Monday, July 11, 2011

a belated birthday dinner, part one

Grab a big cup of coffee, friends, because I'm going to tell you about all this stuff I made, and it's going to take me three posts to do it.  I figured that would be preferable to my penciling the world's longest blog post.  Although I've always wanted an entry in the Guinness World Records...

Not only am I going to hit you with three separate detailed accounts of my kitchen antics, but they're going to come at you in totally illogical fashion.  Well, it's logical to me (it's, in general, the order in which I prepared things), but doesn't follow your typical meal progression.  Unless, of course, you're me, and you routinely eat dessert first.  Or only dessert.   Anyways, here we go.

My friend Allie (fellow blogger, former roommate in Venice, future road trip cohort, general partner in crime) had a birthday, but happened to spend it in Punta Cana with her family, so a little belated celebration was in order.  I knew she'd had her eye on a Reese's peanut butter and chocolate squares boxed mix.  I had my eye on this recipe.  They sounded exactly the same, but the boxed mix left no room for culinary fiascos.  Naturally I had to try a recipe instead.  If you read the recipe, you already know what's missing from the first picture. 

I could NOT find Nabisco famous chocolate wafers to save my life (errr, the recipe).  After some intense googling, I learned that people use oreos, Teddy Grahams, or chocolate graham crackers in lieu of said wafers.  Those three things are fairly disparate if you ask me, so I decided to try a combination of oreos and Teddy Grahams.  And I just really wanted to eat leftover Teddy Grahams. 

So I surgically removed the cream from the oreos, and threw them in the mini-food processer with the Teddy Grahams (which, I must say, felt a little morbid).  I threw in sugar and melted butter, and after 10 minutes in the oven, it looked alright to me.  

So while that sucker cooled, I plugged in my KitchenAid (which deserves a name after the crucial role it played in the preparation of Sunday's dinner--suggestions welcome). In went all sorts of deliciousness (confectioners sugar, peanut butter, brown sugar, butter) and the paddle attachment worked its magic.

I thought it was pretty.

While the peanut butter filling relaxed in the fridge, it was time to make the ganache.  Which would be a snap.  If I had a microwave. Honestly, 99.8% of the time, I don't miss having one.  But then there's that .2% of the time when really I just would like to melt some butter without firing up my stove.  That .2% of the time also includes those times when a whole mess of chocolate needs to be melted.  

But I like to think I'm just a touch adaptable.   

Enter the poor woman's double boiler.

Hey, it worked, didn't it?

Who says you need a microwave?  (Now a dishwasher...I'd really like one of those, please.  Because let me tell you how fun this bowl was to clean...)

I was fairly confident that the squares would turn out ok given the obscene quantities of butter, sugar, and chocolate involved, but I was nervous about the crust.  I also had some issues spreading a "thin" layer of ganache over the crust.  Let's just say it was neither thin nor uniform, and leave it at that.  The unfortunate part about making something like a cake (or, say, a pan of chocolate peanut butter squares) is that there's no way to sample them without marring the whole look.  So hoping for the best, we stuck a candle in the ganche, sang a very off key rendition of happy birthday to Allie.

I turns out that my suspicions were accurate, and that the squares were actually pretty tasty. In fact, I have no pictures to prove it because we were busy inhaling them.  The sad news, though, is that I should have reduced the recipe by at LEAST half.  I have peanut butter squares that'll sustain me for days (at which point I will have to buy all new clothes, I'm afraid).

Up next: my first stab at fresh pasta dough.

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