No-Bake Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Oatmeal Cookies!

No-Bake Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Oatmeal Cookies!

Does anybody remember the great peanut butter price rising scare of 2011? Well, when I heard about the cataclysmic events that were going to be caused by peanut butter prices skyrocketing, I did what any sane person would do; Ran to Costco and bought the biggest jar of peanut butter I could find and since this is Costco, it obviously came in a 2-pack. Fast forward to this week and as I was looking for a large can of tomatoes in the bottom of my kitchen pantry, I stumbled upon, not one, but two unopened Costco-sized jars of peanut butter. Fortunately, processed peanut butter could survive the apocalypse, so it was still good. It was upon seeing these two jars that I realized that my visions of becoming rich via the illicit peanut butter black market I had hoped would emerge as a result of worldwide peanut butter prices rising, that I should probably set about actually using some of the peanut butter I have been hoarding.

Enter these cookies! These are the easiest cookies in the world to make! There’s no baking, there’s peanut butter, there’s chocolate, there’s oatmeal, what’s not to love?

I cut the original recipes suggested sugar in half and they were still plenty sweet. I think 2 cups would be way too much. My only word of advice is to use the fridge or freezer to help them set. Maybe it was because it was unseasonably hot the day I made these (around 80F/26C, in February… Gross.), but they would not harden. I stuck the cookie sheet in the fridge for about 30 minutes and they were perfect.

No-Bake Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 cups oatmeal (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats)
  • Waxed or parchament paper

In a heavy saucepan bring to a boil, the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk. Let boil for 1 minute then add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. On a sheet of waxed paper on a cookie sheet, drop mixture by the teaspoonfuls, until cooled and hardened. Throw the cookie sheet in the fridge to help speed up the process.

 

 

Blackbird Bakery Gluten Free Maraschino-Marzipan Kisses!

And we’re back! There have been a few speed bumps and lost of busy days in the real world, so this little blog has been very neglected. Now that trips are done, puppies are better, food allergies are diagnosed and things are getting back to normal, it’s time to get back to business!

Let’s talk about baking, because who doesn’t like baking? Nobody, that’s who!

Gluten-free baking can be super daunting to the uninitiated. Having to combine multiple kinds of expensive, flours with strange names (sorghum, millet, guar gum, xanthan gum, say what?) seems like way too much effort most of the time when you are just trying to whip up some treats in a hurry. While I absolutely love to bake, I’ve been very hesitant about getting involved in gluten-free baking. Nearly every store-bought gluten-free dessert or sweet I had tried has been absolutely horrible, unless oddly sweeten cardboard is your thing…

Enter Blackbird Bakery’s book! This is the first gluten free baking book I’ve bought and I really like it. As obsessed as I am with my Kindle, I still love the feel of a good book. Blackbird Bakery Gluten Free is a very high quality cookbook with great pictures and very interesting recipes. I like the fact that the author/baker Karen Morgan lays out the recipes in clear terms and makes it all seem very approachable. The beginning of the book contains a nice little glossary that explains all sorts of things about different type of gluten free flours and ingredients and how they might be used. It was such a useful thing to read and made me feel like I could understand and tackle any baking endeavor.

The first cookies I made were super simple and fast and very tasty.

Maraschino-Marzipan Kisses

From Blackbird Bakery Gluten Free

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3/8 tsp. pure almond extract
  • 2 cups sliced almonds, coarsely crushed
  • 1 lb. jar maraschino cherries, drained (I used the jarred cherries from Trader Joe’s, they aren’t maraschino)
1. Pre-heat oven to 375F and line two baking sheets with parchment or silpats.
2. In a food processor combine the almond flour and sugar and mix for a few seconds.
3. Add the egg whites and almond extract and mix on high until the dough pulls together into a sticky mass and forms a ball.
4. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop out dough and transfer it to a flat surface (the cookbook says you should have about 18 balls of dough, I had a lot more).
5. Take 2 shallow bowls or pie dishes, place the almonds in one and water in another. Dip the palm of one hand in the water and wet the other palm.
6. Take one of the dough balls and place it in the palm of your non-dominant hand. Gently press the ball into a disk. Place a single cherry in the middle of the dish and then carefully lift the edges of the disk up and around the cherry. Roll the cookie between your hands to form a ball. (Make sure to keep your hands moist with the water so the dough doesn’t stick!)
7. Roll the finished ball in the crushed almonds and try to coat evenly. Place the dough ball on one of the prepared pans. Repeat until all the cookies have been made.
8. Bake 1 pan at a time for 10 minutes, rotating halfway through.
9. Remove from the oven and let cool on pan for 5 minutes then transfer until wire rack to cool.
10. Serve and enjoy!
The cookies turned out to be rather delicious. The dough smelled slightly like marzipan, but tasted much better. The combination of cherry and almond was quite enjoyable. Despite looking kind of fancy, these cookies were easy to make.

Izzy wanted some too!

Macarons: The Test Run

When I was back visiting Budapest a couple of weeks ago, my friend Amy set about making macarons for the first time. I was fascinated. I’d never had a macaron before, so I had no idea what was entailed.  Since we are having a St. Patrick’s Day party next weekend (there will be more recipes on the way for that!), I decided it might be fun to attempt to make macarons myself, but after seeing a great baker like Amy having a battle with the recipe, I knew a test run was very necessary.

Originally, I thought ‘they only have four ingredients, they can’t be that complicated, right?’. Riiiiight. HA.

I used Tartelette’sDemystifying Macarons‘ that Amy had shown me for guidance. When I first saw it I laughed and thought ‘there is no way someone can write that much about a cookie…’, now I wish there was more!

I used Tartelette’s Basic French Meringue Macaron Recipe. And the results were rather interesting.

Basic French Meringue Macaron

  • 100 grams egg whites (preferably aged overnight in the fridge or on your countertop if the kitchen is relatively cool)
  • 25 grams granulated sugar
  • 200 grams powdered sugar
  • 110 grams almonds

I meant to add green food coloring to making them more appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day, but completely forgot until I was already piping them. A couple did get some sprinkles thrown on in a feeble attempt to make up for the distinct lack of green.

 

When I took them out of the oven, they looked vaguely macaron-ish. I was fairly impressed for my first attempt. They had the elusive ‘feet’, even if they were more side feet than standing feet, but they didn’t look as bad as I expected them to.

 

I let them cool and as I popped on off the baking sheet only half the cookie came up… They were under baked! I’m thinking that I might have piped mine bigger than the suggested size and they could have used a few more minutes in the oven. Such a disappointment.

I have turned my initial macaron defeat, into a macaron challenge! I’m going to give them one more shot before the party on Saturday and here’s hoping they turn out.
Any macaron experts out there have some words of wisdom to share?