There’s no such thing as too much peanut butter…

There have been a spate of birthdays in the office of late and – as the resident vegan (one of two) who loves to cook – I’ve put my hand up to cook vegan and gluten free goodies for the birthday girls. Mainly because I love to cook, partly because it means I can join in and a little bit because I like to show everyone that good desserts are still good even without butter and eggs….

The absolute truth

The absolute truth

Oddly enough – and through no deliberate train of thought – all three cook-offs have involved peanut butter. Lots of it.

I have to confess I am a peanut butter fan. I always have been and I always will be. Any way it comes – but preferably organic and really crunchy.  In fact this image pretty much sums it up. I have always spread obscene amounts onto my toast whilst also simultaneously cleaning the spoon (and sometimes having one on the side).

I love the glaggy way way it sticks to the top of your mouth. I love the way it gets stuck in your teeth. I love the way it melts on warm toast and above all – I just love how it tastes. Give me peanut butter over jam any day of the week. 

So – it was no hardship whatsoever for me to create peanut butter based desserts / sweet goodies for my workmates – although it did no favours whatsoever for my current get-ready-for-wearing-a-bikini-on-holiday diet.

So – this is a blog about peanut butter. My own personal homage to it. I’ll share the three recipes I cooked and I leave it to you to improve on them / improvise / share them and salivate over them – as I did.

First up – Peanut Butter Cheesecakes courtesy of the Minimalist Baker

2015-06-01 17.09.08First up – make the bases. These are delish. I made them with vegan and GF oreos that I picked up from coles. Super yum. This isn’t the best photo ever but you get the idea.

  • 10 ounces crushed oreo cookies
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil (or sub melted or vegan butter) (i used the oil)

Next up – make the filling. This stuff is delish. NOT all of it made it into the cheesecakes. Chef’s special dispensation to try some of course.

The filling was actually surprisingly easy to make – the key is to make it really really smooth. Don’t be afraid to blend it to within an inch of its life as the cashews can make it a little grainy otherwise.

  • 1.5 cups raw cashews, soaked in water 4-6 hours then drained
  • 1 lemon, juiced (scant 1/4 cup)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or agave nectar (I used the former)
  • 1/3 cup salted natural peanut butter (creamy or crunchy (I totally used crunchy)

2015-06-01 18.29.11

Keep following instructions (Again…full recipe here) and finally put together the ganache. This was my fave – OMG. WHo knew that coconut milk and vegan dark chocolate would be such a taste sensation.

  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (dairy-free)
  • 3 Tbsp full fat coconut milk, warmed to a simmer

Finally – put these bad boys together and stick in the freezer to set.

2015-06-02 17.09.56A few tips from me:

– Blend a lot until its super smooth

– Don’t make them too big – I used a rather large muffin tin which made quite large portions which – although delicious – were very rich and maybe too big a portion. Mini muffin tin portions would have been better I think or even ONE BIG 2015-06-01 18.40.46cheesecake style of dessert.

– I didn’t bother with the topping in the recipe – just too rich and a little too decadent for me – I just used leftover dark choc chips saved from the ganache

– Be sure to use enough baking paper (See image on the right) to pull them out of the tin when they are ready…Mine was a little too skinny and a number of them broke when pulling which made removal rather an interesting proposition.

Still – all that said – they were (quite possibly) up there in the top 3 desserts I have made. Smooth, decadent. delicious and delightfully peanutty. Yeah,

OK – so I promised three ways with peanut butter…what are the other two?

I was watching a cookery show with the english chef – Lorraine Pascale. I love her presentation and cooking style and the fresh way she presents food. However – not a great deal of what she cooks is vegan – but thats ok because I can play around with the ingredients to ‘veganise’ it myself!

Watching a show on foxtel I jumped on record when I saw this recipe being cooked: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/peanut_butter_squares_17553.pdf

2015-06-28 10.47.55

So – next up – Lorraine Pascale’s Veganised Peanut Butter Squares.

These are uber delish and so easy to make its bonkers. However – note to your thighs – these are not to be eaten like grapes. At 300 calories a pop I ate far too many of these on Sunday when I made them.

I leave you to look up the recipe but the ingredients are really simple:

150g (5 oz) butter (I used nuttelex buttery)
200g (7 oz) plain (at least 60% cocoa solids) or milk chocolate (or a mixture of both) – I used dark vegan chocolate
250g (9 oz) digestive biscuits – I used a brand of vegan shortbread style biccies I love (I don’t really think it matters which ones you use)
200g (7 oz) soft light brown sugar
300g (11 oz) crunchy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

It literally took me no time at all to whip these up and they were amazing. And – when I took them into work – they 2015-06-28 06.23.20disappeared very quickly so sighs of utter delight (and disbelief that they were vegan).

I went back the next day expecting to sneak a morning snack with a cuppa and they were gone. Which actually made me smile and more than a little happy to know they were enjoyed.

And so – this leaves me with the final treat of peanut devotion – no bake vegan peanut butter brownies. Admittedly – there was actually no peanut butter in this recipe – again by the minimalist baker. 

3. No bake vegan peanut butter brownies

I just decided that peanut butter would add a little something something and so interpreted it myself with the addition of crunchy peanut butter (organic and low salt).

The recipe – again – was pretty simple (I don’t often go in for uber complex) and I found the recipe really easy to follow and cook.

2015-06-28 14.56.34BROWNIES
  • 1 cup (93 g) + 1/2 cup (47 g) raw walnuts, divided + more for topping
  • 1 cup (150 g) raw almonds
  • 2 1/2 cups (~425 g / 15 ounces) dates, pitted (if dry, soak in warm water for 10 minutes, then drain)
  • 3/4 cup (60 g) cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp cacao nibs + more for topping (I didn’t use these at all)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • My addition – 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • My addition – 2 tablespoons coconut flour as I found the mixture a little wet
GANACHE FROSTING
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) almond milk (I used coconut)
  • 1 cup (~175 g) dairy-free dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil (or sub vegan butter), melted
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

2015-06-28 06.20.05These were so easy to make and – i confess – as I found the mixture a little wet – I did actually end up baking them for 15 mins on about 170C just to firm them up a little.  Again – these two disappeared into my belly, my husband’s belly and those of my workmates in very short time. And there were certainly none wasted. If only these were good for you. I’d eat them a lot. 

Tips:

– I added coconut flour to the mix as I found it a little wet

– the addition of peanut butter was awesome

– I roasted my walnuts (the topping) before sprinkling over to bring out the flavour

– I baked the no bake brownies (eek) because I felt like they needed it and didn’t trust they were going to set as firm as I wanted them to – only for 15 mins on 170C – just enough to warm them through and set them slightly

And that’s it folks. My homage to all things peanut butter. If only there were a vegan masterchef – I reckon some of these bad boys would give the desserts on the show a run for their money. So good and so worth the time and the experimentation.

Thanks to Lorraine and thanks to the minimalist baker. Amazing food, fantastic recipes.

If you have any peanut butter kick ass recipes to share – please do. I repeat – you can never have enough peanut butter in your life 😉 

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