurt, egg, vanilla and salt. Beat in flour. Pour over graham cracker crust and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before covering the top with the cherry pie filling. Cool in the fridge before cutting and serving.

Peach Pops

Michelle’s parents have some very fruitful peach trees and after she had sliced and frozen 20 quart bags and 24 pint bags and dehydrated another 6 pint bags of peaches, there were still plenty left. She gave two 5 gallon buckets worth to a cousin and I decided to use some of the very ripe ones to make a frozen treat.

These pops taste like peaches and cream but are made with milk and Greek yogurt. This recipe can be made with 2 cups frozen peaches, just thaw them out to chop some and dice the others.

Adjust the agave nectar up or down depending on the tartness of the peaches and how sweet you like your pops.

Peach Pops

1 cup of peaches, roughly chopped
½ cup peaches, diced
6 tablespoons milk
2/3 cups Greek yogurt
 – I used plain but vanilla is good, too
2 tablespoons agave nectar

In a blender, puree the 1 cup of chopped peaches. Add milk, yogurt and agave nectar and blend until smooth.
 Stir in diced peaches. Fill your pops molds.

Freeze at least 4 hours.