Scout’s Honor Peanut Butter Sandwiches

If you looked through my cookbooks, you’d be able to tell which ones I use the most by the condition of their pages. The books with the best, most reliable recipes have pages that have gotten splattered with batter, sprayed with water, dusted with flour, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and all other manner of baking-related slips and spills.

My King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion is now such a cookbook, its pages warping with good use. Today’s scout’s honor peanut butter sandwich cookies come from the peanut butter chapter, a wonderful collection of classic peanut butter cookies and delicious adaptations. These treats are a home-baked version of Girl Scout peanut butter sandwich cookies, and this recipe yields hearty, peanut buttery treats with a delightful mellow flavor and great texture from the rolled oats that get mixed into the dough. These would also be delicious with a chocolate filling, but the classic peanut butter – which I adapted to include some vanilla extract – is just perfect.

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 5 1/3 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned (rolled) oats

For the filling

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and vanilla. Cream together, scraping the sides of your bowl a few times. Add egg and beat until fluffy.

Add flour and oats mixing (or stirring, if you prefer) until combined.

Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of dough onto prepared cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Gently flatten with the heel of your hand to 1/4 inch thickness (the original recipe said to do this with the bottom of a drinking glass, but mine kept sticking, even after I greased it). Bake for 9-11 minutes, until edges are very light golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on the cookie sheets for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cookies are completely cool, make filling. Combine peanut butter, honey, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract and beat to combine; filling will be fairly thick, almost like the center of a buckeye, and this is the texture you want – don’t thin it out.

Use a 1-inch cookie scoop to scoop filling onto half the cookies; gently press filling down with your fingers and top with another cookie, pressing very, very gently to bring the cookies together but not tear them.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes 17 sandwiches.

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Confetti Cookies

As a busy working mother, my mom had little time for scratch baking, relying on mixes for many of our home-baked treats. Her peanut butter cookies involve a box of yellow cake mix, eggs, oil, and Jif peanut butter, and they are just as delicious to me as ones made completely from scratch.

Whether you bake completely from scratch or from mixes, what really matters is that you make things for the people you love. These cookies, adapted from a recipe from Better Homes & Gardens to include some vanilla extract, are bound for my goddaughter Maureen and her little sister Margo. I suspect they’ll enjoy them just as much as they would cookies made completely from scratch.

Ingredients

  • 1 box white cake mix*
  • 1 egg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles

*I used Duncan Hines cake mix; your dough may take longer to chill depending on which brand of mix you use. 

Preparation

In a large bowl, stir together cake mix, egg, melted butter, and sprinkles. Cover and chill for 30 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.

On a very lightly floured surface, roll dough into a log about 2 inches wide. Wrap in plastic and chill until completely firm, about 30 minutes in the freezer or 1 hour in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove plastic wrap from dough and slice into 1/4-inch slices. Place cookies on prepared sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie, as they spread when baking.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, until edges are light golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for 3 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes 30.

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Last weekend at the grocery store, as I waited at the self-checkout, I spotted a Better Homes & Gardens fall baking magazine. Flipping through, I saw chapters on maple, cobblers, whole grain treats, apples, cinnamon, and peanut butter…and I simply had to get it.

The next time I make this recipe, I’ll remember to leave about 1/4 inch of dough uncovered to make a seal; I had a hard time getting my dough to stick together because I spread my cinnamon-sugar mixture all the way to each edge, which I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to do. Oh well. The cookies were delicious anyway! I added a bit of vanilla extract to the icing for a richer flavor, but you could certainly leave it plain. These cookies are also delicious without the icing, so you could skip that step if you prefer (see the photo below).

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

For the icing

  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • About 2 teaspoons milk

Preparation

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add sugar and salt and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl a few times.

Beat in 1 egg and vanilla, then beat in flour.

Wrap dough in plastic and chill until easy to handle, about 30-60 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar and cinnamon until well-blended.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 15 x 10 rectangle. Brush with lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, leaving about 1/4 inch edge of the far end to make a seam. Roll up from the long end closest to you to make a log; cover with plastic wrap and freeze for about 30 minutes, until firm enough to slice.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line three cookie sheets with parchment.

Remove cookie log from freezer and slice into 1/4 inch slices; place about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 8-11 minutes, until edges are very light brown. Remove from oven and cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, beat cream cheese and butter in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat well; add vanilla extract, then add milk about 1/2 teaspoon at a time until you have an easily spreadable consistency.

Frost cookies and place in the refrigerator to set the icing; store iced cookies between sheets of waxed paper in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Makes about 40 cookies.

The un-iced cookies are delicious, too!

Whale Cookies

My beach/aquatic cookie cutter set that yielded last week’s octopus cookies also includes this adorable whale. It’s just such a fun, happy-looking cookie, I feel kind of bad eating them (but only for a second, because this recipe really is delicious).

I chose a light blue frosting for these cookies and frosted them by hand, then piped on the whiles of the eyes and water spouts, then the pupils and mouths. I decided to give these happy little whales smiles, but you could leave them without mouths if you like.

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • dash of salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • Blue food coloring
  • Black food coloring

Preparation

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy; add eggs and beat well.

Add vanilla and about half the flour mixture, beating until combined; beat in remaining flour.

Note: if your dough is too crumbly, you can add just a bit of water or another ¼ teaspoon of vanilla.

Divide dough in three portions and knead each just slightly until dough sticks together.  Form each portion into a disc and wrap in plastic.

Refrigerate until just barely firm, about 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line several baking sheets with foil or parchment.

Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness and cut with an octopus cookie cutter, placing cookies a few inches apart on your baking sheets; I fit 6 cookies on each sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just golden.

Cool on a wire rack before frosting.

To make the frosting:

Combine shortening, egg whites, salt, and one cup powdered sugar in a mixing bowl.  Beat on low speed until combined, then increase speed to medium, then high, and beat for one minute.

Add additional cup powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed for one minute.

Add vanilla and almond extracts.  Beat on high speed for one or two minutes, until very well combined.

Check the frosting’s texture; it should be like very, very soft peanut butter and very easily spreadable.  If necessary, add one to two teaspoons of water to thin the frosting and beat well to combine.

Reserve a small portion (about 1/2 cup) of white frosting for eyes and water spouts; set aside.

Reserve a very small portion (about 4-5 tablespoons) of frosting for pupils and mouths; tint black and set aside.

Tint the remaining frosting pale blue and frost the bodies of the whales first.

Fit a small piping bag with a small plain tip and fill with white frosting. Pipe on eyes, then switch to a star tip and pipe on water spouts.

Fit a small piping bag with a small plain tip and fill with black frosting. Pipe on pupils, then mouths.

Allow frosting to set before storing; store cookies in an airtight container between sheets of waxed paper at room temperature for up to 3 days. The eyes and suction cups may flatten a bit, but that’s okay.

Makes about 48.

Octopus Cookies

Starbucks has these adorable octopus cut-out sugar cookies right now. I posted a picture of one on Facebook a few weeks back, and a friend of mine commented that I should make them. And so, I did.

I have a set of beach/sea life cookie cutters, and they just happen to include an octopus. The next time I make these, I may pipe their little eyes further down on their heads so they look more like real octopuses (much to my surprise, the plural of octopus is not octopi), but I think these turned out really well. I used a combination of piping/hand frosting for these, as it’s much easier to pipe the frosting onto the tentacles and up onto the body than it is to frost the whole cookie by hand.

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • dash of salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • Blue food coloring
  • Green food coloring
  • Black food coloring

 

Preparation

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy; add eggs and beat well.

Add vanilla and about half the flour mixture, beating until combined; beat in remaining flour.

Note: if your dough is too crumbly, you can add just a bit of water or another ¼ teaspoon of vanilla.

Divide dough in three portions and knead each just slightly until dough sticks together.  Form each portion into a disc and wrap in plastic.

Refrigerate until just barely firm, about 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line several baking sheets with foil or parchment.

Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness and cut with an octopus cookie cutter, placing cookies a few inches apart on your baking sheets; I fit 6 cookies on each sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just golden.

Cool on a wire rack before frosting.

To make the frosting:

Combine shortening, egg whites, salt, and one cup powdered sugar in a mixing bowl.  Beat on low speed until combined, then increase speed to medium, then high, and beat for one minute.

Add additional cup powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed for one minute.

Add vanilla and almond extracts.  Beat on high speed for one or two minutes, until very well combined.

Check the frosting’s texture; it should be like very, very soft peanut butter and very easily spreadable.  If necessary, add one to two teaspoons of water to thin the frosting and beat well to combine.

Reserve a small portion (about 1/4 cup) of white frosting for eyes and suction cups; set aside.

Reserve a very small portion (just a few tablespoons) of frosting for pupils; tint black and set aside.

Tint remaining frosting using blue and green food coloring for a blue/green shade. Fit a large piping bag with a large plain tip and pipe frosting onto each cookie, filling in the tentacles first and piping up onto the rest of the body; use a small offset spatula to spread the frosting.

Fit a small piping bag with a small plain tip and fill with white frosting. Pipe on eyes, then pipe suction cups on tentacles.

Fit a small piping bag with a small plain tip and fill with black frosting. Pipe on pupils.

Allow frosting to set before storing; store cookies in an airtight container between sheets of waxed paper at room temperature for up to 3 days. The eyes and suction cups may flatten a bit, but that’s okay.

Makes about 36.

Snickerdoodle Sandwich Cookies

Some time ago I started thinking about a snickerdoodle sandwich cookie, based on the vanilla bean sandwich cookies that my dear friend Diana absolutely loves. I’m proud to say that I adapted that recipe with great success and created a wonderful treat with the perfect balance of cinnamon and vanilla, two of my favorite flavors.

The cookies themselves would be fine on their own, but sandwiching them with vanilla cream filling takes this recipe up a delicious notch. You’ll have plenty of filling left over (I’m making chocolate cupcakes and filling them with the remaining portion), so you can be generous with your portions. Someday I’ll need to figure out how to cut the filling recipe down!

Vanilla Snickerdoodle Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • 10 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with 1/2 cup sugar; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, kosher salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and remaining 1 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add egg and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until smooth.

With the mixer running on low, gradually add flour mixture.

Shape dough into 1/2 teaspoon-sized balls, about the size of a gumball, and roll in cinnamon sugar.

Place on baking sheets about 2 inches apart and bake for 10-11 minutes, until tops are very light golden and just set.

Cool on baking sheets for 2-3 minutes, then transfer on the parchment to wire racks to cool completely before filling.

Vanilla Cream Filling

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and shortening.

Add powdered sugar in small batches, beating until combined.  Once all sugar is incorporated, beat on medium speed for two minutes

Add vanilla and beat to combine.

Place about 1 teaspoon of filling onto half of the cookies, spreading to the edges. Top with another cookie; store at room temperature for up to 3 days. Makes 28 sandwiches.

Chocolate Chip Meringues

What do you do with a leftover egg white? You make a small batch of meringue cookies. I had a leftover egg white from this weekend’s M&M cookies and didn’t want it to go to waste, so I cut down a standard meringue recipe, stirred in some miniature chocolate chips, and pow: chocolate chip meringues.

Meringues are both easy and tricky at the same time. They require few ingredients, but a very long mixing time. And for heaven’s sake, don’t try to make them by hand; get yourself a mixer so you can put it on high speed and tidy up your kitchen while the egg whites whip themselves into a cloud of deliciousness. When folding in chocolate chips or coconut or whatever strikes your fancy, do so very gently to preserve the volume of air in the batter.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg white, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/16 teaspoon cream of tartar*
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips

*One-sixteenth? Yep, just fill your 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon 1/4 full. 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, combine egg white, vanilla extract, and cream of tartar. Beat on high speed until soft peaks form (soft peaks curl over). Slowly add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat on high speed until stiff peaks form (stiff peaks stand straight up). Gently fold in miniature chocolate chips.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag without a tip, or place in a large zip-top bag and snip off one corner. Pipe meringue in circles, making them as large or as small as you like. My batch yielded 8 medium-small cookies.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until meringues are set and bottoms are very light brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.