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Posts Tagged ‘peanut butter’

You’re broke.  I’m not trying to be a prick, but you are.  You lost your job, you had to downsize your life, and get a lame part-time job.  While all of these  things are huge set backs, you don’t have to be the Grinch at your holiday get-together nor do you have to show up with the bag of coal (which I imagine is an expensive gift anyway – and total NOT green…).  I wish I could instruct you on producing homemade jams and other canned goods but alas, no one has offered to let me borrow their canning supplies (save my BIL 2,000 miles away).  Instead, load up on some chocolate, peanuts, peanut butter, corn syrup, and some booze because you are staying home and turning your kitchen into a candy factory!  Let’s give the gift of sweets, made with love – something I haven’t yet seen a commercial about from Hershey’s.

Here are a few things that I want to remind you to make as gifts:

  1. Diable Peanut Brittle.  I know one ought not think of evil thoughts like…diablo during such a festive season.  But it’s good and your receivers will be way pleased.

2.   Caramel:  Who can resist the milky goodness – and heavy cream laden caramel?  It’s so delicious, and clearly                         made with love.

3.   Chocolate Covered Caramels:  If you want to get super wild, take the caramels from above, cover them in                      your favorite chocolate (I always prefer bittersweet when baking with an already very sweet product), dip,                          decorate and fin.

4.   PEANUT BUTTER BALLS: You have already ‘wowed’ your friends, family, mail delivery person and cats with your candy making abilities.  However, now is the time to really suck up to that manager of yours and make peanut butter balls.  Though somewhat time consuming, the general idea behind PB Balls is simple; it merely involves the creaming method, tempering chocolate and coating peanut butter, after of course you formed them in to balls (many ball-base comments to follow). I totally gave you the tools in the above posts to set you up to dominate PBBs!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 # butter (two sticks) melted
  • 2 cups of your favorite peanut butter (chunky, creamy natural?  I don’t give a damn  These are YOUR balls!)
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2 cups dry/powdered milk (found in a box, not in an aluminum can like evaporated milk)
  • 2 cups of cheapo corn flakes – because why would you get Corn Flakes?  Let the PB do the talking here.

Take all of the above in your mixer and cream until thoroughly blended.

At this juncture, you PB mix is going to be way too warm to ball up.  Just place it all in a bowl and keep in the refrigerator until it and you, are ready for more work.  I needed a culinary beak for a few days, but when I was good and ready, I started balling them up.  I chose to make each serving only a teaspoon – big enough for one bite – then proceeded to roll the peanut butter in to a ball in my (clean) hands.  I set the balls aside on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  After heavy handling like this, the mixture becomes warm and needs to cool down over night before being coated in chocolate.

I put the cookie sheet with the balls in the freezer to get nice and hard.  A day or so later, I was ready (mentally anyway.  If you are mentally ready to dip over 100 PBBS in chocolate the next morning, they WILL be ready to go.  Unless your freezer is set to tropical rather than tundra) to temper my favorite bittersweet chocolate to dip the balls into.

Using candy dipping tools, a fork, or a skewer, merely coat and shake off any excess chocolate from the balls (dark – and I assume bittersweet chocolate – should reach a temperature between 110-120F to be tempered.  Though I am new to the game so I welcome any credible advice).  Have another  parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet ready to place the newly chocolate coated balls on.  The first few dozen will harden up quickly since they are so cold.  However you want o make sure that your chocolate is not so hot as to melt the PBBs.  Though tempered  at 120, you should coat the chocolate at a temperature ranging between 86-90F.  Will you live if it is a tad warmer?  Yes.  Though it may not have the same beautiful finish a week later.

Since we eat with our mouths and eyes, the last thing you want your gift receivers to think of is rabbit poo as they bite in to your delicious PBBs.  So when the chocolate has hardened, make it look pretty by drizzling some chocolate over it, all spidery-web-like.

When finished, I like to put the balls in the freezer again to harden up the PB though I am unsure if it is necessary.  The PB mixture is awesome and the corm flakes add a really nice mouth feel, but more importantly, your recipients will be wowed.

If you get done making all of this candy and feel as though it still needs some bulk, add an assortment of wonderful citrus from your favorite co-op, like clementines, grapefruit, navel oranges or pears, and other seasonal fruits.  Maybe a package of your favorite coffee or tea?  Whatever you choose, your recipients will be so pleased by all of the wonderful goods that YOU created from your kitchen.  It really is a gift from the heart, home and hands.  Your time and effort have a value, and you have created a meaningful gift that will leave your friends, family and mail man talking each year about what a fantastic gift you gave them, even when we are again in boon times.

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That’s right, I equated oats with Heaven and I stand by it.  I have had this recipe in my bookmarks for about two months until two weeks ago I recognized that the only thing I am missing from my cupboard to make these cookies was the Nutella which was quickly acquired at the downtown Target.  From there, I walked past the gym without stepping inside, (because really making cookies is by far better than working out) went home and got work.

I normally try to leave some butter out so that it is always soft and at room temperature whenever I need it.  When I don’t have that foresight, I just turn on the oven to a low temperature, put a couple of sticks of butter on a plate, and put the plate on the burner.  Merely microwaving the butter changes the consistency and thus the dynamics of the butter too much and really messes up my dough so I find the softening method to work far better.

And it did.  I creamed the butters with the sugars, added the dry ingredients, peanut butter, Nutella the oats and the chocolate chips.

I find that using peanut butter in baking or cooking to be quite laborious, but more so with baking where specific measurements matter most.  Even at that though, I never (read: rarely) precisely measure peanut butter or any other sticky substance since I understand that a lot of it will stick to my measuring cup and be a P.I.T.A. to get out.  However, if you are fearful of my method you can coat your measuring cup with oil before putting the PB/Nutella in, which helps the ingredient slide out.

It is at this point where I lightly smush the dough down a bit and sprinkle sea salt on top to bring out the sweetness – one of the best tricks I have learned about baking cookies (Thanks Dorie).  Then in to the oven they went!

(Too much light in this photo, I know).  What is most difficult about making cookies containing peanut butter is I find it difficult to know when they are done.  Watching for color is key, but even at that you are managing a dark colored dough.  Time and temperature are always critical (My mom bought me a thermometer for my oven.  Huzzah!) but not always spot on.  So rely on everything, including your gut.

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When I was a young cookie baker, seller and cookie cake decorator at the Great American Cookie Company, myself and a few select employees would make us some “special” cookies.  Not the kind with illegal substances dear friends, but rather a combination of our two regular cookies, which though delicious could not be sold.  So in effect we were stealing them.  What’s a few cookies though?  Moreover, how could one not refuse a peanut butter/chocolate fudge combination.

In an attempt to recreate these cookies I found a peanut butter cookie recipe and a double chocolate cookie recipe, and altered them both a bit to fit my wants, needs, and desires.  I made half a batch of the peanut butter.  Here are the recipes.

peanut butter cookie dough

Many peanut butter cookie recipes call for peanuts, whole, chopped, or chunky peanut butter.  I adhere to no such policy mostly because I don’t find the peanut texture pleasing in most instances.  Instead I used peanut butter chips.  And they are awesome.

double chocolate cookie dough

double chocolate cookie dough

After letting all of the ingredients mesh well overnight in the fridge, I got to baking then ext night.  I took out my ice cream scoop, scooped some peanut butter dough in the top half, and filled the rest with chocolate, scraping away any excess.  When i got the ball of dough out, and arranged them on the pan, I gave the dough balls a helping hand and smashed them down a bit.

I was unsure of what temperature to bake them at, but settled for 400F.  I put them in for 5 minutes, then I checked them, turned the pan around (the side that was in the back, now in the front), and baked another 3-5 minutes before taking them out.

These cookies (after my first batch which had burned bottoms, and thus were tossed) were nothing short of awesome.  And though I can usually constrain myself from gobbling sweets up, I’ve eaten quite a few of these guys.  Peanut butter and chocolate were meant to be.

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