peanut butter

peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with sea salt [ambitious kitchen]

(Originally posted: March 2, 2014)

I hate hard pretzels. I have always hated hard pretzels. There’s something about their weird saltiness but not-quite-bread-ness that I can’t handle. I think they’re dry and gross and I do not like them.

BUT. I love chocolate-covered pretzels.

I’m convinced that the salty-sweet combination is pure magic. Salted caramel, chocolate- or yogurt-covered pretzels, dark chocolate with sea salt, a bowl of popcorn sprinkled with M&M’s–I’m in love with all of it.

Enter these obscenely delicious peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with sea salt, courtesy of Ambitious Kitchen.

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Warm, melty chocolate. Creamy peanut butter. The sudden crunch of sea salt every couple of bites. Perfect with a glass of cold milk, and definitely too good to eat just one. Mine did not turn out as thick as the ones in the recipe, but they were still wonderfully chewy, even long after they cooled down. 

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The batch was surprisingly large, and even in my apartment of four (with the frequent visiting friends), these lasted a while, still calling to me from the kitchen counter at 2 am nearly a week after they came out of the oven.

If you’ve ever found yourself studying late into the night anywhere near homemade baked goods, you understand this call that cannot be ignored, no matter how much your stomach may make you regret the decision soon after.

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Seeing Greek yogurt and honey in a recipe can almost fool you into thinking it’s healthy.
Almost.
At the very least, it serves as an (admittedly shaky) excuse to eat more than one when they come out the oven.
If there is a problem with this, I cannot see it.

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Obviously, there is science behind the unbelievable appeal of this salty-sweet combination, and being the nerd that I am, I started googling to find out the truth behind my deep, deep love of those dark chocolate/sea salt Lindt bars.

FUN FACT TIME!

There are a handful of studies that delve into the curious effects of salt on sweet treats. Our taste buds can experience five different categories of tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami, which translates loosely from Japanese as savory. In general, our whole tongue is capable of tasting all five types, but there are different receptors for each one. Many studies suggest that the presence of sodium–half of what we use as common table salt, which is sodium chloride–affects more than just the salty taste receptors and in fact removes inhibitors that exist in other ones, allowing the sweetness of the food to be tasted more intensely than it would’ve been otherwise. In fact, this characteristic is what makes salt such a good flavor enhancer in the first place.

However, there is, of course, a limit. Please don’t go emptying your bottle of sea salt into your next chocolate cake. That is not something that will end pleasantly for you or anyone else.

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All science aside, whether you’re curious about the functions of your taste buds or not, these cookies are delicious and are bound to satisfy some craving of yours.

Stay safe, stay warm, and stir up a batch of these if you find yourself bored at home tonight.

Happy Saturday! 😀

 

oatmeal & peanut butter cookies [jen-fit’s playground]

Today, I give you something…different. Something this blog has yet to see, yet something that is going to appear more and more often, especially over the summer.

Today, I give you something…healthy.

(Gasp! -cue threatening music-)

Okay, okay, all kidding aside: I tried a healthy cookie recipe! The original recipe comes from Jen-Fit’s Playground and is for oatmeal and peanut butter ricotta cookies. I went with a modification somewhere in between her original and Cassey Ho’s version on Blogilates.

Let me warn you up front: these have neither the texture nor the flavor of a standard cookie. If that’s what you’re looking for, just go eat a cookie. Seriously. It won’t kill you. But if what you’re looking for is a sweet, flavorful, healthy snack, this is a solid recipe.

So here’s how it happened:

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Well that looks deceptively unappetizing.

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Like breakfast, except it’s becoming COOKIES.

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Oatmeal & Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from Jen-Fit’s Playground and Blogilates
Makes 5 cookies

Ingredients
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 T peanut butter
1 egg white
3-4 pitted dates
a dash of cinnamon

Instructions

+Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or line a small baking tray with parchment paper.
+Blend together cottage cheese, peanut butter, egg white, dates, and cinnamon. Chop the dates if your blender doesn’t break them up. Chunks are fine.
+Mix in oats and baking powder.
+Spoon 5 cookies onto prepared baking sheet.
+Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until firm and the tops begin browning.
+Cookies will keep for a few days in an air-tight container, but they’re best when eaten fresh.

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Ta-da! They have an interesting glossy finish to them. To be honest, I don’t know how Cassey and Jen got their cookies looking the way they did. I think next time, I’ll just mix with a fork like Jen recommends, to keep the texture.

Cassey…you just work magic in a kitchen, I’ll tell you that.

Also, use all-natural peanut butter like Jen says. Just do it. It’ll taste so much better. I wish I’d had some handy.

Anyway, they tasted pretty good, and I definitely didn’t feel bad eating them!

More healthy recipes are in your future–but I promise I’ll test them out a couple times before posting them! Don’t worry 🙂

Happy almost-4th-of-July!

slutty cupcakes: a story

Picture it if you can:

Wednesday night of 10th week. Classes are done for the year, finals are still far enough that the panic hasn’t set in, and the ladies of PBT are rocking out to Taylor Swift in a dorm basement kitchen.

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Note how excited Emma and Estelle are. As they should be.

Their mission for the night has been long awaited, but what better way to welcome reading period than with stress baking? Yes, the night was simply perfect for slutty cupcakes.

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You’ve never heard of slutty cupcakes? Victoria is skeptical.

Now don’t ask me why they’re slutty. I can’t answer that question in any remotely satisfactory fashion. What I can tell you is that they’re so rich, so deeply indulgent, and so damn easy to make that they should be illegal(Except not actually, because then what would we do without them?!) These classic but slightly terrifying muffin-cupcake-brownies–because one name is not enough to capture what they are–consist of a soft cookie dough base, one full Reese’s Cup, and one full Oreo layered over it, all topped with a healthy serving of gooey, moist brownie batter.

Warning: more than one of these may kill you.

So we assembled the trays. Readymade cookie dough, Reese’s Cups, Double Stuf Oreos, and Betty Crocker brownie mix. They looked like those adorable chocolate-covered marshmallow and graham cracker cookies, whose name completely evades me.

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So cute already!

The baking time was an educated guess, so I set the timer for 20 minutes, and we went off to find a way to amuse ourselves.

Victoria remained skeptical.

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I was domestic.

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Emma vandalized Sheena’s whiteboard.

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And we took incredibly cheesy photos in our matching dresses.

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Somewhere in between all of this, Victoria ended up with a busted ankle. No worries–she’s fine now–but the valiant sacrifice of her body will not be forgotten.

Finally, out came the slutty brownies, hot and baked to perfection, crisp with melting insides. We probably should’ve let them cool longer, but we couldn’t help it. We dug in.

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Estelle is super excited…

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…and super cute when caught off-guard. Sorrynotsorry, girl.

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Nina’s allergies deprive her of slutty cupcakes and make her sad. (It’s okay; she got real cupcakes after this.)

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Emma shows off those beautiful layers.

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And Sheena is simply pleased.

Satisfied, we split up the remaining cupcakes and called it a night. Almost zero effort for a small treat that goes a long way–and makes a great gift for physics TAs, as we found out.

Seriously, make these. You won’t regret it in the slightest.

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On to baking logistics things! One package of brownie mix and one roll of ready to bake cookie dough yielded 24 cupcakes, with leftover brownie batter. Our cupcakes stuck to the paper liners pretty badly, especially once they’d cooled. If you don’t want to deal with that, I’d suggest forgoing the liners and simply spraying the pan. That should solve the problem.

20 minutes at 350F was enough to bake these really thoroughly. As you can see in the photo above, the brownie batter formed a light, flaky skin over the Oreo just as it normally would, and the surrounding edges were crisp like the edges of a pan of brownies. I would actually start checking the cupcakes around 16 minutes to make sure they don’t overcook. The cookie dough will definitely be cooked–you’ll just want to test the brownies, which you can do with a toothpick as normal, cooking until a toothpick inserted into the batter (away from the Oreo!!) comes out clean/with a few moist crumbs.

IN OTHER NEWS…

I’m back! In case that wasn’t obvious. After a week at home to settle in, I’m getting back into the baking swing of things, and updates will become regular again (every weekend!). Unfortunately, being back home means the UChicago cupcake orders have been put on hold for the summer. That being said, if enough people around here want custom cupcakes, I’ll consider making this a second location. Just drop me a comment/message! 🙂

And speaking of UChicago–shameless self-promotion! HUGE thanks to Hannah at Spoon, a UChicago food magazine/blog for writing about tlc baking this month! Spoon is growing quickly, and is definitely worth keeping an eye on even if you don’t go to UChicago. Check out their site here, and read the article about tlc here!

Aaaaand that’s it for my very, very long post. Sorry, guys! Making up for lost time here. 😉

See y’all next weekend!