Peanut Butter Blondies

Cookies, Bars and Biscotti

Yield: about 25 squares
Recipe: 63/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 53

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     In recent weeks I had gotten several not-so-subtle messages from coworkers saying that they would be more than willing to taste my concoctions. It is true that it been quite some time since I had brought any baked goods to work. As such, I looked in “The Book” and found a recipe for these interesting bars. I had never heard of blondies, but I am very glad that I made this recipe. First of all, the smell of the peanut butter baked into bars with white chocolate is incredible. Secondly, the taste is even better! If you like peanut butter, you will love these bars. They are moist, delicious, sweet but not-too-sweet and just simply satisfying. I think I have never brought baked goods at work that disappeared so quickly! So go ahead and give this recipe a try, you won’t regret it! 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white and/or dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square pan with butter and line it with parchment paper so that the ends hang over the sides.
  2. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and brown sugar.
  3. Beat in the peanut butter and the vanilla extract.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add this to the butter mixture and stir until evenly blended.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes, just until the edges are golden brown.

Notes from Anna:

  • You should expect that once in the oven, the blondies will soufflé somewhat and then fall once removed.

Valerie

Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars

Cookies, Bars and Biscotti

Yield: 15-20 bars
Recipe: 28/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 67

Peanut butter bars

     With Easter weekend coming up, I evidently wanted to bake something to bring to the family dinner. I would not be myself if I did not bring a dessert for such a supper. This peanut butter Nanaimo bar recipe came in second last week when I told my roommate that I would make the desert of her choosing. Hence, this week I decided to make this seemingly complex recipe to bring home to my family (of course as my official food tester my roommate would have no choice but to have a piece anyways…). Albeit it does seem very intricate, the instructions provided in the recipe are well detailed and can be accomplished if one only follows it. The result was a rich, decadent and chocolatey peanut-filled dessert. Without a doubt, these peanut butter Nanaimo bars comprise one of my favorite desserts from Back to Baking thus far!

Ingredients for base:

  • 2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (e.g. the shells of Oreo cookies)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dry-roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Ingredients for filling:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons custard powder (optional)
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons half-and-half cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for topping:

  • 6 oz. (175 g) semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, making sure that the paper comes up the sides.
  2. To prepare the base, stir the cookie crumbs, sugar, cocoa powder and coconut together by hand.
  3. Stir in the melted butter, followed by the egg and vanilla extract. Mix with a hand or stand mixer to combine all the ingredients.
  4. Add the peanuts and stir well.
  5. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. The crust will be soft and manageable, so you can use your fingers to press it down evenly. Bake the crust for 15 minutes, then cool while preparing the filling.
  6. To prepare the filling, beat the butter, icing sugar and custard powder together with a hand or stand mixer until it forms a thick paste.
  7. Add the peanut butter, cream and vanilla extract and beat until the mixture is smooth and homogenous. Spread this mixture on the cooled chocolate crust and cover with plastic wrap directly on the peanut butter mixture. Press down and rub on the plastic wrap to even out the mixture. Chill in the fridge until firm, about 2 hours.
  8. For the topping, place the chocolate and butter in a metal or glass bowl over a saucepot of barely simmering water and stir until melted. Alternatively, the chocolate and butter can be melted in the microwave at 30-second intervals. Spread this mixture over the chilled peanut butter centre and chill again until firm, about an hour, before slicing into bars. The bars can be cut as small or big as you wish, but keep in mind that this is a rich and decadent dessert, so less may be more.

Notes from Anna:

  • The custard powder, although one of the key ingredients that qualify the Nanaimo bars as such, can be omitted from this recipe without compromising taste or texture.
  • Nanaimo bars originated in Nanaimo, British Columbia, and have now evolved into a treat that we regard as part of Canadian food culture!

Valerie

Peanut Butter Cookies

Cookies, Bars and Biscotti

Yield: 20-24 large cookies
Recipe: 20/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 22

   I love peanut butter. It smells heavenly, tastes even better and can be used in so many different recipes. For a reason that I cannot fathom, I have however never tried peanut butter cookies. To be quite honest, I always thought that they didn’t look that good. I don’t know why, but that was the case. Note the use of the past tense! I made this recipe today after wanting some cookies and I simply love these! They are chewy yet have that distinctive “dry” texture resulting from the addition of the peanut butter and of course have the unmistakable and evident peanut butter taste. These cookies are like portable peanut butter deliciousness!! If you love or even simply like peanut butter, you are bound to enjoy these cookies.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Follow Step 1 of the Basic Brown Sugar Cookie Dough recipe.
  3. Add the peanut butter and mix well to combine.
  4. Complete the recipe for the brown sugar cookie dough.
  5. Drop the dough by tablespoons on the prepared baking sheets, making sure to leave one inch space between each cookie. With a floured fork, pressed down on the cookies twice in a perpendicular fashion to obtain the classic criss-cross pattern on the peanut butter cookies.
  6. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool down.

Valerie