Peanut Butter Gooey Butter Tarts

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Peanut butter gooey butter was born out of a Twitter conversation between Rich and some of his colleagues. I’m not sure how it started – I came in on the middle of it. They were talking about peanut butter and somehow the discussion turned to gooey butter cake. That led to talk of peanut butter gooey butter and the gauntlet was thrown down to challenge The Cook’s Life to come up with a recipe.

Long story short, which is probably already too late, Rich and I whipped up a peanut butter gooey butter version that night and the office sampled it the next day. Everyone pronounced it a success.

While we made the original in cake form, I am still enamored with gooey butter tarts. There is something about getting my own little cake that makes me happy. And, with the peanut butter version, it is like eating a peanut butter cup in gooey butter cake form. You can even break out the mini muffin pan and make tiny tarts.

The peanut butter totally changes the filling – roasted peanut butter flavors and aromas harmonize beautifully with the cream cheese sweetness that is gooey butter. And there is no better platform for peanut butter goodness than a dark chocolate crust.

Say what you will about Twitter and its relevancy, but those 140 character posts led to one great recipe. Anyone have an idea for another gooey butter variation?

Download or print the recipe here.

Peanut Butter Gooey Butter Tarts
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 24 tarts

I prefer to use natural peanut butter in the filling. Mine has just peanuts and salt. You can use regular peanut butter, but the filling will be sweeter and less intensely peanut-flavored.

Crust:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 egg

Filling:
1 8-oz. block cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup creamy natural peanut butter (see headnote)
2 eggs
3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 24 muffin cups – do not use cupcake papers.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix in melted butter and egg. Press slightly less than 2 tablespoons of crust mixture into the bottom of each muffin cup and set aside.

In same bowl, beat cream cheese and peanut butter until fluffy and fully combined. Beat in eggs until well blended. Add powdered sugar and mix well. Divide filling evenly among muffin cups, using 2-3 tablespoons per cup.

Bake 13-15 minutes, or until filling is mostly set and slightly puffed. The tops of the tarts will flatten as they cool. Let tarts cool in pans on a wire rack for about 15 minutes so they can firm up. Run a knife around the edge of each tart before removing it to the rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for a few days, in a single layer or with parchment or waxed paper between layers, as they tend to stick to each other. Freeze for longer storage. Thaw at room temperature for a couple of hours.

Mini Tart Variation
Makes 72 tarts

You can also bake these as bite-sized mini tarts. They are great party desserts – one bite, no utensils or plates required.

Follow the above directions for mixing. Use about 2 teaspoons of crust mixture per mini muffin cup. Use about a tablespoon of filling. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool in pans for about 10 minutes before removing to racks to cool.

Cookies for Breakfast

I can’t believe I am advocating cookies for breakfast, but these really are healthy enough that I have been letting Calvin eat them for breakfast. They are certainly healthier than a commercial granola bar or cereal bar. If you aren’t ready to sanction cookies for breakfast, they also make a great snack, and just one leaves you more satisfied than a handful of pretzels, with a whole lot more nutrition.

I first saw the recipe on Emmy Cooks, which is worth a look, if you have time to check it out. Emmy got the recipe from another blog, Blue Kale Road, which she links to in her post. Another good read. Emmy made a couple of changes to the recipe and I made a few of my own.

The original recipe called for filling these with jam or preserves, as in a traditional thumbprint cookie. That sounded good to me, but I knew Calvin wouldn’t be crazy about them, so I filled some with raspberry jam, some with peanut butter and some with dark chocolate chips. Calvin prefers the chocolate and peanut butter ones, Rich the raspberry. I like them all.

These go together in minutes, and you only need a bowl and a wooden spoon. If you don’t keep whole wheat flour or oats on hand, these cookies are worth a trip to the store.

Play with these and see what you like the best, or what adaptations you want to make. Maybe more spices, no spices, almond extract instead of vanilla or no extract. Make changes, or make them as is, but make them. These are too good and too easy to go in the “someday” file. Post back and let me know how you like them when you try them.

Breakfast Thumbprint Cookies
Makes 24-30 cookies

I have used both imitation and real maple syrup in these. Use what you have on hand.

1 ½ cups rolled oats, old fashioned preferred
¾ cup oat flour*
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup oil, olive or canola or a combo of the two
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling suggestions:
Jam
Peanut butter mixed with honey or maple syrup
Chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease two cookie sheets, or line them with parchment. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the rolled oats, oat flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add maple syrup, oil and vanilla and mix well, until there are no dry pockets of flour or oats. You might not think it will come together, but keep mixing and you will get a stiff dough.

Use a small cookie scoop (mine holds a scant 2 tablespoons) or your damp hands to make  balls of dough. Flatten each ball slightly and use your thumb and fingers to make a well in the middle, building up the edges to hold the filling. If the cookies crumble, just press the edges back together with your fingers. Keep your hands damp and the dough won’t stick to them.

Now it is decision time: If you are using jam, fill each depression with about a teaspoon of jam at this point.

If you want to use peanut butter or chocolate, you will fill the cookies about halfway through the baking time. Bake them empty for the first 5 minutes and then fill. While they are beginning to bake, mix the peanut butter with a little honey or more maple syrup to loosen it just a bit. I used about 3 parts peanut butter to one part honey. Fill the cookies with about a teaspoon of your peanut butter mixture. Spread the filling out with a damp finger – it won’t change shape in the oven.

Or use about 5 chocolate chips per cookie. The chips will melt during the second half of the baking time. After the cookies come out of the oven, use the tip of a spoon or knife to gently smooth the chocolate.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are just starting to brown. If you are using peanut butter or chocolate, fill the cookies after 5 minutes in the oven.

Carefully remove cookies from baking sheets and allow to cool completely on racks. These keep well at room temperature, or you can freeze them for longer storage. The chocolate ones are good warmed in the microwave for a few seconds to melt the chocolate.

*If you don’t keep oat flour on hand (and I don’t) you can make it by grinding oats finely in a food processor, blender or coffee grinder. I find that ¾ cup of oats makes slightly more than ¾ cup of oat flour. Grind the oats, then measure the oat flour. Use any leftovers in pancakes, muffins or cookies.

Download the recipe here.