Tag Archives: Texas

Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesThere is a small town between Austin, Texas, and my hometown of Fort Worth that is called Hamilton. From the passenger seat of my parents’ SUV, it looks like any other small Texas town—there’s nothing remarkable about it from that particular vantage point, except that it is home to my family’s favorite pit stop, Dutchman’s Hidden Valley Country Store.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesI should say that we have always called it The Flying Dutchman. I don’t know why—that’s just what we’ve always called it. I’d like to tell you that we will change our ways and call it Dutchman’s Hidden Valley from here on out, but we won’t so I won’t. A 35+ year family habit is not easily broken.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesMy dad began stopping at Dutchman’s Hidden Valley in the early 1980s on his way to visit my older sister down in Fredericksburg. He’d stretch his legs and grab a Bavarian ham sandwich before getting back on the road. When he met my mom, he introduced her to the store. Fast forward ten or so years, and she and my grandma began taking Eliot and me to Dutchman’s on our way to family reunions in Kerrville. And now, twenty years beyond that, my parents take the back route to visit my older sister again, this time in Austin. They say it’s because I-35 is a mess, which is true, but I think it’s actually so they can get a sandwich.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesI haven’t lived in Texas or driven the back roads in a very long time now, but a couple of Christmases ago I had the pleasure of riding with my mom from my sister’s home in Austin to my parents’ in Fort Worth. We were listening to Hamilton while zipping through Hamilton’s city limit (so meta!), when she suggested I call Dutchman’s and order some sandwiches. I did, and when we arrived we grabbed a couple of bags of chips and a Diet Coke to split, and in a snap decision, two old-fashioned peanut butter cookies. The sandwiches and chips and soda all tasted like they always have, but the peanut butter cookies were new to both of us and so much more than we had bargained for—not that we’ve ever been served anything less than perfection at Dutchman’s.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, crunchy and not-too-sweet, with an almost-savory peanut butter flavor, my mom and I talked about them all the way home. Dutchman’s peanut butter cookies are probably the best I’ve ever had in my life, and I have thought of them frequently and fondly for the last 15 months. I’m still kicking myself for not grabbing another on the way out the door—I think they were 60 cents each.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesNow, I am sure I will end up in Texas at some point this year, but I don’t know when, and I am highly unlikely to find myself passing through the sleepy metropolis of Hamilton. My trips are rarely more than a few days, so road trips to get Bavarian ham sandwiches and chips and my newfound-favorite peanut butter cookies are difficult to squeeze in.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesThis is all a very long way of saying that I have done my best to recreate Dutchman’s peanut butter cookies in my New York kitchen. I’ve done a pretty good job, if I do say so myself 🙂 Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesThese Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies are crispy and crunchy (duh) and sort of sandy. They aren’t overly sweet—there’s barely 1/2 teaspoon of added sugar in each one—and while I believe Dutchman’s cookies’ savory edge may come from lard (rural Texas, y’all), mine comes from a smattering of roasted peanuts. If you want a sweeter cookie, you can swap all or part of the peanuts for chocolate chips, or leave the add-ins out entirely.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesHands-down, my favorite part of this recipe is that it doesn’t require a chill. The dough is sturdy and easy to roll from the get-go, so the time between the moment the peanut butter cookie craving strikes and when they are baked and ready is mercifully brief. Oh, and these cookies hold up well for at least ten days and develop deeper peanut butter flavor over time, so you can eat them frequently and think of them fondly and not have to worry about when you’ll have time to bake more, or when you can get to a roadside antique store & sandwich counter in Hamilton, Texas, to get your fix.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies
makes about 80 small cookies

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup creamy-style peanut butter (not natural-style)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)

For crosshatching:
granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment, set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and peanut butter until fluffy. Add granulated and light brown sugars, and beat to combine. Mix in egg and vanilla. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in chopped peanuts.

Scoop dough by the 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons), roll into balls, and set 2-inches apart on prepared pans.

Make the crosshatch. Lightly grease the back of a fork and dip in sugar. Press fork into each dough ball, then turn the fork 90 degrees and press again. Re-sugar the fork between cookies.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes, rotating pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back at the 5 minute mark. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, crosshatching, and baking with remaining dough, letting the pans return to room temperature between batches.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week.

Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

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Grapefruit Kolaches

Grapefruit KolachesToday is Texas Independence Day! On March 2, 1836, Texas became independent from Mexico, briefly becoming the Republic of Texas before it became part of the United States in 1845. Growing up in the Lone Star State, I can’t recall ever acknowledging this holiday in any formal way, but when I realized that March 2nd fell on a “blog day,” I set out to bake up a Texan delicacy: kolaches.
Grapefruit KolachesIf you’ve ever driven up or down I-35 between Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth, you know the turn-off for West (the town, not the direction) means two things: a pit-stop and kolaches (“kohl-ah-cheh”). This small Czech enclave is one of the most popular food attractions in Texas. I’m not exactly sure how this came to be the state capitol of Czech pastry, but basically everyone who has ever stopped at the Czech Stop is grateful it exists. Kolaches are the ultimate in Texan road trip snacks.
Grapefruit KolachesFun fact: I happen to be of Czech descent (my mother’s maiden name is Fitzek), but my ancestors came to the U.S. by way of Chicago and didn’t bake, as far as I know. But back to the pastries…
Grapefruit KolachesIf you haven’t had a kolache, just imagine a puffy, pillowy-soft pastry filled with sweet fruit filling (or sweet cheese or savory sausage & jalapeño). Apricot, prune, and poppy seed are some of the most popular traditional flavors, but when I set out to make quality homemade kolaches, I wanted to go extra Texan. I set my focus on a sweet-tart filling made from Texas Ruby Red Grapefruits.
Grapefruit KolachesAs far as I’m concerned, kolaches are a great treat any time of day, but I think they’re especially good alongside a cup of coffee on a weekend morning. But who wants to get up way early and work with yeast dough for three hours on the weekend?!
Grapefruit Kolaches My solution is to make the dough the night before and let it rise in the fridge while I sleep. This cuts waaaaay down on the early morning time commitment. Plus, the dough is initially super soft, thanks to the additions of sour cream, whole milk, and melted butter. It’s much easier to manipulate after a long chill.
Grapefruit KolachesGrapefruit KolachesJust punch it down in the morning…Grapefruit KolachesGrapefruit KolachesGrapefruit Kolaches
…roll it out and cut it into 2 1/2” circles. Brush them with melted butter.
Grapefruit KolachesGrapefruit KolachesLet them rise for half an hour while you mix together the posypka (crumble topping) and add a little flour to the homemade grapefruit curd filling. This will help keep it from running out of the kolaches while baking.
Grapefruit KolachesGrapefruit KolachesOnce 30 minutes are up, press a well into each piece of dough.
Grapefruit KolachesFill them with grapefruit filling…Grapefruit Kolaches
…and top them with the posypka.
Grapefruit KolachesBake the kolaches at 350F for 12-14 minutes, just until they’re barely starting to turn golden and smell like butter and grapefruit and nostalgia for your Texan childhood.

That last part may just be for me 🙂
Grapefruit KolachesGive the finished kolaches another brush of melted butter before digging in.
Grapefruit KolachesWhether or not you are familiar with these Czech pastries, you are in for a treat! Grapefruit Kolaches are super soft and buttery and the grapefruit filling has the perfect sweet-tart balance. One (or two) paired with a cup of coffee can make almost anyone happy to be awake.
Grapefruit KolachesAs if there were any doubt, I’m always happy to be Texan.Grapefruit Kolaches

Grapefruit Kolaches
makes about 22 pastries

1/2 cup (1 stick) + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 medium lemon)
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature

Filling:
1 cup grapefruit curd (recipe below)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Posypka (Crumble):
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

The night before you want to eat kolaches, makethe dough. Cut 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter into 8 pieces.Combine butter, whole milk, and sour cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Melt together, stirring occasionally, until mixture is warm to the touch (about 115F). Pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the top and allow to prove for 5 minutes. Mixture will have just a few small bubbles.

Add 1 cup of the flour, the lemon zest, and salt to the wet ingredients. Fold together. Fold in beaten eggs, followed by 2 1/4 more cups of flour. Dough will be very soft and a bit sticky.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5 minutes before forming into a ball. Dough may be challenging to manipulate—use a bench scraper for easiest kneading. Grease a mixing bowl with oil. Place dough ball in the bowl, being sure to grease it on all sides. Press plastic wrap to the surface of the dough. Refrigerate overnight, about 8-12 hours.

In the morning, line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Remove dough from refrigerator and discard plastic wrap. Into two pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough until it’s 1/2-inch thick. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut kolaches, rerolling as necessary. Place 3 inches apart on prepared pans.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Brush on the tops of cut kolache dough. Loosely cover with plastic wrap (or greased foil) and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling. In a small bowl, use a fork to stir together grapefruit curd and flour until combined. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Make the posypka (crumble). Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir with a fork until crumbly.

Position oven racks near the center. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Remove plastic wrap from one baking sheet of dough. Flour the back of a tablespoon and press it into the center of one kolache to make a well. Immediately fill with 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) of grapefruit filling. Flour the tablespoon again and repeat process with all remaining kolaches on the baking pan. Top all kolaches with a big pinch of the posypka. Repeat process with remaining baking sheet.

Bake kolaches uncovered for 12-14 minutes, rotating pans front to back at the 6 Minute mark. They will be barely-golden when they are done. Brush bakes kolaches with 1 tablespoon melted butter.

Let kolaches cool slightly on the pans. Serve warm.

Kolaches are best the day they are made, but may be refrigerated for a couple of days. Warm before serving.

Grapefruit Curd
makes about 1 1/3 cups

1 1/2 cups fresh-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice, from about 2 large grapefruits
2 tablespoons grapefruit zest, from about 2 large grapefruits
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice, from about 1/2 medium lemon
1 large egg + 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 24 small cubes

Pour grapefruit juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until reduced to 2/3 cup (about 12-15 minutes). Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.

Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

In the heatproof bowl, whisk together grapefruit zest, sugar, warm grapefruit reduction, lemon juice, and eggs. Set bowl over the pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture thickens slightly (it should coat the back of a spoon). Add butter 1-2 cubes at a time, whisking until melted. Continue until all butter is used. This should take 11-15 minutes total.

Set a fine mesh sieve over a medium mixing bowl. Push curd through sieve to remove zest. Transfer curd to a jar (or other container) and press a piece of plastic wrap to the top. Chill well.

Grapefruit KolachesGrapefruit Curd