“There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.” Mark Twain
I moan gently in the back of my throat, half heartedly protesting at the frisson of excitement running through my body. I’m determined not to cave this time. I’ve made so many promises to myself over these months, so many times determined not to give in to the desire again, and so many times crumbled into frantic ripping and devouring.
Damn you Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
I’m not normally a fan of American chocolate, preferring the creaminess of the British, but once these little devils snuck into my chocolate repertoire it’s been nearly impossible to resist their salty, caramel deliciousness for any proper length of time. Like a week.
And they come in pairs. Could life get any more unfair?
Apparently so, because then my local food market started selling them. The one place I rely on for whole foods untainted by the stain of my nasty chocolate crushes and they fail me utterly by supplying Reece’s by the boxful. Cunningly placed next to the organic, 80% cocoa chocolates and raw peanut balls as if to say, “Who? Me? Oh, I’m just hanging out here for a while. Watching the scenery. Don’t mind my gorgeous chemical-laden calorific presence on the shelves. Go and buy some carrots. Bad girl.”
I went through a stage of slipping a pack under the rest of my shopping; like all the organic, raw produce sitting on top would somehow transmogrify the terrible temptation into a tamed beast. No such luck. Now, like the hard bitten addict I’ve become, I jut out my chin and slap one into my basket, daring the artisan chocolates to question my life choices.
When I had my son, two and a half years ago, the side of me that houses my passions, desires and a penchant for the naughty just shut off. I felt numbed to anything more than motherhood and existed in the dubious freedom that comes with muted, untangled emotions. The price to pay was a level of depression, at times the exhaustion left me so bleak I couldn’t fathom ever feeling human again. But there was also a cleanness to my emptiness, a relief in living a half life for a while.
Over the past few months I’ve begun to feel everything again and, as with all change, there are plusses and minuses, with Reece’s sitting firmly in the terribly naughty but so very good category. And it’s not just that temptation, it seems that my tastebuds have burst into permanent activity, offering up all the flavours I’d forgotten and threatening to turn the rest of my eating life into that scene from When Harry Met Sally…
Unfortunately, another gift from my son is a slowed metabolism. Where I used to be one of those people who could eat anything and stay slim, I now need to be far more conscious of what I put into my body and how much dreaded exercise is going to be needed to shift it. With that in mind, I’ve been trying to recreate the naughtiness of Reece’s without so much of the wide-eyed horror when I step on the scales.
And here it is…
A soft nuzzle of caramel and thoroughly whipped peanut butter are gently sandwiched between two dark chocolate cookies in this definitely-still-rather-unhealthy-but-so-very-good cookie recipe…
- 250g unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
- 200g smooth peanut butter
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 200g plain (all purpose) flour
- 50g cacoa powder (I use Planet Organic’s Organic Natural Cacao Powder, use cocoa powder if cacao is too hard to find)
- 250g double (heavy) cream, cold
- 1 tbl sp icing (powdered) sugar, or to taste
- 12 tsp Bonne Maman caramel spread (dulce de leche is a good replacement if you can’t find this, or go the old fashioned boil tinned condensed milk route if you’re feeling brave)
Preheat oven to 160°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper
On a high speed, whisk the butter, half the peanut butter, caster sugar and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla until pale and creamy
Sift half the flour and cocoa powder over the butter mixture. Stir by hand until just combined. Add the remaining flour and cocoa powder and stir until the dough begins to clump together
Gather the dough into a ball and turn onto a large sheet of cling film, fold over the film and, using your hands, gently roll and shape the dough into a rough tube shape. Then wrap again with a tea towel and roll into a log about 6cm in diameter from tip to tip. Remove the tea towel and wrap in a sheet of card. Secure with elastic bands and put in the freezer overnight
(At this point you can keep the dough in the freezer and chop off slices as your cravings hit)
Cut an even number of 5mm slices from the log and place on the baking tray
Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. Set aside on the tray to cool
Meanwhile, add the cold cream, peanut butter and remaining vanilla into a bowl and whisk until it’s combined and no clumps remain. Sift in the icing sugar and whisk until stiff and completely combined
Spread half the biscuits with a teaspoonful of the caramel spread
Spread the other half of the biscuits with a tablespoon full of the peanut whip
Gently sandwich together and serve to groans of achingly naughty delight