Peanut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

I waited a little while before posting this recipe because I couldn’t really think of a good story to go with it. I know, I’m sorry. I should’ve just posted this weeks ago. Because the whole time I hemmed and hawed, you were missing out. Here it is: peanut butter stuffed chocolate cookies.

Yep, you read that right. You whip up a batch of soft, chocolatey dough, flatten it out into rounds, and then wrap each piece of dough around a gooey ball of peanut butter. Dip it into sugar for some sparkle and crunch, and gently press it down on a cookie sheet. And when it comes out of the oven– wait, wait, it has to set for just a minute or two– you get to bite into a tender chocolate cookie that oozes with warm peanut butter.

Like I said, I’m sorry. Turns out there was no story needed.

Peanut butter stuffed chocolate cookies

Peanut butter stuffed chocolate cookies

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Peanut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

Filling

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Cookies

  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus additional for rolling
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened peanut butter
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 375° and line two cookies sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

To make the filling: Cream peanut butter and powdered sugar together until well combined. Place the filling in the refrigerator to chill until needed.

To make the cookies: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together sugar, brown sugar, butter, and peanut butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat on medium-low speed until completely incorporated. Add baking soda and mix for a few seconds until combined. Stir in the flour and cocoa and mix on low speed until the dough comes together. (If it’s really crumbly, you can add a teaspoon or two of milk to help it clump together.)

Turn the dough out onto a large cutting board and roll it into a large log of even thickness. Slice the dough into 20 equal pieces. Remove the peanut butter filling from the refrigerator and divide it into 20 pieces, each one slightly larger than a teaspoon. Roll each portion of the peanut butter filling into a ball.

To shape the cookies, take one piece of chocolate dough and flatten it between your palms into a circle about 3-4 inches wide. Place a piece of the peanut butter filling in the center of the circle, and wrap the sides of the dough up around the filling, pinching them together to form a ball. Dip the top side of the cookie in granulated sugar and place the cookie, sugared side up, on a cookie sheet. Press down with your hand to flatten it out slightly. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are slightly cracked and the cookies are set. Let cool on the cookie sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Makes 20 cookies.

Source: Slightly adapted from The Baker Upstairs via I Heart Nap Time.

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Eggnog Ice Cream

So I guess this is how we do winter in Southern California. We wear sweaters when temps dip into the lower 60s, and we string Christmas lights on palm trees. We cut out paper snowflakes and bake snowflake cookies and listen to “White Christmas” on repeat. And we make holiday-inspired ice cream because, after all, it’s still ice cream season here.

I’m heading to Minnesota next week to get my fill of winter, but I thought I’d give this recipe a whirl before heading to the frozen tundra. Oh my, is it delicious. If you like eggnog (and you really have to like eggnog) you will love this take on it. Also, it’s for grownups. Yep, I spiked the ice cream. (SNL might think that Adele is the answer to holiday family squabbles, but I say if that doesn’t work, try a boozy dessert.)

Adding 1/4 cup of alcohol means the ice cream churns up very soft, but don’t fret! Chill the freshly churned ice cream in your freezer for a few hours and it will firm up nicely but still be delightfully scoopable.

One more thing you should know: freshly grated nutmeg is a must here. I got whole nutmeg from Penzey’s and gently rubbed one of the seeds over my microplane grater until I had a teaspoonful. (The phrase, “What is this lovely fragrance?” definitely entered my mind.)

Wishing you all a lovely holiday season! Thanks for indulging me in yet another year of cooking adventures!

Eggnog ice cream

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Eggnog Ice Cream

  • 2 cups heavy cream*
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg**
  • 4 Tbs. brandy, dark rum, or bourbon***
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. Set aside.

Whisk egg yolks together in a medium bowl.

Whisk the milk, sugar, and salt together in a medium saucepan. Warm over medium-low heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar, until the mixture is steamy but not boiling. Carefully pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, a little bit at a time, while whisking constantly.

Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly, making sure to scrape the bottom, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. (The mixture should reach 170° F on an instant-read thermometer.) Pour the mixture through the strainer and into the cream. Stir in nutmeg, spirits, and vanilla extract.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator and then churn in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve with more freshly grated nutmeg, if desired.

Makes about 1 quart.

Okay, lots of notes here:

* As always, I made this lactose-free by substituting equal amounts of lactose-free half-and-half for both the cream and milk.

** Here’s one of my favorite cooking tips from this recipe: Fold a piece of paper in half, open it, and grate the nutmeg onto the paper. Then refold the paper along the crease to carefully direct the grated nutmeg into your teaspoon.

*** David Lebovitz suggests a mixture of 2 Tbs. brandy and 2 Tbs. dark rum. I did 4 Tbs. bourbon and it was fantastic. Feel free to experiment!

Source: Slightly adapted from The Perfect Scoop.

Caramel Apple Tart

Okay, I promised you a recipe that uses that homemade caramel sauce I wrote about, and then I teased you all mercilessly by giving you a salad instead. My bad. So here’s the dessert you’ve been waiting for. Because despite the evergreen boughs and chocolate advent calendars that are popping up around here– not to mention the cloyingly cheerful rendition of “Sleigh Ride” that made me stomp out of a clothing store in disgust yesterday– it is still technically fall. And this caramel apple tart would be happy to sit close to the center of your Thanksgiving dessert table. (No matter what, pumpkin pie gets the starring role. Tradition.)

This dessert features my new favorite tart crust: a super simple, no rolling necessary, easy-breezy-in-the-food-processor crust from America’s Test Kitchen. (This crust is also delightful for savory dishes by taking out the sugar and using whole wheat pastry flour.) Cover the pre-baked crust with a layer of tart apples, then a crumbly oatmeal streusel topping, and finish it off with a drizzle of that delectable caramel. Lo and behold, you get something that looks fancy but doesn’t require you to break a sweat. So you can save that energy for wrestling your Thanksgiving turkey, and then relax by gobble gobbling this dessert right up.

Caramel apple tart

Caramel apple tart

Caramel apple tart

Caramel apple tart

Caramel apple tart

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Caramel Apple Tart

Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbs. unsalted butter, chilled and sliced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 Tbs. ice water

Filling

  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 lb. granny smith apples (about 2-3 large or 4-5 small)

Topping

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (4 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • homemade or store-bought caramel sauce, to taste

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Make the tart crust: Add flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until well-combined. Add butter and pulse about 15 times, until the mixture resembles a coarse cornmeal. Add ice water and pulse again for a few seconds, until the mixture comes together and no longer looks powdery.

Line the bottom of a 9-inch round tart pan with walnut-sized balls of the tart dough. Use your hand to gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, filling in any cracks and smoothing it as best you can. Press your thumb against the top of the pan to even out the top of the crust. Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the dough and smooth it out one more time. Place tart pan on a plate and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes, until solid.

Remove the tart pan from the freezer and place it on a baking sheet. Cover the crust with a double layer of aluminum foil, and place dried beans or pie weights on top of the foil. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.  Reduce oven temperature to 350° F.

Make the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Peel and core the apples and evenly slice them, about 1/4- to 1/8-inch thick. Toss them in the bowl with the flour mixture until they’re evenly coated. Layer them evenly in the pre-baked tart shell.

Make the topping: In a small bowl, whisk together the oats, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Use a pastry blender or two knives to cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly and well-combined.

Assemble the tart: Evenly sprinkle the oat topping over the tart. Bake at 350° F for 30-35 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. Let cool at room temperature, then drizzle some caramel sauce over the whole thing. Slice and serve.

Store tart in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap.

Serves 8-12.

Source: Tart crust from America’s Test Kitchen. Filling and topping from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Salted Caramel Sauce

Welcome to the 200th post on Lingonberry Jam! Although I’m just a hobbyist who’s nowhere near the 1000 posts of my favorite food blogger, it’s still fun to take a moment to reflect on these past few years and how my blog has evolved. Indulge me for a moment as I get all infographic crazy.

Lingonberry Jam Infographic

A few takeaways:

  • People like posts with hyphens in them. Oh, and being on Buzzfeed helps.
  • I wonder how many people are looking for my blog, and how many are just hoping to learn about those tart Swedish preserves they sell at Ikea.
  • My mom rocks. :)

As my 200th post neared, I found myself wondering what recipe I should post to mark the momentous occasion. Perhaps that homemade nutella that I still haven’t quite gotten right? Or a fancy dancy homemade cheese? How about a celebratory cake?

In the end, I decided to go for something simple and versatile: salted caramel sauce. It’s a recipe I’ve made many, many times. It’s something that any dessert lover should learn to master. It’s SO much better than buying caramel topping from the grocery store. And it can be made with a few ingredients you probably already have on hand.

It’s a winner.

Soon I’ll share a fantastic dessert that I topped with this sauce, but for now just enjoy this on ice cream, brownies, apple slices, or by the spoonful (guilty). And thank you SO much for following along with all my cooking adventures!

Salted caramel sauce

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Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 Tbs. butter, cut into six pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. kosher flake salt

In a small saucepan with tall sides, heat sugar over medium heat. Stir occasionally with a heatproof spatula or whisk as the sugar melts. The sugar will clump up and then start to liquify and turn a dark amber color. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.

When the sugar is completely melted, add the butter, stirring constantly. The mixture will become quite bubbly, so be careful. When the butter is completely melted, slowly stir in the heavy whipping cream. Again, the caramel will bubble up angrily. Boil the mixture for one minute, then remove from heat and stir in the salt.

Let cool, and transfer to an airtight container. Caramel will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. (If it becomes too thick to stir after refrigeration, reheat in the microwave for 30-60 seconds before using. You might want to store it in a microwave-safe container just in case.)

Makes about 1 cup.

Source: Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Plum Torte

Gabe and I just got back from our honeymoon at last: a whirlwind trip to London and Paris! We also celebrated our one-year anniversary and Gabe’s completion of the California Bar Exam, so we killed three birds with one stone.

Speaking of stones, I spent the weeks before our trip practically swimming in stone fruit. Peaches, plums, nectarines, you name it! I ate most of it raw, but sometimes it was just a wee bit too much to handle. So I turned it into dessert.

This plum torte recipe from the New York Times is quite famous but new to me. It’s a great way to use up a bounty of summer fruit. Shortly before we left for Europe, I gave it a whirl, baking an assortment of 10 plums into a delightful torte.

And then just a mere week later, I saw a very similar cake at one of Ottolenghi’s  London delis. So I ordered a ginormous slab of it and ate the entire thing while sitting on a patch of grass outside Buckingham Palace. I could barely move afterwards, but it was totally worth it. Gotta catch that summer stone fruit while you can!

Plum torte

Plum torte

Plum torte

Plum Torte

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12 small plums (or 8-10 larger ones), halved and pitted
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon mixed with 1 Tbs. sugar

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Place granulated sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes or so. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix on medium speed (scraping the bowl occasionally) until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined. The batter will be thick.

Transfer batter to a 9-inch springform pan and spread it out evenly. Gently press the plum halves into the batter. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top. If your springform pan has a tendency to leak, place it on a large jellyroll pan. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the cake (not inserted into a plum) comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool on a rack. Serves 8-12.

Source: Very slightly adapted from Marian Burros and the New York Times via Smitten Kitchen.

Spicy Honey Caramel Corn

Despite the fact that I grew up in the 90’s, there are a number of things I didn’t really experience during that decade. I wasn’t a huge fan of Power Rangers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I never owned a Walkman. And I was too busy devouring Anne of Green Gables to even consider cracking open one of the Baby-Sitters Club books. (Oh but Sweet Valley High? Now that’s a different story…)

I’m thinking about all this since a huge wave of 90’s nostalgia seems to be crashing over America right now, especially when it comes to movies and TV shows. All the reruns, remakes, and reunions tend to evoke a whole lot of excitement– unless you’ve never seen the originals. It was with that in mind that Gabe and I sat down to watch Jurassic Park on Friday night. The first one.

Yeah, I’d never seen the original Jurassic Park movie. (Don’t look at me that way, friendly but bewildered cashier at Whole Foods.) In my defense, it would have scared the bejeezus out of me as a kid. But I’m slightly less jumpy nowadays, so I decided it was time. (The verdict? Pretty good movie, but even better music.)

So if you’re jumping on the 90’s nostalgia bandwagon and looking for a delightful snack to munch on while binge-watching Seinfeld or anticipating the Full House remake, I highly suggest this spicy honey caramel corn. It has all the sweetness of classic caramel corn, but the addition of cayenne pepper puts this treat firmly in the grownup camp. Even if your entertainment choices are bringing you right back to childhood.

Spicy Honey Caramel Corn

Spicy Honey Caramel Corn

Spicy Honey Caramel Corn

  • 1 cup unpopped popcorn
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper*
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 250° F with two racks placed near the middle of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Pop the popcorn on the stove or in a popcorn maker. (I love my air popper.) Set it aside in the largest bowl or container you have, keeping in mind that you’ll need room to toss the popcorn with the caramel mixture. I often use a big stockpot, but you can also use two bowls.

In a small bowl, whisk together cayenne and baking soda. Set aside.

Over medium heat, melt butter in a two-quart saucepan. Stir in honey, brown sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Once the mixture begins boiling, let it continue to boil for five minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and carefully add the baking soda mixture and vanilla extract. The caramel will bubble up violently and might splatter, so be sure to stand back! When it has stopped splattering, stir the caramel carefully to make sure the vanilla and baking soda mixture are evenly mixed in.

Pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir until the popcorn is well coated. Be very careful not to touch the caramel– it’s hot! Evenly scoop the popcorn onto the two baking sheets. Bake for 40-50 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes or so. Test the popcorn for doneness by cooling a small piece and tasting it. The popcorn is done when it’s perfectly crispy, not mushy at all. If it’s still soft, keep baking!

Remove from oven and let cool completely on baking sheets. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

* Use 1/4 tsp. cayenne for popcorn that has just a hint of spice. Use more if you like things hotter!

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats and also inspired by Smitten Kitchen.

Patriotic Popsicles

Happy July, everyone! We’re getting ready to head up to Carmel Valley tomorrow for the wedding weekend extravaganza for some dear friends of ours. And since it’s the Fourth of July, we get to celebrate both wedded bliss and ‘Murica. Talk about fireworks.

If you’re feeling inspired to celebrate the good old USA by making frozen treats this weekend, here’s a fun and fairly simple project. I couldn’t resist. Because summer = popsicles, and the Fourth of July = red, white, and blue food.

This recipe is more of a technique than an actual recipe. Feel free to adjust it to fit your own taste preferences and the size of your popsicle molds. One thing I have to mention: for each pouring step, be very careful to fill the molds from the center so you don’t drip any puree on the insides– or you’ll get messy-looking popsicles. Of course, they’ll get messy when they melt (see exhibit A below), but hey, that’s part of the fun! Hope you all have a wonderful Fourth of July!

Patriotic popsicles

Side note: Those of you who know me well understand that two of my least favorite things are being cold and being sticky. Taking this photo was a true labor of love. ;)

Patriotic Popsicles

  • 1/2 pint blueberries
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • milk
  • 12 oz. strawberries
  • honey, to taste

In a blender or food processor, puree blueberries until smooth. Taste and add honey if desired. (Remember, things taste more tart once they’re frozen!) Pour equal amounts of the blueberry puree into popsicle molds, filling the bottom third or so of the molds. Freeze until firm.

In a small bowl, stir together greek yogurt and a tablespoon or two of milk until it’s a good pouring consistency. Stir in honey to taste. When the blueberry layer of popsicles is frozen solid, cover it with a short layer of greek yogurt mixture, maybe half an inch or so depending on the size of your molds. Refrigerate remaining yogurt mixture and freeze popsicles until firm.

In a blender or food processor, puree strawberries until smooth. Stir in honey if desired. Pour a layer of strawberry puree into the popsicle molds over the frozen greek yogurt layer. (Keep them close to the same size to resemble the stripes on the flag.) Place tinfoil over the tops of the popsicle molds and insert popsicle sticks. (The foil helps them stay in place.) Freeze until firm.

Finish the popsicles by adding one more layer of greek yogurt and one final layer of strawberry puree, freezing between each step. Once the popsicles are frozen solid, they’re ready to serve. Release from popsicle molds by carefully running hot water over the molds until they loosen.

Makes six three-ounce popsicles.

Source: Oh the Things We’ll Make.