Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nemmie, peanut butter cup cookies, and food adventurism

I've mentioned that I love baking.  I've also mentioned that I try not to keep the requisite ingredients *coughbuttercough* in the house, lest I get into a baking groove and eat the fruits of my labour.  Oh, sure, a couple of cookies won't kill you... but all three dozen?  Consumed over a single weekend?  Problematic.

Cookie dough.  It's a weapon of mass destruction (or mass creation, if you ask my thighs).
These particular cookies come from my favourite food blogger/inspiration/role model, Nemmie.  I came across her blog about two years ago, while Googling to find a "grown-up" dessert to bring to my friends' (Lauri & Alex's) house.  I came across her almond cherry upside-down cake, and that was that.  The only downside was that Laur's piece had the only two cherry pits in the entire cake... oops!  Sorry about that.  Luckily she was careful, so her teeth were no worse for the wear.

I'm sad that Nemmie has decided to retire her blog to spend more time with her own Hubs and her adorable son... though I totally understand her priorities.  Thankfully, though, she's left the blog up, which gave me the opportunity to give these cookies a shot.

Don't eat every one of them... don't eat every one of them... This is hard!!!  And yes, Hubs, the oven mitt isn't just for show.  I'll stick by my promise to avoid more oven-burn scars on my hands... they tend to look bad in wedding photos.  Safety first and all that.
The philosophy behind these cookies is genius.  I strongly suggest you read Nemmie's post about them, then give them a go yourself.  The prospect of a cookie with the texture of a chocolate chip cookie but the flavour of a peanut butter cookie definitely appealed to me.  So, to try to stay as true to the recipe as possible, I measured very carefully and avoided major modifications (save one).  I even (gasp!) measured out the vanilla extract precisely.  With a measuring spoon.  I NEVER do that; I just free-pour from the fantastic bottle of the real-deal, not imitation, alcoholic (!!) version that my darling parents picked up from Costco for me.  Who knew they had such treasures hidden in their mile-high warehouse shelves?

I seem to love the up-close, gratuitous texture shot.  Ignore the blue spoonula.
The one modification I made to the recipe, out of regional necessity, was the peanut butter cup "chips".  As far as I'm aware, The True North Strong And Free does not boast the Trader Joe's chain of gourmet markets.  I've seen locations in Chicago, IL and Royal Oak, MI, but unfortunately these are now much to far away for me to take advantage of.  My daily Can/U.S. border crossing days are behind me, for now at least.  Though I do miss "importing" my McDonald's brewed sweet tea and my Cherry Coke Zero... *sniffles*

Sorry.  Back on target (crap, I miss Target, too!).  Since I couldn't find any peanut butter cup "chips", like the recipe suggests, I bought a bag of "mini" (about 3 cm in diameter) peanut butter cups.  It being summer, I lobbed them into the freezer to chill down, then chopped each one into quarters to mix into the cookies.

Quick side story: I'm such a huge cookie nerd that I actually own two "portioners" (smaller versions of the spring-loaded ice cream scoopers) to ensure that all my cookies are the same size, and will bake evenly.  This comes after years of my mother, watching over my shoulder as I rolled ready-made cookie dough from tubs sold for school fundraisers.  I was frequently met with criticisms such as, "That cookie will be too big!", and "That one's a different size; it'll burn in the oven before the others are done!"  Clearly, the cookie scoops are a necessity.  My BFFK (Best Friend Forever, Kiks) would be so proud of my solution for those "scoop and plop" cookies!
Nemmie's recipe made quite a few dozen of these tempting gems.  Normally, this would nullify my weekly workouts; however this time I had a plan.  My coworker/friend Jessica's birthday was the next day, so the vast majority of these peanutty dreams made their way to the mail room (a.k.a. all-you-can-eat jean-busting junk food buffet) at work.  I've never seen my wonderful coworkers resemble a plague of locusts so closely; the container was nearly empty by 11 am.  Luckily, I'd hand-delivered a few cookies to the birthday girl first-thing that morning, so she didn't miss out.

Knowing full well that no cookies would survive the 8-hour day to be brought home again, I had saved about eight or so for my own consumption.  This is where the adventurism kicks in: I decided to make ice-cream sandwiches.

Notice anything funny?  Juuuuust keep reading....
Any French-savvy friends (with good eyesight, since the carton's blurry) might be catching on to why this is adventurous.  I LOVE chocolate and peanut butter as a flavour combination.  I also LOVE the classic chocolate and mint pairing.  Whenever I buy a bag of those mini filled chocolate cups, I'm always torn between milk-chocolate-and-PB and dark-chocolate-mint crème.  Merde!!

After baking these delish cookies, I decided to go for broke.  Why couldn't I have BOTH of my favourite chocolate companion flavours simultaneously?!  I know what you're thinking... the transitive property (I can hear my mother cheering) doesn't exactly apply here.  Just because:

chocolate + peanut butter = good
(though this would kill Nicole and Tori), and
chocolate + mint = good
(though I know many who debate this equation),
it doesn't necessarily follow that
peanut butter + mint = good.

Mom would be so proud.  Regardless, I set about to prove the above theorem.  A scoop of President's Choice Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and two freshly baked cookies later, I think I succeeded.  I really wasn't sure what to expect... I think of peanut butter as a warm, earthy flavour, while mint is a much cooler, fresher one.  Didn't know if they'd play nicely together on my palate.  But, overall, I was pretty pleased with how it turned out.  Although, upon further reflection, I hazily recall having made peanut butter and mint jelly sandwiches in my youth and enjoying them... this latent memory must have surfaced to enlighten me once again.  Don't ask why I thought it was a good idea to use mint jelly in a sandwich.  It was only in the house at my behest... we're not really a "roast lamb and mint jelly" kind of family.  I think I might have seen it used on some sort of children's television program.

Anyway, this little experience taught me that I may have to experiment with peanut butter and other slightly unconventional flavours again in the future.  I will NOT, however, experience another peanut butter and Cheez Whiz sandwich.  Sorry Chaddy... I love you, but that was not the highlight of our undergraduate studying picnic by the Thames.

Steering clear of processed "cheez" spreads as a general rule,


  1. I just heard of someone who eats peanut butter on bacon (yes, I know, heart attack on a plate!). She says it is good and I don't know if I'm up for the adventurism, but since you're wanting to experiment a little, why not? Let me know how it goes!

  2. Ah yes, the fabled Elvis Presley combo. I think I'll steer clear, for now!! Maybe if I can come up with a creative way of combining the two (something slightly more refined than just slathering the PB on the pork), I might give it a go. Scones, perhaps? I'll think about it :P