Monday 13 August 2012

Peanut Butter Gems

This week, I’m introducing a brand-new feature called “Writers Cooking Caker.” It’s like when Stacy Q guest-starred as Cinnamon on Facts of Life.

Some of you might assume that writers don’t cook; that we’re too busy writing novels about elusive white whales or women involved in S&M relationships to even think about food. But that’s simply not true. After all, food is what feeds the imagination. And can you think of any food more imaginative than caker food? So every now and then, I’ll post a caker recipe from a fellow writer, along with some information about his or her latest book.

This week, I'm welcoming Dani Couture and her Peanut Butter Gems. Dani recently published her first novel, Algoma, a lovely and poignant book about a young family dealing with tragedy. Speaking of lovely, her Peanut Butter Gems ain’t nothing to sneeze at neither. They taste like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. You don’t even have to bake them! How caker is that? And they're delicious. (Especially when frozen IMHO.)

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup butter
¾ pound icing sugar (3 cups)

Melt chocolate pieces in top of double boiler. Meanwhile mix together peanut butter, cracker crumbs, butter and icing sugar. Pat this into a 13 x 9-inch pan. (See note.) Spread the melted chocolate on top. Chill and cut into small squares. Freezes very well.

Note: I’m more of an 8 x 8-inch guy myself, so I used that instead. Trouble was, it made the chocolate layer thicker, which made cutting the squares harder, especially once the chocolate was set. If you make them in a square pan, ease up on the chocolate layer. Otherwise, it’ll be tough cutting through and your squares will end up looking more like geometrical shapes.

Source: Hometown Recipes of Amherstburg, Wesley United Church U.C.W.


Dani also passed along her recipe for Aunt Paulette’s Party Potato Bake. They’re like Schwartzies Hash Browns, only with more fat (if you can believe it) because they have a potato chip crust. Aunt Paulette, I'll party with your potatoes anytime.

Aunt Paulette's Party Potato Bake

1 bag of Cavendish hashbrowns (those ones where the potatoes are little square potatoes)
1 tub full fat sour cream
1 cup sharp cheddar
1 medium onion chopped
1 stick salted butter
1 cup crushed plain chips
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute chopped onion in butter. Empty hashbrown bag into a large bowl, mix in room temp butter, sour cream, sauteed onion, and cheddar. Salt and pepper as you please. Layer mess into a baking tin so it's about 3" deep (too thin and it dries out) Sprinkle crushed chips on top. Bake at 350 for 20 odd minutes depending on your stove.

About Algoma:
A year after watching his brother go through the ice, twelve-year old Ferd refuses to believe Leo is gone. Convinced his brother is still alive, Ferd enters into a campaign of letters to persuade his brother to come home, "mailing" notes in any pool of water he can find. Soon, sopping notes begin to appear around the house – folded squares of paper in the rain reservoir, kitchen sink, and washing machine. Ferd’s mother, Algoma, finds the letters and keeps them to herself in an attempt to hide them from her increasingly distant husband. Gaetan, a bartender who obsessively records the weather, rejects his family’s increasingly erratic behaviour and disappears one night leaving behind his weather journal, a newly pregnant wife, and a son consumed with talking to the dead.

More info.


  1. Amazing! Peanut butter + chocolate = heaven. And I just bought Dani's book! (Though I bought it digitally; not very caker, I'm sure.)

    1. Paronomaniac, these squares are deadly. I preferred to eat them frozen to make them last longer. I figure I would've inhaled two unfrozen bars in the time it took me to gnaw through a frozen one. Caker logic.
      Thanks for buying the book. Digital, paper, it's all good!

  2. Thanks for picking up the book. Long live cakers!

  3. Hmmmm. Thought I posted earlier but I will try again. Thanks for the two great suggestions Brian! Reading and eating are my two favourite activities. I will definitely pick up Dani's book and hope to be able to see her at Word on the Street next month. I will definitely be trying the peanut butter squares before then.

    1. Kathy, be warned. If you make the Peanut Butter Gems, you may find yourself eating them for breakfast. I'm speaking from experience here.

  4. 3 cups of ingredients and 3 cups of sugar? That's not good. Or it's so good its bad.
    How does Cinnamon get her hair that high? Is she wearing five wigs?

    1. A little known fact, Adam. Cinnamon used to wear a traffic pylon under her wig to achieve that height. She was a genius in so many ways.

  5. OMG, a cup of butter? Plus a cup of peanut butter? I've gone to fat heaven.

    1. Fat Heaven is a beautiful place, Clare. The clouds the angels sit on are made of marshmallow fluff.