February 25th, 2009

dark chocolate peanut butter cups

peanut butter cups

i don’t want to brag, but my college roommates were pretty lucky. even before i started baking, my mom would send care packages stocked with brownies, chocolate chip cookies, candy and juice boxes. that isn’t to say i wasn’t completely lucky myself.

peanut butter cups

i had one roommate whose mother worked for a very popular candy company (whose name shall remain nameless). she actually worked her way up from taste tester. her care packages were unlike any other – instead of candy bars, we got entire candy displays. want a great way to make some new friends? let them in on the secret that you have 200 score bars just waiting to be eaten. did i just give away what company she works for? whoops.

peanut butter cups

we got a lot of great treats, including mystery candies in silver packages marked “prototype.” by far the best thing we had, though, were dark chocolate reese’s cups. there’s a fact you should know at this point: chocolate and peanut butter are the greatest combination to have ever happened. now that that’s out of the way, you can know this: dark chocolate and peanut butter is the most decadent combination to have ever happened.

peanut butter cups

i believe reese’s sold these for a very limited time, but i never actually saw them in stores. for years, i’ve been craving them, hoping they would make a triumphant return, but it looks like i’ll have to take things into my own hands. the recipe is dead simple and the finished cups will basically knock you on your butt. making your own candy sounds like a daunting task, but once you master these, soon you’ll be making up batches for your friends and family, who will shower you with gifts and admiration. hey, you deserve it.

peanut butter cups

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February 23rd, 2009

gougère

gougere

you know, i usually try to keep things casual with meals at home. my ideal dinner is pretty much sausage, peppers and onions on an italian roll with provolone cheese and tater tots. but sometimes, when i get in the mood, i like to get a little fancy. fortunately for my sanity (and my wallet), i tend to only get fancy with one aspect of a meal – imagine hot dogs served with caviar – so i’m always on the lookout for dishes that straddle the line.

gougere

the gougère is the perfect solution: a french creation made with a swiss cheese, so you know it’s great right off the bat. it’s fancy enough to serve on its own as an hors devour but still goes great as an accompaniment to a hearty meal. gougère are basically extremely light cheese puffs, simple to make, and hard to stop eating.

gougere

the secret is to use a very simple pâte à choux – a dough made from butter, water, flour and eggs. although they don’t look so graceful going into the oven, they come out beautifully puffed and fluffy, with no need for yeast or other leavening agents. the cheese flavor is very light, so if you want something more intense, just add more shredded cheese of your choice.

gougere

you may be surprised at first bite that such a simple recipe could yield elegant results. no matter what kind of meal you serve these with, they’ll impress. now i’m off to eat my sausage, pepper and onion sandwich with a side dish of cheese puffs. until next time!

gougere

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February 17th, 2009

pepperoni bread

pepperoni bread

in these uncertain economic times, there are few things you can count on, but it’s comforting to know that some things will never change. pepperoni bread: so good you can use it as currency.

pepperoni bread

pepperoni bread

i’m always amazed to find people that haven’t tried pepperoni bread before. there are tons of variations, some featuring other meats – pushing it dangerously into stromboli territory – and some with a combination of italian spices. i’m a pepperoni bread purist, so this one is straight up bread, pepperoni and mozzarella. trust me, it’s all you need.

pepperoni bread

it’s a deceptively simple recipe that will make you some new friends – it’s one of those dishes that never actually makes it out of the kitchen to the party. you’ll have guests hovering over the oven like vultures – so make sure you keep a few loaves for yourself.

pepperoni bread

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