Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Homemade Nutter Butters

Everyone in life has a few precious things that bring them back. Bring them back to a sweet memory, perhaps when they were carefree, without pain, in love or maybe even when they were a child. These memories do not come often, and when they do, I want to cherish the moment. I want to squeeze every second of nostalgia and joy out of it. I want to stay in that precious memory forever. But, alas, this is not life. And unfortunately, if you're anything like me, you're quick to forget how incredible those few seconds were. Sometimes you just need a reminder.
This weekend, I sat in the passenger side of a jeep, blazing through the winding roads of Cape Cod with the top down, Dave Matthews blaring and wind in my hair. The sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Everyone we passed was just as blissful as we were. And for just a few seconds, I forgot that work was stressful. I forgot that I was living paycheck to paycheck. I forgot that I had responsibility, fears, anxieties and struggle. And it was magical.

Food, really, is one of those things. It cannot take away your problems, no. But it can bring you to a moment where things seemed easier. For my roommate, and co-baker, these treats reminded her of sitting in the back of a Sebring in between soccer games, and for me, a college road trip where this was the clear winner at a run down gas station.

So last night, amidst the grind of day to day life, we escaped to a different time. One where we had less to do, less to think about, and less to keep us up at night. And it was wonderful. So, maybe, this might not be it for you, but if nothing else, you'll enjoy these (time consuming) sweet little treats. And maybe just maybe, these will bring you back to a time that you can always revisit. Just take a bite.

Homemade Nutter Butters
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup extra sugar for rolling

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk

1. In a large bowl with mixer beat butter, peanut butter, and sugars until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds on medium-high speed. Lower mixer to medium and add eggs and vanilla continuing to mix until combined. Turn mixer to low and add in flour, baking soda and baking powder. Mix until combined. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour, minimum. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°
2. Once dough is chilled, roll into 1/2 inch balls and then form into a log shape. Roll the log-shaped dough in extra granulated sugar and place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Using a fork press down on cookie creating a criss-cross pattern. Pinch the center to create the peanut shape.
3. Bake for 6-8 minutes until edges are lightly golden (**ours took closer to 12-15). Cool on baking sheet 2-3 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to continue cooling. (**You might want to experiment with the size soon. Our first 30 were far too big!!***)
4. For the filling, in a large bowl beat butter and peanut butter together until smooth. Slowly add in powdered sugar and turn mixer speed up to medium and beat until filling is smooth. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
5. Spread a heaping tablespoon of filling onto the bottom of one of the peanut butter cookies and then top with another cookie to create sandwich.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lavender & Lemon Scones

I am wearing shorts and flip flops. Our windows are wide open. The shade was a welcome cover from the bright sun. At last, it seems like winter is retreating spring has decided to show it's baby face. I get winter... I understand it. It's a necessary evil. And you know, December to February is fine. March is tolerable. By April, the days of thirty degrees and whipping wind leave something to be desired. But fear not, folks, we're done. We are done. 
Back in early April, Jules started her green thumb endeavor on the rooftop.  Despite a few chilly days in there, green buds started poking their way through the soil, and before we knew it, she was the owner of a full blown herb garden. Common feedback from herb gardeners is that often, too much comes too soon, and there is herb overload. In this case? Lavender. And there is only so much aromatherapy soap one can make. So, we improvised. And thank you Bon Appetit, for this wonderful recipe. Admittedly, the consistency of these little guys turned out more like lavender biscuits than scones, but with a little bit of butter and some sweet raspberry jam, they were perfect for a cup of coffee on a bright sunny day. So come on spring... we are so ready for you.

Lemon & Lavender Scones
3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for surface
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon dried lavender buds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sanding or granulated sugar

1. Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 425°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk 3 cups flour and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add butter; rub in with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal.
2. Whisk 1 cup buttermilk, zest, and vanilla in a small bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until shaggy dough forms.
3. Transfer to a lightly floured surface; knead until dough forms, about 5 turns. Pat into a 10x6" rectangle. Halve dough lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 4 squares. Cut each square diagonally in half into 2 triangles. Divide between baking sheets. Brush with 2 Tbsp. buttermilk. Sprinkle with sanding sugar.
4. Bake until scones are golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 13–15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool.