Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever

Oh hey dere world. It’s finals week, also my final week in Denmark! Where has the time gone? I seriously am going to be so sad when I write my goodbye post, so I’m going to save it. Today, a happier topic.

It’s a recipe I like to call the K-C Family Peanut Butter Cookies (I would normally just write the names out, but I actually haven’t run it by them, so I thought maybe better not to.) It’s fine, because I also refer to them as

The Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever.

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See how the cookie almost has a halo? That’s no coincidence.

And in Denmark, cookies are really not a thing. My host family doesn’t even have a baking sheet. I kid you not. They eat cake and pastries and stuff but you don’t often see cookies besides small, dry ones. (tasty in their own ways). But they those aren’t the cookies I actually wrote home about, these are. These cookies are moist, and for my  friend Allie of the K-C family, chocolate free. And they’re perfect. Luckily it’s not a family secret and I have been privy to the recipe. Which now you also are. HOORAY for me and for you!

Best. Peanut Butter. Cookies. Ever.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup = 1 American stick = 113 grams butter, softened

1/2 cup = 100 grams white sugar

1/2 cup = 100 grams brown sugar

1/2 cup = 127 grams peanut butter (usually smooth, today I used crunchy)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/4 cups =156 grams flour

chocolate chips optional (wholy unnecessary if you ask me, but if it floats your boat)

Cream butter, add white sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter. Mix thoroughly between additions. Mix for 5 minutes even if you have a hand mixer and your hand gets tired. The batter should lighten in color. If you think it is impossible (as I did) to overcome the darkness of the peanut butter AND the brown sugar, you are wrong. It is possible. Maybe get someone else to hold the mixer for a few minutes.

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Add the egg. Yup, mix it really well.

Add flour and baking soda, this time mixing with a spatula or spoon, not the electric mixer.

Spoon out (big) cookies onto cookie sheet, flatten/crosshatch with a fork.

Bake at 375 F (190.5 C) for 10 minutes. NOT MORE. Do not over bake. They should be slightly browned, it’s okay if they’re soft. Cool on baking sheet. Cookies will deflate and be chewy and tender. If you over bake so that they puff back up when you poke them they will be crunchy/dry when they cool.

Eat with a glass of milk and seal leftovers in an airtight container. If you know any Danes, try to insist that this is not cake, instead tell them that in English we give sweet baked goods several different names (cake, cookies, bread, pie). They think everything is cake.

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Buttermilk Pancakes

What I should be doing: reading, researching for my upcoming study tour, hell, even packing. What am I doing? Thinking about London playlists and this blog post which I’ve been meaning to write. It seems that my less travel-heavy posts are less popular, but I like them, so you’ll just have to put up with them!

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In true Eleanor form, I eyeballed the entirety of this recipe. It turned out really well and I snarfed like, seven. Oops. Not really. This recipe is great because it is totally doable in countries where people eat different foods but with the same ingredients (aka study abroad approved). And it doesn’t take much to make a lot!

BUTTERMILK PANCAKES (yields 12ish medium sized pancakes):

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 tablespoons butter or substitute (room temp)

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

pinch of salt

Chocolate chips (optional, I recommend use for only half)

So, to start I mixed all the dry ingredients, including the sugar, because flour is much easier to measure in an empty bowl than in one full of eggs and buttermilk. And damned if I was going to dirty TWO bowls.Becel-Flydende-Original_tcm112-365658

I added the egg and the butter, which I actually used this butter product by Becel called Flydende (which translates to “liquid” says google) which, as I understand it, is liquid margarine.

My host family uses it for err’thang, and can’t understand why I can’t use it when I make buttercream frosting. Well, maybe that’s because they don’t have frosting here. ANYWHO back to the pancakes at hand. The liquid butter works really well for pancakes.

I actually planned on using milk, as per the recipe I was somewhat consulting, but lo and behold, we were out of milk. My host mom buys probably 6 liters per week (about 1.5 gallons) each of milk and buttermilk, the milk goes really fast, and the buttermilk usually lasts the week but is gone by Sunday (my host dad LOVES buttermilk). And hey! Buttermilk pancakes. I poured it in.

This summer at camp, I was half in charge of making chocolate chip pancakes for 8 hungry girls at a campsite in New Hampshire on two separate occasions. The first time, well, we had a propane camping stove and we were cooking on a double boiler made of a bowl and the lid of our camping pot, so those babies burned (and then didn’t), and we ended up having “pancake scramble” and the second time I was mostly responsible for making them on a whisperlight, and they came out ok! So there. It was a just add water recipe on both occasions. This was a pancake anecdote (panecdote?) for no particular reason.

My tips for frying pancakes

-keep them small, if you’re nervous. flipping should be considered.

-wait for them to bubble on top before you flip them, but if they seem like they might be burning, check that out. then turn your stove down.

-use oil based on your preferences. It seems like perfect iHop pancakes have a uniform brownness, but mine are always a BIT greasier and have a nice little crunchy fried part on the edges of the first side. (I use more oil than iHop, I admit it)

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Ok, back to the recipe.

I added chocolate chips to maybe the last five pancakes. I like them, but don’t love them in my pancakes. Do as you wish.

Serve with:

a) Maple syrup (I did not. We do not have that)

b) applesauce and sour cream a la latkes (I didn’t do that either)

c) jam (I used strawberry)

d) I finally looked up what this thing called Mørk Sirup is. It translates directly to “Dark Treacle” which means that it’s kind of molasses. That’s the idea that I get. So I could have used that. We also have the lighter version

e) Nothing. Chocolate chip pancakes do not need sugar on top, in my opinion

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Værsgo!

(That means “go for it” in Danish, and it’s what you say at the beginning of a meal, in the style of “Bon appetit” in French, or “Dig in!” in English)

P.S. Danes do NOT consider pancakes a breakfast food. They were highly confused. I think for us, it would be like eating… maybe cupcakes (?) for breakfast. Just not a breakfast food.

Grapefruit Cake

So I’m sure every time you come onto this blog, you’re thinking “This is not a food blog.” Yup, I said it. But guess what? You no longer have to think that. Because I’m making the all-important fusion between food and travel blogs! Today’s recipe, my first recipe, is actually one that has been on my radar for several years now. While only a few of you know of my passionate love for grapefruits, I will defend that they are the grape-est and great-est of fruits. And so I made Pastry Affair’s Grapefruit Cake with Grapefruit Buttercream.

First, I halved the recipe (even though I was recently told to NEVER do that? What? When have you ever baked before, I ask this person?!) Because it’s supposed to be a two-layer cake, but my host family has only 1 circular cake pan. So be it. I also changed the recipe into the METRIC system, because of cultural immersion or something like that. If you want it in “American” just go to my link to A Pastry Affair. If you want to convert your recipes to the metric system (so then I can make them and won’t have to convert them myself) I have come to use the conversions at TraditionalOven.com because they recognize that a cup of butter does not weigh the same as a cup of flour and they have a great selection of conversions. Very user friendly (No, they did not pay me to say that)

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Grapefruit Cake HALF RECIPE
Adapted from Joy the Baker, and Pastry Affair

50 g granulated sugar
Zest of .5 grapefruit*
1 large eggs
123 g plain non-fat Greek yogurt (I used buttermilk, because Greek yogurt doesn’t exist here, despite its relative proximity to Greece. I also just used 123 g anyway, even though that wouldn’t be an even conversion. We didn’t have yogurt, which is what this conversion is for)
40 ml light olive oil (I eye-balled half of a third of a cup?)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (They don’t use vanilla extract here, but vanilla powder. So I tasted it, then eyeballed)
40 ml + 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed grapefruit juice*
125 g  cake flour (I didn’t have cake flour, so I used flour + 1 spoon cornstarch)
1/2 tablespoon baking powder (eyeballed)
pinch salt

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Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. My oven here preheats really quickly so I didn’t do this until I put the cake into the pan. Grease cake pan. I used a springform that I didn’t measure. I also papered the bottom, which is where you trace the bottom of the pan onto wax paper and cut it out. Then grease the pan as usual, put in the paper, and grease the paper. Extra insurance that it will come out of the pan.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together sugar and grapefruit zest with your fingers until the sugar pretty much turns orange (or the color of the zest). Beat in egg, mixing well. Mix in yogurt, olive oil, vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoon grapefruit juice (reserve the rest). Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.

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So at this point, I poured the batter into my pan and it BARELY covered the bottom. No thanks to me for not measuring it. So I raced to make another half-batch. It seriously took me a quarter of the time as the first half-batch somehow.

Pour batter into cake pan(s) and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Clean up your mess. You can see mine in the background of this picture. That WAS on purpose. I feel like recipes written on blogs often leave out this step which ALWAYS exists, even in no-bake situations.

*It is hard to juice a citrus fruit that has already been grated. The juice tends to come out the pores on top that are not covered anymore by peel. It is also hard to grate a citrus fruit that has already been juiced. Holding a half, flat peel is really awkward, and it brings your finger uncomfortably close to the grater. So, pick your poison.*

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Using a pastry brush, brush remaining 1/3 cup grapefruit juice on top on the cake layers, allowing the juice to soak into the cake. I just eyeballed it, again, until the cake was moist and sticky to touch. Allow to cool to room temperature. For real though. Don’t even make the buttercream until it’s cool. I always do, then I regret it because I get anxious to frost it, then the frosting just melts off. While I was making this (between 4 and 6pm) my host dad asked what the time frame was, because, if you’ve read me before, this is usually cake time at my house. I said to him “No, no no. This is a dessert dessert.” He was disappointed. But wasn’t when he ate it at dessert time.

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Grapefruit Buttercream Halved
82 grams freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (I used the 160 g I had left over from juicing two grapefruits already, figuring I’ll just get a stronger grapefruity flavor than was intended. Also, 82 grams is a pretty small amount to boil without watching the WHOLE TIME. I ended up boiling it down to about 2.5 tbsp)
60 grams (quarter of a European stick, half of an American stick) butter, room temperature (!!!Muy importante!!)
Zest of 1 grapefruit (I did not have or halve this)
250 grams powdered sugar (EYEBALL)
Heavy cream (EYEBALL)

In a small saucepan, bring grapefruit juice to a boil and simmer until it reduces and thickens to about a third of what is was (originally from ¾ cup to ¼ ) cup. Cool to room temperature. Like I said, mine ended up reducing to about 2 and a half tablespoons. I’m an American and will never stop thinking in tablespoons.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and grapefruit zest until smooth (I didn’t have any zest left, so I skipped this step). Mix in thickened grapefruit juice. Gradually add powdered sugar until incorporated and smooth. Because the thickened grapefruit juice will vary in amount, add heavy cream one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved. I ended up adding quite a lot of sugar to make it enough to cover the whole cake.

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End result: A moist, butter free (didn’tcha notice?) cake, with a soft but not particularly sweet grapefruit flavor. That added with the very tangy and sweet frosting was a good choice, but I could imagine it frosting-free with maybe a drizzled plain icing in a more breakfasty setting. The frosting was what made it really strong grapefruit flavor. I could imagine duplicating this recipe with any citrus fruit. And the family liked it (I really liked this picture across the dinner table of the cake and Ole eating his). The color was more orangey than I expected, not quite as yellow as you see in this picture, definitely more of a soft pink-y orange. I really liked that the reduced grapefruit juice did that, no food coloring necessary. Hooray!

Best of luck to you, bakers and travelers. May your eyeballing always take you further than your measurements.