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Baking with Brenna

Brenna Williams | Monday, April 23, 2012

My family doesn’t pass down many things, but this week’s recipe is one of them. In my home, since I’m from the South, we just call them “Peanut Butter Balls.” However, since coming to Notre Dame, I’ve been informed in the Midwest, they’re called “Buckeyes.” Whatever you call them, there’s no going wrong with peanut butter and chocolate. They’re basically homemade Reese’s –  and what could be wrong with that?

I have this recipe in a binder scrawled on a piece of paper from my stepdad’s mother, and I would guard it with my life. It’s so simple, but so delicious, and with very easy steps, few ingredients and no oven, there’s no excuse not to enjoy them. 

With finals coming, you need sugar to keep you awake and to make you happy, and these will not disappoint.

Ingredients:

16 oz (about one regular jar) of peanut butter

1/3 cup of unsalted butter, softened

2 tbsp vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

2 cups chocolate chips, any kind

Instructions:

1.     Mix together peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla extract in a bowl until combined. Cover and place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Tip: Leaving it in longer will keep the mixture together better when covering in chocolate.

2.     Remove the bowl from the refrigerator, and roll peanut butter mixture into small balls.

3.     Create a double broiler by heating water in a pot and placing a larger, empty pot on top. Turn on the stove to high and allow the water to boil. Place the chocolate in the top pot ¾ it will melt without burning because of the indirect heat from the boiling water beneath.

4.     Stir the chocolate chips as they melt until smooth. Remove the top pot from the heat.

5.     One-by-one, roll the peanut butter balls in the chocolate until covered. If you want to be a true Midwesterner, make sure to leave an uncovered spot on the top to create the Buckeye aesthetic.

6.     Place the chocolate-covered balls on a baking sheet covered with wax paper and place in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes.

I would suggest serving and storing these treats cold because there is nothing better than cold chocolate. Hopefully, these will make you or someone you love smile. I know if someone were to bring these to me while I was writing a final paper, my day would improve exponentially. Enjoy!

 

Contact Brenna Williams at bwillia9@nd.edu

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The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

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Baking with Brenna

Brenna Williams | Monday, April 23, 2012

 

My family doesn’t pass down many things, but this week’s recipe is one of them. In my home, since I’m from the South, we just call them “Peanut Butter Balls.” However, since coming to Notre Dame, I’ve been informed in the Midwest, they’re called “Buckeyes.” Whatever you call them, there’s no going wrong with peanut butter and chocolate. They’re basically homemade Reese’s – and what could be wrong with that?

I have this recipe in a binder scrawled on a piece of paper from my stepdad’s mother, and I would guard it with my life. It’s so simple, but so delicious, and with very easy steps, few ingredients and no oven, there’s no excuse not to enjoy them. 

With finals coming, you need sugar to keep you awake and to make you happy, and these will not disappoint.

Ingredients:

16 oz (about one regular jar) of peanut butter

1/3 cup of unsalted butter, softened

2 tbsp vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

2 cups chocolate chips, any kind

Instructions:

1. Mix together peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla extract in a bowl until combined. Cover and place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Tip: Leaving it in longer will keep the mixture together better when covering in chocolate.

2. Remove the bowl from the refrigerator, and roll peanut butter mixture into small balls.

3. Create a double broiler by heating water in a pot and placing a larger, empty pot on top. Turn on the stove to high and allow the water to boil. Place the chocolate in the top pot ¾ it will melt without burning because of the indirect heat from the boiling water beneath.

4. Stir the chocolate chips as they melt until smooth. Remove the top pot from the heat.

5. One-by-one, roll the peanut butter balls in the chocolate until covered. If you want to be a true Midwesterner, make sure to leave an uncovered spot on the top to create the Buckeye aesthetic.

6. Place the chocolate-covered balls on a baking sheet covered with wax paper and place in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes.

I would suggest serving and storing these treats cold because there is nothing better than cold chocolate. Hopefully, these will make you or someone you love smile. I know if someone were to bring these to me while I was writing a final paper, my day would improve exponentially. Enjoy!

 

Contact Brenna Williams at bwillia9@nd.edu

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The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

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Baking With Brenna

Brenna WIlliams | Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Some people are very good at remembering special events. I am not one of them. My friends are lucky if I remember their birthday during the same calendar month, let alone the correct day.

For people like me, who often have to run out the door to a birthday party or social gathering after finding out about it five minutes beforehand, and also need to bring some sort of food in tow, this week’s recipe, Crispix Drops, is for you. If you have 15 minutes and these five ingredients, there is nothing stopping you from wowing crowds with a treat that tastes delicious, with minimal effort and time. As an added bonus for the non-bakers out there, this is another recipe that doesn’t use an oven!

Ingredients:

2 cups butterscotch chips

1 cup chocolate chips

Tip: Use your favorite kind of chocolate.

1 1/2 cups peanuts

Tip: You can use chopped or whole peanuts, depending on what texture you want

4 cups Crispix cereal

Tip: The recipe I was given didn’t say to crush them, but it might make the mixing easier if you slightly break them up.

Instructions:

1. Combine chips in a large pan and warm on low heat until melted. Stir until smooth.

Tip: The instructions didn’t say to use a double boiler, meaning putting the pan of chips over a pot of boiling water on the stove instead of applying direct heat, but I heated my chips this way, as I am accident-prone and burnt chocolate is awful.

2. Remove from heat. Add nuts and cereal. Stir until well-coated.

Tip: Add the nuts and cereal slowly, about a cup at a time to make mixing easier.

3. Use two spoons to drop cookies into haystack-like shapes on waxed paper or foil.

4. Let set until firm.

Tip: If you are getting ready to go out, make these, set the trays in the fridge or freezer while you get ready, and they will be well-set by the time you’re ready to head out the door

This week’s recipe came from South Bend community member Bridget Dutile, who is quite the baker. Bridget told me that these easy Crispix Drops are by far her most popular treat, and with a total of 15 minutes of cooking, there is no reason not to make these. This recipe makes about 24 drops, plenty to give to your friend as a birthday treat, or to share at a gathering. As always, I welcome recommendations for my next baking adventure!

Contact Brenna Williams at bwillia9@nd.edu

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Baking with Brenna

Brenna Williams | Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I learned two lessons this week. The first: never start baking until you’re 100 percent certain you have all of the ingredients that you need. The second: when life gives you copious amounts of peanut butter, create a new recipe.

I set out this week to make rocky road brownies, thinking I had the walnuts the recipe called for hidden away in my pantry. Unfortunately, when I discovered that I was either wrong or our house elf had hidden them somewhere, the brownies were already in the oven and I had to think fast. I could either serve my co-workers and friends boring, plain box brownies or I could go ahead and get creative, using things I had to spruce up box brownies to make “semi-homemade” maven Sandra Lee proud. I had marshmallow fluff and peanut butter, which naturally led to this week’s creation: Fluffer-Nutter Brownies.

If you’re not familiar with the Fluffer-Nutter sandwich, I can understand why. They were a thing of legend at my elementary school lunch table – no way would our mothers send any of us out of the house with something that sugary in our lunchboxes! The Fluffer-Nutter combines peanut butter with marshmallow fluff, in a perfectly sweet, perfectly gooey concoction that lends itself easily to the top of a brownie. They couldn’t be easier!

Ingredients:

1 box of brownie mix and the oil, egg, and water called for on the box

(Tip: I used the low-fat Betty Crocker mix made for a 13×9 pan. You can also be an overachiever and make brownies from scratch.)

½ cup peanut butter

(Tip: If you want some extra texture, go ahead and use crunchy peanut butter)

½ cup marshmallow fluff

¾ cup of chocolate chips

¼ cup mini marshmallows (optional)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven as instructed by the box. Mix together eggs, oil, water and mix as instructed. Add chocolate chips to batter and mix well.

(Tip: If you like fudgy brownies, use one less egg than instructed)

2. Spread batter on the bottom of a lightly greased baking sheet and cook as directed.

3. As soon as the brownies are done baking, switch the oven over to the broiler function on a low setting. Layer the fluff and peanut butter on the top of the brownies, taking care not to tear the top up too much. Don’t worry about fully spreading them. If adding optional marshmallows, sprinkle them on top.

(Tip: Only you can know what your perfect peanut butter/fluff ratio is, so it’s up to you if you want to add more or less of either of them. There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing!)

4. Place the pan back in the oven for 2-3 minutes, allowing the peanut butter and fluff to warm up and become more easily spreadable.

5. Remove from oven and fully spread the toppings on top of the brownies with a knife or rubber spatula. Let the brownies cool for at least an hour – they need to be completely cooled for the toppings to stay in place. Cut into pieces and enjoy!

(Tip: If you want to speed the cooling process up, place the brownies in the freezer for 45 minutes)

Five steps, store-bought mix and a learning experience are the ingredients for a delicious throwback to your childhood. There was no way I was going to finish the peanut butter I had in my pantry before graduation, and this was a perfect way to keep from being wasteful.

This proved to me that baking – that culinary art that you’re not supposed to improvise on – is not as cut-and-dry as the baking-wary might believe. Luckily, my experiment turned out to be edible.

Contact Brenna Williams at bwillia9@nd.edu

 

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Baking with Brenna

Brenna Williams | Monday, April 2, 2012

I spend holidays with my boyfriend’s family and I feel the need to make a peace offering or prove that I can cook whenever I see his mother, a plight that most significant others can empathize with. This Easter, I’m coming armed with a secret weapon: baked goods. With a recipe that’s easy and delicious, “Toffee-Like Bars” are sure to please everyone from picky in-law-types to the confection connoisseurs we call five year old cousins.

 

When I say I want recipe ideas, I’m being serious. This week’s idea came from a professor’s family recipe, and I am so glad that I solicited it. It’s hard to go wrong with butter, brown sugar and chocolate, so I thoroughly recommend these for a family-tested and approved treat.

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup flour

1 egg yolk

Tip: Egg whites are an acceptable substitute

12 oz bag of chocolate or butterscotch chips

Tip: Use half of each and get the best of both worlds

1/2 cup of chopped nuts

Tip: I used walnuts, but you can use whatever is available/your favorite

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine butter, brown sugar, flour, and egg in a bowl. Spread the resulting dough in a 13×9 pan.

2. Bake at 300° for 25-30 minutes or until light brown and set.

3. Take the pan out of oven, and sprinkle chips on top. Return to the oven for two to three minutes, or until chips are melted.

Tip: If you decide to use both butterscotch and chocolate chips, put the butterscotch on first and melt those alone for a couple of minutes. Then add chocolate and continue as instructed – butterscotch chips take longer to melt than chocolate

4. Remove the pan from the oven and use a rubber spatula or knife to spread the chips. Sprinkle nuts on top and cut into squares.

Tip: The professor who gave me the recipe advised me to put nuts on half and leave the rest plain. It makes them delectable to people who aren’t crazy about nuts

I will admit, somehow I have never had real toffee in my life, but I got a good idea about what I am missing out on after making this recipe. I would like to think that my boyfriend’s mother is going to be quiet this Easter because she likes me, but I will secretly know it’s because she’s savoring this delicious treat. I’ll take whatever help I can get.

Thank you to Professor Dreyer in FTT for this recipe! To everyone reading, I’m always willing to try to do justice to your favorite treat, so send me my next challenge!

Contact Brenna Williams at bwillia9@nd.edu