The Bells of Dr. Pepper

The baking bug fell upon me, as it is wont to do when I have much that I should be doing but also have a severe deficit of productivity. And lack of wherewithal. And stuff.

I toyed again with macarons making, as I do when the temperature and the humidity both hover in the 90s. I relish a challenge. But once I dried out the almond flour, the whole monumental macaron making process smacked of effort. Too much.

So I needed something simple. Well, simple-ish. And with little clean-up.

A woman at school always makes a superb Southern specialty: Coca-cola cake. It’s chocolate-y and Coca-cola-y and, best of all, alliterative. I couldn’t live up to her recipe, so I decided to tweak that ol’ recipe in a few ways.

First, let’s make it more Texan. Dr. Pepper instead of Coke. Yeah. (If you don’t know why Dr. Pepper is more Texan than Coke (which is Georgian!), go here.)

Then, a DP flavored buttercream icing instead of a cocoa glaze. Oh, yeah.

So. For the cupcakes, I found a Coke cake recipe online that consisted of ingredients already living in my cupboard and into which I substituted in that Whataburger staple, Dr. Pepper. (In case I haven’t made it clear, this was one lazy Sunday. Like a four-hour-nap, stay-in-pajamas-all-day lazy Sunday. Going to the store was not an option.)

The cakes came together wonderfully. Fluffy and chocolaty and a hint of Dr. Pepper.

ignore the splatters, please...

ignore the splatters, please…

The rest of the Dr. Pepper went in a pan where it bubbled away until it was a thickish syrup.

This was about a cup of Dr. Pepper...whatever was leftover from the recipe went into the pan.

This was about a cup of Dr. Pepper…whatever was leftover from the recipe went into the pan.

For the frosting, I found a Coke frosting recipe on the iCoke mobile website (I KNOW!), and subbed in that Dr. Pepper syrup and a bit of vanilla extract.

I even broke out my frosting tips to decorate these babies and experimented to make it look “frothy” like a bubbly head on an ice-cold DP.

Three frosting style examples...

Frosting style examples…

I gotta say, together, it’s a lot (A LOT) of sweet and a bit of cocoa. Sort of a Dr. Pepper float sort of thing. The recipe needs some tweaking for it to really ring that elusive flavor bell, but for a first shot, it’s pretty good.

Sincerely,

Bonnycate

Advertisements

Old-schoolin’ it

Remember when you were in Brownies (or Cub Scouts…I’ll be non-exclusionary) and you got to make a pinhole camera and it was the coolest, most awesome thing in the world? Especially when you put that piece of photographic paper in the back and took it down to the local Woolworth’s to get it developed?

Yeah. That was super awesome.

Our digital photography classes did something of the sort. We made a camera obscura. Turned an empty classroom into a freaking pinhole camera. Fer totes. Check it out:

The setup: black plastic sheeting over all windows, sealed with black duct tape. A hole cut into the plastic on the outside window.

The setup: black plastic sheeting over all windows, sealed with black duct tape. A hole cut into the plastic on the outside window.

The result: an (upside-down) picture of green tree and blue sky. On the wall. Amazing!

The result: an (upside-down) picture of green tree and blue sky. On the wall. Amazing!

The camera obscura experiment got me all excited and I made a giant pinhole camera that allows you to take pictures of the back wall with a digital camera. A digital pinhole camera. Ever so cool.

After these smashing successes, we made some pinhole cameras from shoeboxes and when we finished, they asked me, “Now what?” I had nothing to say because now, photographic paper isn’t easy pickins.  I was stumped. Speechless. Which they no doubt enjoyed immensely because, well, I do lean towards chattiness.

What’s the point of a pinhole camera without a photo? I was bummed. No giddiness of accomplishment accompanied this project. I so wanted my kiddos to have that cool eureka moment that I had 157 years ago in Brownies. Even my goofy digital pinhole project was better than this. Plus, it was cool and shiny silver.

So we hit the internet to view our options and found this incredible tutorial:

Luckily, I like fire. So yeah, I had matchboxes. All I had to buy was the black electrical tape. And follow his lead.

And I now have this:

Isn't it cool?

Isn’t it cool?

And I’m off to take some pics with it. Fingers crossed. Wish me luck.

Sincerely,

Bonnycate

The Kouign of Baking Therapy

I’ve been neglecting my house and the grounds surrounding it. Not that I live in a palatial estate. Just haven’t mowed in a while. Or weeded. Or done any sort of maintenance, for that matter.

I figured it could wait until Spring Break. So I let it. When I mowed, though, I realized that something was amiss. The yard seemed swampier than usual, even after a heavy rain. (let’s hear it for Houston’s thick clay soil, everyone!)

Yeah. The main sewer line was backed up. So I crossed my fingers and hoped that it was just from the rains. But this morning, alas! It was still there. Soggy. Stinky. Gross. A plumber must be called to repair a collapsed concrete line built about 60 years ago. As luck would have it, I apparently get a teacher discount, and while I paid a very reasonable rate, I won’t be taking any trips anywhere for quite a while.

I’m talking nowhere. Not even for a lovely spring breaky brunch. *sigh*

What to do but bake something tasty? And buttery. And caramelly. Enter the beautiful Kouign Amann, that Breton pastry of legend. Say it like this: Queen Aman. I first saw it on an episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate and knew that this pastry and I were destined to meet. It looked wonderful and the host gushed over its attributes. Flaky. Gorgeous. Fabulous.

Plus, it’s a yeast dough with many steps, so, yeah. Plenty to keep my mind off the fellows digging up my yard.

I began with David Lebovitz’s recipe, making sure that the “warm” water was between 100 and 110 degrees — this has been my downfall many a time with yeasty breads, so I was very careful. Used black sea salt. It gives it a weird, pocked appearance that I’m going to call charm.

The charming pock marks.

The charming pock marks.

Now, I follow his directions to a T, making the dough and letting it rest and hour and rolling it out and covering it with the good butter (Kerrygold is superb. Or Plusgras. Don’t skimp) and some sugar (vanilla-infused here, y’all!).

Kerrygold butter lives up to its name.

Kerrygold butter lives up to its name.

Yep. I follow that recipe right up to the folding part. Because you’re going to want to add a step. One that I saw on that show. One that will make you want to make this RIGHT NOW.

So you’ve folded your dough over neatly in a little tri-fold. Now. Take your rolling pin and beat that butter like a drum. Whack it into the dough. Like a red-headed step-child. (I’m from the south. It’s okay to use that particular idiom.) Beat it like you’re the University of Texas and it’s A&M. (HAH!) Seriously, though. Smack it.

Pre-beating...

Pre-beating…

Post-beating. Look at the yellow Kerrygold butter peeping through.

Post-beating. Look at the yellow Kerrygold butter peeping through.

Then roll it out and add another layer of sugar and do the tri-foldy thing again and now continue with Mr. Lebovitz’s recipe.

You should have a lovely stack of dough and sugar and butter sitting pretty on your plate. To rest for an hour.

SONY DSC

Seriously. Black sea salt on top and golden butter peeping through cracks. This is an awesome pastry.

Then into the pie plate with MORE butter and sugar…

Sprinkled with liquid gold...

Sprinkled with liquid gold…

Let's take a closer look at that wonderfulness...

Let’s take a closer look at that fabulous butter oozing through the field of sugar and salt…sort of awesome.

…to caramelize after 45 minutes into this:

Oh. YEAH.

Oh. YEAH.

A buttery, crispy, oozy pan of amazing that (almost) makes up for the gigantuous home repair price tag.

I can’t write about the lovely aromas coming from the oven. I just can’t. There are no words. It’s heaven.

Hell will be waiting for it to cool. And I’m off to do that.

Sincerely,

Bonnycate

Contemplating My Blue(berry) Period

In addition to making things, I like me some sleep. Spring Break boils down to nine whole days of gently waking to howling dogs galloping across the bed and hitting the dog door at breakneck speed in order to holler at the neighbors, who are revving engines of some sort. Much preferable to the screech of the alarm clock.

Last night, I had the presence of mind to move a wee Mason jar full of frozen blueberries from the freezer to the fridge, where they peacefully thawed out overnight and made their way this morning into a lovely batch of blueberry pancakes.

Now, you may think that I visited my foodie guru, Alton, for a recipe, but that’s not true. In this case, I went for my copy of Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. The one I pilfered from my mom’s house. The one with little gold stars and splotches of food on the really good recipes.

It falls open (and sometimes apart) naturally to certain pages, and the pancake recipe is one of them.

Pancakes a la Betty!

Pancakes a la Betty! Notice the batter splotch.

This makes a hefty, thick batter. I thinned it. With some half and half. (don’t judge me)

And I added cardamom. Because I love cardamom, and it goes superbly with berries. Just awesome.

Just pour the batter out into a heated pan and drop the berries in as it cooks.

Photogenically dropped berries, no?

Photogenically dropped berries, no?

Here’s a shot of my whole breakfast cooking: pancakes and coffee and all. Taken because I got bored while waiting for the pancake to bubble…

Yes. Two types of coffee. The regular stuff needs...fortification.

Yes. Two types of coffee. The regular stuff needs…fortification.

The clock reads 9:43, but it feels earlier. Curse you, Daylight Saving Time!

A dot of butter, and my day can begin!

Nom.

Nom.

So, to sum up:

  • Sleeping until you wake up: GOOD
  • Remembering to thaw fruit the night before: GOOD
  • Super-duper, old-timey recipe from childhood cookbook: AWESOME
  • Sitting on the couch on a Monday morning with cuddly doggy girls and leisurely enjoying pancakes and coffee: PRICELESS

But it may be time for a nap now…

Sincerely,

Bonnycate

Please, Sir, Can I Have Samoa?

I deserve a treat. After spending the day with ten teen robotics competitors, I deserve a treat. (I no longer need a drink: we took care of that after the 10-hour competition day. I’m okay there.)

So I deserve a treat. One I can have without leaving the couch. Or my pajamas.

I want cookies. My favorites, though, are Samoas. You might know them as Caramel deLites. The Girl Scouts renamed them. Why, I can’t say, but I do know that I’d rather nosh on cookies named for a lovely, warm, sunny country than a stripper. (Gentlemen! On the center stage! Caramel deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeLite!)

But I digress. Sue me. It’s pajamas-on-the-couch day. My problem now is that the Girl Scouts, whose presence is ubiquitous at the entrance of grocery stores, do not deliver to my door.

Lucky that I plan ahead. In my fridge: a bag of shredded coconut and a carton of heavy cream. So I can make me some of them there cookies.

Really.

They’re nothing more than shortbread cookies with holes in them (Read: Jammy Windows tops!) covered with caramel, sprinkled with coconut, and drizzled with chocolate.

Easy-peasy.

So. Make up a batch of the Jammy Windows shortbread. Cut them ALL into rings, though, and bake them according to the recipe. (But only let the dough rest for an hour or two…this is a cookie emergency.)

While they’re chilling, toast up the coconut. Don’t be alarmed if an alcohol-y, piña-colada-y fragrance wafts tantalizingly from the oven. But keep those eyes on the prize. Burned coconut is no one’s treat. I used a sweetened variety, and so I checked it every two minutes. It browned all of a sudden, just like the good peeps at Bon Appétit warned on their website… Be warned.

Bake up the Jammy Windows rounds…let’s call them shortbread from now on, yes? No jam in these wonders.

Shortbread rounds

Wee lone stars in each. For Texas. Yee haw!

Whilst they cool, make a batch of caramel. I used Martha Stewart Classic Caramel Candies recipe, but only because Alton’s recipe had soy sauce in it. WTF and I’ll make that later.

Almost to the Firm Ball stage. Tee hee.

Almost to the Firm Ball stage. Tee hee.

Mix the toasted coconut into the caramel and let it sit until it reaches a thick, spreadable consistency.

(THIS IS WHERE IT ALL WENT WRONG! See “THAT WAS THE PLAN” below.)

At this point, melt some chocolate and dip the bottoms of the cookies in it then put them on wax or parchment (or a silpat sheet) to set.

Spoon, pour, or spread a thin layer of the coconut/caramel mixture onto each of the shortbread rounds (Remember? We’re not calling them Jammy Windows any more. We decided that earlier. Check if you don’t believe me.) and place them on parchment paper or waxed paper (or silpat) to cool and set.

Once the caramel has set up nicely, melt some chocolate chips — semi-sweet, bitter-sweet, whatev. Drizzle horizontal lines across the cookies. Or just splatter them any which way. You’ve worked hard and waited enough.

Let the chocolate set up and then voilá! Tons of (much cheaper than the boxed variety) lovely, caramelly, coconutty, chocolaty, buttery fabulosity for your pajamas-on-the-couch day. Or breakfast. Again, whatev.

THAT WAS THE PLAN!!!

And it was a good plan. I was so confident in my plan that I wrote out the entire process before starting anything!

However. Pride goeth before and all that.

A combination of my new super-heating restaurant-quality pan and a less-than-accurate candy thermometer left me with a thicker, chewier coconut/caramel combo than is easily spread. So I spread it on as many cookies as I could…

It looks, well, Samoa-ish.

It looks, well, Samoa-ish.

…before it seized. Not wanting to throw it all out — it WAS tasty still — I began to roll it into small sticks. Creating something horrifying and wonderful all at the same time!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you (DRUM ROLL)…

COCONUT TURDS!!!!!

COCONUT TURDS!!!!!

Yes. Coconut Turds. Tasty, tasty turdy-looking hard caramel and coconut.

The stuff spread on the cookies hardened into crunchy, tasty disks that popped right off the cookies. So my teacher peeps will be getting plain, tasty, caramel- and coconut-less shortbread cookies tomorrow. Ah, well.

To conclude on a positive note: when you get the itch for some nostalgic, coconutty loveliness, make these cookies. But learn from my mistakes:

  • When you’re making that caramel, heat it ALMOST to the Firm Ball stage (BWAH HAH HAH!!!!) or risk crunchy coconut turd candies.
  • Call the properly make cookies whatever you want.
  • Save considerable money by making them instead of buying the Girl Scout version…then donate all those savings to the Girl Scouts. Win-win.

Now, back to the couch and the Samoas and some serious Netflixing.

Sincerely,

Bonnycate

Bakin’ Pixelation

So my wee niece — the wee one, not the wee-est one — is apparently in love with Minecraft. Which I don’t get. It smacks of an endless game of hide-and-seek where you hide from weirdly pixelated creatures while seeking weirdly pixelated gemstones in weirdly pixelated mines. Pixelated.

86px-BabyMooshroom

A MOOSHROOM a cow-mushroom hybrid from Minecraft. A pixelated one.

Cakes, however, and cookies and whatnot are things I do get. And the wee niece’s birthday turned out to be a time to attempt several challenges at once: cookie pops, marshmallow fondant, and carving and stacking cakes…to make a MINECRAFT cake. WOOT!

Time management tends to be my downfall, so this time I planned things out thusly:

DAY ONE:

My day to make the marshmallow fondant, which has to sit overnight and which turns out to be a tasty confection — much, much better than the fondant you’re thinking of — and happily easier than it would seem. I colored it as closely as I could with Minecraft colors, even leaving some streaks to provide a sort of — you guessed it — pixelation.

Pink and blue and green and brown and green and brown...

Pink and blue and green and brown and green and brown…

Use gloves. Seriously. Use gloves! I found a box of latex-free food grade gloves at a local restaurant supply company that is open to the public, and I highly recommend them. ( the gloves AND the restaurant supply!) Avoid fingers tinted an odd color that will spark stares and unwanted conversations.

I wanted to add as many (PIXELATED) cookie characters as I could. I eyeballed the Fat Daddio square cookie cutter set before realizing that it was an unneeded purchase. *SIGH*

Instead, I dug up the fabulous Sweetapolita cookie pop recipe and threw a buttery batch together and chilled it, then rolled it out and cut squares with my trusty pizza cutter. Huzzah for multi-taskers!

The tiny rectangles are for the pixelated piggy snouts.

The tiny rectangles are for the pixelated piggy snouts.

All baked up, these will keep until I’m ready to decorate them!

Then, make up a batch of Rice Krispie treats and press those suckers down flat so they can be cut into squares…to create pixelated peeps.

(and I’m done for day one!)

DAY TWO:

Cakes. Bake those suckers the day before so you can chill them. I looked for dense, tasty recipes, so of course I wandered over to my foodie crush, Alton Brown. I’ve had exceptional success with his trés leche cake, and I’ve been dying to try his devil’s food, so I was all set. Two batches of trés leche and one of the darkest, deepest, most decadent devil’s food EVAR.

All of these plus one in the oven!

All of these plus one in the oven!

You’ll need about a dozen eggs: five for each the trés leche and four for the devil’s food…but it’s worth it. Oh, yes. It’s worth it.

DAY THREE: Oh, the fun stuff!

Give those lovely cakes a crumb coat (I used a basic vanilla buttercream for both), roll out the fondants, cut them, and apply to cakes. Sculpt the Rice Krispie treats into trees and pigs and monsters and that Steve dude that apparently wanders about as pixelated as a daffodil.

These steps so consumed my day that I have no pictures of the process. But please enjoy this photo of a Minecraft pig:

Piggity.

Piggity.

The square cookies turned into piggies and creepers (these weird pixelated green things that explode. or something), but the tiny piggy nose cookies went away. Didn’t work. Best to draw the snout on with royal icing.

DAY FOUR:

BIRTHDAY PARTY DAY!

Rolled out the blue fondant for “water” pixels and threw everything into boxes and rushed cake to party site.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand here they are:

Devil's Food on the left; Vanilla on the right

Devil’s Food on the left; Vanilla on the right… please to notice the “torches” in the “stone” on the DF cake.

Piggies and creepers!

Piggies and creepers!

A close-up in which you can see the (saddled) pig and Steve and a wee Minecraft "cake."

A close-up in which you can see the (saddled) pig and Steve and a wee Minecraft “cake.”

IMG_2241[1]

The DF Creeper cake…note the angled “torches,” please. And the pixelated water and…um…grass?

Well, that’s that. Awesome fun foodie adventure, plus fondant usage is finally under my belt. Plus, it’s good to be back online taking random foodie pics and accompanying them with dialogue…

What fresh, new (preferably unpixelated) challenge awaits, lurking on the horizon?

I mean, of course, other than catching up on grading…urk.

Sincerely,

Bonnycate

O, my Darlin’ Persephone

About a million years ago, a boy and I were in a coffee bar, chatting and dreaming and whatnot when I spied out the window a strange sight. High up in a tree there was a single scarlet pomegranate. No sooner had I commented on it that the boy ran outside, climbed atop a car, and plucked it from the tree, proffering it to me once back inside.

I’ve had a fondness for pomegranates ever since. (The boy, not so much any more.)

Huge heaping piles of them are for sale this week, and I couldn’t resist. I bought a couple without even knowing what I would use them for. Eatin’, perhaps. But then I ran out of marmalade and the serendipity express pulled into town yet again. Pomegranate marmalade. Whaaaaaaaaaaat? Yes. It was a moral imperative.

And it began.

I headed back out and grabbed another fat juicy pomegranate (large and heavy for its size, just like Alton Brown always warns us to pick), a couple of gigantic lemons, and a net bag of Clementines. I thought that their tender rinds and seedless sweetness would make for a lovely complement to the tart power of the pomegranate, a fruit strong enough to keep a chick underground four months out of the year.

Behold the power!

And I like lemons, so…lemons.

I revisited the Three-Citrus Marmalade recipe from Foodinjars that I used previously with awesome results. Then I tweaked.

The food/science guru, Alton Brown, tackled pomegranates in his Food 10 from Outer Space episode of Good Eats, in which he says to submerge the fruit in a bowl of water before dismantling it. It works. Fer totes.

Alton is right (as usual)! No gross juice clean up…

…and fingers that are pruny but unstained!

To release the juices (sounds dirty…) of the pomegranate aryls (that’s what those things are called, yo), I boiled them up and crushed ‘em a bit with a masher, then ran them through the food mill. Seriously, that thing has been one of the best kitchen purchases ever.

Millin’ the ‘granates

After a few hours of dripping the milled ‘granates through a jelly bag, I got about two and a half cups of pomegranate juice. Here’s the deal: about 20 ounces of fresh pomegranate from the sweat of my brow (not seriously – that would be grossly unsanitary) cost me about eight bucks. The same amount of pre-squozen juice runs about $12.00. At least four dollars saved. Plus, it’s less fun to just open a bottle.

The Clementines proved problematic.

I tried to skin them like I did the oranges and grapefruits and lemons, but the skin was too thin and it peeled right off, pith and all. Problem. But, like I told my students when the projector bulb blew, a problem is just an opportunity for creativity. So I busted out my trusty zester and zested off wee thin strips of Clementiney skin.

They don’t look skinned so much as they look Wolverined…

It looked so gorgeous, I did the same to the lemon and vowed (yes, vowed) that it would be my marmalade prep tool of choice from here forward.

See? Gorgeous thin ribbons of wonderfulness.

Clementines are seedless. Apparently the growers are sort of Mafioso about keeping it that way, even suing bee keepers who live near the Clemmy groves to keep their flocks away, ensuring no cross-pollination with seeded citrus.

Their seedlessness helps with the prep. Instead of painstakingly supreming them, I simply cut them in halves and squeezed them thoroughly, pulp and all. Much easier than supreming a grapefruit, but with a bag of Clemmies, you have to do this many, many times.

Six cups of juice all total, plus a good deal of the zest ribbons. I boiled it up with sugar and went through the whole cooking, canning, preserving routine.

Almost four and a half pints!

The result was wonderful. Tart and sweet, a ruby red jam with orange and yellow streamers floating in it. Ah. It’ll be great to revisit it in four months when Persephone heads back to earth.

Sincerely,

Bonnycate

Insert Peter Gunn Theme Here…

So I’ve been an absentee blogger lately. But there’s a reason. For real and for true.

But it’s secret.

I’m working on top-secret recipes. Realio, trulio secret cookie recipes. Chocolate cookie recipes. With special ingredients. And patient, honest, understanding victims…er, tasters.

But I thought I could post a follow-up to some of the previous recipes. So here goes:

  1. The applesauce works crazy well with a mix of Braeburn and Pink Lady apples — for applesauce AND butter.
  2. The shortbread part of the jammy windows travels superwell if you freeze them first.
  3. About 5% of the jammy windows don’t form a seal and sort of bleed out. It’s gross but still tasty.
  4. Thanks to the fabulous Stephanie at 52KitchenAdventures and her awesome advice, her Nutella macarons ALSO travel superwell if you freeze them first. (seriously. i took 4 dozen each of the jammy windows and the macarons in my carry-on on a flight from Houston to Pittsburgh and nary a cookie was squished!)
  5. Cookie tables at weddings are the most superlativiest, best things ever and I think they should be incorporated into EVERY get-together, celebration, and meeting EVAR. (see the proof below)

It’s 96 dozen cookies of awesomeness!

Okay. To follow up with five things I added to the recipes and pages, I present to you stuff I’m doing that keeps me away from, well, here:

  1. Those super-secret recipes.
  2. I’m doing NaNoWriMo this month, theoretically with RouBarb as a buddy, though I have 4,048 words to her 0. (not bragging. just a fact. yeah. okay. bragging just a little.)
  3. I just attended one of the most fabuloso weddings I’ve ever seen. Just stupendous.

Just three. In my head, that list seemed MUCH more dramatic. Boo. And with that anticlimactic non-explanatory list, I’m off to write some more, cook some more, and purposefully ignore all predictions on election returns until I wake up in the morning and know for reals who’s president tomorrow.

Laters. And in case you don’t know the reference in the post’s title, I give you the best version of all time. It gives my actions an air of clandestineness…or clandestinity. Not sure. Enjoy.

 

Sincerely,

Bonnycate

Resisting Tentation

We don’t get the crisp, leaf-changing Septembers that happen more northernly. We get hot, humid, dog days until it stops. Well, this week, it stopped. There was an actual nip in the air some mornings. It got down into the SEVENTIES! (Chill, yankees. That’s cold here.)

It made me want to make something fall-esque. And easy. But I couldn’t make up my mind, so I went out seeking inspiration. I passed up the gorgeous selection of pumpkins — that’s too fall. Plus, pumpkin everything is already EVERYWHERE!

I know. It’s a meme I found online. But seriously: pumpkin chai latte, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin scones, pumpkin bread…and that’s just at Starbucks!!!

Strawberries abound, but they’re always in season. Frankly, I’ll trade that in for all the multi-colored foliage in the world. But the apples were out. I smelled them as I walked past. Like in those old cartoons. The aroma vapors wafted over and seduced my nose over to them and filled my sinuses with inspiration.

Apple butter.

As a kid, that was my favorite spread. I loved the stuff. Even the old store-bought Bama apple butter in the cartoon-printed glasses that you could collect and drink juice from later. How awesome were those, by the way? Just wonderful. My favorite things in the world to drink from.

So I grabbed some Galas because, well, I love Gala apples. Just the right combo of texture, taste, and crunch. Plus, I’m a fan of the “if you won’t eat or drink it plain, don’t cook with it” adage. But I wanted a blend of apples, so I browsed. Honeycrisp? Nah. More for eatin’. Jonagold? Nah? Not my favs. Granny Smith? Nah. For pies. Then I came across…Tentation.

There weren’t many of them. They took up a skinny bin in the middle of all the other varieties. They looked a bit battered. A little sad. But they smelled like apple-y heaven. Tentation. The name said it all. I couldn’t resist. And so I bought some.

It’s no secret that I love the recipes from Food in Jars. Marisa comes up with some miraculous stuff. Since I had a Lazy Sunday of grading projects in store for me, I figured that I could deal with a lovely batch of her applesauce and then apple butter blorping away on the stove.

9:30 a.m. It begins.

First things: prep the apples. I like to half them then scoop the seeds out with a melon baller. Quite efficient and not much waste.

Chop in half…

…melon ball…

…for minimal apple carnage! This is ALL the leftovers from my 8 pounds of apples.

After that (according to Marisa), quarter them and simmer them with water or apple cider. Remove the skins when they’re soft enough, then simmer until they’re the texture you want.

While the apples were simmering, Big Dog was intrigued by the smells. She likes her some apples.

Apples, please, mama?

(later…)

After about two hours, the apples were soft and lovely and perfect. I know that the recipe calls for fishing out the apple skins with tongs, but that smacks of effort, and effort is the thing I avoid on Lazy Sundays. So I pulled out the trusty old food mill and ran it through and spiced the result with some Ceylon cinnamon (shout out to Penzey’s Spices!) and grated half a nutmeg into it. A scant one cup of sugar and sweet apple perfection.

Easy peasy removal of skins. Plus, the pups got the apple leavins as a consolation prize for being banished outside.

In fact, that stage of the recipe tasted so amazing that some of it ended up in a pint jar just to be applesauce for me before letting the rest blorp away into glorious apple butterness.

(much, much later…)

4:00 p.m. update: Almost apple butter. It’s getting denser and caramel-colored. Still smells like heaven. Perhaps it’ll be finished by the time I go to bed…

6:10 and it’s done. Check this out:

Tastes astounding, looks like baby spew.

I filled about 3/4 of a quart jar. Yes, it’s all for me. No, I didn’t process it. I promise that it won’t go bad. In fact, it’ll probably be gone within the week. Or by the end of tonight if I can’t resist the Tentations. Or the Galas.

Sincerely,

Bonnycate

The Stink of Success

Recently, Nikki T. shared with me information about a product she found called PB2. Dehydrated roasted peanuts. Yum, right? 85% less fat than ordinary, hydrated ones. Oh, YUM. Low-fat foods are always so AMAZING. (end sarcasm here…)

Yick.

But part of me was intrigued. Especially when I checked it out online. People raved about the stuff. It wasn’t, however, easily obtained anywhere near me, and peanut powder didn’t possess the persuasive powers necessary to compel me to purchase it through the internet. And I thought that was the end of it.

Until I visited my local HEB and found this on the end of an aisle:

So I brought some home.

It’s been sitting on the counter for a while now, waiting for me to hit the appropriate combination of inspiration and desperation for something peanutty. That perfect storm hit today.

I hit the internet and found on the PB2 website some recipes, settling on Chewy PB2 Cookies. Looked easy enough. And 50 calories each? Oh, SO worth the effort. I hoped…

So. Mixed up all the drys in a bowl. The PB2 was aromatic and roasty smelling. Nice…but there was something lurking. An aftersmell that I couldn’t place. But not bad…

Dried, roasty, peanutty powder chunks.

Then with the wets…

Looking peanut butterier…

Still nice. Thick and sticky…and that aftersmell got a bit stronger. Still not bad. Still couldn’t place it, though. After adding the flour, things didn’t gel…had to spritz in more water. And more…

Finally, a dough appeared. But it was sticky. STICKY. Stickier than just regular peanut butter. I tried to do the cute and ubiquitous criss-cross fork pattern in one and got this:

No cute criss-cross here.

After several sticky failures, I sprayed up the fork with some cooking oil and got what I was looking for…sort of.

Crissed and crossed and shiny slick

Chucked them in the oven for ten minutes, and that aftersmell grew. It blossomed and floated about and finally I realized it. Chickpeas. There’s a definite dried, cooking chickpea-ish aroma in this stuff. Not unpleasant, but not what you’re looking for in cookies.

Out of the oven, they were pretty and puffy.

Fluffy and puffy. Don’t poke them…

I couldn’t shift them off the Silpat for about thirty minutes. Just too puffy and delicate. Poked one to test it and it deflated.

When cooled, they were…okay. A bit crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside with a nice texture and tasty, roasty, peanutty flavor. Passable for peanut butter cookies. Pretty amazing for low-fat peanut butter cookies, though. So a success!

Not sure where to go now.

Peanut butter frosting? Oh. Yeah.

Sincerely,

Bonnycate