Ritz Peanut Butter Cups

Growing up, Ritz crackers with peanut butter were a popular snack in our household. And if you were rally lucky, you might even get Ritz peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. YUMMY! I love the classic combination of peanut butter and jelly. It just brings back so many memories of brown bag lunches and white bread (before we knew it was bad). The only thing I like more than peanut butter and jelly is peanut butter and chocolate! So last night I took to the kitchen and made some delicious treats to bring into work today – Ritz Peanut Butter Cups that I found here.

You only need 3 ingredients: Ritz crackers, chocolate (I used semi-sweet Ghirardelli chips) and peanut butter.

First, line a muffin tin with cute cupcake liners. I purchased mine at New York Cake – the most wonderful store in New York City.

Next, melt you chocolate. I don’t have a double broiler so I melt mine in the microwave. The microwave that came with our apartment is awesome and has a “melt” function specifically for chocolate. It heats the chocolate at a very low temperature and seems to work perfectly every time. I only wish that I had discovered this function earlier (before I burned multiple pounds of white chocolate during my holiday baking fest.

Pour 1-2 tablespoons of melted chocolate into each cupcake liner. I had to bang the tray against the counter to even out the chocolate. Place the tray in the freezer for approximately 5 minutes (of until the chocolate hardens).

While the chocolate is cooling, smear approximately 1-2 teaspoons of peanut butter onto the crackers. I didn’t measure this – I just tried to make sure the cracker was coated similar to a double stuffed Oreo like the recipe suggested.

Take the tray out of the freezer and place one peanut butter topped cracker in each cupcake liner. I did mine peanut butter side up, but I don’t think it matters (sort of like Dr. Suess’ Butter Battle).

 

I melted the second half of my chocolate and added another 1-2 tablespoons into each liner. I popped them back into the freezer to cool for another 5-10 minutes.

As you can see, the treats came out pretty well but I have a few suggestions/comments:

1. I think I prefer using milk chocolate (as opposed to semi-sweet) when melting. I have done a little research and it doesn’t look like one is suggested over the other. If anything, people suggest using semi-sweet so feel free to disagree.

2. I would probably add a teaspoon of vanilla to the melted chocolate. I find this helps thin it out a little and gives it an interesting flavor.

3. Ideally, I would have preferred to make these using a mini muffin tin — each cup is rather larger. However, you would need to find mini Ritz crackers and I have no idea if these, or something similar, exist.

4. Make sure you get chocolate on the side of the cups so it surrounds the entire Ritz cracker. You may be able to see in my final picture that the bottom chocolate part separated from the top. I think it was because the two chocolate layers didn’t touch – essentially gluing the sandwich together.

5. I wish I had put sea salt on the tops. It just makes everything better!

6. Matt was my guinea pig last night. His comment was that the chocolate was super melty. I am not sure why as they had been in the freezer for a while. I am not sure if a different type of chocolate would fix this.

Florida Grapefruit

Every year over April vacation, Abby, my mom and I would visit my grandparents in Jupiter, Florida. My grandparents were incredibly smart for moving to Florida when they did. Although Florida is not very close to New Hampshire, limiting the number of times we actually saw them each year, the draws of Florida – the beach, warm weather and super cute boy who lived next door to their house, were enough to keep us coming back year after year. If they had stayed in Ohio, I must admit, I wouldn’t have been as excited to visit. Instead of body surfing at the beach, we would have been shucking corn and tipping cows.

Some of my favorite things about visit my grandparents were things that we did nearly ever year. We would always go to the Palm Beach Mall and have a mini-shopping spree at The Limited Too. Later, when we entered high school, we would get our prom dresses during this trip. The local school had their prom the week before our visit, so we were able to score amazing deals on some pretty nice dresses.

Abby and I ate many meals aboard our grandparent’s boat, “JeBo.” We would make sandwiches, PB & J for Abby, PB & banana for me, and sit aboard the board munching away. It was like the boat was our very own club house, almost making up for the fact that my dad never built us the treehouse he promised. Every year, my grandfather would take us for a ride in the boat to see the new developments around the intercostal. During one trip,with the boat nearing the end of its life, the engine died in the middle of our ride and my dad and grandfather were forced to paddle us back to their dock. But that was not nearly as adventurous as the time their neighbor’s massive yacht became untied from their dock and started drifting towards our dock. For some reason, I remember Abby swimming over to the boat and climbing aboard – I am not sure what happened next, or if this actually happened. I did have a wild imagination as a child…

Abby and I spent a lot of time swimming in the bay in front of our grandparents house. We would blow up rafts and inner tubes, and see who could stand on them the longest without falling in the water. At the end of the bay, there was a mangrove island, no more than 150 yards away. When Abby was 7 years old, she decided she was going to swim out to this island. My dad jumped in the inflatable row-boat and paddled along besides her as she bravely made her way out to the island and back. When she returned, my grandfather gave her a sliver dollar for accomplishing this feat. Year after year, when we returned to their house, my grandfather would ask me if I was ready to make the same swim. Not until I was 21 years old did I actually do it; and I was freaking out the entire time. Sadly, I never received a silver dollar for my feat of bravery…

The memory that stands out the most in my mind was the time we spent every morning during breakfast. When we came to visit, my grandfather would go out and buy fresh Florida oranges and grapefruit. Every morning we had the choice of a large glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, or a small glass of OJ and half of a grapefruit, pre-cut and ready to eat. Abby and I ALWAYS took the second option. We would take a few sips of the juice, then scoop away at the grapefruit, and then squeeze the juice into our 1/2 empty OJ glass creating a mixture of OJ and Grapefruit juice. It was a morning ritual that I wouldn’t give up for anything.

It wasn’t until I was probably 14 or 15 that I realized grapefruits didn’t come pre-cut. It was a sad reality to learn than in order to enjoy this delicious treat,  I had to spent the time cutting around each and every section of grapefruit. It goes without saying, that because of this, grapefruit isn’t something that I have incorporated into my daily diet.

Last night, while shopping for my quinoa at Whole Foods, I spotting some big and delicious looking grapefruit. I decided to buy a few and try my hand in preparing this fruit as a mid-morning snack. Well, after 15 minutes of cutting, slicing and scooping, my desire for the sweet fruit was realized. I finished with sticky hands and grapefruit juice running all over my desk. Was it worth it? Yes… but I would give anything to have my grandfather live next door and deliver a perfectly sliced grapefruit to my door every morning.

What do you say grandpa? I think there are some one-bedrooms open in my apartment. Ready for life in the big city?

Food Network Challenge

While Matt and I both enjoy some of the same tv shows, like Boardwalk Empire, Gossip Girl, The Sing-Off and Mad Men, there are a few shows we disagree on. I can’t even be in the same room as Matt when he is watching True Blood, and he doesn’t fully appreciate Glee in the same vein that I do. One of the biggest tv disagreements is over “Challenge” on the Food Network. Every time I put this show on, Matt feels the need to tell me that he doesn’t understand the point of it, and quickly grabs the remote. If only there were a lock feature on the tv that would prevent him from changing the channel on me.

Last night, our apartment turned into the set from this very show. After coming home from work, spending some much-needed time in the gym and a quick shower, I spent the rest of the evening making holiday treats. I worked quickly to make as many different things as I could before my 11pm bedtime! I made fudge, peppermint bark, puppy chow and chocolate peanut butter bark. Only after I spent hours in the kitchen did I check my mailbox and see that I had received a package from my grandma containing nearly the same exact treats! Great minds really do think alike.

While the puppy chow is certainly my favorite treat to eat, the chocolate peanut butter bark is my favorite to look at. It looks like art – I had a hard time breaking it apart into smaller pieces because I didn’t want to ruin the overall design.

Happy Holiday Baking!