Take a bite, a bite of creamy peanut butter, disguised as a cookie bar. A bite that includes the subtle grit of brown sugar and the familiar crunch of an M&M. A bite for which closing your eyes and grinning might be an involuntary response. But more on that in a moment…let’s see how we got there in the first place, shall we?
Last week was spent in the dream of childhood memories, both my own and those I’m lucky enough to watch my daughter create. To celebrate the end of summer, we spent a few days with my family in Roseville: my twin nieces, Little GG’s best friends; my sister and her husband; my mom and step-dad; and my family of three. There were splash fights in the swimming pool, tears over pink versus purple plates, a stolen few hours with my sister as we left the guys to fend for themselves and the girls so we could catch a late-night screening of “The Help.” I think the phrase “I want” was uttered close to a thousand times; “why?” was a close second. And like generations of mothers before me, my answer never varies: “Because I said so.”
But then as a daughter for a moment, instead of a mother, I caught up with my own mom as she indulged my passion for cast iron cookware. She helped me find a cast iron sandwich maker, round no less, that we used to grill cheese sandwiches as kids. An ancient cast iron krumkake press was unearthed next; when she visits next month we’re going to see if we can figure out how to make krumkake. Hidden deep within the treasures at an antique store in Roseville, I found a corn pone pan by Wagner Ware like this one, heavier that any pan I’ve ever lifted. A quick tweet resulted in this beautiful recipe by my blogger friend Stacy’s grandmother; Stacy blogs over at Little Blue Hen about healthy, everyday food. I can’t wait to try her grandmother’s recipe.
All this nostalgia was swirling around in my head as I clicked over to Greens and Chocolate, my assigned blog for this month’s Secret Recipe Club. When I first checked out Taylor’s beautiful blog last month, I was sure I wanted to make her beer marinated chicken. I’d just come off a successful baking of beer bread, and the idea of using beer to marinade a chicken appeals to the beer lover in me. Her recipe for lemon Parmesan spaghetti caught my eye; the last time I tried to make a lemon-based sauce for spaghetti resulted in a soggy, lemony mess that ultimately was best suited for the trash.
As I surveyed my thrift store finds and gazed at the handwritten corn pone recipe, I knew I wanted something that reminded me of home. With Little GG at my side, we searched through Taylor’s recipes and stories until we, or should I say, Little GG, found this.
“Mama! That’s an M&M cookie. Let’s make that.”
The recipe sounded so similar to my family’s Congo Bar recipe, yet introduced new ingredients into the recipe…I had to try it.
And so, together we did. Taylor’s peanut butter M&M blondes are sublime, and the perfect vessel for creating memories of your own.
Peanut Butter M&M Blondies
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup creamy peanut butter
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate M&M’s
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and remove from heat. Stir in the peanut butter and set aside to cool.
- Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- Beat the eggs and vanilla into the peanut butter mixture.
- Fold the flour mixture into the saucepan, stir to combine. The batter will be thick.
- Spread into a greased 9×13” pan, using your hands if necessary to spread the batter evenly throughout the pan.
- Top the batter with the M&Ms, lightly pressing each into the batter.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the dough is lightly browned and a fork inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let cool completely before cutting into squares.
Thanks to Tina of Mom’s Crazy Cooking for being our gracious hostess! Hope you enjoy today’s recipes.