Thursday, May 24, 2012

Peanut Butter White Chocolate "Life" of the Party Cookies

Peanut Butter White Chocolate "Life" of the Party Cookies

I just opened a bottle of wine and my wife just left for her Weight Watchers meeting (she hit 100lbs lost tonight; gratz Babe!). I haven't had anything to eat in 6 hours and I'm browsing Pinterest while listening to The Distillers. If you didn't know already, Empty Stomach + Wine + Pinterest + Good Music = I MUST MAKE SOMETHING IN THE KITCHEN time for me. I've been toying with the idea of Blue Moon Cupcakes with an Orange Cream Cheese frosting but sadly I am missing most of the ingredients for that experiment (I'll make them later, I promise). After rummaging around my pantry for a few minutes, I decide on cookies. I like finding a random component and building everything around it; today's idea is Life cereal. There were two directions I could have gone with these cookies: Whole Life cereal pieces OR Crushed/Blended Life cereal pieces. I may try the crushed version next time with some oatmeal and semi-sweet chocolate but this time I decided to go with the whole pieces. Because the cereal is so bulky, I needed something to hold it together so I grabbed the peanut butter. And that is how this recipe was born. It still has room for tweaks but I think it's a good start. Enjoy!


P.S. The cookie dough turned out a little thick. Next time I think I'll add 1/8th of a cup of beer (Hefeweizen or an IPA) and maybe a touch more flour to keep the consistency. 


1/2 Cup Butter (1 Stick)
1 Egg
2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Pure Maple Syrup
1/2 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1/3 Cup Peanut Butter
1 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/2 Cup Life Cereal
1 Cup (4-6 oz) chopped White Baking Chocolate or White Chocolate Chips


1.) Preheat  the oven to 350ยบ.

If you decide to refrigerate your dough prior to baking, skip this step!

2.) Cream butter with sugars and peanut butter. (Don't know what it means to cream butter? Fear not! The folks over at Serious Eats have got us covered with an awesome slideshow tutorial.

Experienced bakers will notice that I did not cream the butter enough before moving on to step 3. Make sure that you mix it for at least 3 full minutes (4-5 would probably be better). My cookies weren't nearly as airy as I would have liked.

3.) Next we'll mix in the maple syrup, vanilla extract and the egg.

Normally I'd say to beat the mix it until it pales but the peanut butter is going to prevent that from happening. Just run the mixer on medium for like 2 minutes.

4.) In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda. Start your mixer on low and slowly add the dry mix to the dough a little bit at a time until smooth.

5.) Next we'll be adding the "goodies". Go ahead and pour in the Life cereal and White Chocolate. I used white baking chocolate, which made the cookies a little creamier but less sweet. Next time I make these I may try tweaking the recipe a bit and adding a little more flour, white chocolate chips and some beer for that extra "hop".

6.) Once your dough is all mixed, cover it with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for 1-3 hours. This will firm it up a bit and help the cookies not to spread out when baked. ...As a side note, I didn't do that with this batch as I was pressed for time but I only baked half of the cookies so far.

7.) Scoop the dough into balls and place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet (I used parchment paper on a cookie sheet). Press the dough down slightly to give the cookies an oblong shape.

8.) Bake for 8-14 minutes, depending on how soft you like the cookies. For some reason, the cookies never "browned" so you can't really use that as a guide on how long to leave them in.

9.) Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the sheet for 1 minute, then move them to a wire rack.

That's it! Let them finish cooling and enjoy :) As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions for future adaptations.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Beer and What You Should Know

Beer and What You Should Know

The Basics:
 So I figured that since I'm reviewing beers, I should write something up that explains some of their key differences. I know that when you go to the grocer, it can be hard to pick something between all the different types. I mean what is the difference between a Lager, Porter, Ale, IPA, Stout, Pilsner, etc...? Lets start out with breaking all beers into two categories. All beer is either a Lager or an Ale (The exception is Lambics which are brewed in Belgium and fermented spontaneously by being exposed to wild yeasts and and bacteria  native to the Senna Valley). The differences between the two are the temps that the yeast is fermented and the type of yeast used. For the most part, Lagers are brewed colder than Ales.

These are a few example of the different types of Lagers and Ales, not anywhere near all the types but a good spread of the ones you're most likely to recognize.

The term "Ale" was initially used to describe a drink brewed without hops, unlike "beer." Now hops are used to bitter and temper the natural sweetness found in the high malt content of Ale.

Brown Ale: New Castle
Dark Ales (Porters and Stouts): Guinness; Black Butte
Pale Ale: IPA[India Pale Ale], APA[America Pale Ale]
Wheats: Blue Moon; Hefeweizen;

The first Lager that Americans usually think of is the mass produced, pale yellow and watery Budweiser and Coors. While these are part of the family (like that distant 3rd cousin that everyone hates but still invites to family functions) they are a poor representation of the Lager name.

Lagers get their name from the German word lagern, which means “to store”. Fermented colder than ales and then stored, sometimes for months, at temperatures near freezing, these beers have a crisp and clean flavor that leave you refreshed afterwards.

Bock: Sam Adams Chocolate Bock; Michelob Amber Bock; Sam Adams Winter Lager
Pale Lager: Pilsner; Budweiser/Bud Lite

Lets Dig Deeper:

There are quite a few differences in the individual beer styles. Most people, when looking at a beer, see a couple of things right away. The color and the ABV% (Alcohol By Volume). We'll get to the ABV in a moment, the first thing I want to say about color is...

... ignore it! A lot of people get scared when they see a "dark" beer because they automatically think it's going to taste like Guinness (I want to take a second to point out that I have nothing against Guinness. I actually really like the beer, it's just so popular and so strong that a lot of people get turned off to dark beers because it was their first go at it). I've had plenty of beers that I could see through (looking at you IPA) and were WAY stronger flavored and had a WAY stronger finish (after-taste) than most "darks". Ok... maybe don't ignore the color but at least keep an open mind.

Lets talk real quick about ABV. Normally beer ranges anywhere from 2.9% - 12% but can get much higher. As with flavor, it's a common misconception that all dark beers have a higher alcohol content. For instance, Guinness is only a 4.4% ABV vs Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale is a 5.3% abv.

So... that's the beer basics as I see em. Hopefully I've given you a little more knowledge than you had before you started reading. Lemme know if you have anymore questions :)