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Peanut Butter Pretzel Parfait

peanut butter pretzel parfait

peanut butter pretzel parfait

Creamy, crunchy, gooey, and chewy.  Sweet, salty, dark, yet light.  Chef Zach’s peanut butter pretzel parfait is easy to throw together, but the results are wide-ranging.  It is so rich, but it’s difficult to put down the spoon.

Makes 12

• For the caramel sauce:

1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 cups of vanilla’d white sugar (sugar that has been stored with scraped vanilla bean[s])

2/3 cup of water

1 tbs. of vanilla extract

Combine water and sugar in a heavy, thick-bottom saucepan.  Heat on medium-high for 7-9 minutes until you achieve a medium to medium-dark amber color.  Do not stir during these 7-9 minutes.

Stirring constantly now, slowly add the heavy cream and vanilla extract.  Cook for 4-5 minutes until the hardened caramel is smooth and dissolved, and the sauce starts to thicken.

• For the chocolate ganache:

12 oz. of dark chocolate

8 oz. of heavy whipping cream

dark chocolate

dark chocolate

Scald the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until a skin forms on top of the cream and the cream is hot.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate in a bowl.  Let sit for 2 minutes to start to melt the chocolate.  Stir with a whisk to combine and make creamy.

• For the peanut butter filling:

28 oz. of creamy peanut butter

16 oz. of cream cheese at room temperature

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

1 cup of vanilla’d white sugar, plus 1/4 cup

1/2 cup of brown sugar

2 tsp. of vanilla extract

before mixing

before mixing

In the bowl of a stand mixer, put the peanut butter, cream cheese, 1 cup of white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.

mixed

mixed

Mix on a medium-low speed until well combined.  Set aside.

folded

folded

Whip together whipped cream with the remaining sugar until soft peaks form.  Fold half of this cream into the peanut butter mixture to lighten it up.  Once that’s well folded, fold in the remaining cream.  Set aside.

• For the crunchy layers:

One 7 oz. bag of pretzels

1 cup of roasted peanuts

Pulse the pretzels in a food processor, not to turn them in to complete dust but to break them up.  A tip is to use the freshest pretzels possible, so look at expiration dates.  Crush the peanuts similarly, but do not mix the peanuts with the pretzels.

• To put it all together:

In your serving vessel of choice, begin with a layer of crushed pretzels.  Spoon on caramel, followed by chocolate ganache and sprinkled with peanuts.  Add a liberal amount of peanut butter filling, to be covered with more pretzels.  Put on a bit more caramel, then some more peanuts, and a final layer of ganache.  For more defined layers, let sit in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before adding each new layer.  Chill before serving, but no longer than 2-3 hours so that the pretzels maintain their texture.

Peanut Butter Milkshake

peanut butter goodness

peanut butter goodness

If there is one food that represents the United States, it is the peanut.  A legume with hundreds of uses in food and in various industries, the plant replenishes nutrients in depleted soil, and the edible part is packed with nutrients for consumption.  So multifaceted, so hearty, so American.  Use it in a milkshake, and you have a sweet treat to sip while watching Fourth of July fireworks.

Makes 4 12-oz. shakes

1 quart of vanilla bean ice cream (we like Straus Family Creamery)

12 oz. of whole milk (also from Straus if available to you)

1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter, organic if possible

Whipped cream (canned or make your own)

A few peanut butter and chocolate cup candies (we found some organic ones)

Blend the first 3 ingredients in a blender.  Pour the milkshake into four glasses, and garnish with whipped cream and candy.

Classic Candies

classicDepending on your age, you may have nostalgia for different candies.  And also depending on your age, there are many candies that you may never have heard of before.  Next time you get a craving for some sweets, look down the aisle to see if anything different might catch your eye.

It would seem like orange and yellow are indicators of how many generations a candy has been around.  The while labels are the oldest, with Valomilk from 1903 and Cherry Mash made since 1918.  The youngest of this assortment are the Mallow Cups, which have been in production since 1936; in comparison, globally popular M&Ms have been around since 1941.  Even if these candies aren’t so widely known or consumed today, each had its moment of glory sometime during the 20th century.  Zagnut, for example, got a prime product placement spot in one of the most beloved horror/comedy/fantasy movies of all time (watch the clip from Beetlejuice here).

Seriously, though, you might surprise yourself when you consider what’s old, yet new for you.  Read the descriptions to make sure you’re getting something with ingredients you already like, or be brave and experimental.  If these candies have already been around in some cases for over a century, then you know they’ve got to be good.