No-longer-secret-ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

April 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

I have quite a stash of recipes. Not as many as my mom, who prints off every recipe she sees that sounds tasty (Love you, Mom!). Most of my recipes come from blogs or websites that I bookmark and print out when I’m actually ready to get into the kitchen. I have plenty of cookbooks that afford ample inspiration. But, I do have a slim plastic folder of recipes torn from magazines, copied from books, or given away at events. I keep adding to it and realizing, hey, I haven’t cooked anything from this file in awhile. So, as luck would have it, I was organizing said folder the other day and came across a Cook’s Country recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies.

They called theirs low-fat, due to the inclusion of a surprise ingredient which we just happened to have on hand, as my mom had bought them on a whim. What was the surprise ingredient?

Believe it or not, Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch! It’s pretty easy to believe, in fact, I’m surprised I’d never come across it before. Not surprised that I didn’t think of it, no, no, no, I’m not that clever and I know it. The low-fat element came from the use of the cereal and low-fat peanut butter and less of it than most PB cookies have. I did not have low-fat peanut butter, but Skippy Natural worked just fine.

They were just what you’d expect from a peanut butter cookie: still soft and chewy in the middle with a slight crisp to the outer edges. The peanut butter aroma wafts toward your nose as you take your first bite so that your senses are bathed in a cloud of peanuttyness. Not much I would change. Except, maybe make them bigger next time.


Props that I Got

April 27, 2012 § 2 Comments

I wanted to share these pretties:


They were recovered during a recent visit to see my grandfather and his wife. The man owns 7 self storage units. At least, I think that’s what he told me. In one, mostly books and old glassware, like the above, resided. I am drawn in by antique glassware and china and kitchenware, especially milk glass, which I believe all the white items in the picture above are. They are all in perfect condition. No telling how old they are or whose they were, but I will cherish them now.

In my daydreaming moments, I entertain the occasional thought of owning a prop closet where stylists could come and select pieces for photo shoots. I have seen the inside of a few well-appointed prop closets; it was like being in the antique store/flea market of your dreams. No ratty wicker chairs or questionably made wood furniture or avocado-colored anything to step over on your way to uncovering a gem. I think these pieces that caught my eye would be right at home in such a tabletop treasure trove.

A Kitchen Experiment

April 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Six months ago, my uncle Pat/Ray shared with me a trial-and-error process he and his wife had embarked upon, to recreate a cheese flan they’d feasted on while in Spain. Last night, I finally attempted it. It seemed I was always shy of one of the ingredients whenever I’d dig up the email he sent from my archives. As is typical of my baking style, I began this recipe at 8:30 p.m. or so and slid the barely cooled ramekins in the fridge right at 11 p.m.

“Cheese flan” does not describe this dish at all. Maybe flan does, but the cheese part is somewhat misleading. The recipe uses mascarpone cheese which always makes my mouth water and ears perk up when I hear the word.

The ingredients are simple, and the combining process equally so; it’s just the waiting that gets you. These babies have to bake for an hour or more. So, if you’ve got the time and desire to indulge in something that’s not quite a pudding, not quite a custard, but the best of both of those sweets with a creme brulee-y crust to boot…then here’s your game plan.

You’ll need:

– 5 or 6 ramekins (I used 5 and they were 7 oz. size)

– 8 oz.mascarpone cheese at room temperature

– half a can of sweetened condensed milk

– 2 cups of heavy cream

– a dash of vanilla

– 2 eggs

Preheat an oven to 325 degrees. Get a baking dish or broiler pan that is big enough and deep enough to hold all your ramekins. You’ll be making a water bath in it.

Whisk the mascarpone, milk, and heavy cream until very smooth. I did this by hand, but you could use a mixer with the whisk attachment.  Add your splash of vanilla and combine. In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk 2 eggs until thoroughly mixed and then add to the milk mixture, whisking until the whole thing is silky, creamy and thick.

Spray your ramekins with cooking spray and then pour the mixture evenly among them. My uncle said to fill within a quarter of an inch of the top edge, but I think I overdid it a tad. That may be why I only ended up with 5 ramekins-full.

Place the ramekins in your dish, and then carefully fill with water as high up the sides of the ramekins as you can go without overflowing the holding pan. Then, veerrrryyyyy gently, transfer the now very heavy dish to your pre-heated oven.

I checked mine at 30 minute intervals, twice, and then let it go for another 10 or 12 minutes maybe. You’re looking for a golden brown crust and some jiggle when you gently shake the ramekins, but not a purely liquid slosh. Once they’ve reached this precise state, remove the pan from the oven and let them sit in the water for a few minutes. I removed mine to cool on a rack after this stage, because I think leaving them in the bath makes them continue to cook. Try to let them cool to room temperature. If you don’t wait, it’s still really tasty, just borderline soupy. I couldn’t wait, obviously. I did let the rest of them cool and then covered them in foil and stashed in the fridge. The one I had this morning (read: glutton) was much more “set up” with a slight crunch from the stippled crust that blankets the creamy goodness underneath. This flan/custard/pudding is a beautiful ivory color, and it glides so pleasingly over your tongue, almost melting a bit as you let it linger.


My uncle suggested 1-2 eggs; 1 if large, 2 if small. I plopped 2 eggs in mine without really thinking, but maybe they were on the large side. Perhaps 1 egg would have made it less runny?

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