Chocolate and peanut butter. Some people aren’t crazy about the combination, but most North Americans love it. It could be argued that this is the best example of a truly original American taste.
Did you know that Mr. H.B. Reese invented the chocolate covered peanut butter cup? Yes, there really was a Mr. Reese. And guess what? He worked for Hershey’s before he left to create his own candy company in the 1920’s. Apparently the one condition Hershey’s had for him when he left was that he buy all his chocolate from them. How about that!
Even today, almost one hundred years after this unique confection was created, it is still the best selling candy in America. Hershey’s bought the company in the 1960’s but the Reese name still sticks. Even the increase in people allergic to peanuts has not slowed their popularity.
I am a big fan of chocolate and peanut butter together. Peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips are more than a bit better, they are close to nirvana. Chocolate peanut butter ice cream, if well made, should probably be illegal. But I had never made an actual candy with chocolate and nut butter.
To be fair, the recipe I used was for cashew butter with chocolate. It’s good, but next time I’m going to use peanut butter. My brain tasted the finished product and I could hear it saying inside my head, “it’s fine, but it would be just that much better if it was the real thing.”
I’ll let you decide. Perhaps you are allergic to peanuts. Since cashews are a tree nut, they might be a good alternative. You can easily leave out the pomegranate seeds in this recipe, too – add dried cranberries instead if you like, or nothing. Power Bark is good even if you make it with just the chocolate and the nut butter. Just sayin’.
You know those days when you just feel like your get up and go got up and went? Today was like that for me.
I got up this morning early to a dark sky. We were out of yogurt, my best morning energy boost. Ella and I walked in the rain, muck up to our ankles and clouds around our ears. Even the tulips were on strike.
As the day wore on, I just seemed to get colder even though I was inside. (It was supposed to be a day working on garden projects but pouring rain doesn’t make for good digging weather.) I needed to focus on my wellness, as it was suffering
I decided about mid-afternoon that my best chance for a pick-me-up lay in the remainder of the Chocolate Pudding Cake on the counter. I set my sights on dessert to heal my spirit. (Not the most healthy option, I’ll admit; but sometimes instant gratification offers the energy for the next step.)
Thankfully, Wednesdays have a built-in bonus for me – it’s the night I volunteer with Girl Guides. Our Sparks troop, a wonderfully rambunctious bunch of 5 and 6 year olds, is the best remedy for low energy or feeling down. After a very bouncy Easter egg hunt, ribbon dancing and a parachute game, they all went home smiling, and just a bit more tired. I felt much better.
Now that I’ve had my tea and dessert, I feel prepared to tackle the world again tomorrow. I’m so thankful I got a chance to soak in some positive energy today (and a bit of chocolate).
We are rebuilding our front deck. Yesterday was demolition day, and today we loaded all the wood and other debris into a trailer for the landfill. And it’s Monday. There are always loose ends, and surprises, and a big to-do list on Mondays. So I decided we needed a boost.
One of my favourite desserts as a kid was my mom’s Chocolate Pudding Cake. I have spoken of Mom’s Lemon Pudding Cake before; it is a delicate, tangy soufflé. The chocolate version is on the other end of the scale – rich with oozing decadence, the original lava cake.
The good news is, pudding cake is easier to manage than lava cake, being a bigger entity. It’s a straightforward recipe to assemble. The trickiest part is planning to have the first portion warm, but to wait long enough so you don’t burn your tongue.
As I finish this last paragraph, my tummy is all warm inside. I feel a bit like Winnie the Pooh after polishing off a pot of honey. The muscles I worked out lifting boards and branches feel a bit better. I am sure I will have pleasant dreams.
I hope you do too. If not, try making Chocolate Pudding Cake tomorrow.
April Fool’s Day is coming up this week, and so I thought I would use that as inspiration to be a bit goofy. It could be cabin fever – the delayed arrival of spring has made me a bit stir-crazy. I don’t know about you, but I just feel that a little bit of whimsy is the best way to weather the storm.
Hopefully you will forgive the lack of nutritional value in this week’s recipes and take pleasure in knowing this topic give you water cooler fodder for the week to come!
Did you know that a real seasonal spring food is Peeps? They are a traditional sweet made by a company called Just Born, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; they come most commonly in the form of baby chicks. If you have never seen or heard of Peeps, check the Easter section of the larger grocery stores. If you’d like to see how Peeps are made, you can check out this factory video:
Peeps have a very loyal following, with some people taking their appreciation to quite imaginative heights! There are even such Peep pastimes as Peep Jousts (arm your Peep with a toothpick under his wing for a lance, then put him in the microwave with another combatant and after placing your wagers on the winner, push the ON button. The winner is the one that expands enough to engulf his unwitting enemy.) I could have posted a video on this, but I prefer that you imagine the fun…
There is Peep art – patterns of the charming little fellows glued on canvas that sell for hundreds of dollars. (Peeps do come in an array of colours, allowing for numerous permutations in design, so it’s not as silly as you might think.)
Simple indulgence in Peeps is ample goofiness, and you needn’t feel guilty eating them. They are only 32 calories each, and there are 350 million of them made each year, so they are certainly not endangered.
I suppose if you prefer natural foods, you could just stick to regular marshmallows. Did you know they have been around for 200 years and that originally the root of the marshmallow plant was what made them sticky and gooey? This plant was also used to soothe sore throats. I don’t know if you could attest to a marshmallow doing that but it arguably does make you feel better when you eat one.
Whether you like them pre-stuck to Rice Krispies in a square or roasted over an open flame will not diminish the smile that seems to get stuck on your face after eating them.
I have a few final notes for you if you choose to let whimsy strike and indulge in the spongy confection…
- Beware anyone brandishing a roasted marshmallow – flaming and sticky is not a very safe combination in the air.
- If you do get melted (or manhandled) marshmallow stuck somewhere it shouldn’t be, remember to remove it as soon as possible or it will become like Super Glue.
- The best remedy for unsticking marshmallow bits seems to be licking them off, so try to aim for something or someone you like. (If you use peanut butter, be sure to ask about nut allergies first.)
If you like your marshmallow inside something else, here’s a recipe that includes the other seasonal sweet – chocolate.
3/4 cup Callebaut chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups white sugar
5 large eggs
Zest of 1 full orange, grated on a “microplane” (fine grater)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups small Callebaut chocolate chunks (or chocolate chips)
2 cups miniature marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Heat chocolate and butter in a pan slowly while stirring, until melted. Stir in sugar until melted and well blended. Cool the mixture 10 to 15 minutes.
Add eggs, orange zest and vanilla and stir until blended. Add flour, salt, and mix again. Add chocolate chunks and marshmallows, and pour into your pan.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until brownies spring back when touched in the centre of the pan. Let cool on a wire rack. Cut and serve at room temperature, dusted with icing sugar if you want to dress them up.
Happy April Fools’ Day 🙂 And if you’re saving yourself, Happy Easter!