Saturday, April 16, 2005

How to win friends and influence people

Over the holidays I decided to have a party. It was supposed to be a house warming party, but since my house had actually been warm since April, it ended up being a dessert party. Given the overwhelming popularity of the South Beach Diet (blech, fooey), I threw a North Beach Diet Party, complete with nine different desserts. It was a hit. Take that South Beach! People ate everything, and very few mentions were made of expanding waistlines, etc. Thank god, that water cooler diet talk makes me itch.

I didn't have a lot of time to make something for my friends' wedding reception this evening, so I decided to go with the hit of the party, the chocolate peanut butter squares. They're easy as pie. Actually, they're MUCH easier than pie. Just throw the ingredients in a bowl or mixer, melt some chocolate, and voila! Dessert crack.

A big shout out to Nigella Lawson for her recipe that I have mostly followed in my exploration to find the perfect chocolate to peanut butter ratio. Nigella rocks. I went to see her at a book signing over the holidays, just before my party, and she was delightful. She's so down to earth, funny, and smart. I loved hearing her talk. I especially loved hearing her discuss how she deals with her kids' various eating preferences. She said her daughter doesn't like peas. Her response is, fine, but let's not have a conversation about them, just don't eat them. Amen, sistah! Special thanks to Sx for introducing me to Nigella in the first place. See, we Yanks have good taste. :-)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares

The base:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cups confectioner's sugar
5 Tb butter
1 cup creamy salted peanut butter (use the natural stuff, I like Laura Scudder's Old Fashioned Peanut Butter)

The top:
12 oz bittersweet chocolate (you can use semisweet too)
1 Tb unsalted butter
1/4 cup cream (milk works too)

Put all the base ingredients in your Kitchen Aid mixer and mix until smooth. You'll have to scrape the sides of the bowl and do a little manual work yourself to make sure it's all incorporated. Press the mixture into a foil lined 9-inch square pan.

Melt the chocolate, butter, and cream in a bowl either over a double boiler or in the microwave. The microwave is easier. Evenly spread the chocolate onto the base mixture. Put it in the fridge to set. When the chocolate is hard, cut it into squares. It's rich, so go small. You can always have seconds. Or fourths.

Recipe inspired by Peanut Butter Squares from Nigella Lawson's book How To Be A Domestic Goddess, published by Hyperion.


Anonymous Ben said...

I am so hungry now. Mail me some? ;-)

4/18/2005 1:31 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Sure thing, darlin'. Better yet, I'll make you some when I'm there.

4/18/2005 6:37 PM  

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