Tagalongs, or Peanut Butter Patties, seem to be one of the less remarkable Girl Scout cookies. Everyone likes them, but no one ever seems to call them out as their favorite. My feeling is that these cookies are very reminiscent of candies like peanut butter cups and I think we can all agree that they are a hard act to follow because the combination is such a good one.
So, while I don’t think that this homemade version of Tagalongs is going to replace classic peanut butter cups, they are still really good cookies. The cookie is crisp and a bit plain, although the hint of vanilla in it highlights the peanut butter filling. The chocolate is best in a thin layer, holding everything together in a neat package. I got the ultra-smooth cut in the photo above by using a hot knife; the filling does have a bit more texture to it than that pic might lead you to believe, especially if you use natural peanut butter.
The cookie base for these is the same one that I used to make my homemade Samoas: a tender and crisp shortbread-type cookie. The cookies are about the same size, although since they don’t have a hole in the center, they do need a tiny bit longer in the oven than the other cookies did. I shaped all of these by hand, but you can certainly use a cookie cutter to make them. By hand, simply take a tablespoon-sized ball and flatten it into a 1/4-inch thick disc on the baking sheet. To use a cookie cutter, simply opt for a 1 or 1 1/2 inch round and cut circles on rolled dough. I actually prefer the hand-shaped cookies for these because I felt they had a better shape. The edges spread ever so slightly and the center rose a small amount, too, creating a nice target for the “thumbprints” (the hole for the peanut butter created by pressing a thumb or the back of a spoon into the still hot-from-the-oven cookies).
I used the same peanut butter filling that I used for my homemade peanut butter cups, substituting all creamy peanut butter for the crunchy. It is a stiffer filling than I used for my Do-Si-Dos and works much better in this cookie. These would be nice with crunchy peanut butter, but are somewhat more authentic without it. I increased the amount I used in this batch and did have a bit of peanut butter left over, but the beauty of leftovers with this recipe is that you actually can make the peanut butter cups with leftover chocolate and filling. I wouldn’t want to deprive anyone of that pleasure, so being extremely precise wasn’t a huge concern of mine. Besides, you can always pile up the peanut butter in your cookies if you want to improve on the GS version. Chill the peanut butter filling before dipping the cookies in chocolate to prevent it from softening and losing shape.
The only problem I encountered with these cookies was that the chocolate coating turned out to be quite thick, somewhat overwhelming the flavor of the peanut butter when I used dark chocolate. Semisweet produced a better contrast and, if you like milk chocolate, you might want to try half-and-half. Also, keep the melted chocolate in a glass or pyrex bowl so that it can be set on top of a pan of hot water (like a double boiler) while you work on dipping the cookies. This will keep the chocolate very fluid without the risk of burning it and will enable you to get a nice thin coating.
Homemade Tagalongs (a.k.a. Peanut Butter Patties)
1 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed, followed by the vanilla and milk. The dough should come together into a soft ball.
Take a tablespoon full of dough and flatten it into a disc about 1/4-inch thick. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough. Cookies will not spread too much, so you can squeeze them in more than you would for chocolate chip cookies. (Alternatively, you can use a cookie cutter, as described in the post above).
Bake cookies for 11-13 minutes, until bottoms and the edges are lightly browned and cookies are set.
Immediately after removing cookies from the oven, use your thumb or a small spoon to make a depression in the center of each cookie
Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (natural or regular)
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar*
generous pinch salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
about 8-oz semisweet chocolate
In a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar, salt and vanilla. When the mixture has come together, heat it in the microwave (again in short intervals, stirring frequently), until it is very, very soft. Working carefully with the hot filling, transfer it to a pastry bag (or plastic bag with the tip cut off) and pipe a generous dome of the filling into each cookie’s “thumbprint”.
Chill cookies with filling for 20-30 minutes, or until the peanut butter is firm.
Melt the chocolate in a small, heat-resistant bowl. This can be done in a microwave (with frequent stirring) or on a double boiler, but the bowl of melted chocolate should ultimately be placed above a pan of hot, but not boiling, water to keep it fluid while you work.
Dip chilled cookies into chocolate, let excess drip off, and place on a sheet of parchment paper to let the cookies set up. The setting process can be accelerated by putting the cookies into the refrigerator once they have been coated.
Makes about 3-dozen
*You might need slightly less sugar if you’re using the conventional peanut butter, as it tends to be a bit sweeter. Taste the filling before using to make sure you like the sweet/savory balance.