Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Pies

When I first set out for something to make, I had my heart set on homemade Nutter Butters.  Don't ask me why, I'm pretty sure I heard the words Nutter Butter in passing (since people everywhere talk about Nutter Butters on a daily basis) and I immediately started wanting some.  But since I refuse to buy store bought cookies (unless their purpose is to be smashed and used for a pie crust), I intended to make my own.

In my head, I was thinking some sort of peanut butter shortbread with a peanut butter buttercream filling.  Well, I couldn't find a recipe for peanut butter shortbread, or for any cookie that had a peanut butter buttercream filling.  So I made do.

I found this recipe for Bouchon Bakery's Nutter Butters (Bouchon's is a popular place in NYC evidently) and while it wasn't exactly what I was anticipating, it was not disappointing.

The cookie is more of an oatmeal cookie with peanut butter.  Not that I'm complaining, I love soft oatmeal cookies.  They remind me of the packaged Oatmeal Cream Pies that Little Debbie makes, only peanut butter flavored.

Rather than following their recipe to a "T", I filled these oatmeal puppies with my very own peanut butter buttercream. Truth be told, I still had buttercream in the freezer from my cookie cupcakes, so I just used that and added peanut butter to it.  
Let me tell you. These cookies are not for the faint of heart.  4 sticks of butter AND peanut butter? The dough was sinful and we all know I love cookie dough more than the actual baked cookie, so I had to bake these up as fast as I could.

A few tweaks that I made to the recipe (other than using buttercream for the filling), I did not use chopped peanuts in the cookies. Instead, I had chunky peanut butter on hand, so I went with that. Forget it, that was only one tweak.  

Now I'm packaging these guys up for the hubs to take to work.  Get ready, boys!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Pies
adapted from Bouchon Bakery's Nutter Butters

For the cookie dough:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 tsp baking soda
4 sticks butter (room temp)
2/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups old fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix flour, baking powder, and baking soda in separate bowl.  In a mixer, beat together butter and peanut butter.  Add sugars and beat for 4 minutes on medium speed.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Slowly add in flour mixture until combined. Stir in oats. 

Drop onto cookie sheet (I went with about a round teaspoonful size---they spread).  Bake 7-10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Allow to cool and fill with buttercream.

For the peanut butter buttercream, I used about a third of this recipe for Very Vanilla Buttercream and added 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter. Placed in ziploc bag, snipped the tip and applied to half of the cookies.  

You can also go to the original recipe posted above for the alternate PB filling.


Friday, April 8, 2011


Have you ever tried a LaraBar?  I LOVE them. Especially the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor.  No joke, it tastes like cookie dough. Have you ever read the ingredient list on a Larabar? 
Chocolate Chips

I'm sorry, what? Four ingredients to make these bars and they taste like the real thing?

Well, my friends, after a little inspiration from MamaPea, I decided to try to make these guys myself. But this time, I made them into Balls. TaraBalls Scratch that. Let's go with Tara's Treats.  I'm not sure if any name sounds good with balls behind it. 

On my first attempt to make these, I decided to go with Medjool Dates (Costco), Raw Almonds (Costco), Unsweetened Cocoa Power, Vanilla, and a dash of Sea Salt. Blend. Form. Refrigerate. Heaven.  I could not believe it---they tasted almost EXACTLY like cookie dough.  

(Side note: This picture actually contains some roasted almonds that I was blending for dinner tonight. I use raw-unsalted almonds for these treats)

I gave a piece to Ryan without telling him what it was....

Ryan: Mmmmm, did you make cookie dough?!?!
Me (giggling fit, jumping up and down):  NO, it's dates and almonds blended together!!!
Ryan: Um, that's kind of weird. But they're good. 
Me: And they're healthy!! (High five in the air)

Okay, the high five part didn't really happen, but it would have been a nice touch.

Since that first batch, I've experimented with different flavors---Ryan's favorite is cinnamon vanilla. My favorite is still Cookie Dough.  Today I tried to make a Gingersnap one...all of them delicious. All of them with the main ingredients of Dates and Almonds.  

(Gingersnap in the back, Cookie Dough in the front)

Nutrition-wise...each batch makes about 12-16 depending on how large you make them.  I usually shape mine into 15 balls each packing about 60 calories a piece.  Not too shabby when two of them are enough to satisfy my sweet tooth.  

You can also make these into bar form by just pressing the mixture into an 8x8 pan, refrigerating, then slicing.  Whatever which way you choose. 

(Tara)Bar Treats

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
6 large Medjool Dates (pitted)
1 cup raw unsalted almonds
1 tsp vanilla
Dash of Sea Salt
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Using a food processor or blender (I've tried both...the food processor is easier to get the mixture out of, but the blender grinds the almonds better), blend the almonds until chopped finely.  Remove from container.  Place dates, vanilla, salt, and cocoa powder in processor and blend until dates are completely chopped and form a ball of pastes.  Add in chopped almonds.  Should make a coarse mixture.  Pour into bowl and mash together with hands.  Form balls and place on cookie sheet (or press into pan for bars) and refrigerate.  Eat at your leisure.  I store mine in tupperware and keep in the fridge.

Cinnamon Vanilla
6 large Medjool Dates (pitted)
1 cup raw unsalted almonds
1 tsp vanilla
Dash of Sea Salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Follow same instructions as above.

6 large Medjool Dates (pitted)
1 cup raw unsalted almonds
1 tsp vanilla
Dash of Sea Salt
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves