Eminems

Long story short, I had this surplus of M&Ms. I’m talking, like, at least a pound. If I had to guess, I’d say I had about 836 M&Ms. And they were the Plain. I like the Peanut.

And I have this on my ipod

OK, OK, I’ll give you the short version of the long story: The M&Ms came from my brother’s engagement party 3 months ago. His favorite candy is M&Ms, and he had them on every place setting, and not a small amount of them either – about a bowl’s worth of M&Ms for each guest. Not every guest took them home, so I took home about 3 bags. It was a lot of M&Ms. I stuck them in the freezer and grazed on them every now and then, but, 3 months is a long time to have the same M&Ms, so I decided to kill them off.

I also had some leftover rolled oats from some cookies I made a while back (sorry, it was pre-blog, so no pictures available), so I decided to combine them into an oatmeal M&M bar type of situation.

After some Googling, I came up with this recipe on Cooks.com, which can be applied to bars or cookies:

1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp. hot water
1 1/2 cup sifted flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups rolled oats
836 M&Ms (or 12 oz. chocolate chips)
1/2 – 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Cream butter, add sugar, cream together. Add eggs, hot water, mix together. Add flour, soda, salt. Add oatmeal, chocolate chips, vanilla and nuts slowly. Mix well.

For cookies: Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet. Bake 350 degrees, 10-12 minutes.
For bars: put in greased 9×11 inch pan. Bake 350 degrees 20-25 minutes.

And here’s how they turned out:

mm11mm21

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Mostly success on the brownies

The brownies did turn out better than the cookies, though they were not exactly earth-shattering. As you can see, the texture is nice; a little cakey for my taste as far as brownies are concerned, but not bad at all, considering the changes I made to the recipe. And, of course, when you start tinkering with ingredients in a baking recipe, you’re asking for trouble if you don’t know what you’re doing. The flavor was OK. I thought it could have stood to be more chocolatey or peanut buttery.

chocpbbrownies2

I left out the cocoa powder, because as I mentioned in my previous post, the chocolate peanut butter had cocoa already in it (since I couldn’t find any recipe with “chocolate peanut butter” as an ingredient, I thought I’d see what happened if I used a recipe that included peanut butter and cocoa).

I left out the chocolate chips too. This, and using a bit more chocolate PB could have helped the flavor. Also, the recipe called for “creamy peanut butter,” but the chocolate PB I used was fresh ground, with no additives used commercially to boost the creaminess (like, say, the Skippy or Jif brands); this could have been a factor as well.

Another challenge I ran into (I had this same problem with the PB cookies) was the brown sugar. It had hardened. Why does this happen? Brown sugar contains molasses. If the sugar is not stored properly (airtight), the moisture in the molasses will evaporate, turning the sugar into a pavement brick. Fortunately, you can bring it back to life. Several methods will work, but one is to microwave the sugar along with a glass of water for 2-3 minutes.

I ended up with a mostly normal cup of brown sugar, but a few small lumps remained. I was a bit concerned about how that would appear in the final product, but the bits pretty much dissolved during baking.

I have some chocolate peanut butter left, and I may try using it in place of regular peanut butter. The chocolate part of the experiment is over.

Another shot at PB pastry

Fans of this blog will know that I will NOT be using low-fat anything in this recipe. But I will be using a curious ingredient, one that I have never used before. Drumroll please: chocolate peanut butter!

chocpb

They sell it at Whole Foods (though I’m not sure that every WF has it. Better call ahead to check.). Whole Foods chocolate PB is much like their house PB – basically just fresh ground peanuts, only this time, with “chocolate” added to it. It’s not clear what kind of chocolate is in it – it does not really have a label. A quick call to WF revealed that the chocolate component consists of cocoa, carob powder, and cocoa butter, along with some sugar and vanilla.

Sounds sweet, doesn’t it? Yes, it’s probably more of a dessert item than something you would, say, spread on a celery stick or an apple. But, hey, if the spirit moves you…

I have to tell you guys that it was not easy trying to find a recipe to retro-fit into this oddball ingredient, but I’m going to give this one a shot:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies, courtesy of bakingbites.com

(Makes 16 brownies.)

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup all pupose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9×9-in square pan with aluminum foil. Lightly grease the foil with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and peanut butter until smooth, then beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. In a small bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, salt and baking powder. Mix in to peanut butter mixture at a low speed, stopping when just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and scrape batter into pan, spreading into an even layer.

Bake for 26-29 minutes, until set. Edges should feel slightly firm and the center should not look wet or jiggly. Cool on a wire rack and lit brownies out with the foil when ready to slice.

Results to follow. I think these will be better than the low-fatties. Wish me luck.