post28 // fried green tomatoes and poboys galore: southern classics at jake’s good eats

ImagePoboy with Fried Shrimp and Fried Oysters

Just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina sits Jake’s Good Eats, a gas station turned restaurant visited by Guy Fieri on his Food Network show, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” The TV host hailed owner Jake Stegall’s Maple Glazed Pork Chop and Venison Quesadilla in the episode, unveiling the neighborhood favorite to Charlotte visitors and foodies from all over the country. I am lucky enough to be friends with a family whose been dining at Jake’s way before they hit it big with Mr. Fieri. For my friend Emily Griffin’s 21st birthday, we made the hour trek from Davidson College to Jake’s. After hearing about how “amazing” Jake’s is for the past two and half years, my friends and I figured we’d finally check out this Griffin family favorite.

Check out is an understatement. We began the evening with an ever-expanding appetizer order. First, just the Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Homemade Tortilla Chips. Oops, well, then I insisted upon the New Zealand Farm Raised Venison Quesadilla. Oh, and how could I forgot the double order of Southern Green Tomatoes, a staple side dish of the American South! I ate the caloric intake of a full meal in appetizers at Jake’s, yet, like always, it didn’t stop me from round two. ImageFried Green Tomatoes

For dinner, I ordered the Poboy with both Fried Shrimp and Fried Oysters. One of my biggest regrets from my trip to New Orleans this past break was that I failed to eat a traditional Creole Poboy. Served on a toasted hoagie and topped with a homemade garlic mayonnaise, I think I devoured Jake’s Poboy by just staring at it. I’m almost happy I didn’t try a poboy in New Orleans because I know that Jake’s would’ve beat any competition in a contest of tastes. The fried shrimp and fried oyster combination featured succulent seafood, cased in a buttery browned shell. The lettuce and tomato complemented the rich crispiness of the sandwich while the large roll mopped up the drizzling mayonnaise juice. My eager but immediate motionless upon receiving my supper was not unusual, as each one of my peers’ meals suspended their eyes in the same way mine had. It just might be an excuse for me to go back…

ImageWhite Marble Farms 8 oz. Maple Glazed Bone-In Pork ChopImageJake’s Dinner Special: Steak with Garlic Butter Sauce and Tomato Stuffed with Crab Meat  

A visit to Jake’s is a schedule changing necessity if you’re in or around the Charlotte area. Remember though, the local hub doesn’t take reservations so be prepared to wait. And then be prepared to feast.

12721 Albemarle Rd. Charlotte, NC 28227

post27 // fishing the ethnic out of davidson’s waters: a trip to brio tuscan grille

ImageEnsalata Caprese

Despite my enlivened fervor for baking these past months in Davidson, a couple weeks ago I found myself frustrated with food. After a whirlwind trip throughout Peru and its neighboring countries, I fastened onto my memory of the fresh baked tilapia I ate outside Lima, the same day it had been caught, and the culinary techniques I learned in my peruvian cooking classes. This frustration was real. I saw no source of ethnic and global cuisines in Davidson, North Carolina, what most consider an epitome of a small southern town. Furthermore, I viewed my own college campus as a homogenized blur of predominately white faces, a bubble filled to the brim with students who never popped through, never stepping outside the confines of the town of Davidson.

After one trying day, I popped through the bubble. With a loyal friend, I drove out of Davidson’s campus, out of the town of Davidson, out of the Lake Norman region, and into the greater Charlotte area. It’s not to say that I don’t love my school and college town, but at this moment I needed a wave of the outside, a sense that I could eat food from another part of the world, and that it would taste really good.

Granted, I did not go to Brio Tuscan Grille, an upscale Italian chain, with just anyone. Instead, I went with an Italian-rooted Californian, Carly Brahim, whose childhood consisted of eating authentic food made by her Italy-transplant grandmother, Nonna. Eating Italian with Carly was a cultural experience in itself, with her pronunciation of Italian specialities like “bruschetta” (the c is a k) wowing me, revealing her own knowledge of the Italian dialect and food gastronomy. She took control of our “Primi” menu orders, stating that with one Insalata Caprese, we should opt for the Calamari Fritto in lieu of Bruschetta so as to not overload on tomato-heavy dishes. I sat mystified by the rain of Italianess pouring out of Carly’s brain. After two years of knowing each other, I hadn’t realized the expanse of knowledge she kept hidden in her mind.

ImageCalamari Fritto

We each ate our fill, and I couldn’t help but cover this post in the beautiful pictures I was able to seize before our rapid consumption. Our Insalata Caprese was an inverse of most tomato and mozzarella salads, with mixed greens and basil served on top of a bed of thick mozzarella rounds and ripe tomatoes, beautifully plated with hefty dots of balsamic reduction for dipping. We enjoyed the salad alongside a Calamari Fritto, garnished with marinara and lemon butter sauces. Unable to finish both appetizers before our main dishes, we left the platters as pick-ons throughout the second course. I quizzed the kitchen, trying one of the Chef’s Specialties, a sweet potato and chicken risotto. Prepared with roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, pancetta, asparagus, parmigiano-reggiano, thyme, and pine nuts, the risotto was complexly delicious. A breadth of tastes enveloped my mouth each bite, which together equated to a nicely balanced collection meal. Carly stuck simple but classic with a Roasted Half-Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, and Mixed Vegetables. If that photo doesn’t make you want a slab of meat, I don’t know what will.ImageSweet Potato and Chicken RisottoImageRoasted Half-Chicken

Though we each battled through our main courses, we couldn’t consume it all, especially because we just had to try dessert! Veiled with a layer of hardened caramel, like that of a Crème Brûlée, I slowly made my way through the plate-long slice of Cheesecake. I know, I know, cheesecake isn’t Italian! But the New York delicacy sure did mark a sweet and full ending to our meal.

ImageCheesecake topped with Hard Caramel

Unfortunately, I can’t go to somewhere like Brio every weekend. I am a college student after all. Yet, the trip with Carly created a hole in my closed-off analysis of gastronomy in Davidson. I can access ethnic meals and experience food through a cultural lens in my small college town. I can eat bruschetta with my half-Italian pod mate, I can prepare Fufu with my best friend who hails from Accra, Ghana, or I can even get back to my Peruvian grub and cook Lomo Saltado with a friend from Lima. Yummy Twenties is aimed towards this mindset of global gastronomy, and I look forward to developing information so that twenty-year-olds like me, recognize their width of options.

 

 

post26 // a day with chef joel: where i gained an irreplaceable wealth of culinary knowledge

Imagewith Chef Joel Delmond and our Tarte Tatin

It all began on a warm Palm Springs night, under an umbrella-covered dining table where I sat languidly, dead from the parties of Mardi Gras that had slowly sipped the life out of my body. My mom and I sat in the chairs of Pinzimini, the new dining spot in the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa. Despite my normal rash approval of my mothers’ occasional wine offer at dinner, tonight, I declined. Yet, when our waiter circled back around, his news enlivened my drained sensibility. He pointed over to the corner of the veranda, identifying a tall man clad in a pleated tall pearly hat as a James Beard honored chef. For those of you lost as to what “James Beard honored” indicates, the James Beard Award is the highest of national culinary awards, typically referred to as the “Oscar’s” of the food world. While Chef Joel Delmond is not a recipient of this award, he has cooked in the James Beard House, a sensational recognition of its own. In this moment, my ears perked up like those of a puppy hearing the word walk. My mother and I immediately wrapped our friendly waiter into a conversation where we relayed my infatuation with all things culinary, the blog that I began writing in Peru, my obsession with photographing meals from every imaginable angle, and so on. Before I could add another detail about peruvian cuisine, the waiter had brought the amiable Chef Joel to our very table.

My mother, Chef Joel, and I began discussing my love of food, rummaging through the details of my ever-developing blog. In his impeccable English, dusted with a distinct layer of french inflection, Chef Joel spoke of peruvian gastronomy with a striking fluidity. Though soon to get back to the kitchen, Chef Joel did not leave without sharing his information and inviting me to bake with him in the coming days. We exchanged e-mails the next day and decided on an afternoon spent baking a Tarte Tatin, an upside-down apple tart from the Loir-et-Cher region of France, along the Loire River. I later learned that the tart originates from the Hotel Tatin, where the two sisters and owners, Stephanie and Caroline Tatin, famously baked the first Tarte Tatin, the result of a horrid kitchen diaster. Fittingly, Chef Joel hails from this specific part of France and after hearing my stories on peruvian cuisine, he was anxious to share a quintessential french dish.

My afternoon spent in the kitchen was beyond any of my expectations for baking the Tarte Tatin. Not only did I learn an irreplaceable amount of information on pastry-making from Chef Joel, but he elected other members of his staff to introduce me to their large-scale operations of sushi making, pizza dough molding, and the like. When I say other members, I allude to Chef Shawn Aoki, a former Iron Chef contestant. I could not then and still cannot fathom my luck!

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Rolling sushi with Chef Shawn Aoki

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Learning how to handle the pizza peel

By the end of the day, Chef Joel and I had two baked Tarte Tatins. During the assembling of the first tarte, Chef Joel took me on a detailed journey through the art of pie-crust making and caramelizing. He shared tips only a pro would know like how to flour your dough before using your rolling pin, what kind of surfaces you should use for specific actions, how to caramelize for different end results (looking for a sweet and light caramel or an almost-bitter type?), the list never ends.

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Letting the apples soak in water to keep fresh before baking

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Constructing the upside-down tart

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Top layer of the upside-down tart

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Rolling the dough between two sheets of plastic to keep the dough from melting or sticking to the pin

Both Tarte Tatins slowly evolved into beautiful, really striking pieces of culinary art. Smothered in buttery caramel, the apples congealed together in a perfect geometric form, seated upon a thick base of flaky pastry crust. After many Friday afternoons and Christmas seasons spent baking, I cannot say I have made such a beautiful dish as this Tarte Tatin.

With our finished product, Chef Joel and I took the fore-picture of this blog post, a student and instructor, both grinning happily at a Tarte Tatin well done. That evening, my parents and I ate our final meal in Palm Springs at Pinzimini, electing Chef Shawn’s Tasting Menu. We couldn’t have chosen a better meal and to cap it off, we each engulfed our hardy servings of the Tarte Tatin, brought out by Chef Joel himself. I waddled home in the eighty-five degree paradise, brain full with improved pastry techniques and a stomach wide with caramelized apples.

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The baked Tarte Tatin, before being flipped

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The flipped and final Tarte Tatin

Unfortunately, I do not have Chef Joel’s Tarte Tatin recipe for you yet. However, in the meantime I thought that Julia Child’s rendition will do. Bon Appetit!

Ingredients
For the Tart Dough:
3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cake flour
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons chilled butter, diced
2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water, or as needed
For the Tart Tatin:
6 Golden Delicious apples, cored, peeled and halved
1 lemon, zested and juiced
11/2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, as accompaniment

Directions
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, place the flours, sugar and butter. Pulse 5 or 6 times in 1/2-second bursts to break up the butter. Add the shortening, turn on the machine and immediately add the ice water, pulsing 2 or 3 times. The dough should look like a mass of smallish lumps and should just hold together in a mass when a handful is pressed together. If the mixture is too dry, pulse in more water by droplets.

Turn the dough out onto the work surface and with the heel of your hand, rapidly and roughly push egg-size blobs into a 6-inch smear. Gather the dough into a relatively smooth cake, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days).

Slice the halved apples into 4 lengthwise wedges each, and toss in a large bowl with the lemon juice and zest and 1/2 cup sugar. Drain the apples after macerating 20 minutes.

In a 9-inch skillet melt the butter over high heat. Stir in the remaining sugar and cook until the syrup bubbles and caramelizes, and turns a brown color. Remove the pan from the heat and arrange a layer of apple slices in a neat pattern on the caramel in the skillet, then arrange the remaining apples neatly on top.

Return the pan to moderately high heat and cook for about 25 minutes, covering the pan after 10 minutes. Every few minutes press down on the apples and baste them with the exuded juices. When the juices are thick and syrupy, remove the pan from the heat.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough into a circle, 3/16-inch thick and 1-inch larger than the top of the pan. Drape the dough over the apples, pressing the edge of the dough between the apples and the inside of the pan. Cut 4 small steam holes on the top of the dough. Bake until the pastry has browned and crisped, about 20 minutes.

Unmold the tart onto a serving dish (so the pastry is on the bottom), and serve warm or cold with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, as desired.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tarte-tatin-recipe.html?oc=linkback

p25 // a culinary duel over the new orleans beignet: café du monde vs. cafe beignet

ImageCafé Du Monde ImageCafe Beignet

While my visit to New Orleans over spring break was incipiently established as a rite of passage through the famed Mardi Gras, I quickly realized that the trip was going to mean a lot more to me than college keg stands and bead-hunting. In a procrastinating research method during midterm week, I searched through endless website pages titled around the edible in New Orleans. “Must-eats,” “Where-to-eat,” and “City Guide to Eating,” were just three of the redundant headings that popped up as I scrolled down the Google and Pinterest search feeds. Though I’d visited New Orleans once with a high school program (see photo below), given my newfound food curiosity in tune with the excitement of Mardi Gras, I was biting to get down to the Big Easy.

ImageAge 15, eating beignets at Café Du Monde

During the four days spent in the city of cajun food and jazz, I was lucky enough to try two servings of beignets from the acclaimed Café Du Monde and the appropriately named Cafe Beignet. Both restaurants served outrageously rich versions of the Creole classic: fried pastry dough fritters drowned in powdered sugar that couldn’t help but dust your clothes with a layer of white film. As is appropriate for a culinary duel, I will detail the two beignet episodes.

My friends and I made a point to go to the Cafe Beignet on Bourbon street the morning after our first night in the city. There, we devoured an excellently greasy breakfast of egg sandwiches on croissant buns and crawfish omelets. The main course was followed by two rounds of beignets (a third round came a little later). The sugar-coated fried pastry was just out of the fryer, warm enough to make my fingers play hot potato until the treat was in my mouth. To be frank, you can’t really go wrong with fried dough, especially when you bring sugar into the mix. My friends who were first being introduced to beignet heaven savored every minute of their full-mouthed bites.

Our visit to Café Du Monde took place later in the trip, after a cab ride home from uptown on our last night in New Orleans. I was appalled by the fact that the next morning, I could leave New Orleans without returning to the renowned cafe where I tried my first beignet. Compellingly dragging my friends to the Café Du Monde off of Jackson Square, we had a few questions about the menu. Ironically, while Cafe Beignet offered more than beignets, Café Du Monde only served beignets and beverages. Despite some of my friends’ wishes for a fuller late-night meal, the beignets proved we chose correctly in staying put. If you’re going to have just one item on your menu, it needs to be good; and yes they were better than good. Café Du Monde’s beignets were hot like those at Cafe Beignet but proved to melt even tastier and gooier into my mouth after a few bites through the fried outer-layer. Covered similarly to those at Cafe Beignet in mounds of powdered sugar, our beignets that early morning were just the right pick for a quick snack. Sitting with my friends and eating at Café Du Monde was an unforgettable last treat to the Mardi Gras experience.

To be fair, both sets of beignets were sugarfiably delectable. In a narrow competition, the beignets at Café du Monde had an edge over those at Cafe Beignet. I recommend making a trip down to New Orleans one day to not only try the quintessential beignets, but also the  flavorful Creole cuisine—look-out, a post on the cajun cuisine is coming soon!

post24 // a valentine tradition in the making: dark chocolate raspberry pie bars

ImageIf you are not a baker, keep reading. While other recipes that I’ve posted on my blog have proved difficult but reaped delectably rewarding results, this recipe cuts to the chase, blending a perfect ratio of raspberry pie with dark chocolate crumbly excellence. The triple-layered bars feature a pie crust bottom, a thick layer of dark chocolate, and a sprinkled pie crust crumble topped with halved fresh raspberries and mini chocolate chips. The ingredients, with the exception of the raspberries, are all common pantry holders so you’ll have no excuse for leaving this recipe in your to-do list. The prep time churns unbelievably quickly and the oven time leaves you with enough time for a fast nap, if you can wake up!

Kate and I wanted to make a Valentine themed baked good around the holiday to give away to both our single friends and some admirers. We naturally turned to the lovely Pinterest and found a slew of dessert recipes that ranged from drunken chocolate cherry cake to gooey red velvet s’mores bars. Though overwhelming, our choice was made on dark chocolate raspberry pie bars from the dessert blog, Deliciously Sprinkled. We figured a straight-forward recipe would be easy to duplicate for the growing audience of #Bakedby2Kates!

With the help of our friend Natalia, Kate and I successfully baked almost fifty of these sugary delights, each batch calling for a full can of sweetened condensed sugarmy Peruvian favorite! I will not advertise the bars as a “healthier dessert option,” but it was for Valentine’s Day, a sublime twenty-four hours of sugar. In any case, my most lasting image of baking this recipe was the environment outside. I trekked over to Kate’s apartment as half a foot of snow was blasting down on Davidson, North Carolina. For those who fail to venture far south of the Mason-Dixon line, six inches is unheard of in these parts. Seriously, if I had told you it would snow six inches when it was 60 degrees two days before, you would not have heard me. We baked in the middle of an uncharacteristically wintry scene, indulging in the warm pie bars as the sun went down. In my most melodramatic of words, that frosty afternoon will be one of my best memories at Davidson.

Some of you may now be adding events together and realizing that what! Valentine’s Day was on a Friday this year! Where did all the baked goods go? Who saved them for the special day? Well, in an attempt to make a Valentine’s Day treat, our pie bars were inhaled by every friend possible, two full days before the holiday. The last-standing individual was the boyfriend of Natalia, who, due to snow, received his bars in the mail the Monday after Valentine’s Day. Despite time and space, the air-tight seal of Tupperware and love had him send a dazzling report back.

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From Jenn Kurkiewicz with Deliciously Sprinkled Blog:

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pie Bars

Prep time: 20 mins; Cook time: 45 mins
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ cup fresh raspberries, semi crushed and sweetened with a little sugar.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Generously spray 9×13 inch baking pan with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric or stand mixer, mix butter until creamy. Mix in brown sugar, flour and salt continue mixing until crumbly. Press 1¾ cups of crumb mixture into prepared baking pan. Set remaining crumbs aside.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven.
  4. While crust is baking, pour sweetened condensed milk in small sauce pan and add one cup of dark chocolate chips. Stir over low heat until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth.
  5. Pour over warm crust.
  6. Sprinkle remaining crumbs evenly over chocolate layer. Spoon raspberries over crumb mixture and top with mini chocolate chips.
  7. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool before cutting into bars.

post23 // pulling davidson out of an optionless emergency: the new summit

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Classic Spinach Salad

I apologize in advance for the gloomy tone my post is about to entertain. I promise it will only be for a brief minute or two, until I can fully delve into the tastiest renovation to ever occur on Davidson’s campus.

Davidson is a very special home to me. I love the bright blue Carolina skies that greet me on February days like today, the Lula Bell laundry service that takes care of my clothes, and of course, the beachhead at Lake Norman where one can enjoy watching college frat boys play dock ball. My only lament about attending school at Davidson has been the food. While comparing my dining options on an early summer night with friends from home who are littered across the country in both liberal arts colleges and large universities, I realized that many of my high school peers enjoyed the food they ate at college.

I wish I did. I wanted to enjoy the food I ate at school instead of pulling the massive amounts of hummus off of grilled wraps or sadly attempting to make a Cobb salad without the chicken breast or baconthat is the best part! Not only different tastes, but I needed more options to add to my union wrap I ate four times a week. Moving away from this somber mood, I luckily came back after a semester abroad to a brand new dining spot on campus, The New Summit. Boasting many nicknames, most popularly Nummit, alongside Newsum and a vulgar title that I will leave to your imagination, the New Summit offers an array of dishes that span from grab-and-go breakfast items to late-night pizzas filled with all your favorite indulgences like buffalo chicken and triple-cheeses. The broad span of dishes you can eat at the New Summit made from farm-style ingredients, alongside their signature coffee menu and fillingly fruity smoothies, provides a foreign depth to Davidson’s dining services. This gigantic step in a positive direction has changed my thoughts on eating at Davidson. I can now find myself giddily excited to go enjoy my usual union wrap because I have only eaten it once in the past two weeks. The New Summit offers another option and in doing so, alleviates pressure on other dining options while offering college kids quality food.

Enough of this talk, so what’s my favorite pick? I’ve got a couple. If you’re looking for a meaty and cheesy option to serve as real comfort food, the Fig, Goat, Pig Flatbread or the Triple-Pig Panini are my two go-to’s. In terms of healthier items, I’m a big fan of the Classic Spinach Salad, usually with a side of the rotating day’s soup that never fails—okay, I strongly suggest against the Gazpacho, but that’s just me. I’ve heard it from everyone and I can’t deny the pretzels are fabulously yummy, served warm with a choice of dippings (I love the mustard). By covering a large range, the New Summit appeals to many Davidson faces, both the health-conscious athlete ordering a Kale Berry Smoothie and the beanie-wearing hipster who sips on a Chilean roast coffee and doesn’t know how they ended up in North Carolina.

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Fig, Goat, Pig

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Pretzel with Mustard and Veggie Chili

post22 // the unfailing and nausEating union of chocolate and peanut butter takes the form of a whoopie pie

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Let’s launch our minds back to a favorite childhood film of mine, The Parent Trap. I can imagine that when my mom reads said movie title, she will remember the 1960s film where two campers discover their twin identities and plot to reunite their divorce-stricken parents. While the key blocks of the plot remain unchanging, I come from a different age where The Parent Trap means a pre-house arrest Lindsay Lohan playing each twin, a dazzling love between Elizabeth James and Nick Parker, credits running as “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” blares from the television, and most importantly, a beginning to my obsession with eating chocolate and peanut butter in symphonic unison. I don’t know many girls my age who could forget the following scene:

Hallie: [takes out a box of Oreos] Want one?

Annie: Oh, sure, I love Oreos. At home, I eat them with… I eat them with peanut butter.

Hallie: You do? That is so weird.

[takes out a jar of peanut butter]

Hallie: So do I!

Annie: You’re kidding! Most people find that totally disgusting.

Hallie: I know, I don’t get it.

Annie: Me either.

I don’t get it either Hallie and Annie. Instead, I adore the peanut butter and chocolate combination, so much so, that I couldn’t resist making these ever-scrumptious chocolate peanut butter whoopie pies, adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe that dates back to her 2005 Holiday Cookies segment. As part of Bakedby2Kates, my friend Kate and I rotate who picks the recipe for each week. As my second pick, I prolonged my calorie-popping dessert choices with these two rounded chocolate cookies smushed together by a spoonful of fluffy peanut butter buttercream. The whoopie pies were nauseatingly rich but unbelievably delicious. One was definitely enough but that didn’t stop some of our friends from enjoying a second helping.

Baking the cookies was simple enough. Although we didn’t have an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, our hand-mixing of the batter—using a wooden spoon—worked perfectly well. Other changes we made to Martha’s recipe were using a store-bought vanilla buttercream mixed in a 1:1 ratio with spoonfuls of creamy peanut butter (Betty Crocker and Jif respectively), replacing our parchment paper deficiency with buttering the cookie pan, and microwaving the bittersweet chocolate in lieu of heating it on the stove. Oh yeah, and we ate the pies less than ten minutes after piping on the spiral chocolate pattern!

If you had the chance to taste one of these whoopie pies, I hope you enjoyed every bite! If not, I suggest giving this recipe a try, chocolate and peanut butter can never fail you.

Adapted from Martha Stewart, Holiday Cookies 2005:

Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Peanut Butter Buttercream *we combined a store-brand vanilla buttercream with creamy peanut butter at a 1:1 ratio
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl; set aside. *You can butter the baking sheets if you don’t have parchment paper

2. Add butter, shortening, and sugars to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; cream on high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add egg; beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add half the flour mixture, then the milk and vanilla; beat until combined. Add the remaining flour mixture. Beat together, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. *You can use a wooden spoon to mix if you don’t have an electric mixer

3. Drop 12 slightly rounded tablespoons of batter 2 inches apart on each baking sheet. Use a metal spoon to slightly flatten the cookie dough into rounder circles. Bake the cookies in the upper and lower thirds of over, 10 minutes; switch the positions of the baking sheets, and rotate each one. Continue baking until the cookies spring back to the touch, 2 to 4 minutes more.

4. Remove from over; let cookies cool on baking sheets, 10 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a wire rack; let cool completely. Meanwhile, line a cooled baking sheet with a new piece of parchment; repeat process with remaining batter.

5. Spread 1 scant tablespoon buttercream on flat sides of half the cookies. Top each with one of the remaining cookies, flat side down, and gently press together. Transfer pies to a tray. *We gave our pies a little more buttercream in the middle, I’d suggest it!

6. Melt half the chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat; add remaining chocolate, and stir until melted and smooth. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip (Ateco #2 or #3) or a small parchment cone. Pipe chocolate in a spiral pattern on top of each pie. Let chocolate set before serving, about 1 hour.