Tag Archives: chocolate

PB & C

All the main food groups

Peanut butter and jelly is one combination that America has stamped its name on.  A sustenant combination of non-perishable spreads, it’s the poor man’s wonder and the picnicker’s joy.  

Quite honestly, I don’t care too much for peanut butter, but when mellowed out with just the right sweetness it certainly strikes my fancy. Jelly works, but chocolate is my preferred match.  Something about the salty peanut butter with sweet chocolate is clearly addictive.  So much so, that without Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, my life is devoid of all purpose.  Motivation dwindles and the threshold of enjoyment is pushed to an unacceptable level.

Since moving to Korea, I have sought to get my PB & C satisfaction wherever I can – stocking up on visits to the army base and relying on imports from my dearest friends.  I can’t deny the fact, however, that it’s still not enough.   

Last spring, we made a somewhat groundbreaking discovery.  It was that if you put granulated sugar into a blender and pulse, you actually end up with a blender full of powdered sugar (a rarity here).  This lent itself wickedly to cream cheese frosting, and now is making a return appearance.

Best. Discovery. Ever.

With this little kitchen trick, it’s 100% possible to make your own version of  peanut butter cups in Korea. And, in under 15 minutes.  Known at home as “buckeyes,” I’m afraid to say it, but they may even be tastier than Reese’s.  Super soft and creamy, you can even freeze a batch to keep around for later.

Note: The recipe calls for the peanut butter mixture to be balled and individually dipped into chocolate for the full effect.  I’m lazy and operate typically in a craving-fueled frenzy, so I just slapped mine in a dish as layers.  Either way suffices. 

The intended end product. Fancy.

JIF Buckeyes  from allrecipes.com

Makes 5 dozen

1 1/2 cups peanut butter

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups powdered sugar

1 12-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips / 6 bars Ghana chocolate

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening / butter or margarine

1. Combine peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on LOW until blended (I mixed with a fork) . Add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating until blended (Wear out your arm muscle with that fork). Beat in additional powdered sugar until mixture, when shaped into a ball, will stay on a toothpick. Shape into 1-inch balls (Or, spread in an even layer in a dish of some sort – I used a large Tupperware). Refrigerate.

 2. Place chocolate chips and shortening in microwave-safe bowl (Break Ghana bars into chunks, place in microwave-safe bowl along with butter or margarine). Microwave on MEDIUM for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat until mixture is smooth. Reheat as needed while coating peanut butter balls.

3. Insert toothpick in peanut butter ball. Dip 3/4 of ball into chocolate, leaving top uncovered to resemble a buckeye. Remove excess. Place on wax paper-lined tray. Remove toothpick. Smooth over holes. Refrigerate until firm.

OR

3. Smear that chocolate goodness all over the layer of peanut butter, refrigerate until firm, then cut into squares. 

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Gimme S’more

It was just the welcome I was looking for.  This past summer, it was time for the long-awaiting trip to visit home.  After 18 months, I would be able to catch up with the ones I love.

I slotted in Colorado first, and the plan was to head straight up to the backwoods for a dose of mountain air, wide vistas and good company.  A friend scooped me at the airport and it was go-time from the moment I sat in the front seat.  Being the rock star that she is, she’d emailed my Korean counterparts and taken suggestions for the most pined-after snacks.  She had a selection at my disposal for the drive up to the mountains.  I was greeted with mini wheels of cheese, Cape Cod’s finest chips and chocolate-covered pomegranate bits containing just enough anti-oxidants to cancel out all fattening properties.

We made our way through the dark curves of I-70 and miraculously arrived at our destination.  Following our friend’s nondescript directions to a long driveway and some Christmas lights smack  in the middle of a cellular dead-zone, it was nothing short of a miracle.  Upon arrival, we left the vehicle behind and hurried over to reminisce beside a cranking bonfire.  Flanked by great friends in a perfect setting, I was content.  That is, until our Budweisers ran dry.

Man and pride

About the time we ventured inside to replenish the stocks, I found out just how much more was in store for me.  Scattered about the counters, I encountered the remnants of a neighborhood BBQ earlier in the day.  Deviled eggs, venison brats — it was the embodiment of  the land I love.

How I had dreamed of this moment!  Wasting no time, I dove in and did a number on the leftovers.  It was then that I encountered the holy grail.  Shrugged off as a picked over mess, I hadn’t really taken note of the pile of crumbs.  One taste, however, and I dove in deep.  Deep into that ooey, gooey, chocolate-y rendition of s’mores.  God Bless the U.S.A.

Back in Korea after the trip, I’m left with many fond memories.  And many unrelenting cravings.

Poised to burn

This weekend, it was time again for a fire.  For a Korean version of the British holiday Guy Fawkes Night, we gathered on the beach.  The holiday celebrates the triumph of the monarchy after a dissident tried to blow up their parliament.  The plan was for a feast, followed by a burning of the guest-of-honor — a cardboard effigy of Guy Fawkes himself.  Thinking nothing pairs better with homicidal arson than a chocolate-y mess, it was time.  Time to take on the masterpiece.

Toast the Rockies

A friend made his contribution to the event by shipping in some marshmallows, by way of Costco in Seoul. I’m told you’re also likely to find some at HomePlus or Emart. In the spirit of things, however, it was only appropriate to employ the Rocky Mountain’s finest as a nod to the dish’s roots.

Starting first with crushed Diget digestive cookies, you make a base.  

Following the crust, you add a layer of brownies.  

When it’s  all baked together, the magic happens.  You pile on the marshmallows and torch those babies up.

Upon sharing this dish, I was propositioned with marriage, under the pretense that this creation could be our wedding cake.  Later, I was told that one party-goer (who shall remain anonymous) was found in a corner siphoning all remaining crumbs into his mouth.   I think it’s safe to assume they shared my sentiments.

Brownie S’mores Bars

Serves…1

9 Diget digestive cookies (or graham crackers for those at home), crushed

6 tbsp butter, melted

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 box brownie mix (Tous les Jours makes one readily available)

marshmallows

9-inch round cake pan

Combine the crushed cookies, butter, and sugar until mixed evenly.  Press the mixture into the bottom of the cake pan.  Toast in the oven just briefly, about 5 minutes on 175C/350F.  While the crust bakes, make brownie mix according to package instructions (the Tous les Jours mix only requires water).  Remove crust from oven.  Spread the brownie mixture over the cookie bottom to form an even layer.  Bake according to package instructions.

When the brownie has cookies through, again remove the pan from the oven.  Top the whole thing off with a layer of marshmallows.  Throw it back into the oven one final time, for only about 3-5 minutes.  The marshmallows should puff slightly.

Here comes the fun part.  Spark up a torch and toast the marshmallow topping to a nice golden brown.  Hide from your friends and enjoy.  All of it.  🙂

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Cookies n’ Cream Dream

Today I did something naughty.  Unfortunately, it pales in comparison to the disobedience of some of my classes.  Unhappy with the points delegated for your team answer? Sure, feel free to rocket propel your sandal against the front board.  The chalk shrapnel almost took out my eye and it certainly ruined my outfit.

Fast forward to the justification of my indulgent act. Today was that day, and I made it out alive from one of my most notorious classes — all except my vocal chords. The noise level seemed to hold at a nearly deafening level.  In attempts to maintain order, my vocal chords were compromised.

Necessary healing components

On my way home, I cruised by a local CU Mart, one of the multitude of convenience stores in every block.  In the front of the store, a baked goods section caught my eye.  Small, chocolate cookies were available for merely 300 won.  They molded to my touch and the sale was sealed.  I scooped up four and hustled home to remedy my tired voice.

Leftover from a healing session just a few days earlier (Could you imagine – those children were even worse…), I had a container of cookies and cream ice cream.  The chill of the ice cream is the perfect refresher.  I heaped it on top of a chocolate cookie, smashed another on top, and we were in business.

The effects of this remedy were nearly spontaneous.  Without question,  I knew it was my duty to share.  Cheap, efficient, and natural.  I have a feeling my classes are going to be rough tomorrow.

Sweet relief

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Underage Cake-ing

It was a day that would forever change the course of history.

A few years back, I arrived home for my yearly visit.   The Mountain Standard to Eastern Standard time change kindly put my flight in around midnight. My parents’ smiles gleamed as I exited the airport tram, and I was quickly escorted home to devour the contents of a fully stocked fridge.  After eating cold pizza and finishing off the mashed potatoes, I put my fork down to rest.  I’d about had enough when my Dad perked up with excitement.  He could have just as soon suggested we go down to the barnyard and feed the pigs before I would have seen this one coming.

In my youth, my mother had spearheaded a movement which isolated my grandmother and I.  Cast off to a corner with our double chocolate cupcakes and our triple fudge sundaes, she would incessantly state the need to maintain a balanced diet. So what if chocolate was the axis of our diets?

My father on the other hand was a different story.  Always watching his cholesterol, he seemed to stick to his guns when it came to by-passing dessert.  All the way through his third helping of frozen yogurt, he would stick to his guns. His idea of a balanced diet was doubling the quantity to even out the losses of fat-free.

With one parent touting everything in moderation and the other sneaking sugar-free snack cakes, you may understand why I had resigned myself to lonely late-night sessions with a tube of uncooked cookie dough.  Just me, the moonlight, and a peaceful lack of judgement.

With this is mind, you can imagine my surprise when my father looked towards my mother and she unveiled the next course.  It was then that I first laid eyes on it.  The seductive bundt-cake curves, the rich and glistening texture.  There it stood.  The Kahlua Cake. 

Before this moment, cakes had been reserved for birthdays and extra-special celebrations. This baby was a game changer. All of a sudden, every occasion was an excuse!  Daughter home from college? Kahlua cake.  Housewarming for the neighbors? Kahlua cake.  Lawn mower started on the first try?  Kahlua cake. This cake throws all morals out the window. 

Last week we were all graced with the addition of one extra day in the month of February.  Besides the opportunity this provides to procrastinate your taxes a little bit longer, a leap year also means an actual birthday for one of my closest friends.  Seeing as her official day only comes around once every 4 years, we thought she deserved the best.  I decided to recreate the Kahlua cake for the occasion, Korean style. 

The original recipe starts with German chocolate cake mix and instant chocolate pudding, so this was going to be a bit of a challenge.  Match the lack of ingredients with the rarity of a bundt pan, and I was shaking in my boots.  What had I done?  How could I make anything to hold a candle to the one and only?  I talked myself off the ledge, tightened my apron and reached for my whisk. This was going to happen.

GMB: Genetically Modified Batter

Everything starts with a chocolate cake.  I did some research and found a promising recipe.  The one I chose relies on beating margarine with the sugar to begin rather than the more traditional butter.  Knowing the amount of additives that go into the gooey yellow stuff,  I was a little reluctant.  On second thought,  it might work.  Nobody likes to gamble on a dry finished product.  Surely in this day and age scientists have perfected the compounds necessary to ensure a moist outcome.  A little creepy, but I decided to embrace it.

I also knew that a pecan topping was indispensable.  I sought some out at Home Plus and sprinkled them in the bottom of the 8-inch pan before filling it with batter.  We were looking good. 

An ample sprinkling

The final piece of the puzzle was the finishing glaze.  Butter, sugar and Kahlua [soju] are simmered together and poured right over top of that sucker.  As I’ve always said, butter makes it better.  Match that butter with a bit of Kahlua and I’ll just  let your imagination run wild. 

Oozing appeal

Normally, 7th birthdays are reserved for Barbie dolls and princess-themed parties.  While tiaras are age-appropriate across the board, this cake might only be warmly received by one with their 7th birthday falling on a leap-year.  Since I know you’re toying with the idea,  you might as well just go ahead and black list this cake from your niece’s party.  Showing up with a booze soaked masterpiece might not fly with Auntie Miranda (even though Uncle Lenny would be singing your praises).  Just sayin, because if your impression’s anything like mine, you’ll be digging for excuses.

Happy 7th!

The Next Best Kahlua Cake

Recipe adapted from Best Moist Chocolate Cake from allrecipes.com

1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup margarine

3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons white sugar

1 egg

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup milk

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

—————-

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 stick butter

1/8 cup water

1/4 cup Kahlua [soju]

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8- inch cake pan. Sprinkle pecans on bottom of pan. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  4. While the cake bakes, prepare the topping.  Boil butter, sugar and water in a sauce pan for about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in Kahlua.  While cake is still hot, pour mixture over the top and allow to absorb.  Try to resist about 20 minutes, then enjoy.

Note: I have found that this cake freezes extremely well.  It works great to freeze the whole cake, or if you’re a chocoholic like me, divide it up into sections, wrap in waxed paper and foil, then freeze.  Each time your craving strikes just zap a piece (or two) in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

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