Monday, February 10, 2014

UnRecipe: Say "I Love You, Sugar Coma" with Cookie Butter

Let's face it, if it wasn't so close to Valentine's Day, I'd be calling this post, Breaking Cookie Butter Bad, or maybe Diabetes, the Gift That Keeps on Giving. One of the food fads that rode the coattails of the holidays was the entity known as Cookie Butter, aka Biscoff, aka Speculoos. It's like Billy the Kid, it had so many aliases, and just as notorious. You're either reading this with a look of bewilderment or shaking your head with glazed-over eyes, thinking back on your last sweet fix when you passed out with the Cookie Butter cradled in your huddled grasp. I say, embrace the madness. Ride the snake. Make Cookie Butter Bars for Valentine's Day and never look at the world the same again. Because it's so sweet, you'll probably go cross-eyed.

Happy Valentine's Day - I got you diabetes - Photo by Wasabi Prime

I remember when my mom called and asked nonchalantly, "Have you heard of Cookie Butter?" I was like, are you sure you're not thinking of Nutella...? And did you remember to take your medication? She had to school me on the Cookie Butter Craze that had apparently set the islands of Hawaii on fire with an insulin-fueled obsession. Apparently over the past year, the Trader Joe's Biscoff knockoff, Cookie Butter, had taken the 50th State by storm. It caused purchase limits (two jars only!) all over Las Vegas, since their TJs are the primary shopping sources when the Army of the 808 visits The Ninth Island of Vegas. She just described this bizarre entity as, "It's like peanut butter, but it tastes like cookie dough, and it's crunchy, and also tastes like gingersnaps." Holy hell, that's a lot for one's palate to imagine. I'm pretty sure my tastebuds don't have that great of an imagination, so I went to a Trader Joe's to capture this unicorn-like beast for myself.

Do not lick the screen. It is not real - Photo by Wasabi Prime
I was able to get Three. Whole. Jars. of the Trader Joe's Cookie Butter with no difficulty -- no purchase limits in the Seattle area, I'm glad to say. I bought these jars to send to family over the holidays, so that they could trade them for jewels, children or dragon eggs, whatever the going rate is these days for Cookie Butter. And I also got some of the Cookie Butter-filled chocolate bars, which were a more manageable treat if you didn't want to battle an entire jar of diabetic coma all on your own. I chose to keep one jar for myself -- I wanted to sample a hit of pure, unfussy Cookie Butter (they have some with chocolate in it), just to see what the hype was about. I think I lost my mind for a few seconds after that first spoonful of Cookie Butter. My brain must have slipped into some otherworldly dimension and stars did the Millennium Falcon-thing when it jumps into hyperspace, except that I wasn't in the Milennium Falcon, nor was I in space. But I may have thought for a moment I was a Jedi Knight.

To be honest, aside from the overwhelming, but pleasant gingery sweetness of the stuff, Cookie Butter's grainy texture (I'm assuming it's supposed to be the ground-up biscuits) skeeved me out. I felt like I was eating something with sand in it. Nasty. Gritty texture is a somewhat universal signal that something is not right with the world. You might be eating dirt. And it has the visceral reaction of nails on chalkboard for me, so I had my one spoonful, capped the jar and immediately started looking for recipes to use up/get rid of this stuff.

Over the holidays, I whipped some of the Cookie Butter with mascarpone cheese and made an insanely-sweet tiramisu. I crushed homemade gingersnaps into the mix, and it all turned out lovely and sugar-headache-perfection. If you want to make a dessert like that for your Valentine, grab a favorite tiramisu recipe, a few hefty scoops of Cookie Butter, and have at it.

Make your own Cookie Butter candy for your Valentine - Photos by Wasabi Prime
A simpler way of using Cookie Butter to sweet-talk your sweetheart into a sugar coma would be to take the classic no-bake chocolate/peanut butter bar recipe and swap the peanut butter with Cookie Butter. They were like little candies, and you could savor them slowly in small, bitty pieces. And give them away, which I did -- they are really sweet. I topped them with crushed gingersnaps, which is optional, I just wanted to carry the cookie-theme all the way through. Most of the recipes for chocolate/peanut butter bars are the same -- use this one from as an example. The only thing I would cut back on is the melted butter, probably as much as by half; I notice the Cookie Butter doesn't incorporate as well with the melted butter as peanut butter. And you can cut back on the confectioner's sugar, since the Cookie Butter is plenty sweet. You could probably just use a small bit of corn starch instead of the confectioner's sugar, to help solidify the bottom half, without adding all that extra sweetness. But it's fine to go for the gusto -- I did, and these bars were intense.

These Cookie Butter Crack bars would definitely give Walter White a run for his drug-dealer money, and I'd be the new King of New Mexico, ruling the underworld with my Cookie Butter Crack Ring. But until that day happens, you can make these for your Valentine's Day sweetheart and try not to OD on the sugar rush.

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