mini tagalong cheesecakes

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As many of you are aware, FH and I were assaulted by tiny Girl Scouts the other week. Despite my best efforts, I was left with a couple boxes of Tagalongs hanging out in the pantry.  

I hadn’t opened them yet because… well, I know what happens when I open a box of Girl Scout cookies (or any cookies, to be honest) and let’s just say it’s not pretty.

Those “servings” on the side of the box? Lies.

The number of servings is closer to one than the number alleged on the side of the box, and the serving size varies mainly depending on how much space is between me and my self-loathing on that day.  (Oh, I went to the gym yesterday? That’s like 10 extra cookies!)

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A question lingered a moment in my head, “Do these little monsters know what they’re doing when they chase us with cookies and look at us with their stupid doe-eyed faces? Do they!?”

Like, I can walk by a cookie display at the store without caving (usually), but walking by a small child with a sad look who is practically begging me to purchase cookies? Even worse, one that COMES TO MY DOOR WITH COOKIES AND TRIES TO GUILT ME INTO BUYING THEM?

I’m pretty sure they know what they are doing to us. Preying on the weak.

So I was left with a problem to solve – how do I open the box of cookies without immediately inhaling all of the contents and collapsing into a pile of self-loathing on the floor?

My solution? Chop up all the cookies and divide them between another bite-sized treat… Thus, the mini Tagalong cheesecake was born.

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tagalong cheesecakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 21 cheesecakes

Serving Size: 1 min icheesecake

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 cup peanut butter (not "all natural", I use Jif)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 box Tagalongs, coarsely chopped** (or 1.5 cups mix-ins of your choice)
  • 21 whole cookies* (see note below)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees and line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each liner* (see note below)
  2. In a small bowl, gently beat eggs with vanilla extract, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl or stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Add peanut butter and continue beating until incorporated.
  4. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until combined, scrape down sides of the bowl. .
  5. Drizzle in egg mixture, a bit at a time, beating until incorporated. Add sour cream and beat until combined.
  6. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl and stir in chopped cookies by hand.
  7. Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake about 22 minutes, or until filling is set. Outsides should be stiff but it's ok if the centers jiggle a little when you tap the pan.
  8. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate uncovered (or they will get condensation on top) at least 4 hours or overnight.
  9. Serve with whipped cream, drizzled chocolate, and additional chopped cookies, if desired.

Notes

*For the "crust" you can use a cookie of your choice - I used a second box of Tagalongs for the first 16 and then used Oreos as needed for the rest.

**You could use 1.5 to 2 cups of any mix-ins for these cheesecakes - chopped peanut butter cups or chocolate/peanut butter chips would also be great.

I got 21 cupcakes out of this recipe, your yeild may vary depending on the depth of your cupcake tins.

With the variety of frozen cheesecakes sold in stores, I'm willing to bet that you could freeze these and thaw as needed but have yet to test this on my own.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/02/25/minitagalong-peanut-butter-cheesecake-recipe/

 tagalong cheesecake pin 0959

samoa cookie bars

m4s0n501

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Saturday morning a strange thing happened – someone knocked on the door.

This might not seem that strange to you, however, we live in a pretty quiet area and we know approximately zero people so we basically never get visitors. Like, ever.

And when we do, we follow a strict protocol involvng things like muting the TV and waiting for the person to leave.  This time, however, our front door was wide open and we were sitting in the living room (which is where the front door leads into) so I wasn’t confident that the whole “muting the TV” thing would work.

Unless we could also convince them that we were statues…

FH told me to “handle it” so I got up to assess the situation and there she was – standing no more than three feet tall, quite possibly the smallest Girl Scout I had ever seen.  Normally I am a firm believer of the “stranger danger” motto, but she was pretty small so I was pretty sure I could take her if things went south.

She mumbled something shyly about cookies and I assumed that in this case “handle it” meant to find any cash I had on hand and throw it at her in exchange for cookies, so I yelled for FH to get his wallet. If FH’s “handle it” meant for me to tell her to go away he was sadly mistaken, because who can say no to a little girl? No one.  Well maybe this guy could, but I don’t have any Knuckle Blasters so that’s not even an option.

Even if I could say “no” to a small child, I definitely couldn’t say no to cookies, especially since for the other 11 months out of the year I listen to FH go on and on about how much he loves samoas and how delicious they are. So I quickly purchased a box of Samoas from her and ran back inside, closing the door behind us to prevent any future incidents.

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FH hurried into the kitchen and ripped into them, took a bite, and… groaned?

It wasn’t the usual “these are so good” sound that you might hear when you eat your favorite cookie. It was a more whiny tone filled with dismay and dissatisfaction.

I asked him what was wrong, hoping for something cool like finding a finger or a dead bug or something like you hear about in those news stories. But, no. Nothing so exciting.

His “problem” was that just last week I made these samoa bars for him and apparently the flavor was still fresh in his mind and now he real samoa cookies, the ones that inspired the very bars that I made because he loved the cookies so much, are now “ruined” for him.

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Ruined.

His word, not mine.

I will admit that these bars are bit more “grown up” than their ancestors. Rather than just being a vessel to carry the caramel, this cookie layer is thicker than that of the original samoa with a bit more crunch and a more intense vanilla flavor. Meanwhile, the caramel layer is a bit more complex with a hint of saltiness, and the dark chocolate gives the perfect bit of bitter-sweet to compliment the sweet caramel and cookie.

Oh yes, and don’t let me forget the ground unicorns and cocaine, but those ingredients are optional.

So at the risk of ruining the legendary Girl Scout cookies for someone you love…

And at the risk of putting thousands of young girls out of business…

Give these bars a try.

photo

Ground unicorns and cocaine optional.

samoa bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: One 9-by-13 pan

Ingredients

    For the cookie layer
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • For the caramel layer
  • 3.5 cups shredded coconut
  • 2 11-oz packages caramel bits
  • 3 Tablespoons whole milk or cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • For the chocolate drizzle
  • 6 oz dark chocolate (I used the Ghiradelli melting wafers)

Instructions

    For the cookies:
  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract and milk. Add flour and mix on low until just incorporated. It will be on the dry side.
  3. Pour out onto parchment paper and form into general rectangle shape. Roll close to 9 x 13” and transfer into 9 x 13 baking pan. Press into bottom of pan until it reaches the edges, leaving a slight lip on the edges.
  4. Poke holes in shortbread with a fork and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, until lightly golden on top. Cool completely in pan before topping.
  5. For the coconut/caramel layer:
  6. Toast the coconut by placing on a parchment-lined baking sheet and baking at 300F for about 15 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning. Coconut is done when it is a golden-brown color. Set aside to cool.
  7. Melt the caramel bits with the milk and salt per package directions, until smooth. Once metled, stir in the vanilla extract and the coconut.
  8. Pour onto the cookie layer, spreading into an even layer with a spatula and pressing down with your hands.
  9. For the chocolate layer:
  10. Melt chocolate at 50% power in the microwave starting for 1 minute, then continuing in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Drizzle over coconut layer and allow to cool completely. Once hardened, cut the cookies into bars and store at room temperature in an airtight container.
http://wee-eats.com/2014/02/09/samoa-cookie-bars/

[ shorbread adapted from here]

samoapin

thursday things

Hope everyone had a great holiday – it was rainy here in Phoenix. Hilarious that the one time it decides to rain in the past month or so was on the 4th of July.

My lemon tree definitely enjoyed the cooler weather (even if it was just for a day) and the humidity…. Unfortunately I’ve already killed all my baby lemons so it’s too little too late for that front.  Another score for my “black thumb”, reaffirming that this someecard was basically made for me:

I attempted to make “Red, White, and Blue” cupcakes for Independence Day, but I ended up hating the vanilla frosting. Since I was out of powdered sugar, I figured I would frost them with the leftover chocolate frosting and put on holiday sprinkles.

Turns out I didn’t have any red/white/blue sprinkles… I did, however, have dinosaur sprinkles. I ended up with vanilla cupcakes (half of them red) with chocolate frosting and dinosaur sprinkles… How patriotic. :) Sidenote: People are very confused by vanilla cupcakes that are red.

In other news, I finally tracked down the new Girl Scout Crunch Bars. I immediately tore into all three flavors. You know, for science. The verdict? They’re all delicious… Dare I say more delicious than the actual cookies? Big shocker, I know.

Despite Tagalongs being my favorite Girl Scout Cookie, I think Somoas took the gold in candy bar form.

The Tagalong bars were just so close to a Reese’s Sticks that it was almost not worth giving them a different name. But obviously being so widely popular, they had to make them. And since they made them, I had to eat them.

The Thin Mint one was so dark, chocolatey, and crunchy that I almost went weak in the knees. I don’t even care that much about actual Thin Mints, but these… yeah. Worth it.

Being “limited edition” I obviously had to go hoarder-style. Which kinda makes me feel awful about myself with a pantry full of Birthday Cake Oreos and a fridge full of Girl Scout candy bars… but yeah. Whatever. I do what I want. The Hershey’s was on sale 2-for-one… DON’T JUDGE ME!!!

I baked the round 1 recipe of the “Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake” contender, and ….. CAN’T TELL YOU ANYTHING ABOUT IT!

If it wins, you will get the recipe. If not…. Then it’s on to round two! I baked them and took them into work and forced my work people to fill out the survey, then forced my BF to fill out a survey…  I’ll probably submit my official feedback form today. I can provide you with frosting recipe, though. Cream Cheese Chocolate Frosting.

Oh! Also, please check Jeni’s product locator as their ice cream just appeared in the grocery store right by my house!!! They even sell some of her ice cream cookies!!! None of the ice cream cookies I wanted, but I was still SO EXCITED!

I stumbled across this s’more-stuffed cookie that put my cookie-stuffed-cookies to shame. Pure shame.

I don’t remember exactly where. I assume it was on Pinterest. There is so much delicious on there… Judging by the fact that there is A S’MORE INSIDE OF THAT COOKIE, I’m guessing that is an actual salad plate. Salad plate sized cookies are always a good thing, right?

girl scout fake out

Tagalong Bars

Everyone loves girl scout cookies. I think part of their allure is that you can only have them one time out of the year. You spend the whole year building them up in your head, even resorting to stalking little girls… Apparently stalking children is OK, so long as they’re the ones using the treats to lure you to their vans… “Come over here, I have a van full of cookies”… I’m onto you, girl scouts…

No matter how much you love girl scout cookies, there’s no way you can look past their insane price tags. Well you can, but I had to limit myself to two boxes last year. TWO BOXES!!! I mean, they’re usually parked right outside the grocery store, which sells similar cookies at half the price. I get that we’re helping their cause, but really? Four to five dollars a box? And there’s only like twelve cookies in there… that’s going to last me what, six minutes? Maybe seven if I slow down to savor them…

Some time last week I made the millionaire shortbread recipe from my Baked cookbook, but was completely underwhelmed. I may post the recipe, since tons of people rave about it, but it was just too… monotone. It didn’t have enough flavor, and the flavor it did have just kinda melded together into one basic flavor: sugar. I tried sprinkling some sea salt on top which helped, but not enough to make me eat them. I had however been planning to try my hand at Tagalongs for some time, and the millionaire shortbread motivated me to finally make them, being that they are similar in that they are layered shortbread bars.

No way I’m rolling and cutting 43824239430 shortbread cookies, pressing a little indent into each one, filling it with peanut butter and then covering it in chocolate. Just typing that made me tired. Bar form? Now that’s what I’m talking about. I knew what not to do with the shortbread from the millionaire bars, so I found a new shortbread recipe and set myself on the path to girl scout cookie heaven. If you like Tagalongs, you’ll love these – they’re so good. You must make them. Must.

Home Made “Tagalong” Bars

[ Printable Recipe ]

For the cookie layer

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk

For the peanut butter layer

  • 1 2/3 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate layer*

  • 6 ounces semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes

For the cookies:

  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract and milk. Add flour and mix on low until just incorporated. It will be on the dry side.
  3. Pour out onto parchment paper and form into general rectangle shape. Roll close to 9 x 13” and transfer into 9 x 13 baking pan. Press into bottom of pan until it reaches the edges, leaving a slight lip on the edges.
  4. Poke holes in shortbread with a fork and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, until lightly golden on top. Cool completely on wire rack before topping.

For the filling:

  1. Beat the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until mixed. Spread over shortbread layer. It will be thick and difficult to spread, an offset spatula worked best for me J

For the topping:

  1. Melt chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a double boiler*. Pour over peanut butter layer and place in fridge to harden.

Notes:

*If you’re lazy you can use just melted chocolate, about 7 or 8 ounces will cover it.

*Melt in a double boiler, a non-reactive bowl over simmering water, or a microwave in 30 sec intervals @ 50% power

*Cut with a knife, wiping with a warm, damp cloth in between. They may get a little messy…

[ shorbread adapted from here ]

[ chocolate layer adapted from Baked ]