Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Peanut Butter & Nutella Cookies

I made this batch last week.  Thank you to Shutter Sisters for featuring this photo on their Instagram feed!

I simply have to share this recipe from The Sisters Cafe with you.  I'm not usually bossy here on the blog, but if you like Nutella, you simply have to make these cookies.  Period.  We are kind of Nutella fiends around here.  We dip pretzels in it, spread it on toast, smear it on strawberries . . . it's an equal opportunity spread in our house.

I haven't tried these cookies with gluten-free flour yet, but I will try them using my favorite, King Arthur gf flour.  Also, I made these using my own homemade peanut butter.  Can I be bossy one more time?  If you don't make your own peanut butter (or other nut butters), I highly recommend you try it.  I make mine with a mix of roasted salted and unsalted peanuts.  I just whirr them in the food processor for a few minutes until they are smooth and creamy.  It takes longer than you might think it will--maybe four minutes or so.  Let the nuts process past the "ball stage," during which the peanut butter balls up around the blade and looks quite grainy.  It hasn't yet released all its oils at this point.  It will be a little bit soupy by the time it's actually finished.  It will also be warm and will smell divine. Pour it into a clean container, where it will firm up a bit, but will never be as firm as store-bought brands, unless you refrigerate it.  I keep mine in a plastic tub in the cupboard, and I just give it a quick stir before using.  I can't imagine life without it!  And I believe it makes these cookies taste even more fantastic.

Thank you to the wonderful women at The Sisters Cafe for a keeper recipe.  I found it on Pinterest, which I believe further justifies my pinning addiction :).

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Beautiful Stuff

Happy first day of spring, lovelies!  This is an old photo of mine, and I just added this Ray Bradbury quote to it for a wee bit of inspiration.  Hope you are having a gorgeous day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Blossoms and Butter Biscuits

I have a heart full of thanks for friends and readers who shared their thoughts on my last post.  Your emails, Facebook messages, and comments on the blog gave me loads to think about, and also cheered me up a bit about the fate of blogging--as well as the fate of reading in general.  We all seem to be sensing the change in the wind, but many of us still seek real writing and real depth, whether it's online or in the pages of books.  While I worry about the longterm fate of reading, for the moment, I know I am part of a community of passionate thinkers, readers, writers, and makers.  

I will be moving over to the new blog sometime soon, but in the meantime, I'll keep posting here.  My biggest challenge at the moment is simply getting out of my own way.  I have so many irons in the fire, so much work that I'm doing, and so many roadblocks to navigate as I move forward that some days I wonder how I'll ever make it all happen.  Some days it would be easier to go back to my old life.  Some days I want to give up.  Winter doesn't help.  I know it's March, which means spring is around the corner, but here in Maine we have more snow coming tomorrow, and more predicted for next week.  I truly think that if I could just dig in the dirt again, the part of my spirit that is broken would begin to mend.  Soil and sunshine and the smell of grass would fix it.  Since they are still weeks away, I've been filling the rooms with pockets of blooms--campanulas and grape hyacinths and forsythias for forcing.  

And when flowers alone are not enough, there's always chocolate.  If your spirit is feeling as beaten as mine is, I recommend this chocolate pudding recipe.  I've made it twice in the past three weeks, and both times have resulted in empty bowls and the kind of deep, satisfied sighs that only dark chocolate can cause. 

If chocolate pudding still falls short of curing what ails you, then bless your little heart, I made some maple syrup butter cookies the other night that I can honestly say did the trick for me . . . at least for an hour or two.  Now that it's nearly maple syrup season here in New England (Maine Maple Sunday is March 23), these will be the perfect spring cookies to make for dipping in your Earl Grey.

The Magpie's Maple Syrup Butter Biscuits

1/2 cup butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup almond meal/flour (I used Bob's Red Mill brand)

~Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
~Cream butter, vanilla, and maple syrup together.
~Add flours and beat until blended.
~Pipe or spoon onto a parchment-lined baking sheet to make 1" round cookies.
~Bake 12-15 minutes until lightly browned around the edges.
~Cool on a rack, then dust with powdered sugar. 

Notice I don't have a single picture of these little wonders.  You will have to make them yourself and take beautiful shots of them on a rustic farmhouse table with powdered sugar sprinkled artfully around.  Please be sure to cross-process the images, giving them just the right amount of faded, nostalgic, old-timey charm.  You know that's what I'd have done had I not been too busy baking--and then eating--these bundles of floury, buttery joy.  Do make sure to include the almond meal.  I think that is the key to their beauty.  It makes them slightly chewy, yet light and crumbly, too.  Wouldn't it be lovely if everything in life were so satisfying?