So I was feeling in the mood for something a bit indulgent, but I was not in the mood to buy anything that would inevitably cause me to overindulge. I wanted to indulge while maintaining my self respect – always important. The local gourmet has grilled cheeses on Wednesday nights, but one of those were not in the budget for me this week (despite how gooey and delicious they are). At home I had a loaf of bread in the fridge… but I was in the mood for something sweet. And besides I had no cheese. Further perusing of the fridge revealed a jar of organic peanut butter as well as a jar of blackberry preserves. Grilled PB & J? I think so. The only thing different from making a regular grilled cheese (that is, in a cast iron skillet with plenty of butter) is that once each side was sufficiently browned and buttery, I sprinkled on some cinnamon and sugar, flipped it over, and cooked it for an additional minute just to caramelize the sugar a bit and blend in the flavor. Not gonna lie, it was absolutely outstanding – a true starving artist treat. I could do an entire week of posts on creative grilled sandwiches… but for the good of my health and well being I’m going to stop here… for now.
So, remember last week when I posted that recipe for Paula’s Peanut Butter Cake? Well, after the cake was made I found myself with a box of graham crackers and a jar of peanut butter… hmmm what to do. Being summer time I see displays for s’mores supplies everywhere I go – thank you for shoving it in my face, America. But truth be told, I really don’t need my arm twisted to be convinced eating s’mores is a good idea. You may recall two of the first recipes I posted on this blog involved s’mores. That being said, it didn’t take long before a bag of marshmallows and a few jumbo-sized Hershey bars suddenly appeared on my counter. Obviously the work of some neighborhood deviant bent on littering apartments with horrible (yet tasty) indulgences. Bastards.
But, one must make the best of such situations. Thus, out came my beloved kitchen torch and behold, peanut butter s’mores were made. The version you see in the picture is without chocolate. I did also try it with a single square of Hershey’s and it was divine. Either way the trick is to spread a thin layer of peanut butter onto the graham cracker, add chocolate if you desire, top with a marshmallow, then microwave it until the marshmallow inflates, about 8 seconds. This ensures all the layers are heated through before you torch your marshmallow. As you can see, I like mine well done, but if you keep your distance you can toast it to a light golden brown.
I also just had the idea to do this with nutella instead of peanut butter… sweet god….
Usually as the weather gets warmer I manage to find ways to NOT turn the oven on and heat up my apartment even further. But for some reason I’ve had the need for baked goods, so you know what, I’m just going to go with it.
Last night I pulled out one of my long time favorites, Peanut Butter Cake. Mmmmmm. It also happens to be a favorite of my roommate as well. This is actually a Paula Deen recipe that I’ve had in my book for years, ever since I started baking when I was living in New York City. What I love about the cake is that it calls for 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs, which gives it the most incredible texture and flavor. Combine that with real peanut butter and shortening and you get a ridiculously moist cake that no one can resist.
Now, is this a true starving artist recipe, you ask? Well it depends on what you keep on hand in your kitchen. One of the reasons I thought of this cake was that I had milk and eggs already in the fridge. I know many of us keep peanut butter in the cabinet at all times, so that’s set. I always have butter, I always have dry ingredients, and I have to confess that I keep a bucket of shortening on the top shelf that I only ever use to make this cake. Not ashamed. So all I had to buy was graham crackers and peanuts and I was good to go. Totally worth it for me.
I’ve given the link to Paula’s recipe below, and while I love you, Paula, I have to make one correction to your recipe. You absolutely should bake this cake at 350 degrees, not at 375 like her recipe says. I have baked this cake many, many times, and believe me when I tell you that 375 just kills it. 350 for about 35-40 minutes is perfect for a moist but browned cake. And it works the same in a glass baking dish. Enjoy!!