Tag Archives: Peanut butter

A bare pantry, birthday cookies and the tumble dryer

Well that was an awkward silence. This feels like the first post in months (okay it actually is the first post in months – seems time flies when your having fun and drinking beer and of course moving across the world). So the blog has made the move with us to Canada from Pretoria in November, and the LiveInBaker has finally had some time amongst all the settling in, exploring, and getting dragged around by me taking in as much of the craft beer that can be found in our area as possible. However birthdays give rise to exceptions, and as such, this is the first BakedInPretoria post that hasnt been written in Pretoria, but rather comes to you from a cold and snowy Mississauga.

We arrived here with an empty pantry that would put even Mother Hubbard to shame – we have some basics in the fridge and pantry but certainly nothing that would be worthy of a birthday bake – and so the challenge was to find something to bake using what little was in the pantry, and not breaking the bank buying loads of ingredients. Might I add that all our bakeware, mixers and baking related kitchenware is sitting safely in storage somewhere in South Africa – and so challenge number two was to find something bake-able with the limited bakeware at the LiveInBakers disposal.

Now I wasn’t exactly privy to the LiveInBakers first attempt at baking here, instead being told that no I wasn’t in fact smelling anything to do with baking, and that I should calm down and go to sleep. Afterwards, once the cookies had been revealed, she had the following to say:

“First on my mind was to simply buy a box cake mix and ready frosting and throw together a birthday cake, but I wanted to make something a little more interesting than that. Maybe brownies using box cake mix but changing the ingredients around a little so that you have a dense, moist, gooey brownie – a little something like this
But I am embarrassed to say that we don’t even have a pan to bake the brownies in – but not to worry, another idea came to mind…ready-made cookie dough! With the help of the Pillsbury Dough Boy himself and a little inspiration from the recipe section, I decided to make:”

Birthday Cookies

Ingredients:

• 2/3 cup crunchy peanut butter (we always have peanut butter)
• ½ cup oats (our breakfast staple)
• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 egg
• 1 roll of Pillsbury Choc chip cookie dough
• ¼ cup mini m&ms or chocolate chips
• ¼ cup raisins (we add these to our oats – cranberries/cherries/blueberries would work too)
• ¼ cup chopped salted pretzels (salted nuts would work well)
• 1 tumble dryer

Heat your oven to 350°F – yes our oven now works in Fahrenheit, but it’s about 180C. In a large bowl (now we don’t actually have a bowl, but do have a salad spinner, so it’s bowl was used) stir together the peanut butter, oats, oil and egg. Break up cookie dough and add it to peanut butter mixture. Add the m&ms, raisins and pretzels and stir until well mixed.

On ungreased baking sheets, drop heaped tablespoons of dough about 5cm apart. Press with fingers to flatten slightly.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and edges are just set (tops will not look done). Do not overbake. Cool for a few minutes until they are firm enough to handle and remove from baking sheets to cooling racks.

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Oh yes, and the tumble dryer, well the birthday cookies were a surprise and they needed to be put somewhere safe. There is no hiding place in this apartment – it is so small and absolutely every cupboard and drawer space is packed with our stuff. And so The LiveInBaker resorted to hiding the baked cookies (along with the other evidence in the form of leftover pretzels and m&ms) in the tumble dryer, knowing its the one place I was guaranteed not to look.

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It’s Freedom Day, so feel free to indulge

Freedom Day 2012 saw South Africa having its 18th birthday since our first free and fair elections. So for the first time, the country is allowed to legally buy itself a beer (no more sneaking a few sips from its parents’ drinks), and finally can ditch that ridiculous learners licence and take the car out for a spin completely unsupervised (with much wheel spinning and racing other youths from traffic light to traffic light). It might even volunteer to be the designated driver now, just once in a while.

It’s also time for the country to start making some serious decisions, like what it’s really going to do with the rest of its life, and whether its going to make the big move to a university near the coast, or stick in land where things are a little faster and a little tougher. And if it’s going to buy those text books it needs, or if it’s rather going to save the money for something more important, like a crate of beer for the weekend?

The country might even think of entering into its first serious relationship, no longer messing around with silly child-like crushes.

It’s parents might sit it down, and explain that it’s about time that it finds a place of its own to stay, and to remind it that it is probably not okay to have breakfast for supper, even though that milk and cereal is just about the only meal it knows how to make without seriously stuffing it up.

The country, like most teenagers when they finally turn 18, probably thinks it’s really the man, but it won’t take long to find out its back at the bottom of the ladder, and that there are a lot bigger countries out there able and willing to put it in its place with a quick snot-klap.

But that’s all not its problem at the moment. Right now it really just needs to worry about how bad its first proper birthday hangover is going to be!

So to celebrate its birthday, and to celebrate the end of the countries high school year, we made:

Chocolate, Pretzel and Peanut Butter Squares

Ingredients:

  • 170g butter, at room temperature;
  • 250ml light brown sugar;
  • 125ml sugar;
  • 2 large eggs;
  • 2 tsp. vanilla;
  • 500ml cake flour;
  • 1 tsp. bicarbanate of soda;
  • ½ tsp. salt;
  • 100g milk chocolate (in slabs);
  • 170g of dark chocolate (in slabs);
  • 375ml mini pretzels, coarsely broken;
  • 60ml crunchy peanut butter;
  • 45g dark chocolate, either disks or a slab broken for melting.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Spray & cook, and line a square 23cm baking tin with wax paper.

Hot out of the oven.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with both sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour, bicarbanate of soda and salt and stir until almost combined. Add the dark and milk chocolate (both roughly broken up) and 250ml of the pretzel pieces and stir until blended.

Spread the batter evenly in the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden. In a small double boiler, melt the peanut butter and remaining dark chocolate, stirring until smooth. Sprinkle the bars with the remaining crushed pretzel pieces and drizzle with the peanut butter-chocolate mixture.

The LiveInBaker uses a big knife, mostly to keep me from sneaking bits.

Allow to cool until set, then cut into squares. Make sure it is properly set and cool, otherwise the cutting part can get a bit messy (but that is all part of the fun I guess).

If you are making these to share, ensure you keep a few for yourself, as you are definitely going to want as many as you can get your hands on.

If you are on some sort of diet, you are going to need to wait for your day off, as these are seriously decadent, and seriously delicious.

These two were left at home, for our midnight snack!

Happy Birthday South Africa! Here’s looking forward to you entering your twenties!

To see the recipe that inspired this, look here.

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A little peanut-butter motivation goes a long way!

I’ve discovered in life that there are 3 ways of motivating people.

1. Rewarding them;

2. Putting the fear of death into them;

3. Feeding them.

Now obviously only two of those options are realistic in todays modern society, I’m sure a lot of people are thinking back to the “good old” days where rewarding other people was the best way to obtain the desired outcome.

I had the need the other day, to inject some motivation into a group of people, and barring simply bringing a big stick (refer to method 2 above), I decided that the more politically correct method would be to shower them with delicious eats instead.

So it was back to the kitchen for the LIB, with a simple brief: a small snack, something that can be eaten with one hand, using pretzels, and something that we haven’t really seen before.

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If we can “bake” it in New York, we can “bake” it anywhere!

So they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Well it also makes the stomach emptier!

While working in New York, and not having seen the LIB for three months, I decided to ship the LIB over. So after a 17 hour flight, the LIB had crossed the Atlantic ocean for the first time, and was experiencing what it feels like live in a first world country (the LIB actually just squashed a spider with my empty beer bottle “welcome to the third world”).

Growing up in the Free State notorious for its lack of hills or any other notable terrain feature which might interrupt any television signals, we still only had one TV channel available to us. This channel was, surprisingly enough, refered to as TV 1. I remember spending countless hours as a kid watching re-runs of American sitcoms, where a common theme was ready-made Cookie Dough.

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