As I’ve said before, when I get bored, I bake. Since it’s usually a spur of the moment thing and all I really want is a sweet diversion, I try to take it as an opportunity to test out a new recipe, rather than just make the same old chocolate chip cookies. This time, I decided to try to COMBINE two of my favorite types of cookies, oatmeal raisin and peanut butter, into a beautiful marriage that would taste something like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. These would be great with raisins or other dried fruit instead of cranberries, but don’t skip the peanuts – they really give that crunchy peanut butter taste! Also, a note about the instruction to hit the pan on the counter halfway through baking: I didn’t make this up but I hoped it would help with chewiness. To hear about the origins, see this New York Times Cooking article.
For my 30th (!) birthday, I had a tea party/picnic with a bunch of friends. I made tons of sweet treats (recipes to follow), and this is one of my favorites. Chocolate peanut butter bar recipes are ubiquitous all over the internet (such as this one) and for good reason – they are easy, they BALANCE salty, sweet, smooth, and crunchy, and taste just like peanut butter cups. To make the recipe my own and satisfy a peanut-allergic best friend, I ADAPTED my favorite recipe, replacing the peanut butter with tahini. The result still satisfies all of the same cravings, with additional smoky complexity from the tahini that will wow your guests.
As I’ve mentioned, my sister is vegan. Back before she became vegan, when she was just a vegetarian, we would make macarons together when we were both home at our parents’ house. If you’ve never made macarons, you should know that they’re more of a project than your usual dessert recipe. I typically set aside ~4 hours to make a batch, and that doesn’t include the overnight steps. While that is undeniably a lot of time to spend on some cookies, it saves a lot of money because macarons do not have expensive ingredients but are extraordinarily expensive to buy in the store. Even better, I get to use that time to catch up with my sister, and we both feel the accomplishment of making a beautiful dessert that can seem very intimidating. Since going vegan, my sister and I had not made macarons. But I learned about using aquafaba (more on that after the break) in place of the eggs in macarons on the Great British Baking Show, so over Easter we decided to give it a try. All I can say is, boy was my sister pleased with the results!
When I get stressed, or bored, or hungry… I bake. For me, it’s the process of cooking (not the final product) that I love the most. The chopping, stirring, and measuring relax me, and it requires so much focus that I just zone out and forget about my worries. Now that I’m learning to create my own recipes, these spontaneous cooking sessions are a perfect opportunity to take a risk – if it doesn’t work out, I still accomplished my goal of relaxation, and no one was counting on the product anyway!