You are going to LOVE these.
When I came up with the idea for a pb&j hamantaschen I did what I always do – hit up Pinterest. And I was a bit let down by the results. There were plain cookies with a dollop of peanut butter and jelly in the middle. There were peanut butter cookies with just jelly in the middle. But there were no recipes that matched what I had in my head.
What I had in my head was a legit peanut butter and jelly cookie, filled with something a step above just plain pb&j.
Which meant I had to figure it out for myself.
As some of you already know, I love to cook and bake but have zero skills when it comes to recipe development. I can execute like a champ, and even make some (minor) tweaks when needed, but coming up with a “from scratch” recipe is beyond my pay grade.
But I was determined. I mean, really, how hard could it be?
Turns out – in this case, anyway – not so hard.
I knew that I wanted a real peanut butter-y cookie. So I started with my tried and true hamantaschen base, swapped out the white sugar for brown, and added 1/4 cup of peanut butter.
Now for the “jelly” part.
Initially I thought about using fresh strawberries – they seemed the obvious choice, and worked beautifully in these cookies. But hamantaschen need to be much sturdier, and I was concerned that the fresh fruit would make the cookies too mushy.
Next, I considered swirling in some of the strawberry preserves I was using for the filling. But I worried that the flavor of the preserves wouldn’t stand out in the dough, and I really wanted a PB&J (all caps) dough AND filling.
And THEN I remembered freeze dried strawberries.
Unlike traditional dried fruit – which is chewy – freeze dried fruit has a more crisp, almost powdery texture. This makes them (in my opinion) not the most flavorful for straight-up eating, but perfect in baked goods. Especially cookies. They hold their shape and add no additional moisture.
And look how pretty!
Next up was the filling.
This was easy, as I would never use just plain peanut butter, but instead my #1 obsession – peanut butter frosting.
I used half for the filling, along with some strawberry preserves, and the rest to drizzle on top of the cooled cookies. A sprinkling of raw sugar for crunch and these darlings were good to go*.
*Note: I sprinkled the sugar at the very end, on top of the peanut butter drizzle. Going forward, I would sprinkle it after the egg wash, prior to freezing. I’ve written the recipe to reflect this change.
For the dough:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup freeze dried strawberries
1 egg wash, made from 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
For the filling:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 – 3 tablespoons strawberry preserves
Make the dough: Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again. Scrape down the sides. Add the flour and salt and beat just till combined. Add the peanut butter and strawberries and beat till combined.
Divided the dough into two halves and place each between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll each dough to about 1/4″ thickness. Stack the doughs on a baking sheet or cutting board and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to three days.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Make the filling: Beat the peanut butter and confectioner’s sugar till fluffy. Remove half and set aside. Take the remaining half and alternate small spoonfuls with the preserves in a pastry bag. Snip a 1/2″ opening in the bottom.
Working with one dough at a time, remove the top sheet of parchment paper and place on a baking sheet. Cut out circles with a drinking glass or cookie cutter (I used a 2 1/2″ cutter here). Remove trimmings and set aside.
Pipe about 1/2 teaspoon of the peanut butter-jelly filling in the center of each circle. Fold the dough into a triangle shape and pinch the corners firmly together. Brush tops of cookies with a little of the beaten egg, and sprinkle with some raw sugar. Repeat with remaining sheet of chilled dough, and again with the dough scraps. Place cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes (or longer, if the dough has softened).
Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, until golden; about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Warm the reserved peanut butter mixture in the microwave, till softened (about a minute). Transfer to a pastry bag, snip a small opening in the bottom and pipe atop the cooled cookies.
This delicious recipe brought to you by Sheri Silver