Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies - Disaster Rations

Sooooo, the truth is, I made these cookies strictly for blogging purposes. But then Hurricane Sandy rolled in, so I redesignated them disaster relief cookies. Today I'm bringing you peanut butter sandwich cookies à la Nutter Butters. Warning, these are decadent. Every sandwich cookie is two 2" cookies plus filling. Don't say I didn't warn you.
I live in Washington, DC, and from what I can tell, our area was spared the kind of devastation experienced in New England, NYC, NJ and the Delaware beaches. According to news reports, DC experienced fewer power outages than expected (and since my power lines are underground, we almost never lose power), though I imagine there is damage from downed trees. We saw a humongous (seriously, so huge) tree down in the Trinidad neighborhood that amazingly fell down the center of the street and not onto any houses or cars. Sandy did result in two days off work for many folks in the Capitol area, so on Monday I packed up the PB sammie cookies and headed over to some friends' house to pass the time with German board games and leftover Halloween beer. 

If you like Nutter Butters, or even if you don't, you will dig these cookies. They are buttery and crumbly and wickedly good. I started with a Martha Stewart recipe and basically followed it, except that she called for rolling the dough out and cutting the cookies with a cookie cutter. That was more work than I was interested in (especially because this dough is pretty delicate). So I rolled the dough into a log and sliced cookies. This is super easy and still results in nice uniform circles. One thing I wish I had done was cut the cookies a little thinner. Because the dough is delicate, cutting thin cookies is a little tricky, but try to cut slices 1/4" or thinner. 

Martha also instructs that you toast the oats before adding to the cookie dough. I have never toasted oats and couldn't decide whether it seemed worth it. In the end, I toasted the oats and I'm glad I did. They make your house smell great and the process was actually pretty easy. Did it change the flavor/texture of my cookies? Unknown. I have the feeling if you want to skip the toasting, you'll be fine. But if you have the time (10 extra minutes), toast those oats.
These cookies are definitely a special treat and not everyday cookies. I recommend them if you want to make a good showing at a cookie exchange or as a holiday gift . . . or I guess if you are stuck inside during a hurricane. Or, for a less intense peanut butter experience, skip the filling and just serve the peanut butter cookies in non-sandwich form. Enjoy and stay dry. 

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe

Makes 15 sandwich cookies (or 30 single peanut butter cookies)

1 stick plus 2 tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup uncooked oats (old fashioned or quick cook)
1 cup plus 2 tbs. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter


3/4 cups creamy peanut butter
4 tbs. butter, room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

Also need: wax paper

Optional (toasted oats): Melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large frying pan. When butter is melted pour oats into pan and stir. Continue to stir as oats toast for 8 to 10 minutes. Oats should start to turn a light brown. (If you're short on time, you can skip this step - use untoasted oats and omit 2 tbs. of butter.)

Whisk or sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in toasted oats.

Using an electric mixer, cream 1 stick of room temperature butter and the sugars together. If you forget to let butter get to room temperature, microwave the stick for 5 seconds on each side. Mix in peanut butter.

Slowly add dry ingredients and continue to mix until all wet and dry ingredients are blended. The dough will remain crumbly (it won't be a solid ball of dough). Pour dough out onto wax paper on a flat surface. Using your hands, form dough into a log, 2" in diameter. Wrap wax paper around the log and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 350. Remove chilled dough and slice 1/4" cookies. If dough crumbles at all, just mold back together with fingers. Bake cookies on a silpat or piece of parchment paper for 10-11 minutes.

Filling: While cookies bake, prepare filling. Using an electric mixer, blend together all filling ingredients. When cookies are cooled, spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling onto a cookie and top with another cookie (or use a piping bag to place filling onto cookies). 

Keep cookie sandwiches refrigerated. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

Or maybe I should call it apple & butternut squash soup. Because it's applicious. I think that's why I love it so much. The ratio of squash to apples is about 2:1, which results in a pretty sweet soup. Not dessert-sweet, but a really warm, delicious blend of sweet and savory in a single soup. Yum. Yum. So perfect for the season.
I started with an Ina Garten recipe, but I changed the ingredient amounts a lot (in fact, I have a hard time imagining how her recipe works with so little liquid and so much squash). But she's got the ingredients spot-on - the magic comes from using apple juice or cider instead of just water or stock (note: I've used both apple juice and cider and couldn't tell a difference between the two). The one other change I made is to swap vindaloo seasoning for the curry that Ina called for. 

This recipe is super simple and only calls for one spice (besides salt and pepper) - curry. There's loads of different kinds of curry and if you have one you really like, use it here. But if you can get your hands on some vindaloo spice - which is a blend of spices, including curry, peppers, garlic, ginger, mustard and sweeter spices like cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Think of it like a jerk rub or pumpkin pie spice - it's not a singular herb or spice, but a whole blend of dry ingredients. Vindaloo is a dish (e.g., "chicken vindaloo" that calls for all of the aforementioned spices), and I don't know how common it is to find vindaloo seasoning in a jar. I have this Penzeys vindaloo. See what you can get your hands on, otherwise use curry or make up your own blend based on the spices you like. 

The reviews for Ina's recipe (with 2 tablespoons of curry) were mixed. Some said the curry flavor was too powerful and some said it wasn't strong enough. Try to think about your own curry threshold and adjust the amount of curry accordingly (stick between 1 and 2 tablespoons). If you do find vindaloo, 2 tablespoons is good.  
In this soup, I like to reserve half of one of the apples to add after the soup is blended (which requires some additional time on the stove for the apples to get tender). This gives the soup some nice texture. If you don't have time, just add all the apples together. 

For another short-cut, check your grocery store for pre-cut butternut squash. You can find it in the produce section. And don't be afraid to use frozen squash. I've found that with soups, generally, you can't go wrong. Heat up some veggies and fruits until tender and then blend away. 

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Adapted from this Ina Garten recipe

Makes 5 servings

1 tbs. unsalted butter
2 tbs. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 tbs. your favorite curry or vindaloo 
2 lbs. cubed butternut squash (about 5 cups)
2 large apples (Granny Smith recommended), peeled and diced (1/2 diced apple reserved)
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 cups water
2 cups apple cider or apple juice (1 cup reserved)

Heat butter, olive oil, onions and curry/vindaloo in a large pot, uncovered on low heat for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Onions should be tender.

While the onions cook, peel and dice your squash and apples. Add squash, 1 and 1/2 apples, salt pepper, water and 1 cup of cider/apple juice. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 40 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup contents. Add remaining 1 cup of cider/juice and remaining diced apples. Cook over low heat for another 20 minutes to let the apples get tender.

If you're short on time, add all the apples up front. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...