Ultimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter Snack Mix

 I love to bake. I mean, I *really* love it. It’s my favorite thing in the world to do, no questions asked. Yes, really. What can I say? I’m no daredevil.

But some days, the idea of turning on the oven or washing four sheet pans is just too much to bear. I work a lot both in and out of my kitchen, and as much as I love to bake, sometimes I just need a break. But that doesn’t mean I don’t need dessert. Oh, no. I always need dessert. And this week, I needed chocolate and peanut butter. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and today, my necessity is bringing you the Ultimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter Snack Mix! 

You guys, this recipe is going to be your new favorite thing. Crispy chocolate-peanut butter cereal and miniature peanut butter cups are coated in melted chocolate and peanut butter, tossed with confectioner’s sugar, and dotted with Reese’s Pieces. If you’re keeping count, that’s three hits of chocolate and four of peanut butter! I wasn’t kidding around when I said this stuff was “ultimate.”

Plus, it’s no-bake. In fact, the only kitchen appliance you’ll need is a microwave (or one burner on your stove) for melting together chocolate chips, creamy peanut butter, and butter. Aside from that, this recipe is just stirring and shaking. 

Pour the melted chocolate-peanut butter mixture over Reese’s Puffs cereal, and fold it all together. 

Stir in some miniature peanut butter cups. 

Divide that magical mixture into two gallon size ziptop bags, add in some confectioner’s sugar, and shake the heck out of it. The coated cereal and miniature peanut butter cups will go from being gooey to being finger food. There will be plenty of both individually coated pieces and clumps (particularly around the peanut butter cups)–a texture lover’s dream. And, as if it could get any better, Reese’s Pieces are stirred into everything. 

Ultimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter Snack Mix is everything you could want in a sweet snack. It’s crunchy, creamy, sweet, a little salty, and so ridiculously easy. If you’re in need of a fun snack this weekend, this is the one. And if you have kids at home, this is a great way to get them involved in the kitchen–there’s no worrying about them being around a hot oven, and they’ll love shaking the cereal and confectioner’s sugar together! And since the recipe takes less than half an hour start to finish, there’s immediate satisfaction.

So, take thirty minutes to make this snack mix this weekend, and then take the rest of the day off. You’ve earned it. 

 Ultimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter Snack Mix
makes about 12 cups

1 13-ounce box Reese’s Puffs cereal (about 9 cups)
1 1/2 cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural-style)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
8-ounces miniature peanut butter cups
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, divided
1 cup Reese’s Pieces candy

Place Reese’s Puffs in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips, creamy peanut butter, and butter. Microwave on high* in 30 second increments, until melted and smooth. Pour mixture over cereal and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold to combine. Add miniature peanut butter cups to cereal mixture and fold in.

Divide cereal-peanut butter cup mixture into two gallon size ziptop bags. Add 1 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar to each. Seal bags and shake until all cereal is coated. Some pieces may clump.

Pour coated mixture into a clean large mixing bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in Reese’s Pieces. Enjoy!

Snack mix will keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.

Note:

If you do not have or do not want to use a microwave, you may melt chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter in a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Proceed with recipe as written.

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Peanut Butter Granola

 It must just be leftovers week here on E2 Bakes Brooklyn.

Yesterday, I posted a baked french toast recipe that came to be because a friend gave me two loaves of day-old artisan bread. Today, I’m bringing you my new favorite granola recipe, all because an out-of-town friend gave me most of a jar of peanut butter that she had as a snack in her hotel room, and another gave me a one-pound bag of honey-roasted peanuts after a party I catered with him. My friends just like to give me food, apparently. And I am happy to take anything they give me and try to make it into something delicious. Today, I succeeded. 

This Peanut Butter Granola is ridiculously good. It’s almost like having peanut butter cookies for breakfast! Except that it’s high in protein and totally whole grain, so it’s actually good for you! And it gets better: this recipe takes 90 minutes from the time you turn on the oven to when you put the cooled granola in an airtight container. On top of all that, it’s simple as can be 😊

Just whisk together equal parts peanut butter, maple syrup, and olive oil, along with some vanilla. This base will keep everything crispy, sweet, and peanut buttery (of course). Next comes a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar. While I would have loved to keep this recipe refined sugar-free, this small amount helps the finished product get extra crunchy. If you don’t want to use brown sugar, you may substitute coconut or Demerara sugars. Add in just a touch of cinnamon and some salt. Neither will have a prominent flavor here–they just allow the peanut butter to shine. Without them, our granola could be overly sweet and a little bland.

How sad is the idea of bland peanut butter anything?! 😭

Once the liquid ingredients are ready to go, it’s time to fold in the oats and honey-roasted peanuts. They are used here in an almost 50/50 ratio. There are slightly more oats, but rest assured that there are plenty of peanuts in every crunchy bite! If that amount of chopped nuts sounds like too much for your taste, feel free to replace some of them with an equal volume of oats. 

 
   
After everything is mixed together, spread the granola on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet. Bake the granola for 40-45 minutes at 300F, stirring every fifteen minutes. By the time it’s done cooking, your house will smell unbelievable! Let the granola cool in the pan on a cooling rack before transferring it to an airtight container for up to three weeks.

I like to eat this granola with Greek yogurt and fruit, but it’s also great with milk, or just by itself as an afternoon snack. How good would a handful be with some chocolate chips?! Oooh, or peanut butter chips! However you choose to enjoy it, you’ll love this Peanut Butter Granola!

  
Looking for more granola? Check out my easy Maple Pecan Granola!

Peanut Butter Granola
makes about 4.5 cups

1/4 cup natural or creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar*, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats*
2 cups honey roasted peanuts*, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together peanut butter, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold the oats and chopped peanuts into the mixture.

Once everything is coated in the peanut butter mixture, spread it in an even layer on the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring every fifteen minutes. Cool granola in the pan on a rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three weeks.

Notes:

1. Coconut or Demerara sugars may be substituted.
2. Use certified gluten-free oats for gluten-free granola.
3. If this is too many peanuts for you, replace 1/2 cup of them with an equal volume of old-fashioned oats.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins

 I love a good deal.

On Monday, my friend, Liz*, and I went to the local close-out store in search of small plastic bins to organize my cookie add-ins. (Yes, I have so many cookie add-ins that I need special equipment to organize them.) I grabbed four bins and headed for the checkout when I saw it: a huge Ghirardelli chocolate chip display. Three pounds for $3.99! Less than 1/3 the normal price! Needless to say, I am now the proud owner of 15 pounds of chocolate chips. Best. Deal. Ever.

*Yes, I have a friend named Liz who is awesome enough to come organize my cabinets. We like to get together to make pie, and occasionally refer to ourselves as “Liz Squared” because we’re nerds.

As you may have guessed, I have gone on a bit of a chocolate chip jag. I’ve experimented with my chocolate chip cookie recipe, going so far as to have another taste-off during my Wednesday night cookie commitment. My original plan had been to post whichever recipe won, but they tied! This has literally never happened. I am a bit obsessive about what I choose to post on here, so a tie meant I was at a loss. I got very close to just flipping a coin, but then I came to my senses, and made breakfast instead.

And that is the very long story about how these Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins got posted. 😁 

  As I’ve mentioned previously, working with whole wheat flour is very different from working with all-purpose. Whole wheat is just that–whole. It hasn’t been stripped of its bran and germ like all-purpose flour, so it has a much greater nutritional profile than other wheat flours. But all this whole grain goodness weighs the flour down and, if mixed into baked goods without making adjustments, can lead to dense, dry results. No, thank you! Here, we mitigate that with cornstarch, which supplies lightness like it does in cake flour. We also add tons of moisture in the forms of dark brown sugar, buttermilk, a bit of oil, and an egg. The final precaution against dense muffins is in the mixing: whisk the wet and dry ingredients separately, and then fold them together just until they become a thick batter, about 20-25 strokes. This helps keep the gluten in the whole wheat flour from becoming overdeveloped, and guarantees that the muffins have moist, tender insides.

We liven up the grainy flavor of whole wheat with a touch of cinnamon. It’s not a major flavor here–it just gives the muffins a little depth. There’s also a touch of vanilla, for balance.

And then there’s the main event: the chocolate chips! These muffins may have all the goodness of whole grain, but let’s be real. These are mostly just an excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast. There are one and a half cups of chocolate chips in these muffins, which means they are positively bursting with melty chocolate! Breakfast doesn’t get much better than that! 

These Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins rise high thanks to a 400F blast of heat at the start of the baking time. This activates the leaveners and makes these muffins dome beautifully. After five minutes, the heat is reduced to 350F for 13-15 minutes, which allows the insides to cook through while the edges of the muffin tops get just a little bit crunchy. Biting through the crunchy exterior into the soft, chocolatey interior is…well, it’s divine.

Make these muffins for a treat this weekend, or for grab-and-go breakfasts and snacks throughout the week. With a soft and fluffy texture, plenty of whole grain, and–hello!–chocolate, what’s not to love?!😊 

 Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins
makes 12 standard muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed*
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil*
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, plus more for topping

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 12-cup standard muffin tin, or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, dark brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, and egg. Add dry ingredients to wet, and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to combine into a thick batter. Do not overmix. Fold in 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Dot the tops with additional chocolate chips, if desired.

Tap full pan on the counter five times. Bake for five minutes at 400F. Do not open the oven door. Reduce baking temperature to 350F, and bake an additional 13-15 minutes, until muffins spring back when pressed with a clean finger.

Let muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Notes:

1. Light brown sugar may be substituted.
2. I use canola oil, but vegetable or melted coconut oils would work here.

Salted Grapefruit Scones

Winter food can get dull. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good pot pie or stew, and lord knows I could eat my weight in mashed potatoes, but after a while, I just want to eat fresh produce that isn’t a) a root vegetable, or b) kale. I love them both, but being at least three months away from really great berries and five away from a tomato that is good enough to be eaten like an apple has got me in a winter produce funk.

This happens every year though, until that wonderful, shining moment when I remember winter citrus. It’s a welcome taste of sunshine in the midst of all the wind and snow. Meyer lemons and key limes and clementines are all in season, waiting to be made into cakes and pies, or even thrown into salads! But the thing that always gets me is the grapefruit. Being from Texas, I prefer Ruby Red, but those are hard to come by in New York City. White and pink are delicious and all, but Ruby Red is just a cut above. It’s a little sweeter than other varieties, but still bitter enough to taste like grapefruit. Imagine my surprise when, after years of not seeing one Ruby Red in New York, I saw a whole box at my local green grocer. And they were on sale! Without a second thought, I grabbed two, handed over some change and ran home to make these scones.

I love a good scone. Soft in the middle with crunchy edges, not too sweet, great with a huge cup of coffee or tea. But good scones are hard to come by at coffee shops–they can be dry and cakey throughout, with very little depth of flavor. They’re simply not worth the cash or the calories, as far as I’m concerned. But these scones? They’re soft and buttery, sweetened with just a bit of honey and sugar, dotted with juicy pieces of fresh grapefruit, and topped with sea salt both for crunch and because sea salt and grapefruit are divine together. It may sound a little odd, but the salt makes the sweetness of the grapefruit shine. It’s so, so good.

These scones are quick and easy to whip up, and take less than an hour start-to-finish. Mix together some half-and-half and honey, and put it in the fridge to chill while you prepare the other ingredients. Use your fingers to rub the zest of one grapefruit into two tablespoons of granulated sugar until it’s well-combined and a little pasty (it’s better than it sounds). Peel that zested grapefruit and segment it, trying to avoid as much of the pith, membrane, and seeds as possible. This will keep the grapefruit from making the scones too bitter. Don’t worry too much about having perfect segments–they’ll break apart anyway when they’re mixed into the dough.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and the zest-sugar mixture. This may look a little clumpy because of the oils in the zest, but it’ll all even out with the other ingredients. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut in one stick of cold butter until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Then use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in the half-and-half mixture and the segmented grapefruit. The dough will be pretty wet, but should still have some body to it.

  Turn the dough out onto a very well-floured surface. Don’t skimp on the flour. If you do, you’ll have dough stuck to everything and probably start cursing my name, and that’s no good when there are awesome scones to be had! Flour your hands and pat the dough into a 1-inch thick disc. Use a sharp knife or bench scraper (my tool of choice) to cut the disc into eight wedges. Transfer the wedges to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 425F for 18-20 minutes, until cooked-through and light golden. Then stir up a glaze with some confectioner’s sugar and the juice of a second grapefruit, drizzle it over the scones, and sprinkle with crunchy coarse sea salt! All you need is a hot cup of coffee or tea and some good company 😊

Break out of the heavy winter food rut with these Salted Grapefruit Scones! Sweet and salty, soft and buttery, they’re a wonderful way to start these cold, snowy days.

 Salted Grapefruit Scones
makes 8 scones

3/4 cup half-and-half + more for brushing, very cold
2 tablespoons honey
2 medium Ruby Red grapefruits**, divided
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into pieces
3/4-1 cup confectioner’s sugar
coarse sea salt*, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set a cooling rack over a piece of wax paper. Set aside.

Whisk together half-and-half and honey, and place it in the refrigerator to stay cold.

Zest one grapefruit. In a small bowl, rub together the zest and the granulated sugar. Set aside.

Peel the zested grapefruit, and segment it, removing as much of the pith and membranes as possible, as well as all of the seeds. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and zest-sugar mixture. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Add in the half-and-half mixture and grapefruit segments and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to incorporate them into a wet dough, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky to handle, add up to 2 tablespoons more flour.

Turn the dough out onto a very well floured surface and use floured hands to pat it into a 1-inch thick disc. Flour a sharp knife (not serrated) or bench scraper and use it to cut the dough into eight wedges. Remove wedges to prepared pan, and brush the tops with additional half-and-half. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until light golden. Let scones cool on the pan for five minutes before removing to the prepared rack.

Make the glaze. Slice the second grapefruit in half. Seed one half of the grapefruit and squeeze the juice into a small bowl. Pour confectioner’s sugar into a second small bowl and add two tablespoons of the fresh grapefruit juice. Whisk with a fork until no lumps remain, adding juice or confectioner’s sugar until the glaze is to the desired consistency. Use a fork or small squeeze bottle to drizzle the glaze over the scones. Sprinkle wet glaze with coarse sea salt. Enjoy!

Glaze will fully set after a couple of hours. Scones are best the day they are made, but may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours.

Notes:

1. My grapefruits were about the size of a large orange.
2. If you can’t find Ruby Red, white or pink grapefruits may be substituted.
3. I use Trader Joe’s Pyramid Salt.

Salted Grapefruit Scones

My Favorite Guacamole

 Does anything say game day more than chips and dip? Maybe like…wings, but for the purposes of this blog, let’s go with “no.” You simply can’t have game day without chips and dip! I mean, when it comes down to it, everybody’s mostly there for the food, am I right?!

I mentioned yesterday that football isn’t my thing, but that won’t discourage me from accepting an invitation for a Super Bowl party. Ohhhh no. I’ve got a strategy.

I’ll come over and make nice during the pre-game show, and then while everyone else is yelling at the TV about first downs and safeties, I’ll be in the back demolishing the guacamole I brought for “everyone.” And by “everyone,” I mean “you may all have two bites and the rest is for me, okay?” 

You see, I make ridiculous guacamole. There’s nothing fancy about it–it’s just some vegetables mashed together–but everywhere I take it, it becomes a hit. My friend, David, insists that I make the best guacamole in the world. I don’t know about the world, but how about the best in the four block span between our apartments?

Maybe just my block?

Just my building? Yeah, that sounds reasonable. Let’s go with that.

So, what makes this recipe such a crowd pleaser? It’s all made to taste. Since vegetables are seasonal, and this entire recipe relies on fresh vegetables, the stellar recipe I made in April can taste very blah come October. So taste, taste, taste. 

Start with ripe avocados. They should have a little give when you press the skin lightly with your fingers. If they are super squishy, back away–the insides are probably black and watery. Gross. So grab three ripe avocados. Pit them and scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Then dice half a small onion and add that too. You may use red or white here, but red tends to have a stronger flavor. If raw onion isn’t your favorite thing, go for the white variety. Me though? I like raw onion on everything.

Next, dice up a couple of fresh jalapeños. If you are sensitive to heat, remove the seeds and ribs with a spoon. Then, dice it up. Regardless of how spicy you like your guacamole, it’s a good idea to taste a tiny piece of the jalapeño before adding it to the bowl. If it’s crazy-burn-your-tongue-off hot, maybe only add one full pepper. If it’s mild, go ahead and add two. The batch pictured has two whole large jalapeños, one with seeds and ribs, one without. Oh, and a quick reminder to always wash your hands thoroughly after handling hot peppers. And for the love of everything, don’t touch your face! I made that mistake in 2011, and it took an hour to stop burning 😁

Don’t be like me. 

 Anyway, mince up some garlic and add it to the bowl. I like two whole cloves, but if you’re sensitive to raw garlic, only add one. Squeeze in the juice of a lime and sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon salt. Then, grab a potato masher or a fork and mash the living daylights out of everything until it’s to your desired consistency. Fold in some chopped cilantro and taste and adjust. Need more heat? Add more jalapeño! Need more lime? Squeeze another one! Not salty enough? I usually end up adding an additional 1/4 teaspoon, keeping in mind that the chips are salty too. Then put it in a cute bowl and serve it with tortilla chips. 

I know many people like their guacamole with diced tomatoes. I do too, but the February tomatoes I saw at the market yesterday were just too sad to use. If you find some that look good, by all means, use them! I recommend using two or three medium tomatoes that have been seeded. Just dice them the same size as the onion and jalapeños.

So, this weekend, make this guacamole and bring it to your Super Bowl party. It may not be the best in the whole world, but it’ll be the best at your get-together 😊 

Need more game day food? Check out my Artichoke Dip, Restaurant-Style Salsa, and Double Chocolate Fritos Cookies!

Classic Guacamole
makes about four cups

3 large ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1/2 small red or white onion, diced small
1-2 jalapeños, diced small (ribs and seeds removed, optional)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt, plus more to taste.
1/4-1/3 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
tortilla chips, for serving

In a large bowl, combine avocados, diced onion and jalapeño, minced garlic, lime juice, and salt. Use a potato masher or fork to thoroughly mash all ingredients together. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in cilantro. Transfer guacamole to a serving bowl, and serve immediately with tortilla chips.