How Much Peanut Butter is TOO Much Peanut Butter?
When we heard there was a new book about all about peanut butter, we got so excited that two of our bloggers had to test it out. Here’s Emily and snebbu’s dueling thoughts on Peanut Butter Comfort.
Emily: I’ll openly admit it: I’m a peanut butter lover. And I mean loooooooverrrr. Love it in savory recipes, love it in sweet recipes. Spicy Thai-style peanut sauce? Yep, love. I’ll happily take a peanut butter dessert over a chocolate dessert any day. So when does it cross the line? How much is too much?
Averie Sunshine’s new cookbook, Peanut Butter Comfort, helped me dive into this question. Or, to give you the full title, Peanut Butter Comfort: Recipes for Breakfasts, Brownies, Cakes, Cookies, Candies, and Frozen Treats Featuring America’s Favorite Spread. Whew—I’d say that covers a lot of ground. Pretty much anything you could put peanut butter in, Sunshine found a way to do it.
The good stuff: This book is very cute and definitely well-made. Novice cooks will appreciate the accessible and carefully explained recipes and background info. Plus there are plenty of appealing photos! The maybe-good, maybe-not-so-good stuff: all the recipes are pretty simple. Once again, fairly inexperienced people will like this, but I could have used some recipes that were a bit more complex in their flavor profiles or techniques. There is something to be said for familiar, back-to-basics comfort recipes, though.
Snebbu: I wouldn’t go so far as calling it “cute,” but it is very well organized. It is easy to navigate and is categorized in a meaningful way. For instance, you can create your own peanut butters, bake desserts, or even cook savory meals—all categorized in that way. I do agree with Emily in regards to the simplicity of the recipes. BUT, that’s not always a bad thing. I’ve found other cook books to cumbersome, lengthy, and expensive. These are recipes that won’t break the bank either.
Emily: So, the first recipe I made was the Marshmallow Butterscotch Fluffernutter Bars. I love all of those things (just look at all my Peeps posts, anything marshmallow is a-ok in my book) but I have to say this recipe fell a little short of my expectations. I don’t really see how I could have messed up the instructions, so I don’t think it was user error, but I wish the bars had come out a little drier and more balanced. They basically just tasted like tons of melted peanut butter and butterscotch chips that had been re-solidified. So maybe this recipe is truly… too much peanut butter. (Gasp!)
Snebbu: Damnit! I was going to try these out at a company party next week. They look so good. I may have to try these out anyway—I’ll let you know if I get the same results. I really can’t fathom such a thing as too much peanut butter, but the word “re-solidified” does not sound tasty.
Emily: Luckily, the second recipe I tested turned out to be much more exciting: Coconut Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Cookies. Oh man. Talk about more things I love: carrot cake, coconut, cream cheese?! I knew I had to make these, stat. I prefer moist, chunky cookies with a lot of stuff in them, and these did not disappoint. The finished product came out super tasty, but honestly I would rather just eat this dough by the spoonful. (And there’s not even any raw eggs in it, for those of you who actually worry about that. I’ve been eating raw eggs in cookie dough for 20something years now, and I’m still alive!)
Coconut Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Cookies
Makes about 1 1/2 dozen small cookies or 1 dozen medium sized cookies.
1/2 cup shredded carrots, loosely packed
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned whole rolled oats (not instant or quick cook)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut flakes
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
pinch salt, optional (Emily’s note: for me, salt is never optional.)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup white chocolate chips or butterscotch chips
1/4 diced walnuts or slivered almonds, optional (Emily’s note: duh, walnuts! Classic carrot cake ingredient!)
1. In a large bowl combine carrots, flour, oats, brown sugar, coconut, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt and stir to combine; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine maple syrup, peanut butter, cream cheese, canola oil, and vanilla and whisk to combine; some streaking from the cream cheese is okay. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir to incorporate. Add the raisins, white chocolate chips, and nuts and stir to incorporate. Place mixing bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes or in the refrigerator for at least one hour, allowing dough to rest and chill.
3. After dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350°F. Using a small cookie scoop, form balls and drop onto Silpat-lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
Snebbu: I tried the Peanut Butter Swirl Chocolate Chip Blondies. Girlfriend and I had an apartment warming party—I thought girlfriend, ML and others would be the perfect testers for this recipe. PLUS, I didn’t want to have to go out and buy a bunch of expensive ingredients and take a long time to make these delights. I was not disappointed. Most of us (peanut butter and sweets lovers) have the ingredients in our own kitchen. And, it takes maybe 45 minutes total to make. Everybody loved them – they were gone by the end of the night. Here’s the recipe:
Peanut Butter Swirl Chocolate Chip Blondies
Makes one 8-by-8 inch pan’s worth
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line an 8-by-8 inch pan with aluminum foil, and spray with cooking spray; set aside.
2. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power. To the melted butter, add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Add the egg and vanilla and stir or whisk to combine. Add the flour and salt and stir until just combined, taking care not to overmix or the blondies will be tough. Fold in 3/4 cup chocolate chips and pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it with a spatula or offset knife if necessary.
3. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the peanut butter (the same bowl used to mix the blondie batter is fine), about 45 seconds on high power, and stir until smooth. Evenly drizzle the peanut butter over the the batter. With a knife, make a zigzag pattern through the batter, back and forth a couple times, to marble it. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips over the top.
4. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until edges begin to slightly pull away from sides of pan. You cannot easily judge the doneness by looking at the center because the layer of peanut butter won’t appear fully set, although the blondies underneath it are. The peanut butter will set up more as the blondies cool. A toothpick inserted into the center of the pan may not come out clean due to the peanut butter on top being gooey.
5. Allow bars to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
The cookbook features “twists and tweaks” including: add M&M’s, diced peanut butter cups, diced Snickers, Buttterfinger, or other candy bars; toffee bits, butterscotch, peanut butter, or white chocolate chips; coconut flakes and macadamia nuts; Nutella in combination with the peanut butter swirl.