Bonus Post: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

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An era ended earlier this month, but unless you were walking through Rittenhouse Square on Monday evening two weeks ago, you would have missed it. We marked the occasion with picnic blankets, cocktails, a delicious dinner, and boisterous laughter. It was Lauren’s last book club meeting.

Lauren founded our beloved book club and has provided us with as many scrumptious culinary creations as thought-provoking literary insights. (In fact, you may remember her referenced as one of my favorite Philly foodie friends in a previous post.) She’s a kindred spirit with a huge heart,  infectious laugh, an an insatiable appetite for peanut butter!

I brought these Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars to our picnic to add the sweet to our bitter. I’m just glad Lauren loved them as much as we’ve loved getting to have her in Philly for a few years. :)

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Click Here to Print This Recipe.

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

  • 1.5 cups almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the Filling:

  • 1.5 cups peanut butter
  • 4.5 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 4.5 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 cup of reserved filling mixture
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Instructions:

For the Crust:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 6×9 baking dish with parchment paper.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all crust ingredients.
  • Press mixture into bottom of prepared baking pan.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until crust is light brown and firm to the touch. Cool completely.

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For the Filling:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine peanut butter, coconut oil, and honey.
  • Remove 1/2 cup of mixture and reserve in a small bowl for topping.
  • Stir in chocolate chips to remaining filling mixture; spread onto cooled crust.
  • Place baking dish in freezer for 20-30 minutes or until filling is firm.

For the Topping:

  • Stir cocoa powder and honey into reserved filling mixture.
  • Melt 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon coconut oil; mix with peanut butter mixture.
  • Spread chocolate topping on semi-frozen bars. Refrigerate to firm.
  • Store bars in the refrigerator.

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This recipe was adapted from Living the Nourished Life.

First on the First: Mille-Feuille

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This month is the last for First on the First and I’m so glad Carrie and Kate, our fearless leaders, chose something sweet so that I could join in for one last challenge, mille-feuille.

Mille-feuille translates from French to “thousand leaves”, a reference to the puff pastry that’s an integral part of this dessert. Also known as a Napoleon, this sweet, flakey treat is made up of three layers of puff pastry, alternating with two layers of pastry cream. While the variations are endless, the top pastry layer is typically dusted with powdered sugar or glazed with white fondant and chocolate.

It’s been a busy spring in Philly — lots of suitcases and not enough sweets! — so I opted for the quick version of this French dessert and used store-bought puff pastry, layered with my favorite, tried-and-true pastry cream, and complemented with some fresh strawberries. To see and read about other variations of mille-feuille, click on the links below to visit other First on the First bloggers’ sites!

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Click Here to Print This Recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 17.3 ounce package of two puff pastry sheets
  • 1 egg, for optional egg wash
  • 3.4 ounce box instant French vanilla pudding
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 pint whipping cream, whipped
  • 1 pound strawberries, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Juice of 1 lime

Instructions:

  • On a lightly floured surface, unfold pastry sheet and cut into three strips of equal size. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. If a more golden brown color is desired, apply an egg wash (1 egg and 1 tablespoon water) on the top of each pastry strip. Prick each strip with a fork and bake as directed on the box.
  • Once golden brown, remove from baking sheets and cool on wire racks.
  • Meanwhile, mix pudding and heavy cream; refrigerate until firm. In a medium-sized bowl, combine chopped strawberries, lime juice, and vanilla; set aside.
  • When pudding mixture is firm,  fold in whipped pint of whipping cream and mix in strawberries.
  • Split each pastry into two layers, forming a total of 12 layers.
  • Layer filling and pastry sheets, beginning and ending with pastry.
  • For easier slicing, refrigerate before serving.

More mille feuille madness:

Harrods Food Hall & Easter Coconut Macaroons

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You may know of Harrods as one of the world’s largest and most famous department stores. With over 1 million square feet of retail space, 7 floors, and more than 300 departments, it certainly lives up to its motto, “Omnia Omnibus Ubique – All Things for All People, Everywhere”. But did you know that it began as a small grocery shop?

Established in 1849 by Charles Henry Harrod, the store began in a single room with two employees, selling predominantly tea and groceries. It expanded steadily at the hand of Charles Digby Harrod, the founder’s son, increasing in size and offerings. By 1880, one hundred staff members were employed selling groceries, medicine, perfume, stationery, and china.

Reopening after a fire, the building’s exterior began to match its fine offerings, incorporating terracotta tiles and a Baroque-style dome.

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Harrods’ storied history is ever-present. For example, though construction began on the Meat Hall in 1902, the same decorative tile and embellishments remain to this day.

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Through the years the food halls continued to be a central part of Harrods, and by 1982 they numbered seven.

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Offering everything from fish

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and fruit

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to specialty grocery items

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and handmade confections,

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Harrods is a food lover’s dream.

When I stopped by two weeks ago, they were busy preparing for Easter.

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The abundance of hot cross buns,

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baskets,

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and displays of chocolate eggs

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certainly increased my excitement for the holiday!

Harrods happens to be the first department store in the world to create its own couverture chocolate and shows its culinary prowess with remarkable chocolate creations.

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I had a feeling this exclusive, handcrafted Belgian chocolate egg, measuring one meter in height and costing 1,149 GBP (or $1,922!)

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wasn’t going to travel well, so I left it in Knightsbridge and took home some Easter inspiration instead. These Easter Coconut Macaroons are perfect for nestling your favorite chocolate eggs or bunnies!

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Click Here to Print This Recipe.

This recipe is attributed to Elana’s Pantry. Ingredients and instructions have been updated to incorporate chocolate and Easter treats.

Ingredients:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups shredded coconut
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
  • Cadbury Mini Eggs, optional

Instructions:

For the Macaroon:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk egg whites and salt until stiff.
  • Fold in honey, vanilla, and coconut.

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  • Drop a tablespoon of batter onto prepared baking sheets. Depress the center of each macaroon to make a nest shape.
  • Bake 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

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For the Chocolate:

  • In a small bowl, melt chocolate and coconut oil.
  • Stir thoroughly and allow to cool to room temperature.

Putting It Together:

  • Invert macaroons and spread a thin layer of chocolate along the bottom. Refrigerate 15 minutes or until chocolate hardens.
  • Turn macaroons right side up and, using a fork, drizzle chocolate over top. Refrigerate 15 minutes or until chocolate hardens.
  • Garnish with Cadbury Mini Eggs or Easter treat of choice.

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DISTANCE TRAVELED FROM PHILADELPHIA TO LONDON: 3, 580

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