Paprika Peanut Butter Cookies

Move over chocolate, peanut butter has a new love interest and her name is smoked paprika.

You read that right.  Paprika.

When you think about it, pairing peanut butter with earthy, slightly spicy paprika makes a whole lot of sense.  Think of how much better peanut butter is on toast than just plain bread (toasty and smoky are similar…just go with it).  Now, add a little heat.  And to that, think of the sandy, crumbly texture of a perfect peanut butter cookie.  You picking up what I’m putting down here?

This recipe incorporates smoked paprika is both the dough and on top.

The overall effect is pretty perfect.  I found this recipe through David Lebovitz who came across the original recipe in the book Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit by Lisa Ludwinski.

Since I’ve been baking for a million years and new things are what keep me going, I’m always on the hunt for new flavors.  Sometimes flavor combinations aren’t meant to be (I’m thinking of the holiday 2012 pink peppercorn and white chocolate sables…ew).  Others you think, ‘where have you been all my life?’  These smoked paprika and peanut butter cookies are definitely the latter.

P.S. Lest you feel bad for chocolate’s new rival, I dare you to make these, throw in some dark chocolate chunks and call it a threesome.

Peanut Butter Paprika Cookies

As seen on David Lebovitz’s blog and originated from  Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit

Ingredients

For the paprika topping
1 TBS turbinado or raw granulated sugar
1 TBS granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
Directions
  1. To make the cookie dough, in a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole wheat flour with the baking powder, baking soda, 1 tsp kosher or salt, and 1/2 tsp smoked paprika.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand, beat the butter, peanut butter, and the light brown and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract, stopping the mixer between adding each egg to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Stir in the dry ingredients until completely incorporated, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl, as you’ll likely find some unincorporated flour underneath the dough.
  4. Scrape the dough into a shallow bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or up to 3 days (TMH: I scraped everything into a gallon size freezer ziplock patted into rectangle–evenly distributed, the dough chills more quickly and evenly). (Dough can be frozen for up to three months–scoop into balls first.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC.) Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  6. In a small bowl, mix together the turbinado and granulated sugar, paprika, and flaky sea salt.
  7. Scoop the dough into balls about (I like using a 1 1/2 TBS scooper). Roll each ball in the sugar and paprika mixture so it’s evenly coated, and place each on the baking sheet so they’re about 2 inches (5cm) apart.
  8. Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheets in the oven midway during baking, until they are golden brown across the top, about 8-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and use a spatula to gently tap the tops of each cookie to flatten them slightly, which makes them more attractive, and chewy when cool.

So easy I should be ashamed

It’s always disappointing when an anticipated cookbook doesn’t have that one recipe you were hoping for.  Objectively I understand the hook–leaving it out leaves room for a next cookbook in.

This was the case when the people at Lemonade left out the recipe for their nostalgic peanut butter and chocolate crispy rice treats.

Luckily, this fine country of ours is way too wedded to sweetened cereal treats for there not to be a couple dozen similar recipes floating around in the ether.

As the title of this post confesses, this recipe is really easy.

And, if you can believe it, I found a way to make it even easier.

Instead of dirtying another couple of dishes and melting the chocolate in a double boiler or even the microwave, just scatter the chips over your crunchies and pop the whole thing into a preheated oven for five minutes.

I feel like I should be ashamed of myself.  But I’m not.

These are a great summer picnic food.  Easy to throw together in the morning and by the time you’re ready to go, all you have to do is cut them up.

Peanut butter and dark chocolate crispy rice treats

Ingredients

  • 1 C light corn syrup
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 C peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, your choice)
  • 6 C crispy rice cereal
  • 12-20 ounces dark chocolate chips (in the pictures I used 20 ounces…just depends on how thick you want your chocolate layer)

Directions

  1. Cut parchment to fit a 9X13 inch baking pan.  Oil the pan and parchment lightly.
  2. In a large bowl, measure out cereal.  Set aside.
  3. In a small sauce pan, whisk together sugar and corn syrup until sugar is mixed-in (it will not dissolve).  Let simmer over medium heat until mixture boils.
  4. Remove from heat and add-in peanut butter.  Stir mixture until completely incorporated.
  5. Pour peanut butter mixture into rice cereal. Gently fold until all ingredients are incorporated.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Turn mixture into prepared pan and evenly distribute until cereal meets the corners.  I find it useful to pack the cereal by rolling a coffee mug on its side across the surface.
  8. Sprinkle chocolate over entire surface of rice mixture.  Place pan in oven.  Set timer for 5 minutes.
  9. Using a knife or off-set spatula, smooth chocolate evenly over the surface.
  10. Allow chocolate to cool and harden completely.
  11. Cut and serve as desired.  These keep well–up to a week if covered in plastic.

 

Monsters in my mouth

I’ve already bored you with stories of our fall camping trips, now let’s move to early summer.  Most years growing up, our first two weeks of summer break were spent in the Sierra Nevadas.  As a very young child, we would camp in an incredibly remote area called Jackass Meadows.  This was boil-your-water use the outhouse sort of camping.  It was called Jackass Meadows because of the wild horses.  And the campers.  At some point my parents switched to Twin Lakes.  Often during these trips family and friends would join us.  And always, there were lots of kids.  We’d roam the woods, rivers and lakes like a troupe of scabby-kneed outlaws, our parents providing only one set of instructions: return at dusk.  Not before.

On such adventures, we’d stuff a couple of monster cookies in our pockets.  You know, provisions.  I have no idea why monster cookies have such a scary name, perhaps because they are often big.  Maybe they are the jabberwokcky’s  baked good of choice.

A couple of years ago I asked my mom for the recipe.  She claimed to no longer have it.  So, I did some experimenting.  I failed.  And pretty much forgot about it.  Until a couple of weeks ago when I was thinking about those trips (and how many bears there were…and how stupidly unafraid of them I was).

So I tried another recipe.

Don’t let the oatmeal and peanut butter fool you.  The dough is just really a candy-delivery mechanism.

Hearty, stick to your ribs, good energy for afternoon-long games of ditch.

And sticky.

So, I finally figured out the secret to great monster cookies.  You need to let them rest on their parchment until cool before attempting to remove.  Otherwise, they fall completely apart.

Soundtrack

Beastie Boys.  Yes, I realize I’m just like everyone else.

Monster Cookies

Paula Dean (I felt bad for taking a jab at her in last week’s post)

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 12-ounce jar creamy peanut butter
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup multi-colored chocolate candies
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup raisins, optional
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.

In a very large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugars. Mix well. Add the salt, vanilla, peanut butter, and butter. Mix well. Stir in the chocolate candies, chocolate chips, raisins, if using, baking soda, and oatmeal. Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Let stand for about 3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool. When cool, store in large resealable plastic bags.

These also freeze incredibly well!

But isn’t cake always fun?

March is a heavy birthday month in my family.  TD’s is the 3rd and my brother’s is the 17th.  So, we needed cake.  Lots of it.  While perusing the March issue of Bon Appetit, I spied a recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Fun Cake.  Well yeah, chocolate and peanut butter are always fun.  This is a single-layer cake made in a 8X8″ pan.  And, it starts with chocolate.

This is also one of those no-heavy lifting or serious kitchen tools required sort of recipes.  At least, the cake part is.

The resulting batter will be very dark and very thick.

And really difficult to not stick your fingers into.

Out of the oven, the cake looks a lot like a brownie.  But don’t be fooled.  This baby is all cake.

The frosting is a basic buttercream recipe with a lot of peanut butter thrown in.  Be prepared to be able to smell nothing but peanut butter for the rest of the day after making a batch of this confection.

Enough whipping (and air) and the color fades to a nice, mellow Tuscan beige.

And then the real fun begins.  We happened to have house guests the weekend of TD’s birthday.  So, I enlisted a mini-pastry chef to decorate.  She used salted peanuts, mini peanut butter cups and chocolate curls.

Here our chef spreads a nice thick layer of buttercream.

A border of baby cups.

She spelled-out the birthday boy’s name in peanuts…but was very artistic about it.

And that my friends, is a very fun cake.  I would have liked to hire Kate on permanently but her dad said something about kidnapping and child labor laws.

Soundtrack

All kids songs all the time.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fun Cake

Bon Appetit, March 2012

Ingredients

Chocolate cake:

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (3 1/2 ounces)

Peanut butter buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup egg whites (from about 2 large eggs)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4″ cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (about 1 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted, dry roasted pinenuts  (TMH note: I believe this is a typo–I used salted peanuts)
  • Mini peanut butter cups (a TMH addition, optional)

Directions

For chocolate cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat bottom and sides of pan with nonstick spray; line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Whisk flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add oil, vanilla, and 1 1/4 cups water; whisk until smooth. Fold in chopped chocolate. Scrape into prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until a tester comes out clean when inserted into center, 35-40 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

For peanut butter buttercream:
Combine sugar and egg whites in a medium metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot to the touch, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat; using an electric mixer, beat on high speed until cool and thick, 5-6 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then peanut butter. With mixer running, add butter a few pieces at a time, beating to blend between additions. Season with salt.

Run a thin knife around pan to release cake. Invert cake onto a serving plate. Spread peanut butter buttercream over top. Garnish with chopped chocolate and peanuts. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Cut into 2″ squares.

 

 

It’s a little bit nutty

In reviewing the arsenal of recipes I’ve collected on this site, I realized that I’m missing quite a few basics.  In my opinion, the most egregious of gaps is the lack of a basic peanut butter cookie recipe.  I realize that peanut butter is enemy number one in many places nowadays.  This blog is NOT one of them.  In fact, if you pay close attention, you’ll notice that this recipe (if made verbatim) has four nut iterations.

Beginning with the first source: chunky peanut butter.  Or, use smooth, your call.  In our house, peanut butter doesn’t get utilized very much outside of baking (but when it does, there is always a peanut butter jelly time dance, I promise).  In fact, a jar will last us about a year.  So, I pick my peanut butter carefully and go all-in for the Skippy.  We’re classy like that.

This recipe calls for a good creaming. And, by the time all of the wet ingredients have been incorporated, the color will lighten considerably.

This recipe has a secret ingredient if you dare (nut reference #2…and no, I’m not talking about a Californian politician).

And then we get to the good stuff.  This recipe stands-up just fine without the add-ins.  But, I was feeling a little spunky when I made these and threw in some salted peanuts (#3), peanut butter chips (#4) and dried cranberries.

The batter will be thick and fragrant.

Don’t forget to roll each dough ball in sugar and then flatten with a fork.

These cookies freeze incredibly well.  And, not that I would know, they even taste good frozen.

Soundtrack

I was testing out a new workout playlist while baking these cookies.  Let’s just say that in my workout world Kanye and Taylor Swift get along just fine.

Peanut Butter Crisscrosses (‘ll make you jump, jump)

adapted from Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 C all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch of freshly ground (or grated) nutmeg
  • 8 ounces (16 TBS) unsalted butter at room temp.
  • 1 C peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
  • 1 C packed light or golden brown sugar
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room tempt
  • 1 C chopped salted peanuts
  • 1 C peanut butter chips (optional)
  • 1 C dried fruit such as cranberries, cherries or chopped apricots (optional)
  • 1/2 C additional sugar for rolling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
  3. Working in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle (or electric hand mixer), beat the butter on medium for a couple of minutes. Add-in the peanut butter and beat until smooth.  Add the sugars and beat for an additional 3 minutes.
  4. Add-in the eggs, one-at-a-time, scraping down the bowl in-between.
  5. With the mixer on low, combined the dry ingredients until they are just mixed-in to the dough.
  6. Fold in (by hand) the peanuts, chips and dried fruit.
  7. Pour the 1/2 C sugar into a small bowl.
  8. Working with about a TBS of dough at a time, roll each into a ball and then roll in the sugar.
  9. Place on baking sheets with 2 inches in between each.  Dip the tines of a fork in the sugar and smoosh down the balls in a perpendicular “X” shape with the fork.
  10. Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.  Cookies will be lightly colored and a bit soft.  Let the cookies sit a minute or two before transferring to cool completely.
  11. I think these cookies just get better over time!

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Dude, brownies

Most of the time I consider baked goods gender-neutral.  I’d like to think that as a product of post-modern feminism, I’m above the cliched sugar, spice and everything nice for girls or squirrels, snails and puppy-dog-tails for boys.  Most of the time, dessert is just dessert.  But.  Every once in a while I come across a recipe that for me, resonates either yin or yang (yeah, yeah, we all know I was just in China and am not fooling anyone).

This recipe for peanut butter and fudge brownies with salted peanuts (Bon Apetit, January 2007) screams: DUDE (though girls will like it too)!

We start with the obligatory macro shot of chopped chocolate.

One of the cool things about this recipe is that the brownie prep occurs entirely in a single sauce-pan.  Unlike my favorite brownie recipe which uses multiple bowls, spatulas and whisks, this one dirties just a single vessel.  Nice.  Butter and chocolates are melted together.

Then, sugar and eggs are added off-the-heat.

Flour is folded in.

And finally, salted peanuts.  How long has it been since you’ve had salted peanuts? While scouring the grocery store aisles for this retro-delicacy, I had a first grade flash-back (luckily this doesn’t happen often).  During reading group, my first-grade teacher Mrs Wilder would give-out salted peanuts as rewards for excellence in diction.  Pulling a stunt like that now would probably land her in jail for child endangerment.  Ah, the good old days, free of nut allergies and litigious parental units.

Once the batter comes together, into a pan it goes.  The included recipe uses a foil-liner.  I used parchment.

Just out of the oven, these look like pretty normal brownies.  But wait.

There is chunky peanut butter frosting in their near future.

Nice.

And, just when you think it couldn’t get any better, the frosting is topped by a thick layer of chocolate ganache.

Even nicer.

And here my friends, is where I’ve failed you. You see, I uploaded these photos about a month ago and I swear, the upload originally included several scrumptious shots of the finished product.  Alas, they must have been lost in the transfer.  And because I am working off of a six-year-old iBook G4, I am forced to immediately delete all photos once uploaded lest a dialog box once again pop-up telling my that my start-up disk is full.  Which means, no finished photos.

Trust me, these were some good looking bars.  Boys will like them.  So will girls.

Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies with Salted Peanuts

Dorie Greenspan, Bon Appetit, January 2007

Brownies

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Frosting and ganache

  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter (do not use natural or old-fashioned)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

For brownies:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, leaving long overhang; butter foil.

Place 3/4 cup butter in heavy large saucepan. Add both chocolates; stir over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in sugar, vanilla, and salt, then eggs, 1 at a time. Fold in flour, then nuts. Spread in prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Place pan on rack; cool.

For frosting and ganache:
Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter and 1/4 cup butter in medium bowl to blend. Beat in powdered sugar, salt, and nutmeg, then milk and vanilla. Spread frosting over brownies.

Stir chocolate and 1/4 cup butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Drop ganache all over frosting; spread to cover. Chill until set, about 1 1/2 hours. Do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

Using foil as aid, transfer brownie cake to work surface; cut into squares. Bring to room temperature; serve.

The Bella Bar

You are going to wish I didn’t post this.  Even with the last of them dispersed to hungry college students and absolutely not-a-one left for my own consumption, I regret that I’m posting this.  Because thinking about them just makes me sad that they are all gone.  It makes me want to make more.  Which I won’t.  At least not tonight.

Remember the Flying Hills Elementary School Bars of Excellence?  Well.  I did something very naughty to them.  Very bad indeed.

I’ll give you a clue.  It started with this:

And then this happened:

Which, who are we kidding, was just the gateway to this:

And resulted in this:

And of course, this:

Bad, BAD Nutella!

But why call it the Bella Bar you ask?  You may remember a character from some of the way-back posts who went by the nickname ‘Petting Zoo.‘ She earned a reputation for chewing on gingerbread and coconut flakes.  She was even featured in a certain Alumni Magazine for her misdeeds.  Well, when she isn’t terrorizing baked goods, Petting Zoo goes by the alias ‘Bella.’

In addition to gnawing on inappropriate foodstuffs, Bella does imitations.  Here she is doing Lindsey Lohan.

Bella the Cat is the Kitchen God’s occasionally better behaved sister.  The markings on her fur also look suspiciously like the pattern created when peanut butter and Nutella mate.  The Bella Bar is their love child.

Flying Hills Elementary School Bars of Excellence (PB Bars for short)

Who knows what triggered the memory but suddenly, in the very recent past, all I could think about were these peanut butter bar type creations that were served in my elementary school cafeteria.  Now I realize that “things served in an elementary school cafeteria”  and “things one would want to eat” are not often used in the same sentence.  But these, at least to the third grade me, were even better than the twinkies or ding dongs that were usually considered the pinnacle of eight-year-old haut cuisine.    They were super moist, slightly chewy and had some sort of slightly cruncy icing on them.  Let me take a moment.  Okay…moving on.

At this point I’ve done enough baking to have a “sense” of how to make something.  I mean, I’m no Alton Brown but, I’ve sort of started to “get it.”  So, I skipped the recipe search and went straight to experimentation.  The first batch, while not bad tasting, completely missed the mark on texture.  Texture is an important part of the memory for me.  So, during a particularly long commute the next day, I worked out the following recipe.  And, wouldn’t you know, I hit pay-dirt.

My own relationship with peanut butter is pretty hot and cold.  Sometimes I love the stuff while other times I want nothing to do with it (this usually comes right after making the infamous chocolate peanut butter balls and all I can smell is peanut butter).  I provide fair warning: these are super-duper peanut-buttery.  There is no nuance in this baked good.  No delicate layers of flavor or multiple dimensions for the palate.  I didn’t even cut this with chocolate (though you couldn’t go wrong by doing so).  This bar has one note…peanut butter.

The recipe begins where all good recipes commence: with butter.  Two kinds.  Regular and peanut.  Melt them together over low heat and set aside to cool to room tempurature.

While the butters are cooling, sift the sugars and salt together.  There is a lot of sifting in this recipe.  This is so you don’t have to do a lot of mixing.  In this case, as with my brownie recipe, mixing makes things tough.  And nobody wants a tough time with peanut butter.

Whisk in some eggs and vanilla.  Then the butters.

Finally, we stir things up with some (sifted) flour. 

And then, into a prepared pan and into the oven. 

I realize it comes out looking an awful lot like a blondie.  But these are not blondies!  I can’t exactly tell you why–as I’ve already said, I am not Alton Brown.  But really, these are not blondies.  They are much less cakey and springy and slightly fudge-like in texture. 

Remember how I said the original Flying Hills Elementary School Bars of Excellence had icing.  Well, these do too.  Three ingredients: peanut butter, confectioners sugar and milk.

We’re getting there.

Really, are shots of icing ever gratuitous?

Once the icing sets up, cut as normal and, well, you know what to do next.

Yep, just like the cafeteria used to make.  Let me pull-on my jelly shoes and flip up my Izod collar because 1982 called and it’s got some baked goods for you.

PB Bar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and line with parchment a 9X13 baking pan.

For Bars

16 TBs unsalted butter

1.5 C peanut butter (I used chunky because that is what we had–use what you prefer)

1.5 C granulated sugar

.5 C golden brown sugar, packed

1.5 tsp kosher salt

1 T vanilla

4 eggs at room tempurature

2 C flour, sifted

Melt together butter and peanut butter.  Set aside to cool to room tempurature.  In large bowl, sift together sugars and salt.  Whisk in one egg at a time until combined.  Add-in vanilla.  Whisk in peanut butter mixture until combined.  Sift in flour and mix until flour just disappears.  Pour into prepared pan and bake until tester comes out with moist crumbs (about 35 minutes).

Icing

1 C confectioner’s sugar

.25 cup peanut butter, melted

Milk (amount depends on desired thickness of icing–start with a couple of tablespoons and go from there).

Once bars have cooled, flip out onto a cooling rack fitted into a cookie sheet (to catch the icing).  Mix icing ingredients togther until of desired consistency.  Drizzle over bars.  Let icing set up and cut.

The many aliased Chocolate Peanut Butter Bonbon

AKA: White Trash Bon Bons

AKA (if you are my husband): Pete’s Schweedy Balls

When I was a kid, my mom only made these babies during the holidays. Once made, she would horde them in a very miserly and un-holiday-like fashion, dispensing them one at a time and only to those she deemed deserving. This may sound strange at first because a quick look at the ingredient list doesn’t hint at anything special. If anything, it suggests (at least to me) one of those strange recipes only found in Reader’s Digest and only ever made by grandmothers (you know, like chocolate covered chow mein noodles or green salad in a jello mold). This is where the first AKA name comes from. The second AKA is a reference to a very funny, very perverse Saturday Night Live skit with Alec Baldwin and those naughty, naughty NPR ladies on the Delicious Dish.

Something cool happens when the melted peanut butter and butter (that’s right-BOTH) melds with the rice crispies and diabtes inducing amounts of confectioners sugar. I’ll be honest, these are a little labor intensive and are best made with some patience over a couple of days. But, they aren’t hard and, if you like chocolate and peanut butter together, they’re worth the effort. Another bonus: they don’t really go stale. After the chocolate has completely and totally tempered (seriously, like, entirely, trust me), store them in an air-tight container or freezer bag and they’ll be good through New Years. If they last that long. Ha!

First, get the biggest bowl you have. The recipe below is doubled but take my advice, bigger is better here.

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Once the peanut butter and butter are melted and molten hot, carefully add to the dry mix.

IMG_8853

Make a marginal effort to mix this up with a spatula and then abandon ship and just do it with your (clean) hands. Remember, this stuff is hot at first. Mix until everything starts to clump together. If, even after thorough mixing the “dough” is very dry, feel free to melt some more butter and add. I won’t tell anyone.

IMG_8856

Now you are ready for balls. I like mine to fit into cute little wrappers so I weigh out each ball at 1/2 ounce. For this phase, the work is made easier if you have two people: one to measure out portions and the other to form the balls. In the photo below, my husband is playing the role of hand model. Luckily, he works for peanuts (or, in this case, peanut butter).

IMG_8861

Once you’ve formed all of the “dough” into balls, line them up in a single layer on a cookie sheet or two, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

IMG_8866

Now for the dipping. You’ll need a double boiler. I know that they actually sell pots called “double boilers” but the truth is, a stock pot and large glass bowl work just as well. If you’ve never used a double boiler, just add a couple of inches of water to the bottom of the stock pot and fit the bowl over. You want the water to simmer but not boil.

A note here on chocolate. I like to use chocolate chips for a  chocolate coating. They come with a stabilizer in them that helps them keep their cute little chip shape when baked. This also comes in handy when using them as a candy coating because the stabilizers will help keep the candy form once it has hardened. You could also use dipping or molding chocolate  here as well.

IMG_8872

As the chocolate melts, gently stir. When melted, the chocolate will be too thick to properly dip your balls into. So, you are going to want to thin-out the melted chocolate with vegetable oil. This isn’t as weird as it sounds. In fact, if you’ve ever been to an event with a chocolate fountain (or if you have one at home like my friend Amber), they use the same process to get and keep their chocolate flowing.

I don’t have use a standard amount of oil. I just add it a tablespoon at a time (incorporating in between) until the chocolate is smooth and runs off the spatula in a thick by steady (ie, not gloppy) stream when lifted out of the chocolate.

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Now, take a deep breath. The next part isn’t as scary as it seems. To dip the balls, I like to use wooden bamboo skewers (the kind you use for BBQ kabobs). I spear a ball with the sharp end and insert it just far enough that the ball feels stable (maybe 1/8 “).

Next, I quickly dip the ball and cover it in one swoop. I then let it drip over the bowl and use an additional bamboo skewer to help set it on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. My mom uses spoons with successful results. Try a few methods and find one that works for you. This phase takes some patience. It takes me about an hour to dip a batch (70 or so) balls.

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Now, set the dipped balls in a cool, safe place and let them set-up and temper over night. As they harden, their appearance will change from shiny-wet to a nice soft sheen.

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And now, you’ve got peanut butter bonbons and the world at your feet.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Bonbons

Makes about 70 ½ ounce balls (before they are dipped in chocolate)

2 C peanut butter (smooth or creamy)

.5 C Butter

4.5 C sifted powdered sugar

3 C rice crispies

12-24 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

Wooden kabob skewers (available at the grocery store)

To make balls

Melt together peanut butter and butter. Meanwhile, in a large bowl (largest you have), sift in powdered sugar. Add in rice cripsies and combine. Once peanut butter and butter mixture is melted and combined, pour over sugar and rice cereal. Using an oiled spatula, fold mixture until combined (it will be hot, but this is sometimes easier to do with clean hands). The mixture will be crumbly and if it is too dry, melt additional peanut butter and add until dough comes together.

Using a 1 ounce scoop or spoon, form into balls. Place balls onto a cookie sheet or large plate and refrigerate at least two hours (I just do it over night).

To dip in chocolate

Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler. Add oil as needed until chocolate is melted but consistency of hot fudge (not too runny, not too gloppy). To dip balls, spear one about ¼ way through with a wooden skewer. Quickly dip it in the chocolate to the entire ball is covered. Hold over chocolate and let extra chocolate drip back into the pot.

Set aside on parchment lined cookie sheets or plates to harden.

Notes:

For a firmer chocolate shell, you can add a stabilizing ingredient to the melted chocolate (such as paraffin or uncolored unscented candle wax). The chocolate will already have some stabilizers in it if you are using chocolate chops but adding the additional wax will help them harden.