cookies

Funny Bone Bites: Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Posted on Updated on


I don’t know if you heard, but Hostess has gone out of business. Anyone else see the irony in a “snack cake” company biting the dust when Americans are the fattest they’ve ever been?

photo-5

Any way, Funny Bones (chocolate ganache covered, peanut butter cream filled chocolate cakes) where just about my Dad’s favorite thing ever. And Drake’s Cakes, the maker of those and such fine things as Ring Dings (shout out to Aunt Ang!) and Coffee Cakes (watch that Seinfeld episode with Newman & Martin in the hospital and with Elaine’s endoscopy), was also owned by Hostess. Damnit. My dad, CHRISTopher, was born on Christmas Day, which means on top of gifts each year, my family also gets cake on December 25th. With Funny Bones officially dead, however, and with my folks traveling at different points this holiday season, I set out to find a chocolatey, peanut buttery substitute that was easy to bake in any kitchen or kitchenette stocked only with the bare necessities, and minimizing what would have to be purchased at the store.

FotoFlexer_Photo

Funny Bones Cookie

  • 1 box of Devil’s Food cake mix
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

UPDATE: Not all boxed cake mixes are created equal! If your cookie dough is too moist, add 1/4 cup flour and 1 TBSP dutch processed cocoa for much more moldable batter. Your dough may not be crumbly like the photo and may be a little sticky, but keeping a ramekin of water near by to just lightly dip your fingertips in while rolling the dough around the filling will help tremendously. They still come out exactly the same and just as delicious. 

Filling:

  • 5 TBSP unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (choosey Moms choose Jif…because it has less salt than many others)
  • 1 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • You can substitute everything above under “Filling”, do a caramel version and just use Rolos

Chocolate Coating

  • 11/4 cups bittersweet Ghirardelli chips
  • 1 TBSP + 1 tsp vegetable shortening

*Can you use store bought icing? Yup. Can you just sprinkle each with powder sugar to simplify? Sure. Does ganache make heroes of average men? You betcha!

Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix the Filling ingredients together. Yes, we’re starting with the filling. Once you get the butter, sugar, and peanut butter blended well together, stick it in the fridge to firm up a bit. At that point you can move on to the cookie aspect of this recipe, which is incredibly easy. And it’s meant to be. ‘Cause if given the option of baking while on holiday or drinking a pomegranate martini in a hot tub, which do you think I’ll choose? (Hint: It’s not baking.)

Mix the cake, eggs, and oil together. It will look crumbly, but that’s okay. Its easily moldable.

FotoFlexer_Photo

Take just about a tablespoon of the oily cake/cookie batter into your hand, roll into a ball and flatten in your palm. Take about a heaping teaspoon of the peanut butter mixture and drop into the center of the cookie. Gently fold the sides of the cookie dough up around the peanut butter. Don’t worry if the dough cracks on you; once the sides are folded up as best as you can, roll lightly into a ball, smoothing cracks with your fingers. If there is any noticeable seam, place that down on the ungreased cookie sheet. Each stuffed ball should be about a heaping tablespoon. You will also probably have some peanut butter mixture left over.

FotoFlexer_PhotoFotoFlexer_Photo

Bake for 8-10 minutes. I baked mine for 10, but could have easily pulled them from the oven after 9 for a slightly chewier cookie. The cookies will have spread just a little, puffed in the center, and should just start to be cracking on the top. Let cool on the sheet for 5-10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. While cooling, melt the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 10-15 second intervals, stirring in-between each, until the ganache mixture is nice and runny. Drip about a teaspoon or so of the ganache over each cookie, smoothing with the back of a spoon. There will be more than enough chocolately topping to cover each. I then topped mine with chocolate sprinkles…because why not? Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or so to help the glossy ganache solidify. Makes 26 cookies.

photo-4

UPDATE: My mother & friends have both stated – without tasting one of these delectable cookies – that the chocolate sprinkles are over-kill. Now, my heart isn’t as shriveled and black as theirs, but to each his own. They are delicious with or without them. I know, because I’ve eaten entirely too many already.

UPDATE 2: The worst thing about these cookies (that I’ve discovered only just this morning) is that they’re even better the next day, AND they freeze perfectly. And my friends are already on me to “test” this recipe again today. Good thing I went to the gym already today.

Reverse Reese’s: Chocolate Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies!

Posted on Updated on


Okay, life has been so stressful and overwhelming lately, that I’ve gotten away from the fun things. I have only been to the gym twice this week, I’ve barely been eating (let alone eating well), and I’ve allowed what brings me joy to be pushed away by things that already deserve less of my time than I give them.

So today I am reclaiming my life just for me: I went to the gym this morning, had a light and bright brunch, cleaned my house while my hubby did laundry, carved a pumpkin and NOW I’m going to make some peanut butter cookies!

My Jack Skellington Jack-O-Lantern

Chip looooooves peanut butter cookies, but I find them to often be salty and lacking…probably because they don’t have any chocolate in them. Well, I’m changing that today, dammit. This afternoon I’ll be making what I call a Reverse Reese’s, that is I peanut butter cookie stuffed with chocolate. 1. Are these healthy? No. 2. Do I care? See the answer to the first question.

Reverse Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter (Smooth or crunchy. I use smooth, because, like a child, I think crunchy is gross.)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour (You want to sift it? What are you, an over-acheiver?)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt (Optional. I find there’s enough salt in the peanut butter that this isn’t necessary.)                     1 cup Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips

Use Jiff peanut butter. Or Peter Pan. Or your local grocery store’s generic brand. I know, I know, these are processed, but it’s much harder to get the correct consistency both before and after cooking if you use something organic that often separates. Also, spritz your measuring cup with a little non-stick spray so your peanut butter doesn’t wind up being obnoxious to get out of there. Whip together the butter, peanut butter, sugars, and vanilla. Incorporate the egg. Sprinkle in the flour with your mixer on low in 2-3 batches. Add the baking soda and salt if using, and mix for an additional 30 seconds. or until everything is well combined. It will pull cleanly away from the sides of your bowl when complete.

If your kitchen is warm or it’s a hot day, stick the dough in the fridge for 5-10 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350 (F). Use this time to clean up. I gave my KitchenAid mixer a good cleaning, tossed most stuff in the sink and wiped down the counter. My KitchenAid is my dream boat, which I inherited from my grandmother. It’s from the 70’s, just look at the plug on the thing, and it works like a champ! Love. It.

Once your dough is ready, take a heaping tablespoon of the peanut butter goodness and flatten in the palm of your hand. Smoosh (that’s the medical term) 8-10 chocolate chips into the center and fold the dough over and seal. Try and keep the chocolate chips in a cluster in the center if you want a Reverse Reese’s. Worst case scenario is you wind up with chocolate chip peanut butter cookies, so you can’t really mess this up. Place on a cookie sheet (these are oily enough that you don’t need to spray your pan) and gently press to about a half inch thick.

Bake for 13-16 minutes. I like mine soft and chewy, so these came out after 14 minutes. Let rest 3-5 minutes before moving off the cookies sheet because they are very delicate when they first come out.  

Serve with milk and a cool Autumn night. 

Orange White Chocolate Craisin Cookies

Posted on Updated on


A rainy day in Austin is like Christmas. To be able to open one’s windows, allow the breeze to come through is a rarity that must be thoroughly appreciated. I celebrate by making cookies. I don’t like to bake sweet crap too often, but when I do, I normally do it on a Sunday so the extras can either be baked into individual servings for lunches throughout the week or just brought into the office and dumped on less fatty coworkers.

Rather than making those heavy super mega chocolate cookies I normally make, I decided I wanted something lighter, fresher, something that would be great with a cup of coffee. I decided to take a usual cookie recipe and tweak by lightening the sugar and adding a little lemon, fruit, and love. Okay, not love, but I did really like the way they turned out. I call them Lemon White Chocolate Craisin Cookies ’cause I like the alliteration at the end there. I’m sure it should probably be something like the orange White Chocolate Craisin is a trademarked name of the Ocean Spray Company Cookies, or the much less exciting Lemon White Chocolate Dried Cranberry Cookies, but who the hell cares?

Lemon White Chocolate Craisin Cookie

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup backed brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 TBSP juice of a lemon

zest of one orange (about 3 tsps)

2 1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cups Ghirardelli white chocolate chips. I know, that’s pretentious, but they really are the best for baking.

1/2 cup dried cranberries (Guess which brand I used?)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the butter and sugar until delicious creamed. Add the egg and vanilla; beat until incorporated. Add the lemon juice (and take the 2 seconds and spend the 30 cents on a reallemon for that) and zest, and whip until it’s all combined.

Now at this point I’m supposed to tell you something like “In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda, then add slowly to the butter mixture…”, but I’m not going to tell you that. I made this recipe a couple of times (that’s what you do when you test and create recipes), once doing the flour and crap whisked in a separate bowl, and once at the end just adding it ingredient by ingredient. I’m going to blow your mind: It made NO difference. None. I bake to make my house smell all warm, fuzzy, and comforting, and to make my fatass fatter. Not for the delicate art of it all.

SO, once you got the butter and everything else mixed, add the flour. I added it a cup first, mixing well, then a cup and a half just so it wouldn’t make a mess. Then the salt, and then the baking soda. Mix until everything is combined. Add the white chocolate and the Craisins last; I have to do this quickly or I find my friends poaching the best ingredients.

Spray a cookie pan with nonp-stick spray and bake heaping tablespoon balls of dough, eight at a time per sheet for 10-12 minutes. I like my cookies chewy, so I did about 11 minutes on these. This recipe makes 24 good-sized cookies, not “fun” size, which is a size I call “small as crap”. I took a picture below of the sized balls of dough versus the final product to give you an idea of size. I don’t have huge man hands or weirdo tiny girl hands like I’m still a child, but I don’t like the way they look in this photo either…

I found these the right sweetness to have with a cup of coffee in lieu of a biscotti. There is a simple glaze, however, that really gives them an extra punch of lemony flavor. When I asked my buds if they “needed” the glaze their response was thus:

“I’m not going to say the need the glaze, because they’re very tasty, but….well, everything’s better with stuff on top.”

My friends loved this glaze like a six year old loves Dunkaroos, but I prefer them without, or with very little glaze.

Simple Lemon Glaze for Anything, but Especially Good with these Cookies

1 cup confectioners sugar

3 TBSP orange juice

The zest of 1 lemon

Whisk everything together and drizzle lightly over cooled cookies. Or french toast. Or pork chops. Hell, it’s simple and awesome, throw it on anything. But make sure to enjoy the cookies.

Easy Fire-Free S’Mores

Posted on Updated on


In Austin we have the very weird problem of summer actually not being the season for S’mores. I love me some s’mores. All gooey, chocolatey, crunchy, sugary, and delicious. The thing is that here it gets entirely too hot to stand outside, have a fire toast a few ‘mallows, and throw together a s’more. Your chocolate will be melted by the heat of the sun, the flies will be all over you, and most of the time there’s a burn ban against fire pits anyway. Yes, we Austinites have 2 days of cooler days a year, Flash Not-Summer, where we can actually toast marshmallows for s’mores. Our seasons are as follows: Pre-Summer (January – February), Summer (March – October), Slightly Lesser Summer (November – December 29th), and, of course, Flash Not-Summer (December 30-31).

So, what to do? You can always microwave yourself one, but the chocolate is still hard as a rock and the graham cracker gets tough.

The simple answer: use your microwave for a simple ganache and make magic by swapping out the marshmallows for Fluff.

On a cookie sheet lined with wax paper I placed 14 graham cracker halves. I like a good amount of fluff, so in the center of each cracker I dropped s heaping tablespoon of the white stuff, allowing it to settle and spreading with a butter knife prayed with non-stick spray where needed. In a microwave-safe bowl I poured the contents of a bag of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips with 5-6 tablespoons of butter.

I microwaved the mixture in spurts for no more than 12 seconds at a time, stirring at each break. Once the chocolate was melted, I dropped a spoonful, about a level tablespoon, onto the fluff. I placed a graham cracker 1/8th onto the top of each so that the eater would have a place to hold with their fingertips without getting all gooey. Then I placed them in the fridge for 30 minutes to setup a bit.

I was tempted to add strawberry slices to a few and peanut butter to a couple. You could really do so many toppings that would stick perfectly to the fluff, even bananas with a little peanut butter on top for an Elvis inspired treat.

More than anything, though, I recommend these for any time you need an easy chocolate fix or a dessert you can make with your kids. You can keep leftovers in tupperware on the counter for about 3 days or in the fridge for about 5 until the graham starts softening.

Sugar Cookies with Spice!

Posted on Updated on


When I need something to do I write or cook. I’m not a big baker, but every once in a while I try a new kind of cookie, because….well, why the hell not.

Sugar cookies can be a bitch to make. Too crunchy, sometimes flavorless, a good, chewy, and creamy sugar cookie can be harder to achieve than you might think. So, I looked at this as more of an afternoon science experiment than a baking endeavor.

The flavors I picked are what I gravitate toward on a perfect autumn day. Naturally, I picked an 80 degree day in January to bake them. You see, Austin no longer has seasons; I just have to pretend that there’s fall and winter. It’s been years since I made a good stew, because I struggle to see the point. Sometimes I think I gotta move back to New England…and none of that has anything to do with cookies.

So for this I just took a very basic sugar cookie recipe, blended it with tips from America’s Test Kitchen, and added some spunk in the form of flavors I personally like.

2 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 oz. cream cheese

6 TBSP butter, melted

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1 egg

1 TBSP milk

An additional 1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp ginger to roll onto cookie dough.

The beginning was the usual mundane of baking cookies: I preheated the oven to 350.

I mixed the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. I threw  the 1 1/2 cups sugar, the cream cheese, and spices in a large mixing bowl with the melted butter. The warm butter helped breakdown the cream cheese. I stirred this together and then added the egg and milk and blended until incorporated. Finally, I dumped in the flour mixture and stirred everything until it formed a smooth dough.

I then rolled the dough into 24 balls and rolled those into the 1/2 cup of sugar mixed with cinnamon and ginger. I placed 12 on a cookie sheet sprayed with cookie spray, and pressed the cookie dough balls down evenly until they were about 1/2 inch thick and 2 inches in diameter. I sprinkled just a little more of the sugar mixture over the top of each smooshed cookie and baked for 11 minutes. I made sure not to allow the edges to become golden brown; I wanted enjoyable cookies, not sugary crackers.

The cookies came out perfect. Sweet without being too sweet, flavorful, crunchy on the outside and just soft enough in the center. And they’re perfect with a cup of tea or coffee, like an American biscotti or biscuit without the over abundance of crumbs. Excellent for pretending it’s fall or winter when global warming is totally against you.

A Little Pop-Me-Up for Your Day

Image Posted on Updated on


*People are just the worst: In an attempt to help a fellow traveler in distress, Gary Koelling allowed a man from Switzerland to check into a hotel using Koelling’s credit card. The free check-in wound up costing Koelling $41,000 or six nights at a ritzy New York City hotel, plus incidentals at just over $6,833 dollars a night. What does this teach us about helping our fellow man? Stick to reviewed and established charities, and when in trouble as a tourist, contact the local police department or embassy. Especially in New York.[Gawker]


*Speaking of horrible people, if you’re wondering what to get those hated ones on you list, look no further: Gifts for People You Hate is bound to have the perfect present for the people in your life you just can’t stand.

*Facebook bought Gowalla. What does this mean exactly? It means that if you enjoy using Gowalla you have less than a month to continue doing so before Facebook completely shuts it down. Someone might want to let Mark Zuckerburg that a little competition is healthy. [CNN Tech]

*In other news, delightful science has attributed smoking cigarettes to loss of nipples. You read that correctly. Apparently there has been a correlation between smoking and nipples falling off on women who have had their breasts lifted (though I assume it could happen to breast lifted men as well). Smoking is bad for you, people! When will we finally get that through our thick skulls?!  Though, maybe this is giving hope to those individuals with superfluous nips, such as Lily Allen, Chandler Bing, and Krusty the Clown. [The Chart]

*The Muppets are pure good. Like, good for your soul good. In their latest flick they put on a telethon to help others and, so often, helping others in need is the message they send out (with the exception of giving a stranger your credit card. Duh.). While many would find this message of hope and brotherly love heartwarming, those [insert any expletive here] at Fox Business “News” slammed the Muppet creators and writers for having an anti-capitalistic agenda. Of course. Which is why all dvd sales and movie tickets were non-profit based. And why the muppets weren’t completely portrayed as rich in the film. Of course, now those last two points are just flat-out lies, like what spews from the mouths of the “reporters” on Fox. And I recommend not reading the comments on this particular article. You’ll waste both energy and brain cells. [Blastr]
.
*Ugh. That last Pop Byte made me all cranky. Let’s bring a little joy into our hearts with a list of what gifts to get that comic book fan in your life! I, for one, would love a pair of Wonder Woman socks even though, let’s face it, she really got the short stick when it came to gadgetry. A lasso that makes people tell the truth?! Insert stalker girlfriend joke here. [GeekOut]
.
Universal Studios Theme Park in Orlando is  kissing their Jaws ride goodbye, along with a few other historical notables. I hate to see Jaws go, it was a classic albeit expected, but what, pray tell, might Universal be thinking? Well, Stage Two, of course – Stage Two of Harry Potter the Wizarding Experience. Man, the kids that acted in those movies are set for life and they’re barely old enough to sophomores in college. [The Baltimore Sun]
.
*J.J. Abrams, you’re tearing me apart! The newest Star Trek gunk churned out from the rumor mills is that Benicio Del Toro will not be the villain in the Star Trek sequel, but the evil character will, in fact, be KHAAAAAAN! I like Khan, I remember Khan, and to this day I hate the idea of bugs in or near my ears because of Khan. But I was equally excited to see what Benicio Del Toro could have done with a part in Star Trek. Good things we have, like, a million years for things to change before the movie comes out (May 2013). [Blastr]
.
*And the Star Trek news doesn’t stop there. Peter Weller has signed on to act in the upcoming sequel right as Benicio  signed off. Can’t put a face to Weller? That’s probably because so few people have actually seen it: He was RoboCop. [Variety] I wonder if they’ll do those awesome RoboCop ads, too…
.
*While we’re discussing aliens, do you think you might have ever been abducted? Than look no further – Here’s a list of six telltale signs that you’ve been taken by extraterrestrials at some point in your life! Be careful in your analysis, though. Many of these symptoms are similar to a hot night out on the town with your good friend Jack Daniels. [TheSmokingJacket]
.
*Nothing makes me cringe more than “ironic fashion”…except for maybe ironic facial hair… Anyway, hipsters every where line up in droves each year to purchase bad holiday sweaters from Salvation Army, Buffalo Exchange, and other used clothing gold mines. I myself bought one from Tee Fury yesterday, actually, but it was a t-shirt of a bad holiday sweater so it doesn’t count (okay, fine, it does. Judge away.). Designers are now totally in on this trend and currently sell – at insane prices – horrible holiday sweaters. If I could ever afford anything from the Stella McCartney line, the last thing it I would purchase is an ironically bad sweater. Ugh. [Fashionista]
.
*Sure, I can make Peking Duck, but it would be far tastier as a Peking Romulan Bird of Prey! Cooking needs no longer to be unGeeky with these fantastic Kitchen accoutrements. Be it an Enterpriseing pizza, darth cookies, or needing your drinks on the rocks with a Gotham feel, we’ve got your cocina needs met. Just yet another list of gift ideas for the Michelin starred nerd in your home. [Blastr]
*It amazes me how so many nations can remain so incredibly sheltered in today’s day and age. I take my technological outlets and freedom of press for granted far too often. I say this because Saudi Arabi has announced it believes giving women the right to drive will cause them to have promiscuous sex. I can’t even begin to crack jokes on this. Cultural differences are one thing, but oppression is merely oppression. Besides, it’s the back of parked station wagon’s that cause promiscuous sex, not the act of driving itself. [HuffingtonPost]