Peanut Butter and Chocolate Truffles


Dinner parties are fun, wouldn’t you agree?

Last weekend Matt and I had dinner with our downstairs neighbors in our apartment. They cooked dinner and we offered to bring dessert. No big surprises there. I was tasked with coming up with a dessert that was dairy, gluten, and egg free. It’s the first time I’ve been faced with such requirements as a baker and I was up to the challenge. I spent Friday looking at gluten free and vegan baking blogs trying to find some inspiration.

Deciding to bake a vegan dessert can seem like a daunting commitment. No milk? No eggs? Wait…no BUTTER?! But, thankfully, just because we’ve grown up thinking that we needed eggs to make our cakes rise and butter to make them rich, doesn’t make it true. And vegan desserts prove that. While they aren’t quite like traditional desserts, they’re just as good. Sometimes even better.

These peanut butter chocolate truffles fall into the ‘sometimes even better’ category. Aside from being truly decadent, these truffles will leave you intensely satisfied. One of the things I really like about this recipe is that it only requires five ingredients. No special gluten-free flour or almond paste. There’s a good chance that you already have these ingredients in your pantry.


Peanut Butter and Chocolate Truffles

Servings: 20 • Size: 1 truffle • Calories: 156.0 • Fat: 6.1 g • Carbs: 25.0 g • Fiber: 2.9 g • Protein: 2.1 g • Sugar: 20.5 g • Sodium: 98 mg

Ingredients
16 ounces Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup natural salted creamy peanut butter
1 heaping cup dairy-free bittersweet or dark chocolate
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

Instructions
Blend/pulse your dates until they completely mixed and form a ball in your food processor. Add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and mix once more to incorporate. Using a small melon baller, scoop out small balls and roll/form them into balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for 20-30 minutes to set.

In the meantime, drizzle on peanut butter until the top is coated. If your peanut butter is super firm and not spreadable (meaning it’s either dry or not the natural variety), add it to a small mixing bowl with ½ tablespoon of coconut oil and microwave to melt. Stir to combine, then proceed as instructed. Freeze again for another 15-20 minutes, or until the peanut butter has formed a semi-firm “shell.”

Warm the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second increments with 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Remove truffles from freezer and, using a fork, scoop truffles up and quickly immerse in chocolate, using a small spoon to drizzle chocolate evenly on top. Then gently shake off excess chocolate and place back on parchment-lined baking sheet.

Top truffles with a small sprinkle of sea salt (optional), and repeat until all truffles are coated. Place back in freezer or fridge to set – about 30 minutes. Set out from the freezer or fridge to serve. For softer truffles, let come to room temperature.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
If your dates are not quite combining, drizzle in a tiny bit of warm water (1 teaspoon at a time) scraping down sides as needed, and mix until a rough paste or ball forms. If you add too much water it will be difficult to handle them later as they won’t freeze up well.

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Homemade Doggie Treats

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Last weekend Matt and I had our world turned upside down.

The culprit behind this upheaval is the cutest little furry four pound bundle of joy you could ever imagine. Her name is Maya, she is eight weeks old, and she is a Boston Terrier and French Bulldog mix. But don’t let her cute puppy dog eyes deceive you. She’s as naughty as she is cute! For every cute yawn, snuggle, and tail wag—there is a chewed up dish towel or mysterious accident discovered hours later.

We’d been planning on getting a puppy for months, but neither of us had any idea just how much work would go into becoming new parents! The funny part is that despite all the hard work, I’ve found myself becoming a “dog person” almost overnight. I’m quick to whip out a picture of her on my iPhone to show a coworker. I send videos of her doing the most mundane things (like climbing the stairs) to my family. Matt and I even huddle together at night plotting which commands we want to begin teaching her.

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It should come as no surprise that my baking project this week would be inspired by Maya. We’ve been trying to reward her with treats when she does something good. Going potty outside… treat. Coming to me when I call… treat. Dropping her toys when we ask…treat. Going into her crate willingly… lots of treats! Suffice it to say, we’ve gone through almost half a bag of treats in just one week. That is why I decided to bake some homemade doggie treats for Maya. The recipe is simple and contains only doggie-safe ingredients. Considering what you can pay for a bag of treats at the store, making your own treats is incredibly economical!

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Homemade Doggie Treats

Ingredients
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted natural peanut butter
1 cup skim milk

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease cookie sheets.

Stir together the flour and baking powder; set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together the peanut butter and milk. Stir in the flour mixture until well blended.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into shapes using cookie cutters. Place 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
If you want to store these treats for longer than a week, make sure you package them with plastic wrap and store them in the freezer.

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Peanut Butter Fudge

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It seems that musicals are becoming popular again with the success of movies such as Les Miserables and TV shows like Glee. This week I was pondering what my life would be like as a musical. Maybe it would be some type of mash-up between Chicago and Fosse—just without all the murders. But since I don’t have my own musical director or a set production crew, this exercise seemed limited to the afternoon wanderings of my mind. That is until I came up with the idea to create the musical soundtrack to my week by selecting 5 songs that I felt captured the comings and goings of my activities. So without further ado, I present the soundtrack to my week.

1. Monday: At the End of the Day, Les Miserables
2. Tuesday: Mister Cellophane, Chicago
3. Wednesday: Razzle Dazzle, Fosse
4. Thursday: A Spoonful of Sugar, Marry Poppins
5. Friday: I’ll Cover You, RENT

So where does baking fit into this post? Well since I’ve had a whirlwind of activity lately, I selected the easiest recipe that I could come up with for you! It’s only 4 ingredients, and if you’re efficient, the entire thing could be finished in 10 minutes. What on earth could be so simple? Peanut Butter fudge I tell you. I made this recipe when I was staying with Matt for the weekend and hid some of the extra in the freezer (since he has no self control when it comes to peanut butter). But shhhh… don’t tell him it’s there!

Peanut Butter Fudge
Adapted from Alton Brown

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Ingredients
8 ounces unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound powdered sugar

Directions
Combine the butter and peanut butter in a 4-quart microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 2 minutes on high. Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar to the peanut butter mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. The mixture will become hard to stir and lose its sheen. Spread into a buttered 8 by 8-inch pan lined with parchment paper. Fold the excess parchment paper so it covers the surface of the fudge and refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours. Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Measuring peanut butter can quickly turn into a gooey mess as you try to scrape everything out of the measuring cup without leaving anything behind. To make this process easier, spray your measuring cup with cooking spray before adding the peanut butter. Then when you’re finished, it should slide out of the cup with no mess at all!

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Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies with Peanut Butter Filling

Today is a special day. My good friend Ciara from college is coming to spend the weekend in DC! Being a fairly adept hostess, albeit somewhat less skillful than Emily Post, I wanted to bake something as a welcoming gift. As I waited to pick her up from the train station, I perused through some of my favorite baking blogs and settled on some delicious looking peanut butter sandwich cookies from Joy the Baker. These cookies are creamy and rich, and they’re also easily portable. So as we’re trekking from the Capitol to the Lincoln Monument we’ll have our own replenishments!

Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies with Peanut Butter Filling
Adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients for Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups uncooked old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Ingredients for Filling
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk

Directions
Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Beat the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until creamy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add egg and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract and beat until blended.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture slowly beating on low speed until just incorporated. Stir in the pecans last.

The cookies will be small, so portion about 1 heaping teaspoon of cookie dough into your hand. Roll into a ball and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Keep cookies about 1 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheet. If the cookie dough begins to stick to your hands as you’re making dough balls, rinse your hands and portion the dough with just slightly damp hands.

Bake for 10 to 13 minutes or until they’ve reached your desired doneness. I like mine a little underdone and cook them for 10 minutes. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare the filling, place butter, peanut butter, and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed, drizzling in vanilla extract. Scrape down the bowl as necessary. Add milk one tablespoon at a time until you’ve reached your desired consistency. The filling should be easily spreadable.

When cookies are completely cool, flip over and spread half of the cookie bottoms with peanut butter filling. Top with a similar size cookie. Wrap individually and store in the refrigerator. Cookies are best served slightly chilled.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Make sure your butter is at room temperature, otherwise it won’t cream properly with the sugar. It should be pliable enough that your finer can leave a mark in it, without being soft and greasy. Set the butter out at least one hour in advance.