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Ultimate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies


I have a confession to make.  I’m a hoarder.  No, not one of those crazy hoarders that you see on the show actual TV show Hoarders (no offence to anyone reading this who is!).  I’m a hoarder of baking stuff.  Mainly things like chocolate chips, M&M’s, Jello, Oreos, marshmallows, etc. Things that I see on my travels that I can’t get in the UK, so when I see them I kind of go into this panic buying mode as if I will never ever see them again.  So then I buy them.  And then they sit there.  On my baking shelf waiting to be used.  Sometimes for months and months.  


During a recent trip to the US a few weeks ago I found some super cute little mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – prefect for baking.  I had to have them!  Chocolate, peanut butter AND mini!  What’s not to love?  

When I got back home from my trip, I started unpacking my new purchases. I lined them up alongside the stuff I already had and started thinking about potential recipes.  I noticed a theme – mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, mini Reese’s pieces, peanut butter and chocolate chips, and a GIANT jar of peanut butter.  Cue light bulb moment!  I had been wanting to make some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for ages, but had never got around to it – until now.


I call these the Ultimate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookie.  They’re amazing.  I love them.  And I think you’ll love them too!  


UK residents!!! I realise that this recipe’s main ingredients are sourced from the US, but you can also get them here now in the UK at your local supermarket.  They won’t be the mini versions of the peanut butter cups and pieces, but YOU CAN BUY the regular and small sized versions of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and the regular sized Reese’s Pieces at Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda.  It’s fine to use regular sized peanut butter cups, just cut them into smaller chunks (approx 9 pieces).  If you’d prefer to use the mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that I used you can buy them here and you can also buy Reese’s peanut butter chips similar to the ones I used here.


Made With Pink’s Ultimate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 20 large cookies


Ingredients:  


2 1/2 Cups (310g) Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt

3/4 Cup (210g) Smooth Peanut Butter (not natural)
1/2 Cup (115g) Butter, softened
1 1/4 Cups (250g) Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup (55g) Castor Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Tbsp Milk
2 Tbsp Corn Syrup or Golden Syrup
2 tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Peanut Butter and/or Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
1/2 Cup Mini Reese’s Pieces


Instructions:  


1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).  In a small bow combine the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. 


2.  In a large bowl combine the peanut butter, butter, brown sugar and white sugar together.  Cream together with an electric mixer until smooth.  Beat in the eggs one by one.  Add in the milk, syrup and vanilla.  Stir the flour mixture from step 1 into the peanut butter mixture.  Fold in the peanut butter and chocolate chips, Reese’s Pieces and peanut butter cups.  Drop the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet by 1/4 cup fulls and flatten slightly.  


3.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are just slightly golden.  Leave the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes to firm up before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely. 


This is NOT a Peanut Butter Cup

Well, we all know I LOVE peanut butter, but this post is not about peanut butter and that chocolate thing above is NOT a peanut butter cup.  Something else I love are s’mores, and by now we’re all pretty familiar with s’mores.  After all, I’ve already done 2 posts on them – once here and another here.  Yeah, they’re pretty tasty, but their time is coming to an end – well until next summer anyway. So because the days are getting cooler and the rain clouds are moving in, I’ve come up with the perfect s’more solution so you don’t have to freeze your ass off roasting marshmallows in the cold!   
 
With these S’more Cups there’s no need to worry about burning your fingers on hot and gooey marshmallows.  And best of all, they won’t stick to anything because they’re entirely encased in chocolate!  They’re perfect to include in kids school lunches – or your work lunches for that matter! 
To make these s’more cups you’ll only need 3 things: Wilton Candy Melts, Marshmallow Fluff and some homemade graham cracker rounds. I came up with this idea while I was making the homemade graham crackers for my s’more pops.  But unlike a regular s’more, these stay nice and gooey because they use Marshmallow Fluff instead of regular marshmallows which can go kind of hard and chewy once its been melted. 
Marshmallow Fluff can be a bit hard to find in the UK, but if you know where to look you should be able to get it without too much effort.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Marshmallow Fluff, it’s a spreadable fluffy marshmallow spread – exactly how it’s name describes it!  I buy my Marshmallow Fluff at TK Maxx (AKA: TJ Maxx/Marshal’s in the US or Winners in Canada), but I’ve also seen it at local farm shops and the Food Halls in Selfrdiges, John Lewis, etc. Visit my international food locator for more info on where to buy American food products.

In addition to the original Marshmallow Fluff, TX Maxx stocks the Strawberry Fluff as well, so if you’re one of those people who prefers strawberry over chocolate you can always make some strawberry shortcake s’more cups instead.  


S’more Cups 
Graham Cracker Rounds (recipe here)
Wilton Chocolate Candy Melts
Marshmallow Fluff 
1. You’ll need to make a batch of homemade graham crackers using the same recipe I used for my s’more pops. You’ll also need 2 circle cutters – 1 slightly smaller than the other. The smaller circle cutter should fit into the bottom of the silicone baking cup, and the larger cutter should fit into the top third of the silicone cup.  Once the graham cracker dough has chilled overnight, use your circle cutters to cut out equal numbers of smaller and larger circles, and bake according to the recipe’s instructions. 
2.  Once the graham cracker rounds are out of the oven and cooled, paint the inside of each silicone baking cup with a thick layer of melted candy melts. (I only coated my cups about 3/4 up the side as I didn’t want them to be too thick). Use enough so that you can’t see any light through the candy melts when you hold the silicone baking cup up to the light. I used a silicone pastry brush, but a regular (new) paint brush or even a tea spoon would work just fine. While the candy melts are still wet, drop one of the smaller graham cracker rounds into the bottom of the chocolate coated baking cup, and put them in the fridge to set. 
3. Once the candy melts have hardened and set, spoon some marshmallow fluff into the cup so it almost reaches the top of the chocolate.  Next you’ll need to put one of the larger graham cracker rounds on top of the fluff.  Finally spoon some more chocolate melts on top of the last graham cracker to seal the cup. Try and make sure that that the final later of chocolate meets the top edge of the chocolate cup, and is the same level as the edge of the chocolate cup. When this is done, put the silicone cups in the fridge to harden up.   
4. Once the chocolate cups are hardened and set, pop them out of the silicone cases and you’re done!  

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

I love peanut butter.  I really do.  In fact most North Americans love it, but the British – well let’s just say they’ve got mixed feelings about it.  I’ll eat anything with peanut butter in it. Granola bars, sandwiches, ice cream, cookies, soups, noodles, chicken satay, anything – I love it all.  For me, peanut butter and chocolate is the ultimate combination, but this isn’t the case for a lot of my friends in the UK.  Upon moving here I discovered that peanut butter is more commonly associated with savoury dishes such as Pad Thai, and not with sweet things like it is in North America.  About a year ago I remember trying to convince a friend to try one of my peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes, but they wouldn’t even try one because they found the flavour combination far to strange and repulsive.  Well – if anyone reading this finds peanut butter and chocolate a repulsive combination (and if you weren’t already turned off by my previous post) I’m warning you – STOP reading this right now. There. I’ve warned you.
To show you how crazy Americans are about peanut butter, I took the first picture below at a Target store in Texas.  The second picture is of the peanut butter selection in a UK Tesco store. In America it’s all about variety.  I’ve found that American companies don’t usually remove items from their product lines, instead they’ll just add to them.  In the UK they’re more likely to remove a product and replace it with another one.  Unless that product is tea. If it’s tea, they’ll just go ahead and add another 10 flavours to the product line. 

American peanut butter selection: Smooth, crunchy, extra crunchy, honey roasted, reduced fat, natural, organic, omega 3, peanut butter & jam swirl, peanut butter & white chocolate, peanut butter & dark chocolate and peanut butter & banana.

  

UK peanut butter selection:  Smooth & crunchy.  If your lucky you’ll find natural, and maybe even organic. The store pictured above is a big one, so it stocks all varieties.  Chocolate and hazelnut spreads are more popular here.

When I lived in Canada Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were my favourite chocolate bar (even though they’re not really a chocolate bar at all).  Every time I passed the candy section of a store here in the UK I’d be on the look out for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  My search went on for over a year without any luck, so I just figured they weren’t available.  I was pleased to discover that I was wrong, and that they did actually exist.  I was just looking in the wrong place.  Well – actually I think I was looking in the right place, but some strange person in charge of super market planning decided to put them in the wrong place!  For some reason Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are kept in the cookie (biscuit) aisle at the grocery store.  Why?  I have no idea! These are not cookies.  I mean really? Who thinks they’re cookies?  Thankfully, my mind is now at ease knowing that I am able to indulge in a peanut butter cup whenever I want, and I no longer have to wait until I go back home to stock up on them.  I’ve even found a local shop that stocks Reese’s Pieces.  I doubt I’ll ever find one of my favourite North American cereals here in the UK though – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cereal.  Yes, that’s right!  North Americans put their candy bars in cereal form.  There’s no better way to start the day!  Good thing I still have a box of Reese’s cereal from my last trip to the US.  And look at the top right corner, the box even says it’s good for you!  “Nutritional Highlights” – it’s got vitamins and everything!  Ha!  Yeah right…
 
I was so ecstatic about my recent peanut butter cup discovery that they inspired my next cupcake.  A Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cupcake!  A rich chocolate cupcake with fluffy whipped peanut butter frosting and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup tucked inside.  Delicious!  I had originally intended on making these cupcakes for July’s Iron Cupcake London competition, but it was cancelled.  Luckily one of my fellow Iron Cupcake bakers decided that it would be nice to have a cupcake get together anyway.  Due to some last minute cancellations it was a small gathering, but very enjoyable none the less.  Kelly made some delicious coconut cupcakes that were dipped in pink and milk chocolate, Gem made some really good snickers cupcakes topped with rocky road, and Tamara made some yummy lemon and lime cupcakes.   I had a really nice time chatting about cupcakes with the girls, and at the end of the night we all swapped cupcakes.  We each went home with a nice selection, and since I was on the verge of a cupcake overdose I brought them all into work with me the next day where they were quickly gobbled up with rave reviews.   

Below are my Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup cupcakes.  I topped them off with peanut butter frosting and a chocolate peanut butter crunch. These are probably one of my favourite cupcakes, and they’re so easy to make.  
 
 Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

1 1/8 cups (255g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (55g) Cocoa
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (100g) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) milk, plus2 tbs milk
1/4 cup warm water
2 tbs brewed coffee
1/2 cup (125ml) melted butter
12 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (not the mini ones)

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC)
2.  Line a cupcake pan with 12 paper liners, and place a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup in the bottom of each paper liner.
3. In one bowl sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, brown sugar, and white sugar. Then whisk in the milk, coffee, and melted butter.
5. Add in the dry ingredients until well mixed.
6.Divide the batter evenly among 12 cupcake molds. Fill about three-quarters full.
7. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean.

For the frosting simply whip in some smooth (not natural) peanut butter into your regular buttercream icing and pipe on top of your cooled cupcakes.  The result is a moist and delicious chocolate cupcake with a peanut butter surprise at the bottom and a nice creamy peanut butter frosting on top.

Speculoos Swiss Roll


Speculoos. Speculooooos! You have to admit, it’s pretty fun to sayBut if all your thinking is “speculoos what?”, then you might be more familiar with the American name – Biscoff or Biscoff Spread.  
Originally from Belgium, Speculoos biscuits are delicious little crunchy biscuits that are flavoured with a blend of caramalised sugar and a hint of spice.  Over the past few years a speculoos hyrbid has emerged in the form of a delicious spread, similar to that of peanut butter or nutella.  I first fell in love with Speculoos spread a few years ago while on holiday in Brussels, and have enjoyed encorporating it into recipes ever since.  This vanilla swiss roll with speculoos whipped cream is one of my favourites.  Speculoos has increased in popularity, and is now readily available in the UK in Waitrose stores and other specialty grocers.
I made some pretty awesome Speculoos Whoopie pies a few months ago, and I often think about them and how delicious they were.  I wanted to re-create their flavour, but opted to do so in the form of a swiss roll.  I‘d never made a swiss roll before, but I knew the flavour I was after, so I set out to create exactly what I had in mind.  The result was a delicious sponge with a light vanilla caramel flavour, and a wonderful caramalised speculoos flavoured cream filling.
 
Ingredients:  
Vanilla Sponge: 
4 Eggs 
160 grams Super-fine Golden Castor Sugar  
1 Tbsp  + 1/2 tsp Vegetable Oil 
2 Tbsp Double Cream +1/4 tsp of vinegar (combine and set aside) 
2 tsp Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Bean Paste 
110 grams Plain Flour 
14 grams Corn Flour 
1 tsp Baking Powder 
1/4 tsp Salt  
Speculoos Cream Filling: 
250 milliliters Double Cream 
1/3 Cup Speculoos Spread  
To Garnesh: 
2 Tbsp Speculoos Spread, melted

Instructions:  
1.  Preheat oven to 180ºC. Grease a 9×13 jelly-roll pan and line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, beat eggs with electric mixer until pale and yellow – about 5 full minutes. 
2.  Pour in the oil and the sugar while the mixer is still running.  Add in cream and vinegar mixture, and the vanilla extract In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder and salt. Slowly add to the liquid ingredients. Mix until well combined. 
3.  Pour batter into parchment lined pan, ensuring batter is evenly distributed. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until the sponge springs back with the touch of a finger. 
4.  While the sponge is baking, lightly sprinkle a tea towel with powdered sugar to avoid the sponge from sticking. Once the sponge is done baking, immediately turn it out onto the tea towel and peel away the parchment paper.  Starting at one of the short ends, carefully roll up the sponge together with. tea towel. Set the rolled cake on a wire rack and cool completely. 
5.  To make the speculoos cream filling, combine the double cream and speculoos into a large bowl and beat on high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Carefully unroll the sponge before spreading with a layer of speculoos whipped cream, stopping about 2 centimeters before the end of sponge in order to avoid cream spilling out once rolled. 
6.  Carefully roll the sponge, and place seam down on a serving platter. Place 2 tablespoons of speculoos spread in a small heat proof dish and melt in the microwave for 10 – 20 seconds.  Pour over top of your finished Swiss roll, and let set in the refrigerator before serving.  
** This Swiss roll keeps well in the fridge.  I find that it improves in flavour over night.  If you are going to chill it over night in the fridge, just make sure to carefully cover it in cling film to prevent it from drying out. (Use cocktail sticks to prevent the cling film from sticking to the Speculoos topping)

Gourmet S’mores

The weather here in the UK has been positively dismal.  Having just returned to soggy ol’ England from holiday in Toronto where the weather was 38°C (100°F) has only reinforced the fact that our summer so far has been absolutely crappy. 
It was so nice to get away and spend some time in a tropical climate – even if it was on the beaches and streets of Toronto, and not the Caribbean.  No visit back home to Canada is complete without some serious food (ingredient) shopping.  I always return to the UK with a suitcase full of North American treats that are hard to find in UK stores.  I made numerous visits to a fantastic bulk food shop where I stocked up on sprinkles and candy melts –  almost an entire carry on suitcase full!  I also visited Golda’s Kitchen – the most amazing cake supply store, thanks to a recommendation from Jodie Whitley via the Made With Pink Facebook page (I’ll be posting pictures of the cake shop and my holiday purchase on my facebook page shortly!)
A few days before I left on holiday I decided to perk myself up and get into the summer spirit by making some gourmet s’mores (sans campfire) using some of the ingredients I’d picked up from my previous holiday to the States. 
I’d had a few bags of speciality marshmallows and a couple boxes of graham crackers sitting on my baking shelf for the past few months,  I’d always intended to use them for gourmet s’mores, but I just never got around to it until now.  Plus I needed to make room for my new impending purchases!


I made four different s’more combinations:
Pina Colada:  Original graham crackers sandwiched together with white chocolate, pineapple & toasted coconut marshmallows, and a slice of freshly grilled pineapple. 
Chocolate Mint:  Chocolate graham crackers sandwiched together with mint chocolate marshmallows and dark mint chocolate.

Peanut Butter Cup:  Chocolate graham crackers sandwiched together with flat vanilla marshmallows and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.


Salted Caramel:  Chocolate graham crackers sandwiched together with caramel flavoured chocolate callets, flat vanilla marshmallows and a spoon full french salted butter caramel (not pictured).


Don’t think you can’t make these if you don’t live in the US, or don’t have the graham crackers or fancy marshmallows.  I’ve seen toasted coconut marshmallows in the UK before in several stores, and most recently I’ve been able to find them in the South African grocery stores near my home.  Regular marshmallows will work just as well in all of these s’mores, but my tip is to cut them in half so they lay flat instead of standing tall like they normally would.  All of the chocolate I used is from the UK, and is available in any major grocery store with the exception of the caramel callets which were a gift from my March Foodie Penpal who bought them in a local shop in Manchester.  If you don’t have the caramel callets or the salted butter caramel, then you can use the new flat Rolo chocolate bars that have just been launched for sale in the UK. 

As for the graham crackers, you can make your own at home by following the recipe here that I used to make my mini s’more pops a couple of years ago.
To make the s’mores you’ll need the above ingredients and an oven.  If the UK weather ever gets better then you can make them the way they were originally intended – with a camp fire.  But until then you’ll need to pre-heat your oven to 200°C (400°F).  


Assemble your s’mores together and wrap them in a square of aluminum foil (this will ensure your chocolate and marshmallow don’t melt and ooze out the sides of your graham crackers and into the oven.)  Place them in the hot oven for 3-5 minutes before removing.  Carefully unwrap each s’more and enjoy – just make sure you don’t burn yourself on the hot gooey marshmallow and chocolate!

I think that the salted caramel s’mores were my favourite out of the bunch.  They were so so soooo good, but also very rich.  I couldn’t have eaten more than one.  I also really liked the Pina Colada ones, they were so different from any other s’more I’d made.  I only got to try a small bite of the chocolate mint s’more before my husband gobbled it up.  As for the Reese’s s’more, while it was good, it wasn’t my favourite.  I’d still prefer to eat the Reese’s cup by it self.

What other unique flavours of s’mores have you made?  Do you have any other suggestions for me??