Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cookbook Wednesday | Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts

Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts

If after reading today’s post, you choose to “blame” someone for its contents, you’ll have to take it up with Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts authored by the undisputed Queen of Desserts.”

”…Although Heatter, a James Beard Foundation Cookbook Hall of Fame Award recipient, is revered as royalty in baking circles, her style of writing and recipes are down-to-earth and unpretentious. Recipes for cookies like Petite Trianons (brownies) and Mrs. L.B. J's Moonrocks, as well as cakes such as Old-Fashioned Coconut Cake, make it possible for bakers of every level to achieve success. If you are new to baking, stick to the recipes and follow them precisely. Your rewards will be great and you'll soon be hooked on one of the most fulfilling aspects of cooking…” Bake Happy with The Queen of Desserts, Maida Heatter.

It all started with today’s “designated” day. That would be I Love Reese’s® Day! I say designated because according to The National Peanut Board, I Love Reese’s® Day was officially declared in 2012 through the efforts of the Facebook community.

Since today is “a celebration of the great combo taste of peanut butter and chocolate,” I thought I would refer to Maida Heatter’s book for something to really WOW you all AND, satisfy the craving for that unbelievable deliciousness that occurs when chocolate meets peanut butter or visa versa. While I was thumbing through the book, I remembered the “interesting” cover beneath the dust cover. It isn’t something you see often these days. A book that actually has a illustrated hardcover shielded by a dust jacket.

Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts

It was innocent enough, thumb through each delicious page seeking out an amazing recipe which includes peanut butter and chocolate. Easy Peasy? Well, kinda. You see, my first choice was a recipe for Chocolate and Peanut Butter Crescents found on page 413. Oh my, I contemplated it for more than a day. As you know, I’m not much of a baker and when I read Ms. Heatter’s introduction to the recipe, I had to second guess myself.

”These are small, candy like cookies that take time and patience. They have a crisp chocolate dough wrapped around a peanut butter filling and are formed into crescent shapes…”

Her directions for forming the cookies threw me for a loop and that was it, I didn’t take another step. Oh I know, just call me a chicken, lol…However, thankfully for us all, Anna over at Cookie Madness baked the cookies just as Maida wrote the recipe. She too confessed to the need for patience. If Anna found the dough “testy,” and she’s a terrific baker, imagine what I would have done!!!

Don’t get me wrong, Ms. Heatter’s recipes are thorough, fun to read, personable, and always memorable! If you are a fan of Ina Garten, you really should check our Maida Heatter’s books and recipes, especially her recipe for The Queen of Cake. (I’ve left some links for you below:)

I did find another recipe to share though. No, I didn’t bake it for you today but, when apple season arrives, I may just be baking this Chocolate Applesauce Cake Maida’s way:) You, on the other hand, may just want to warm up for Applesauce Cake Day which is June 6th:)

Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts | Chocolate Applesauce Cake

I have many times proclaimed my love for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on this blog. I was once “addicted” to those mouthfuls of chocolate peanut butter delight. However, I no longer indulge:( Well, until now!!! You see, after I gave up on the elaborate thought of Chocolate and Peanut Butter Crescents, I had to go simple. I mean easy peasy oh so simple, simple. And I did. That’s right you lucky peanut butter chocolate lovers out there, I made home made peanut butter cups right in my own kitchen! Not only that, I also made Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Graham Crackers too!!!

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups | Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers

What happened was, I couldn’t find just the right recipe in any of my cookbooks for home made peanut butter cups. I was running late and finally decided on doing a quick search online. My oh my, peanut butter cup recipes abound online! There were Organic Peanut Butter Cups made with honey. There were Clone recipes, Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup recipes, 4 ingredient recipes and even Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge recipes. Nope, there was no shortage of recipes online. However, many of the recipes included either crushed graham crackers or rice cereal for texture.

A light went off in my head. I’ll make two different versions. I adapted the recipe for the Organic Peanut Butter Cups above. I omitted the honey. I melted Ghirardelli Chocolate chips and two tablespoons of the peanut oil from the jar of organic peanut butter over the top of a double boiler on very low. (you could use two tablespoons of butter if you prefer; it just makes the chocolate more pliable for biting:) With my mixer, I blended 1/2 cup of the creamy peanut butter with about 1/4 cup of confectionery’s sugar. I “painted” mini cup liners with the melted chocolate, put them in the freezer for a while, took them out, scooped a dollop of peanut butter in the center and then covered the whole with more melted chocolate and put them back in the freezer to set up. I then transferred them to the refrigerator. The peanut butter cup with the yellow decorations was a last minute thought. I added a bit of Kahlúa to the chocolate before finishing it off. I haven’t tried it yet. (I know, I should have but, to be honest, I ate so many of the chocolate covered graham crackers, I just couldn’t take another bite. Yes, they are that good!!!

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups | Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers

As for the chocolate covered graham crackers, well, the inspiration for those occurred when I happened upon this recipe for Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers over at Wendy’s The Monday Box. I don’t know if they are still available in the cookie aisles, but when I was a kid, chocolate covered graham crackers were a rare and yummy treat! I think I stopped looking for them because the last time I can remember, the chocolate wasn’t as good. Since so many of the recipes called for crushed graham crackers in the peanut butter, I figured why not cover the graham crackers in peanut butter sandwich style and then dip them into the chocolate. I’m not sure but I bet they are probably a “healthy” version of the peanut butter chocolate combination especially since I used dark chocolate chips. And boy oh boy, are they ever good!!! They are even Marion approved:)

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups | Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers

I know the pictures didn’t come out that great but the goodies sure did!!!

Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts was first published in 1974. Please don’t let that influence you if you ever happen upon one of her exceptional books. Maida Heatter's cookbooks have been the recipient of three James Beard Foundation Awards, and she herself was inducted into the Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America in 1988. (right up there with Dorie Greenspan, Rose Levy Beranbaum, Alice Medrich, Marion Cunningham and others) She has also been inducted into the Chocolatier Magazine Hall of Fame.

Thank you so much for joining us for Cookbook Wednesday. Do indulge yourself with something peanut buttery and chocolately, any time. Louise:)

P.S. Don't forget tomorrow, May 19th is Devil's Food Cake Day!!!

P.S. S. The yard sale was cancelled due to rain. Whew! I didn't have to decide:)

Cookbook Wednesday | Share Your Favorite

1. Maida Heatter | Our First Culinary Patriot
2. Maida Heatter-about her
3. Baking through her recipes
4. Maida Heatter’s 86-Proof Chocolate Cake
5. The James Beard Foundation Lists The 13 Baking Books You Need to Buy Now