Holiday Baking Day 2 – Peanut Butter Blossoms and Turtle Cookies

It’s not pretty in and around the nation’s capital.  Misty and sunless, it was a good day to be indoors…and bake.  The humidity meant no candy-making. so I decided to make the mundane, but popular Peanut Butter Blossoms and my new turtle cookie recipe.  I was especially excited about the turtle cookie recipe since I learned it was from America’s Test Kitchen.  Ahh, a trusted source (unlike the yucky thin mints).  I may even still purchase the 2012 ATK cookie magazine, but I still have a few more cookies to make.

The Peanut Butter Blossom recipe can be found all over the internet.  I couldn’t find Ken’s Hershey cookbook, despite its unmistakable Hershey Kiss shape, so I used the one here from Allrecipes.  I picked this one because it doesn’t use any butter and I had decided at the last minute to double the turtle cookies (it was an ATK recipe, after all, so I felt safe in doing so).  I read in the recipe’s comment section that one baker took the cookies out early, plopped in the kisses and let them finish in the oven.  She said it changes the texture of the chocolate, making the kiss just a bit softer.  I liked that idea because I do find the kisses to be rock hard compared to the cookie; more importantly, often the kisses fall out of my cookies.   Letting the kisses melt a bit more aggressively in the oven (just under 2 minutes) would hopefully cement them to the dough.

I’m not posting any how-to pictures; this is another recipe where you cream the sugar and fat then mix in the dry stuff, which you’ve previously whisked together in a separate bowl.  (See “Boys Will Be Boys” here).  I did not roll the dough balls into sugar before baking; it seemed overkill to me.  I did bake the cookies, 2 trays at a time in my convection oven set at 350 degrees (vs. the 375 degrees for conventional).  I let them bake for 8 minutes, then pulled out the sheets, pressed in the kisses and let them bake just under 2 minutes (1 minute, 45 sec).  I let them cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then moved them to the cooling rack.  Needless to say, both Ken and Kurt took a few, but the rest have been packed away.

I don't get the appeal...

I don’t get the appeal…

The ATK turtle cookie recipe is from their 2010 holiday baking magazine; I found the recipe on a blog that I think I will add to my reader.  Mostly because she used to live in DC and that’s an automatic star for me.  The recipe is here.  It’s another creaming method cookie dough, so I’ll start at the step after I’ve mixed up the dough and put it in the refrigerator to chill for an hour.  I didn’t bother to take the dough out and wrap it in plastic wrap; I just stretched some over the mixing bowl and tossed it in the fridge.  In the meantime, I did chop the pecans fairly finely, whisked the egg whites with a fork til frothy and unwrapped a lot of Kraft caramels, about 1/3 more than the recipe called for, placing them in a microwave proof bowl for later zapping.

Ready to assemble...

Ready to assemble…

When the dough was ready, I scooped out a ball.  My scoop makes a cookie ball a bit larger than 1 inch, so I knew I’d have a smaller yield.

A single chocolate cookie ball...

A single chocolate cookie ball…

I dropped the ball into the egg white,

Use a fork to lift these out and let excess whites drip back into the bowl

Use a fork to lift these out and let excess whites drip back into the bowl

then rolled it around in the chopped pecans.

This will be so good when pecans are toasted!

This will be so good when pecans are toasted!

I placed only six cookies per sheet as I wasn’t sure how much they’d spread, then I made an indentation in each with the prescribed 1/2 teaspoon measure.

It helps to flatten the dough's circumference while you press

It helps to flatten the dough’s circumference while you press

I baked them in my convection at 325 degrees for 12 minutes, 40 seconds to account for the larger size.  in the meantime I melted the caramels and cream, whisking them to smooth out the sauce.  I took the cookies out and reworked the indentation per the recipe; I was worried about how much caramel each cookie would need– definitely more than the 1/2 teaspoon in the recipe.  My cookies took just under 1 teaspoon:

These look fabulous!

These look fabulous!

I let them rest on the sheet for 10 minutes per the recipe, then moved them to the cooling rack.

NO ONE waited for these to completely set!

NO ONE waited for these to completely set!

Kurt had one when they were cool, but the caramel was still warm.  “OH MY GOD!”  Gotta love America Test Kitchen recipes!  My yield was significantly lower because of the bigger cookies (4 dozen vs. 5 dozen for my double recipe).  Alas, this means these are ones I’m NOT putting into my cookie boxes…

Just one more...

Just one more…

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Filed under Baked Goods, Cookies and Bars, Family, Food

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