Archive for the 'Peanut Butter' Category

PB&C, My Favorite Combination

Is anyone getting sick of me posting about chocolate and peanut butter combinations? I know I’ve gone a little overboard at times, but they really are my favorite flavors and when combined, totally hit the spot. And can I help it if they also happen to be the favorite flavors of some of my favorite people, too? On Wednesday, my brother came home from nearly two years abroad, and we had a welcome home dinner party for him – he happens to love chocolate and peanut butter, and so did many of our guests (does anyone remember the decadence of Zoe’s birthday cake?). I had been eyeing this recipe from Isa’s Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and I knew this was the perfect opportunity to make the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pillows. The benefit of making these cookies when you’re about to have a dinner party is you can make them at the last minute, and it becomes a good activity for early-arrivals – you need lots of hands to roll all the little balls of peanut butter batter and cover them in dark chocolate cookie dough. Luckily, I have lovely friends who are happy to help out (and happy to do a lot of tasting along the way!). Make a double batch, and you’ll have enough for the party, the days following, enough to send as a birthday present to a friend out of town, enough for the friend doing the out-of-state delivery, and enough to give as little gifts to special people in your life. There is no end to these cookies…except, sadly, after giving them all away and watching them disappear as your little brother/garbage disposal consumes them in handfuls. Cute.

Easy-Peasy Chocolate Fudge

This chocolate fudge recipe originally came to me via my friend Jake’s mother, who made it in the form of refrigerator drop cookies, and they totally blew my mind as the most decadent, easy, and fast kind of cookie I’d ever encountered. Since she gave me the recipe, I’ve made them many many times, with a slew of different ingredients depending on the occasion, season, or friend I wanted to share it with. For this holiday season, I knew I wanted to have these chocolate morsels in my cookie gift boxes, but I didn’t want them to take the same form as usual. I decided to mix it up a little, and make it into fudge! Really, the recipe is exactly the same, but I poured the batter into a brownie pan and after it hardened I cut it into small squares. This way, it looks different from the other cookies I’ve been making, but tastes exactly the same as if it had been a fudgey drop cookie. Mmm.

The recipe is flexible – add whatever extra flavors or textures that you want. I can imagine it tasting delicious without the peanut butter and instead adding crushed candy canes and peppermint extract for the holiday season! Alternatively, add coffee (or espresso powder) into the hot melted chocolate and give your treats an extra energy kick. You could even add coconut extract to the recipe, and pat extra dried coconut onto the top of the fudge for a decorative snow-like treat.

Karen’s Refrigerator Fudge/Cookies Basic Ingredients:

1/4 cup Earth Balance
1/2 cup very heavy soy creamer, or other non-dairy milk (I use almond milk and then the fudge is not quite as heavy)
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups quick oats*

This time, I added:
1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup of unsalted peanuts, for topping

If you want to make these into drop cookies, cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you want to make fudge, line a brownie pan with parchment paper.
Combine the Earth Balance, cream, and sugar in a two-quart saucepan. Warm over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
Remove from heat, and add vanilla and chocolate chips. Stir until the chocolate melts completely.
Fold in the oats (and if you are using them, add the peanut butter and coconut at this point too), and stir until thoroughly combined.
For cookies: Drop the batter in even, large spoonfuls onto your prepared cookie sheet and refrigerate until hardened. After they are hard, you can leave the cookies in a covered container at room temperature.
For fudge: Spread batter into your prepared brownie pan, and smooth out the top. Sprinkle extra coconut, peanuts, crushed candy canes, or whatever topping you’d like to use on the top and press it down slightly so it sticks to the fudge. Let the fudge harden in the fridge, then take it out and slice into small cubes. Like the cookies, these can be left at room temperature in a closed container until you want to eat them.

*If you want your cookies/fudge to be gluten-free, make sure you check to see if your oats are processed in the same facility as wheat or are guaranteed to be gluten-free. Alternatively, you can use quinoa flakes as a good gluten-free, and protein-packed substitute.

Agave-Sweetened Peanut Butter Birthday Cake

It’s birthday party season around here! I made a Hazelnut birthday cake last week for Becca, and this past Friday I baked a Peanut Butter Cake for Talia’s birthday, and Julie’s birthday is coming up (her cake is planned and not going to be nut-themed, don’t worry, I do consume things without nuts these days!). I’ve been planning these cakes for awhile now; all three fabulous women gave me requests for flavors and specific ingredients, and then I got to play around with how to incorporate them and how to design the cakes to fit each person. I love coming up with ideas that match up, and then make the recipient so happy! Watching people eat my baked goods and enjoy them is really my favorite part of baking.

So for Talia’s birthday, she requested a dessert that had peanut butter in it. She also wanted it to not be sweetened with sugar, or to contain chocolate. Tall orders, right? And I’m vegan of course so I only bake that way, which never feels limiting – I just have to be more creative! So here’s what I had to go on: No sugar, no dairy products or eggs, no chocolate, yes peanut butter!

Hm. What to do? I knew exactly which agave-sweetened cake I was going to make, but I was a little stumped on the frosting. I’ve made frosting without sugar before, but it was a dark chocolate ganache-like frosting, or something more like a cashew glaze that I tried (and loved, but didn’t think was the most appropriate birthday cake topping). But since I couldn’t use chocolate, and I wanted a thick spreadable frosting to slather around the birthday cake, I went to my current cake-bible, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. Of course they had just what I was looking for! The Super Natural Agave Icing with some added peanut butter would be perfect! I also used their Simple Vanilla and Agave Nectar Cupcake recipe to make my cake base. For both of these recipes, I simply doubled the recipe in the book (and added peanut butter to the icing recipe; I’ve reprinted my adaptations below). I put an extra peanut butter filling in between the three layers of the cake, for added nut-taste-explosion. This filling kept the cake incredibly moist, and the whole thing pretty nearly melted in your mouth!

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For her birthday, Talia invented a game for us to play…It was quite a stroke of brilliance! I’m not really a game person, but this one I could seriously get into! I can’t give away all the details about how to play, because I’m hoping Talia will copyright it and will strike it rich, and can support me and my baking for the rest of my life 🙂 Wouldn’t that be nice?

You may recognize the formatting here a little bit…Some of us are just a little obsessed with Craigslist! We were each given a few random silly phrases that we had to incorporate. This was one result of the game, which was written about me, and was so creative and on-the-fly that I have to share it with you! (Thank you Rachel!):

Ode to what just happened in my mouth – w4w – (living room)

with your crunchy hippie peanut butter
dotted like leopard print
i tried not to give my gasp away
not even a little hint
the flavors swirling ’round my mouth
agave-sweetened yum
i wanted to tell you how heavenly
the cake went into my tum
as cool as i am, didn’t know what to say
so i gave you a little wink
like a catchy bedazzled license plate
i got water from the sink
so maybe i’ll pretend it’s my birthday too
tomorrow and the day after that
you might accidentally make me a cake or 6
and i’ll give you a thank-you hat.

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Cake Recipe: I used the Simple Vanilla and Agave Nectar Cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. I made no changes, just double the recipe so I could make three 9-inch cake layers.

Peanut Butter Creme Filling Ingredients:
1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup smooth natural Peanut Butter
1/2 cup light agave nectar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tblsp. unsweetened almond milk
2 Tblsp. soy milk powder

Put Earth Balance and peanut butter into the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat for a minute or two, until smooth and well combined. Add the agave and vanilla, and continue mixing. Add the almond milk and soy milk powder and incorporate fully. You can add a little more soy milk powder or almond milk depending on how thin or thick you want the consistency to be. Spread in between layers of cakes!

Peanut Butter Agave Icing Ingredients (adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World):
2/3 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk
2 Tblsp. arrowroot powder
2/3 cup light agave nectar
1/3 cup refined, nonhydrogenated coconut oil
1 cup smooth natural Peanut Butter
1 Tblsp. vanilla extract
1 cup plus 4 Tblsp. plain soy milk powder

In a small saucepan, whisk together almond milk and arrowroot. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, till mixture thickens into a puddinglike consistency, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and scrape mixture into a medium-size bowl with a heatproof spatula.

Add agave nectar and whisk till combined, then add coconut oil and vanilla extract and whisk again. Add Peanut Butter and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute until incorporated. Add soy milk powder, and beat for another 4-5 minutes, until creamy and smooth. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 40 minutes until mixture is firm, or for best results, allow to chill overnight.

Gluten Free Agave-Sweetened Peanut Butter Cookies

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A lot of people in my life have been trying to cut down on the amount of processed sugars, wheat, and/or gluten in their diets. I’m always excited and interested in baking experiments, and want everyone to be able to have a treat, so I decided to bake some cookies that my friends could eat. I knew that one of them specifically loves peanut butter cookies, and another loves peanut butter in any form, so I decided that more peanut butter baking was the way to go. Usually when I bake gluten-free desserts, I use a mix of rice flour and almond meal, but having neither on hand, I had to get creative. I made a mix of gluten-free flours that was very nutty, and was a little worried that the cookies would turn out too heavy and dense. I used coconut flour and quinoa flour (both protein packed!) and threw in some tapioca flour to lighten it up. In the end, I decided that the coconut flour really complimented the PB very well, so I’m glad I went with that. The cookies were not too heavy and they were chewy just the way a regular peanut butter cookie should be.

While coming up with the recipe, I realized that I’ve never actually baked using agave as my primary sweetener. I planned to use it this time, but when looking through my cupboards I happened to have some dried dates in the house, and had seen some recipes using date paste as a sweetener, so I decided to mix the two in this recipe. I think they gave the cookies a really nice natural flavor, yet they didn’t make them taste too “healthy”.

The cookies had a great reception (and they were even appreciated by friends who eat regular sugar- and wheat gluten-laden desserts! Some even said they couldn’t taste the difference).

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Ingredients:
*This recipe makes 2 dozen cookies

Wet Mix:
1/2 cup plain unsweetened applesauce
2 Tblsp. coconut oil, melted
1 cup unsweetened, natural, peanut butter (try to use a kind where the oil doesn’t separate out)
3/4 cup dried pitted dates
1/2 cup medium agave
1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder + 2 Tblsp. warm water, blended till frothy
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain unsweetened almond milk

Dry Mix:
1 1/3 cup coconut flour
1 cup tapioca flour
3/4 cup quinoa flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/3 tsp. salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your cookie pan with a silpat baking sheet.
Place about 3/4 cup dates in a bowl of boiling water, and set aside for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Set aside.
Pour out the hot water from the bowl of dates, and place dates in a blender along with about 1/3 cup of new water. Blend on high until it forms a paste (add a little more water if needed).
In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Pour into the dry mix and stir with a large wooden spoon. You may have to work the dough with your hands in order to fully combine all ingredients.
Shape the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place the balls on your prepared pan 1-2 inches apart (these cookies will not spread).
Slightly flatten the dough with a fork in a cross-hatch pattern.
Bake 11-13 minutes. Let cookies sit on pan for 5 minutes to set, and then remove with a spatula and cool on wire racks.

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Now, I know you all know about my peanut butter obsession. I put it on nearly everything. But one thing I hadn’t combined it with before was brownies. Of course I’ve combined it with chocolate (in cake, cupcakes, and in ice cream), but not in chewy fudgy brownie form. Truly Appalling.

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I immediately set out to remedy this awful fact. I looked at endless recipes online and in my large vegan cookbook collection, tried to come up with my own favorite brownie recipe, and worried over how I would add the peanut butter – it could be fully incorporated into the brownie batter for a double-whammy rich gooey brownie, it could be a completely separate layer on top (cake-like? a heavy frosting?), or I could swirl it in to partly incorporate it. After many nights staying up way too late obsessively researching vegan brownies, I realized I had the perfect Peanut Butter Swirl Brownie recipe right in front of me the whole time. Lois Dieterly’s Sinfully Vegan is a never-fail cookbook that has many types of brownies in it, and low-and-behold, she has a Peanut Butter Twist Brownie recipe! They are easy and the prep work goes quickly. I was especially impressed that this recipe doesn’t call for any oil! Dieterly has subbed applesauce into the batter, and the brownies still retain an incredibly rich and chewy texture. I know they have peanut butter on top and plenty of sugar in every layer, so they are not void of fat, but the applesauce made me feel like they were a little healthier…And they certainly satisfied my chocolate-peanut butter fix. The peanut butter mixture gets swirled into the brownie batter so it is somewhat incorporated, but still leaves a lovely sweet peanut butter layer on top after baking, so you can taste all the parts on their own.

I changed the recipe very slightly because I didn’t want to use tofu. I’ve printed my adapted recipe below.

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Brownie Batter Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups granulated sweetener
3/4 cup applesauce (preferably organic)
2 Tblsp. water
2 tsp. ground flax seeds
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 cups unbleached white flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Topping:
1/2 cup all natural smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup unbleached white flour

Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat an 8×8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Stir together granulated sweetener, applesauce, and 2 Tablespoons water in a medium size bowl. In a small cup, mix ground flax seeds with 1/2 cup water. Add to applesauce mixture and stir to combine. Add vanilla to this mixture.
In another small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Add applesauce mixture to flour mixture. Stir just to combine and pour into prepared pan. Place peanut butter, maple syrup, and flour into a blender or food processor.
Process until smooth. Drop by spoonfuls onto brownie batter. Using a knife, swirl the peanut butter into the brownie batter (be careful not to mix completely).
Bake for 40-45 minutes for chewy brownies.
Allow to cool before serving.

PB&J Ice Cream!

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All of you who know me well, know that I love peanut butter. I enjoy all nut butters, but things can get quite dangerous when I’m left alone with peanut butter in particular. I have been known to eat it on/in nearly everything – making peanut sauces for vegetable stir-fries or pasta, mixing into my morning oatmeal, spreading it on rice cakes, baking it into cookies, mixing it with chocolate (or vegan nutella!) and eating it as a dessert, baking it into chocolate peanut butter cakes and cupcakes, mixing it into chocolate ganaches and even adding it to cream cheese frostings, and I’m guilty of even eating it with a spoon straight out of the jar! And of course, I do love my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I grew up eating them as a child, and when I was in college eating in the dining hall and complaining about the food, my father would tell me “If there’s nothing you like, make yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich”…While they may not be the healthiest option, I found myself making these a lot. And loving every bite of them. In addition to these PB&J experiences, I babysit for a fabulous family, and their kids eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters!)…Therefore, I have definitely eaten my share of peanut butter and jelly with them. You could say PB&J is my all-time favorite fall-back food, when I have to make a quick lunch or snack, or even just satisfy a nutty craving. Mmm.

I have to give props to my friend Talia for giving me a spontaneous gift of The Vegan Scoop cookbook, and after skimming through every single delicious and creative looking recipe, the first one I had to try was their Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream! Although I’m extremely excited to try most of the flavors in the book, this one was beckoning to me with full force. I made mine with strawberry preserves, which just felt perfect swirled into this childhood favorite food. It was the first soy-based ice cream I’ve tried making – previously I had only made sorbets, and ice creams that were based with coconut milk. While this soy ice cream came out divinely, I am hesitant about eating too much soy, and I’m thinking of ways to adapt the other recipes in this book so I can use almond milk and other heavier non-dairy milks in place of the soy milk and soy creamer. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I also had a silly thought while eating this ice cream; How would it taste on top of bread? My parents once had a Japanese exchange student named Koz staying with them, and he liked to eat ice cream on top of bread (any kind of ice cream, on top of any kind of toasted or untoasted sliced sandwich bread, and I have a vivid memory of him eating vanilla ice cream on top of an onion bagel). He said this was a popular treat in Japan. I always thought it was a little strange, but who am I to make judgements about other peoples’ eating preferences (let’s remember that I’m the one who likes to eat peanut butter plain…). And, since this was peanut butter and jelly ice cream, I thought it might work…So, I tried it! And it was yummy. So Koz definitely gets some major points for this idea! I understand that this is a little silly, but I thought I’d post a picture of it anyway. It is on a plate that my brother designed when he was a wee child!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

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Tara did it again! The powers combined of Jesse’s favorite flavors (and mine too!) plus Tara’s ice cream making genius, there was clearly no going wrong this time. The deep and dark richness of the chocolate was brought out by the coconut milk, which really just lent it’s flavor and texture to the smoothness of the ice cream – you couldn’t taste it directly. It worked very well with the peanut butter, creating a smooth cream that was undeniably out of this world. We also found some Soyatoo Whipped Rice Cream (vegan whipped cream in a can!) at the store, and made a warm caramel sauce, and busted both of those out for ultimate ice cream sundae galore!

Ingredients:
1 cup of coconut cream
1 cup non-dairy milk (we used soy, but any of the richer non-dairy milks could work too, like almond or hemp milk)
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4-1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, depending on your flavor preference
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate

Blend all ingredients together. It should have the consistency of a thick smoothie. Taste and make sure you like your combination of chocolate and peanut butter, and adjust accordingly. Add the chopped dark chocolate at the last minute so it doesn’t get blended completely. Then you simply place this mixture in an ice cream maker, and follow your ice cream maker’s manufacturer’s instructions. Top liberally with vegan whipped cream and caramel sauce, and you could even throw on some rainbow sprinkles and a cherry if you’ve got them on hand! This would also be great as a milkshake, if you make the ice cream and then blend it with a bit of extra non-dairy milk.


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