Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hard to Argue

Strawberries on a Sunday Morning

Here’s a question: why am I so intrigued with making sauces these days?  What happened to the soups, the granolas, the salads, the cookies?

The answer is this: I love fresh produce.  So much so that it is becoming slightly painful for me to cook it.  That’s where the sauces enter the kitchen.

I have often lamented my inability to cook fresh fruit.  I love gorgeous photos of strawberry pie, baked pears, blueberry cobblers, but once those pints of berries are sitting in front of me, all I can do is move berries to mouth, hypnotized by the splendor of plump fragrant fruit.  This is my way of appreciating food, even as it shuts down my cooking and baking efforts.

But there’s no need to be sad about all this because even though no strawberries shall see the inside of an oven in my kitchen, they shall see the glory that is a pot of peanut butter fudge sauce.

Ready to Eat

I have wanted a peanut butter sauce recipe for a long time now.  What I really wanted was a sauce that not only tasted great but could also be stored in the fridge for a few days and still maintain a nice saucy texture without separating into weird clumps or oozing oil.  I think I’ve found my recipe.  By “my recipe,” I really mean a recipe that’s been adapted from Nigella Lawson and made friendlier to the health nuts among us (AHEM).  I love Nigella’s cookbooks and her gorgeous prose, but her recipes are harder for me to embrace.  I like my waistline and the way my pants fit, so all those Nigella recipes calling for sticks of butter and cups of heavy cream force me to ask myself this: is today an everyday cooking day or is today an indulgent cooking day?  Most of the time it’s the former, so I put away the Nigella cookbook and the heavy cream.  And it’s okay.

Last week, though, a photo of drippingly beautiful sundaes over at KERF had me reaching for Nigella Express, thumbing through the index for a recipe for peanut butter fudge sauce.  The time had come to get myself a recipe, followed by a pot of fudge sauce.  Oh yes.  There’s an old saying that when the student is ready, the teacher appears.  Likewise, I’d argue that when the cook is ready, the recipe appears.  I was ready.

The first thing you should know about this recipe is that it has a very nice peanut buttery flavor.  It is most definitely a PEANUT BUTTER fudge sauce.  The peanut butter comes first.  But I think the chocolate could easily be amped up if you’d like more of a CHOCOLATE peanut butter fudge sauce.  The second thing you should know is that the recipe I present to you today is a much more reasonable version than Nigella’s.  I use milk (2%, to be specific) instead of heavy cream, which means that although my sauce may be slightly less delicious, it also contains about a zillion fewer calories and fat grams.  And if you, like me, enjoy standing by the stove and eating fudge sauce straight out of the pot, a reasonable recipe is a very good thing.  The final thing I want to mention is that this sauce stores well in the fridge.  The texture will look a little nubbly, but in the mouth it stays rather smooth, so you can whip up a batch one night and spoon it over your oatmeal the next day while rubbing the sleep out of your eyes.  It’s hard to argue with a fudge sauce that wants to join you for breakfast.

Peanut Butter Fudge Sauce

Adapted from Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson

Makes a little pot of sauce—enough for a few people to share

A confession: I ran out of chocolate chips when I was making this, so I only used about a third of a cup.  I wanted to use half a cup, so I’ll do that next time and report back to you in the comments.  With a smaller amount of chocolate, the peanut butter flavor is front and center.  But don’t be misled: the chocolate is still there; it’s just more subtle.  I feel like this is just perfect for topping oatmeal or as a dip for strawberries or bananas.  Or for eating by the spoonful when the mood strikes.

3/4 cup milk (I used 2% cow’s milk)

1/3 to 1/2 cup chocolate chips, bittersweet and/or semisweet

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

2 tbsp. maple syrup, or to taste

1)  Put all the ingredients in small pot and heat over medium heat.  Stir frequently until the peanut butter and chocolate have melted into a smooth dark sauce.  Taste and adjust the sweetness level if you like.  I like mine a little sweet but not tooth-achingly so.  Remove from the heat and eat immediately or store the leftovers in the fridge.  This sauce will keep for at least five days if refrigerated in a sealed container.


a said...

I recently found three different nearly-full bottles of peanut butter in my cabinets during a bout of cleaning. I think I'll be making this soon ;)

Rosiecat said...

a, if you need any help finishing off that peanut butter, I'm happy to come over to help! If you try the fudge sauce, let me know what you think. Also, it could easily be made vegan and gluten-free...

Have a good week, friend.

Laurie said...

There will be local strawberries here soon, if the weather co-operates of course. Once I've eaten my fill right out of the colander I'll be trying this sauce. In fact, I might not wait that long. It sounds that good.

daine said...

have you tried this recipe using home-made peanut butter? It's not that I'm opposed to buying the store-bought stuff (emulsifiers aren't dangerous, after all), I just have plenty of my own, and don't see a point in buying Jiff if I don't have to.

This looks perfect, especially since my Nutella stash is quick depleting.

Rosiecat said...

Laurie, don't wait! Make it now and eat it with anything or with nothing at all. I think I like it best by the spoonful, eaten like pudding.

Daine, if I recall correctly, my storebought peanut butter only contains peanuts and salt, and it works beautifully in this sauce. I think your homemade peanut butter should work. The thing to consider is the texture of your homemade peanut butter. If it's a little nubbly, then your sauce will be nubbly too, which is not necessarily a bad thing--it just depends on what you like. And you could always buzz the sauce in the food processor if you want it super smooth for texture or a prettier presentation.

Mmm, now that you mention it, this is rather like a peanut butter version of Nutella! I have a hard time keeping my spoon out of both.

Shannon said...


so i have a "solution"! go to costco, or picking at an orchard, and get so excited at the gorgeous produce that you buy WAY too much for one person to consume before it goes ripe. Then you are forced to put it into recipes so you can enjoy the bounty for awhile :) not that i've done this before... lol

Rosiecat said...

Now THAT is a solution, Shannon! I think this will be my goal for the summer :-)

So...have you made the sauce yet? I'm telling you, it takes your morning bowl of oatmeal to a new level of greatness. Now I'm swooning!

Hillary said...

Loving that you're posting photos these days. :-)

Dieu Hien said...

mmmm... that's a great way to use this leftover peanut butter i have. (dark chocolate peanut butter)

Rosiecat said...

Me too, Hillary! It's so much more fun than I ever imagined. I'm just trying to make sure the photos don't crowd out the words. I like a good balance in my blog reading.

Indeed, Dieu Hien! Dark chocolate and peanut butter are made to be together. At least in my kitchen they are!