Head to your local scoop shop or freezer section, browse, buy, return home, then pop these bad boys in your toaster oven to get the chocolate nice and melty. Serve with a scoop of ice cream, and a rocks glass of brown drink. That, my friends, is how you end a day!
“If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?”
“Sandwiches” he said with gumption, as if he had played the what-if game correctly.
My hand snapped to my hip bone, my head tilted, my eyes rolled, I leaned in, and each syllable I spoke dripped with sarcasm. “Oh, so you would choose to eat food for the rest of your life? Is that what you are telling me?”
I’m a stickler for rules when it comes to games, a weird fluke of my perfectionism that somehow doesn’t always manifest in real-life rule situations. No turning from 3pm-6pm, even if no other car is in sight? …optional…. “Narrow” down your one and only food source to “SANDWICHES?”
In this hypothetical game of sacrifices, my roommate Dan had not sacrificed a thing. While the rest of us would be chomping on french fries or cheese until the grease or lactose did us in, he’d be converting his every inkling of a craving into sandwich form- pizza sandwiches, egg roll sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, taco sandwiches, smoked salmon sandwiches… ice cream sandwiches.
Foul, I cried, FOUL!
Though Dan was a complete and utter cheater, he was onto something- sandwiches are awesome (I didn’t say he was onto anything profound, just something). Whoever decided to stack ingredients between layers of bread- so smart! Whoever decided to swap that bread for cookies, and fill the space with ice cream? Genius! In the spirit of my college roommate not sacrificing a damn thing in a game of sacrifice, I bring you a recipe for wholesome peanut butter cookies. They make delicious bookends for ice cream, so you can eat sandwiches for every meal!
Here’s to you Dan Cohen!
p.s: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Sprouted Spelt Peanut Butter Cookies for Ice Cream Sandwiches
About This Recipe: These cookies are soft and chewy- perfect for pairing with ice cream and withstanding a bit of freeze if you prepare the sammie ahead of time. However, the truly exciting element in this recipe is the flour. I just discovered One Degree Organic Foods’ Sprouted Spelt Flour, and so far I’m hooked! I couldn’t agree more with the company’s tagline “Every ingredient has a story.” It’s more than a tagline though. Each package includes a picture of the farmer responsible for that grain. Meet my farmer, (well, not my farmer, but my flour farmer) and maybe he’ll become your farmer too!
I could offer you lamb roasts, or rich cakes with dark chocolate ganache, cheesy layered vegetable dishes or pies galore, but it's summer here, and sometimes in summer, all you want…
Ideas hatch in my brain, leaving a chaotic scattering of shells. Long after I should be asleep, I stare at the dimly lit, bedroom ceiling and walls, with the orangish, city light filtering through the curtains. My racing mind schemes and plots- picnics, party ideas, flower garden dreams, how to acquire an historical home without a huge life’s savings, etc, etc, ETC! Some of these ideas are fleeting, and they fade into the dimly lit night, but others… Others are BIG! They burn with such an intensity, until the neurons fire signals to my heart, and before long, my whole being is set on an idea.
As an “idea person (i.e.: an obsessive person),” I’m sorely in need of a structural counterpart in my life. He or she would line up the roadmap and the checkpoints to send me on my way to the end result I want so intensely. Luckily, for all my grandiose, time-intensive, layer cakes and sky-high dreams, there are blondies. These peanut buttery blondies, with their rich simplicity, are blank canvases for creativity in their own right. Yet, from the intense craving to the first, gooey bite, the commitment is minimal, leaving this girl to obsess over Scandinavian bungalows, vintage camper renovations, ice cream socials, farm dinners….etc, etc, etc!
Here’s to the simpler ideas!
A gradual progression from developing recipes and sharing the yields is to demonstrate how to make a recipe in front of an interested audience. This idea intrigues me and intimidates me. Am I qualified to teach? Are people interested? I’d toyed with these thoughts for a while, and then I met Amber!
Amber is the Education Coordinator & Chief Blogger for The Brashear Association, a community development organization in the Allentown neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Amber spoke about teaching the kids who come to the center about growing, cooking and eating healthy foods, an endeavor I respect and support wholeheartedly. Some of these lessons come through “Cooking Together,” a series of cooking demos with local chefs and food experts. Though kids can be brutally honest, they can also be more forgiving than adults with social media accounts poised to wreck you, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get a cooking demo under my belt. Before I could second guess myself, I volunteered!
When it comes to making healthy choices, the convenience store options have a lot more appeal than an apple or carrots, so I wanted to share a recipe with the kids to appease a sweet tooth without consuming all the unpronounceable, artificial sweeteners. To start, I had a volunteer read the ingredients in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. TBHQ? I have no idea what that means! As my volunteer stumbled over a few of the ingredients, I assured him most adults have no idea how to say these words either, and if we can’t say them, we probably shouldn’t put them in our bodies. Instead, let’s make our own peanut butter cups!
While the first layer of melted chocolate set in the cupcake trays, we talked about how we’d sweeten our treats. Since we live in Western Pennsylvania, honey is prevalent, and more importantly, it’s good for us! Buying local honey also supports beekeepers and honeybees. To emphasize this point, my good-hearted Urban Farmer stepped up to teach some beekeeping basics.
“So we’re really just eating bee puke?” Yes, delicious, delicious bee puke! One after the other, the kids asked really detailed and astute questions about beekeeping. Amber is clearly steering these kids in the right direction, and we were amazed with their fascination. Hopefully, we have some future beekeepers in the making!
Kid tested, and Quelcy approved! The kids loved the treats and thought they’d be able to make them at home with their parents. A big goal of these cooking classes is to educate entire families to make healthier choices, a decision made more difficult by the lack of a proper grocery store in the neighborhood. This is the same issue facing the neighborhood surrounding the Urban Farmer’s farm, and one of his longterm goals is to provide fresh food accessibility to the community.
Food access is another reason I chose Peanut Butter Cups for my demo. Organic and natural peanut butters are far more common than they used to be, so it’s a more accessible ingredient. Dark chocolate is typically healthier than a gas station candy, and honey doesn’t go bad. Rather than push “organic,” which can be economically limiting, I stressed the importance of minimal, pronounceable ingredients. What would we expect to find in peanut butter? Kids can answer that question. Why can’t peanut butter brands?
My apron’s off to Amber for her dedication to these kids. From implementing fruits & vegetables into their diets, to teaching them to feel confident in the kitchen, to exposing them to various career options and to inspiring them to dig in the dirt and grow their own food, she and her team are an inspiration! I imagine working with kids is often thankless and always tiring, so three cheers to the Brashear Kids coordinators!
Thank you to Amber & Brashear Kids for having me and supporting my first cooking demo opportunity! If you’re a Pittsburgh chef/foodie/maker, consider volunteering to lead your own demo. If you want to learn more about beekeeping from my fella, check out this blog post. If you want something sweet, salty & nutty, keep reading for the recipe! Pair a peanut butter cup with a cold-brew coffee, and you’re in for a decadent afternoon moment!
p.s: Photos by Kyle Pattison, ie: The Urban Farmer, and myself.
Homemade Peanut Butter & Honey Cups
About this Recipe: The best way to approach this recipe is to buy a large jar of all-natural, peanut butter and a large container of honey with a squirt top. Then you can freely dollop peanut butter and squirt honey into each cup, without having to rely on measurements. These treats come together so easily, you’ll be able to make them whenever you have a chocolate craving.