Apple Butter Cookies with Penuche Frosting

Written by Tad. Posted in Cookies









I found this in a little grocery-store recipe book called Home-Tested Cookie Recipes. When I Googled the recipe name, I found the same recipe all over. My dad makes penuche (he spells it panoche) and dips it in milk chocolate. It is one of my favorite candies so no big surprise I liked these cookies. I made them with some super tangy apple butter. We made it from little green apples we picked from a tree at the inn where we stayed in Downieville, California when I went mountain biking there in 2006. The cookies are a bit soft. We made some of them into whoopie pies*.


½ cup sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup unsweetened apple butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cup all-purpose flour, 9 ounces
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup cream or half-and-half
1 ½ to 2 ¼ cup powdered sugar


Heat Oven to 350 degrees.

Line cookie sheets with parchment.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside.

Beat white sugar, ½ cup brown sugar and 1 cup butter until creamy.

Add apple butter, vanilla and egg. Beat until light and fluffy.

Add flour mixture. Beat again until well combined.

Stir in nuts.

Drop by tablespoons 2-inches apart onto sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are light brown. Put on wire rack to cool. Frost with Penuche icing.


Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and ½ cup brown sugar in saucepan. Bring to boil and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or until slightly thickened.

Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes (mixture will begin to harden).

Add cream and stir until smooth.

Add powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition, until frosting reaches desired consistency.

Ice cookies. You can put icing on the bottom of one cookie and press the bottom of another on top to form a whoopie pie*.


I used pecans rather than walnuts because I always replace walnuts with pecans.

I just used milk in the icing. I am sure it would be creamier with cream or half-and-half but milk was just fine for me.



Written by Tad. Posted in Kooks

My patient was a middle-aged man who was severely mentally retarded. He was able to do some things like walk and feed himself but was unable to talk. His caretakers brought him in for a paronychium, which is a small abscess under the cuticle of the finger.

The treatment for a paronychium is to drain it. It is usually done by cutting between the cuticle and the nail, lifting the edge of the cuticle and expressing the pus.

We formed a team: the caretaker, the nurse and I. They held his hand as I made a little cut and squeezed a pretty good blob of pus out from under the cuticle and onto the nail. As soon as the patient saw the pus, he broke his hand loose from their hold, stuck the end of his finger in his mouth, sucked the pus off and swallowed it.

It happened so fast and was so unexpected that we were at first startled, then way grossed out. The patient was completely unfazed.

Vertical Stripes

Written by Tad. Posted in Trauma Strap Bags

Anything other than horizontal stripes provides some interesting construction challenges in creating bags. Here are some with vertical stripes that turned out pretty nice. And they look nice on the deck in our back yard.




Sambuca Cookies

Written by Tad. Posted in Cookies









I am always interested in a strange ingredient for a cookie. What could sound weirder  in a cookie than anise flavored liqueur? The chocolate is intense and they do taste like licorice so not everyone will like these but I do and they are certainly different. And they are beautiful.


2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
24 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup Sambuca or other anise-flavored liqueur
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups confectioners sugar


  1. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. Melt chocolate with butter in double boiler or in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Lightly whisk together eggs, walnuts, Sambuca and granulated sugar in another bowl. Stir in flour mixture and chocolate. Dough will be thin. Chill, covered, until firm, about 2 hours.
  4. Heat oven to 350°F.
  5. Sift confectioners sugar onto a plate. Roll 2 tablespoons of dough into balls. Roll balls in confectioners sugar to generously coat.
  6. Arrange balls 2 inches apart on 2 parchment-covered baking sheets and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until puffed and cracked but centers are still a bit soft, 10 to 12 minutes total.
  7. Transfer to racks to cool.


I used pecans and they were great.
If you leave the dough in the refrigerator too long, it will be quite firm and difficult to scoop with cookie scoop.


Duffle Bag

Written by Tad. Posted in Trauma Strap Bags

I have made a couple of duffles, both by special order. One for my daughter, Hilary, which is pictured here. I made another for my friend, Rick, who lives in Reno. He keeps his falconry equipment in it and carries it with him when he flies his falcons.

You Let Them Do That to You in Jail?

Written by Tad. Posted in Kooks

I had a twenty-year-old man come in worried about an infection in his penis. While recently incarcerated, he had agreed to let a fellow inmate perform surgery on him. An incision was made in the skin of the shaft of his penis. The “scalpel” was a toothbrush handle that had been sharpened by rubbing it on concrete. The incision was made without antiseptic or anesthesia.

Once a hole was made in the skin, a plastic ball, taken from a roll-on deodorant, was pushed up under the skin. The skin was then somehow held together until it healed over, securing the plastic ball under the skin against the shaft of his penis.

The patient explained that he did this in order to improve his sex though it was not clear if it was supposed to make it better for him or his partner.

The patient had subsequently been released from custody and wanted the plastic ball taken out. I easily removed it, using antiseptic, anesthesia and a scalpel not made from a toothbrush handle.

Cardamom Chocolate Chip Cookies

Written by Tad. Posted in Cookies

My mother-in-law has a cookbook called Bill Taylor Makes Desserts. I have tried several of his cookie recipes and this is the best and most interesting.

I have not used a lot of cardamom. In fact, when I found this recipe and decided to try it, I went looking in the cupboard for cardamom. Sure enough, I found a bottle which my wife and I figured we probably had since we were married over thirty years ago. I threw it away and bought a new bottle.

The combination of cardamom, coconut and dates makes for a pretty exotic taste.

Mr. Taylor uses a lot of shortening, rather than butter, in his cookies. I tried to “improve” these by making them with butter and they were worse. He also admits to using a lot of pecans in his recipes. I usually leave the nuts out if they are called for but when I did so in this recipe, they were not nearly as good. Bill got this one right!


1 ½ cups shortening
2 ¼ cups brown sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons vanilla
1 ½ cups dates, chopped
3 cups flour, 13.5 ounces
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons cardamom
1 ½ cups shredded coconut
¾ cup rolled oats
2 ¼ cups pecans, chopped
4 ½ cups chocolate chips


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Stir in dates. Let set a few minutes to allow dates to soften.

3. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cardamom.

4. Stir flour mixture into shortening mixture until just combined.

5. Stir in coconut, oats, nuts and chocolate chips.

6. Form on balls on parchment-lined baking sheets.

7. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until just brown around the edges and on the bottom.

Sweet Cough Syrup from a Pediatric Death

Written by Tad. Posted in Kooks

We rarely have pediatric deaths in the emergency department and some of my most painful emergency physician memories are of having to tell parents their child is dead.

We had a three-year-old die this last week. The father brought him in lifeless. We started CPR, put a tube in his airway to press oxygen into his lungs and gave injections of adrenalin to try to get his heart started again.

As do most dead people, he stayed dead. He was one of those “syndrome kids.” He was born with severe physical and mental abnormalities. As a result, he was destined to die and early death like this. That realization blunted the pain in seeing him dead. The pain was also dulled by the realization that he was really dead when he arrived and there was nothing I could have done about it. Still, it was heart wrenching to be with the father as he held the body of his unfortunate son.

While we were trying to revive the patient, I noticed he had obviously been given some sort of a red, sugary, fruity cough syrup sometime before he died. He had vomited so it was all over his face and in his hair. I inadvertently got some of it on myself and the smell of it kind of haunted me for the rest of the shift.

Totally Chocolate Chip Cookies

Written by Tad. Posted in Cookies

Recipe By:

We were invited to an open house by our friends, Tammy and Alex. We went to offer best wishes to their daughter, Ashley, before she left to do missionary work in Moscow. There, we had these cookies, which were made by their friend, Nigella Lawson. They were so good, I insisted they get me the recipe. These are very rich and decadent.

Serving Size:



4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

½ cup butter

½ cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup flour, 2.25 ounces

3 tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 large egg, cold

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips


1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Gently melt bittersweet chocolate and butter over double boiler or in microwave. Set aside.

3. Mix dry ingredients in bowl of electric mixer.

4. Stir in egg and vanilla.

5. Stir in butter/chocolate mixture.

6. Stir in chocolate chips.

7. Form into 2 tablespoon-sized balls and place on baking sheets covered in parchment paper.

8. Bake for about 18 minutes.


1.  I have baked them at 325 degrees in the middle of my oven for 18 minutes and they were great. I also baked them at 300 degrees on convection for 18 minutes as well. Every oven is different so you have to be careful, especially in chocolate cookies where you can’t use the color as a guide to prevent over-cooking. Don’t over cook them!

2. They are amazing with Breyer’s Natural Vanilla ice cream and Mrs. Richards caramel sauce. Just killer.

3. If you want to back off on the chocolate a bit, you can use semi-sweet chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips. The cookies are not as dark, of course, and don’t compromise much on the texture.

Copyright © 2014 Bad Tad, MD