Tag Archives: Peanut butter

Peanut butter & cocoa nib cookies

January – the month of resolutions.  The month that going to the gym or pool becomes a real mission because they’re full of people being all resolute.  The month that when you bake things, people tell you they’re on a diet which involves eating three slices of melon as a main meal (because there’s nothing tastier than an unseasonal melon), snacking on a cherry tomato should they get peckish and finishing the lot off with a tub of ice-cream for dessert.  You might think I’m kidding, but I have actually encountered somebody who followed a similar meal plan.  It didn’t do them much (any) good.  Anyway.  I digress.  January can be a tough month for bakers if people start refusing offered cake (what an idea).

No melon or cherry tomatoes in sight

We Should CocoaLuckily, Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog, who is hosting this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, has come up with a solution by choosing the theme “sugar-free” – a theme which, I must admit, horrified me when I first saw it.  Not because I’m a sugar addict, but because I hadn’t finished reading the rules so I hadn’t realised that “natural” sugars such as honey or maple syrup were fine, and I was drawing an utter blank in terms of inspiration – I absolutely refuse to use artificial sweeteners.  I had visions of something like this:

I've no idea how one would make cake without any ingredients either…

I have no idea what “no ingredients fruit & nut cake” is either, but it made Kat and I laugh when we stopped off at a café in Cambridge (that’ll be Cambridge, NZ) on our way to Hobbiton.  In the end, Kat and I decided to make cookies for the challenge – the start of our friendship due to chocolate chip cookies, so it seemed fitting.  We followed the rules, but we did it the Mel way – sure, we didn’t use any sugar, but we did add a shit-tonne* of honey instead.  Totally allowed.

No sugar, but tonnes of honey.  Totally good for you, right?

These cookies gave me the opportunity to try out the cinnamon cocoa nibs that I won from the lovely Lucy over at The KitchenMaid a few months ago – cocoa nibs don’t have any sugar added to them, so they also fitted the rules perfectly.  Since we’re both fans of the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, we decided to substitute peanut butter instead of butter in the cookies, but I think this might be why they came out a little dry.  They’re excellent for dunking into a glass of milk or cup of tea though, so they were still yummy.  Next time, I think I’ll add about 25g of butter to the mix just to make them slightly moister.  I really loved the little bursts of intense cocoa flavour from the cocoa nibs – I’d never used cocoa nibs before, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect.

Peanut butter & cocoa nib cookies

Makes about 24 cookies
Adapted from Nana Clare’s Kitchen

These cookies came out fairly dry (not inedibly dry though!), so I’d suggest perhaps adding 25g of unsalted butter at the same time as the peanut butter in order to remedy this.  Dark chocolate chips would also work really well instead of cocoa nibs.  These cookies will keep for a few days in an airtight biscuit tin.

Ingredients

170g runny honey
130g natural crunchy peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
190g all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
20g cinnamon cocoa nibs (or normal cocoa nibs with 1 tsp ground cinnamon)

Directions

1.  Butter a couple of baking trays.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/fan oven.

2.  In a large bowl, cream together the honey and peanut butter with an electric whisk.  Whisk in the egg and vanilla extract.

3.  Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt (and ground cinnamon if using) into the peanut butter mixture and whisk until just bended.  Fold in the cocoa nibs.  Form teaspoons of dough into balls and place on the baking trays, spaced out a little so that the cookies have space to spread.  Flatten each ball slightly with a fork.

4.  Bake for 8-12 mins until golden (check they don’t catch), then turn out onto wire racks to cool.

Enjoy!

* Shit-tonnes are actual SI units by the way.  (Ok, fine, they’re really not.  But they should be.  Might make certain papers a little more entertaining to read…)

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Indulging a minor PB&J obsession…

I read somewhere that some schools ban children from bringing in any food containing nuts in case some other child has a nut allergy.  Those poor deprived children who can’t have PB&J sandwiches for lunch!  (That’s peanut butter & jelly for anybody not as deeply in love with that particular lunchtime delicacy as I am.)  I know it’s unusual, but I’m not being sarcastic.  PB&J deprivation is not a joking matter.  I picked up my enthusiasm for PB&J whilst we lived in the USA when I was little.  So whenever I see PB&J-themed recipes, I prick up my ears…

By the way, when I refer to jelly in this post, I mean the American version of jelly, or what we would call gelée in French, not the wibbly-wobbly British version of jelly (which in the US would be called Jell-O…).  It really bugs me that there’s no British word equivalent – ‘jam without bits’ is just too wordy.  Anyway, my favourite jam (whether with or without bits) to pair with peanut butter is blackcurrant.  I’ve always adored blackcurrant jam, but now I love it even more as it always reminds me of making blackcurrant jelly with my mum and French grandma using blackcurrants from my grandparents’ garden.  But back to PB&J.  I came across a recipe for PB&J slices a wee while ago, and it’s been at the back of my mind ever since.

A little cupboard re-organisation session over the weekend unearthed more (unopened) jars of peanut butter than I’d care to admit to (I clearly did some serious stockpiling when there was a 2-for-1 offer on), so I decided it was time that the PB&J slice recipe had its moment.  A few tweaks later – I used my usual shortbread recipe for the base and, unsurprisingly, used blackcurrant jam – and some scrumptious PB&J slices made their way out of the oven.  The shortbread base is slightly crisp and crumbly, the jam gets all sticky and chewy from the baking and between the two is a tasty layer of slightly-salted peanut butter which counterbalances the rich base and sweet jam.  I also love the crumbled shortbread over the top – not only is it tasty, it makes the slices a little easier to eat, too.  I’m submitting these PB&J slices to this month’s AlphaBakes, which is being hosted by Caroline Makes, since the letter is “J” – J for the jelly (or jam) component of PB&J.  Not the most imaginative possibility for J perhaps, but definitely a yummy one!

PB&J slices

Makes 20 slices
Adapted from The Boy Who Bakes

You can use either crunchy or smooth peanut butter – I chose crunchy for the texture, but smooth would probably be easier to spread.  By ‘natural peanut butter’ I mean peanut butter that literally just consists of peanuts, perhaps a tiny bit of oil and only a bit of added salt.  Likewise, using homemade blackcurrant jam would be ideal, but if you don’t have any, choose a good quality one with a high fruit content and minimal additives.  If you can’t find blackcurrant jam, raspberry, blackberry or blueberry would work as well.  These slices will keep in an airtight box for a couple of days.

Ingredients

200g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
260g all-purpose flour
40g cornflour
Pinch of salt
150g natural salted peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
300g blackcurrant jam (with or without bits)

Directions

1.  Line a 25 x 19 cm baking tin with tin foil.

2.  In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric whisk or wooden spoon.  Slowly add the sugar and cream together until light and fluffy.  Sift the flour, cornflour and salt into the bowl and rub into the butter mixture using your hands until well combined (this may take a little while, but it will come together although it will still be a bit of a crumbly dough).

3.  Take ⅔ of the pastry and press it into the baking tin in an even layer.  Refrigerate for 15 mins.  Wrap the remaining dough in clingfilm and refrigerate as well.  Whilst the dough is chilling, pre-heat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C.

4.  Bake the shortbread base for 25-30 mins until lightly golden around the edges.  Remove from the oven and allow the base to cool in the baking tin for 20 mins.  Keep the oven on.

5.  Spread the peanut butter evenly over the baked shortbread base, followed by the jam (try to resist the temptation to spread the jam right to the edge, because it will stick to the foil and make it really difficult to unpeel once the jam has cooled).  Crumble the remaining shortbread dough over the top and bake for a further 20-25 mins until the shortbread on top starts to colour lightly.  Allow to cool for 10 mins in the tin before transferring to a wire rack and peeling back the foil from the sides before the jam hardens (otherwise it will be impossible).  Allow to cool fully before cutting up into squares to serve.

Enjoy!

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Peanut butter chocolate-surprise cookies

Despite usually using British words for things (unless I’ve been talking to an American for longer than about 20 minutes) – rubbish, a bin, crisps, chips and scones rather than trash, a trash can, chips, fries and biscuits – I use the words biscuit and cookie interchangeably to describe the same thing.  I think I use biscuit more often but sometimes cookie just sounds better.  Chocolate chip biscuit really doesn’t have the same ring as chocolate chip cookie.  Cookie certainly sounds more appropriate when describing something that I strongly associate with the US… such as peanut butter.  Peanut butter biscuits just doesn’t sound right, it’s almost like an oxymoron to sandwich together very American peanut butter and terribly British biscuit.  Peanut butter cookies, on the other hand, sound perfect and scrumptious to boot.  In case it’s not clear, I love peanut butter cookies.  But I don’t have a trusty go-to recipe for them (which is a serious problem in my life, but probably also good for my health).

When I saw a recipe for peanut butter chocolate-surprise cookies I just knew I had to try it.  I love baked goods with surprises in the middle (like these white chocolate strawberry-surprise muffins), and I love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate so really it was a no-brainer.  The cookies ended up a little larger and more spread out than I was expecting, but they were delicious, so I’m not going to complain!!  There’s just the perfect amount of peanut butter flavour, they’re not too sweet and the chocolate surprise centre works wonderfully – I initially tried with dark chocolate, but I really think that milk chocolate works better with peanut butter (and I’m not usually a fan of milk chocolate when it comes to baking).  I tried a couple of these without the chocolate centre and they make tasty peanut butter cookies in their own right.  If I’m honest, I won’t be baking them on a regular basis because of the freezing-and-waiting faff (although I did read a whole paper whilst they were doing their thing), but they’ll definitely be making an occasional appearance in situations involving cookies (and people without peanut allergies).

Peanut butter chocolate-surprise cookies

Makes 12 cookies
Adapted from My San Francisco Kitchen

Since these cookies need to stay as cool as possible, I would recommend keeping this recipe for the cooler days of autumn and winter (though Scottish “summers” shouldn’t be too much of an issue…).  I used crunchy peanut butter, but smooth peanut butter would work just as well in this recipe, so just use whichever you prefer and have available.  If you don’t like the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, these cookies are also delicious without the chocolate centre.  The cookies will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container.

Ingredients

95g all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
55g brown sugar
45g caster sugar
45g unsalted butter, softened
85g unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter
1 egg
6 small squares of milk chocolate

Directions

1.  Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.

2.  Cream together the butter and two sugars together in a large bowl with an electric mixer.  Add the peanut butter and egg and mix together on medium speed.  When fully incorporated, add the flour a bit at a time, mixing on low speed.

3.  Once the mixture is well blended, form the dough into a log with floured hands and wrap in cling film (it gets a bit sticky, even with floured hands, so if necessary, just wrap it in the cling film and form it into a rough log – it doesn’t have to be super neat anyway so don’t worry too much about it).  Place in the freezer for an hour.

4.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.  If necessary, cut the chocolate squares in half or quarters (they have to small enough to be wrapped in the cookie dough, mine were about 1 x 0.5 x 0.5 cm)

5.  Working quickly to keep the cookies as cold as possible, remove the dough from the freezer and split equally into 12.  Press one piece of chocolate into the middle of each piece of dough.  Form the dough into a ball around the chocolate and space out on the baking sheet, flattening each one slightly and making a pattern with a fork.  If the cookies get too warm and melty, pop them in the freezer for about 5 mins (or the fridge for 10-15 mins if you discover that your baking trays don’t actually fit into your tiny freezer…).

6.  Bake for 10-12 mins, allow to cool for a couple of minutes on the baking tray, then transfer to a wire rack to cool fully.

Enjoy!

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Peanut butter brownies

I’ve been baking a lot in the last week or so, due to a combination of factors.  Firstly, I’ve been feeling a little bit lonely – pretty much everybody I know has left St Andrews, though some will be back for Graduation in a few weeks.  Spending time in the kitchen is the obvious way to keep myself occupied.  There’s also a definite element of procrastination to it.  I have several things I should be doing – sorting out the rest of my life (Graduation is in less than a month), slowly continuing to pack up the flat (I move out in a month or so, and I’ve acquired a lot of stuff during four years of university), making a start on the thorough clean that the flat is going to need (we’ve lived in the same flat for three years, including the summers, so that’ll be fun) – but well, I’m sure you’d pick baking, too.  Thirdly, I was left with a lot of left over flour, sugar, butter, etc. by various people who’ve already moved out and didn’t want it to go to waste.  So really, I just have to bake, if only to work my way through the 6kg of three different types of flour I currently have stored in my kitchen (I’m not exaggerating).

I came across a recipe for peanut butter brownies in the May 2011 issue of BBC Good Food, but hadn’t quite got round to trying it out yet, so I gave it a go the other day.  The recipe conveniently finished off one of the 56 (ok, that’s a minor exaggeration) opened bags of self-raising flour that I have sitting around my kitchen at the moment and also used up most of a random spare jar of peanut butter that I had at the back of my cupboard, as well as making a slight dent in my epic chocolate reserves (seriously, if there’s ever a chocolate shortage, I could make a fortune on the black market.  The same goes for butter – I seem to unintentionally stock-pile it for some odd reason).  Hurrah for slowly getting through the food reserves!

The best bit about these brownies though, is that they are absolutely delicious and completely moreish.   That’s all there really is to say.  Though you have to be a serious lover of peanut butter, particularly of the crunchy variety.  Since peanut butter is the main ingredient, I don’t really think you’d enjoy these so much if you’re not really a fan…  Oh and you probably won’t enjoy them if you’re allergic to peanuts either (awkward?).  But otherwise, they’re great!  They’re also ridiculously easy, which might be an issue.  Just typing the recipe up makes me want to go and bake another batch.  Oh dear…

Peanut butter brownies

Makes 16 brownies
Recipe from BBC Good Food (May 2011)

As I said above, these are, quite frankly, super yummy and utterly moreish.  That’s all I really have to say, except that they’re also super easy!

Ingredients

225g crunchy peanut butter
200g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
280g soft light brown sugar
3 eggs
100g self-raising flour

Directions

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C.  Line a 19 x 25 cm brownie tin with baking paper.

2.  Add 175g of the peanut butter, 150g of the chocolate (broken into squares) and all the sugar to a large saucepan and melt together over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has just melted.

3.  Remove from the heat and briskly stir in the eggs one at a time using a wooden spoon or a spatula.  Add the flour and stir until fully incorporated.  Spread the batter into the prepared tin.

4.  In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 50g of peanut butter until runny.  Drizzle the peanut butter over the top of the brownie batter.  Bake for 25-30 mins until crusty on top but still fudgy in the middle.

5.  Melt the remaining 50g of chocolate in a small saucepan and drizzle over the top of the brownie once it has been removed from the oven.  Allow to cool in the tin before gently lifting the brownie out and cutting into squares (or cut in the tin if that’s easier – most of my baking tins are non-stick though so I can’t really do that).

Enjoy!

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Banana, peanut butter & chocolate muffins

I came across a suggestion in a Waitrose food magazine the other day that said to add banana and peanut butter to a basic muffin recipe for something a little different.  This intrigued me and since I had some bananas that were getting slightly too mature, I decided to try it out whilst waiting for dinner to cook.  I also threw in some chocolate chips and the results were rather yummy…

Banana, peanut butter & chocolate muffins

Makes 18 muffins
Vaguely based on the mint chocolate chip recipe in Mad About Muffins.

These muffins are tasty both warm and cold – I find the banana comes through a bit more when cold though.

Ingredients

350g all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
175g light muscovado sugar
2 eggs, beaten
175ml milk
2 bananas, mashed
100g unsalted butter
3 or 4 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
150g milk chocolate chips

Directions

1.  Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C.  Grease and flour 18 muffin tin sections or line with paper liners.

2.  Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix well.  You might need to push the muscovado through with the back of a spoon.

3.  In a different bowl, mix the beaten eggs, milk, mashed banana and peanut butter, and beat together with a fork.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan.

4.  Add all the wet ingredients, including the melted butter, to the dry ingredients and stir with a large metal spoon until just combined (don’t over-mix!)

5.  Gently fold 100g of the chocolate chips into the batter.

6.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin sections.  Sprinkle the tops with the remaining chocolate chips (this is totally optional and is more for decoration than anything else – I didn’t have enough chocolate chips for this bit, and they still tasted lovely).

7.  Bake for 18-22 mins until the well rise and golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed (don’t press down on a chocolate chip though – they get really hot!)

8.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little before eating.

Enjoy!

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