4 October 2009

america is not the world...


...but they do know a thing or two about peanut butter.

Though we'll enthusiastically spread it on our toast, I'm pretty sure I can confidently say, without sweepingly rewriting our heritage, that here in New Zealand we've never had a history of using peanut butter like America does. In fact, we're probably more likely to spread Marmite or Vegemite on our toast (The former owned by Seventh Day Adventists, the latter by Philip Morris and Australians, so choose whichever you find easier to swallow.)

Which is possibly why, when faced with an emptying jar of peanut butter approaching its use-by date, none of my New Zealand cookbooks offered any solutions for what to do with it. All I wanted was a simple peanut butter cookie, and even Nigella Lawson with her love of Americana didn't have a specific example. I've only got one American cookbook and it's all about Italian cooking so I finally turned to the internet. Had a flick through the search functions of Tastespotting and Foodgawker and found a recipe at Erin's Food Files, which highlighted a product gratifyingly American - maple flavoured peanut butter (oh the rich tapestry of life!) I thank Erin for the recipe, which I fiddled with only slightly. However you may like to refer to her website if you are already more comfortable with measuring butter in cups and baking with Fahrenheit.

Maple Peanut Butter Cookies

Adapted from a recipe on Erin's Food Files.

125g soft butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons maple syrup (or golden syrup if you don't have maple to hand)
1 cup plain flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
75g good dark chocolate (milk also would be nice), chopped roughly into chunks and shards.

Set oven to 160 C/325 F.

Using a wooden spoon (because it's better that way), cream together the butter and two sugars until the mixture is lightened and fluffy. Then beat in the peanut butter, followed by the egg and syrup. Stir in the flour, oats, baking powder and baking soda and finally the chocolate. It will be a relatively soft mixture.

Drop heaping tablespoons of the mixture onto a lined tray - no need to flatten - and bake for about 15 minutes, no more. They may still be soft when you take them out of the oven but will continue to cook as they cool. Transfer them carefully by spatula to a rack or just another tray while you bake the second batch.

Delicious from this angle...

...and also this angle.

These cookies are really, really good. I can't say that the maple flavour is terribly strong, so don't fret if you haven't got any. The oats don't make themselves stridently felt either, almost melting into the mixture as it bakes to provide an overall satisfying chewiness. You want to make sure your butter is really good and soft, and it's a bit of a faff to get the peanut butter out of the bottom of the jar without covering yourself head to toe in the stuff, but apart from that these cookies are very little hassle to make and surprisingly quickly done.

Elaine Paige is coming to Wellington to do a show which is really rather cool. If you don't know who she is, here's a good way to find out. Take a dart, and throw it at any West End production cast recording since 1970-something and it's likely she played a starring role in it. Seriously, I'm surprised she wasn't cast as Elphaba when Wicked opened in London. You may not have her in your memory, but trust me, you know her so well. (Okay, sorry for the tenuous puns.) She's been all over theatre in Britain (and Broadway) since forever and it's really exciting to have the opportunity to see her. Tickets are a little on the jaw-droppingly expensive side, but I think I'll file it under "Merry Christmas to me" and deal with it.


The title of this post is brought to you by: Morrissey. All you need to know about him you can probably find in the youtube comments.

On Shuffle whilst I type:

Not specifically on my computer, but on the shuffle of my mind if you will, is the Newtown Rocksteady, a band of many people, copious facial hair, several hats, and much skill. Caught them at the Southern Cross last night as one of the members is a friend of our flatmates. Their joyful sound whipped the audience into a frenzy of dancing (and may well have been what inspired the couple directly in front of me to kiss passionately and at great length.)

To be honest I've been to busy at work this week to listen to an awful lot of music (apart from the usual Broadway-on-my-way-to-and-from-the-office) but I have been streaming a lot of George FM and 95bFM. Both great channels, and although bFM can be ludicrously Auckland-centric, as they are primarily an Auckland-based channel it would be remiss to shake my fist at them for that. Especially when there is such great music and dialogue abounding.


Next time: I was gifted a healthy bunch of asparagus today from my flatmate's friend (the one in the band...such a kind act would I suppose now make him my friend now too). Plus I bought, on a whim, some whole wheat - also known rather charmingly as wheat berries. Am looking forward to using both tonight and documenting it...


  1. Was so excited about Elaine page, but then saw the price. Yeah. Nup. Not going for that price. My friend said if she can get me a ticket she'll take me (she's writing for BWW).

    Those cookies look delish!! :D

  2. Those cookies look delicious. I love oaty coolies. I have never tried baking with peanut butter so I must have a go. You have such a way with words. I am laughing at the idea of you getting that peanut butter out of the jar. LOL

    Elaine Paige..............Well she is good on the stage but she has a radio show on a Sunday afternoon here and it has put me off her for life. Nuff said. She is not a good broadcaster that's for sure. I hope you enjoy her stage show.

  3. I laughed when I saw that post title... ya know being American and all :) But then I noticed, that never in 26 years, have I had a jar of PB get EVEN CLOSE to it's expiration date. Canned soup, or cereal yes, but PB...

    Delicious recipe here, I love all the flavors, and they just really melt well together. Totally coffee shop worthy dude :)

  4. You know, a couple of years ago I was in Bath for a weekend. There was some concert thing on in the amphitheater but we paid no attention. And then she started to sing... it was Elaine Page and Michael Ball doing all the show tunes and it was a-mazing.

    Apparently in America you can get PB with butterscotch chips in it. It sounds so wrong but I know I'd love it.

  5. hello cheeky, we made a lovely dish the other night with baked asparagus. Not cooked it like that before. You can find it on Annabel Langbeins site, roasted fish topped with a scrumptous crumble, baked on top of asparagus, served with roasted cherry tomatos. I have to say I thought it looked ok, simple but prob nice, then ate it and thought WELL HELLO!!! Really really nice.

  6. Sometimes I forget how region specific some things are. We Americans do put it on everything. There's nothing better than a peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich. Your cookies look great.

  7. I love Elaine Paige - she is terrible on the radio but her producer picks some great tracks, all songs from musicals so I love it. You might like a show a friend of mine does, I'm pretty sure you can get it online and they do podcasts of old shows - it is Tameside Radio (106.3 fm here) it is called the Matinee and is on 3pm until 5pm on a Sunday afternoon here. It is great, full of show tunes and really camp!

    Love, love those cookies. I love peanut butter blondies, from Dorie Greenspan's book. If you don't own it you MUST put it on your Christmas list, it is brilliant.

  8. Olivia: It's almost as expensive as Big Day Out. Kinda ridiculous...

    Granny: Thank you! You should try them - they're very quick.

    Adam: PB never reaching expiry date? Spoken like a true American.

    Foodycat: Lucky you, sounds like quite an experience! Also, I'd love to try butterscotch chips full stop let alone flavoured PB. Sometimes we miss out on some crazy stuff here in NZ.

    JenniS: Sounds good - I love anything with crumble :D

    Marc: I'll have to try. Sounds like it would be texturally extreme.

    Glossy: I might have to look it up - although goodness knows what time it would be here in NZ when their show is on! I hear good things about that Dorie Greenspan :)

  9. The biscuits look yummy - and I've even bought peanut butter to go towards the first step in making them.

    Glad you liked San Lake.

    Hope the earthquake didn't rattle you too much.