Monday, December 10, 2012
The Famous Cookie
If there's one cookie that knocks everybody's socks off, that everyone squeals about, that I get constant requests for, it's this one. And the funny thing is, it's not really a cookie at all. It's more like a mouthful of heaven, to tell you the truth. Or just a really delicious, unique confection. It is the chocolate covered Ritz peanut butter sandwich.
My friend Sue introduced me to this little nugget several years ago when we worked together. And it was such a revelation. Peanut butter and Ritz Crackers: A perfect duo. Peanut butter and chocolate: A perfect duo. Peanut butter and Ritz and chocolate: A perfect trio? Indeed!
I loved these treats so much and so many people went gaga for them over the years that I made them as my wedding favors. Yes, it was time consuming. Yes, it was nuts. And yes, it was worth it. Those very wedding favors inspired friends who are typically out of place in the kitchen to master the recipe and make them holiday traditions. And there's really no greater compliment than for someone to bring your recipe to their own family's table and make it a part of their memories.
You won't believe how simple they are ...
1 box Ritz Crackers
1 tub creamy peanut butter
Approximately 1 lb. chocolate flavored bark (and white chocolate bark, if desired)
Paraffin (also known as Gulf Wax)
Colored sprinkles or non-pareils (optional)
Spread a healthy helping (1/2 tablespoon or so) of peanut butter on one Ritz cracker. Create a sandwich by placing a second Ritz on top. Repeat until you've exhausted every sleeve of crackers, placing finished sandwiches on a tray of baking sheet. (Snacking, in moderation, is allowed during this process. In fact, it's nearly impossible to resist.) Place trays of sandwiches in the refrigerator or freezer to set, about 4 hours or overnight.
Prepare new rays or baking sheets by covering them with parchment paper.
Create a double boiler by placing a medium glass bowl over a same-size sauce pan with approximately an inch of barely simmering water. Place chocolate bark in bowl. (Traditionally, Sue and I melt about 3 parts chocolate to 1 part white for a nice balance. I've also made them sans white bark and they're equally delicious.) Shave about half a teaspoon of paraffin from the block into the melting chocolate and stir to combine (this will help the sandwiches set and help prevent melting). Stir until completely melted and smooth.
Using metal tongs (we've tried a number of different implements and these seem to have the best grip and prevent the most damage), dunk a sandwich in the melted chocolate. Firmly (but not too aggressively!) tap the tongs on the side of the bowl to rid the sandwich of any excess chocolate (which will cause unsightly pooling around the bottom). Place dipped sandwich on parchment-lined sheet. Repeat with each sandwich, pausing every so often to sprinkles sandwiches with decorations (which will only stick when the chocolate is still wet!).
For faster setting, return dipped sandwiches to refrigerator or freezer. Or, allow to set at room temperature.
Note: Feel free to get creative with variations .. chunky peanut butter in place of creamy, graham crackers in place of Ritz, even Nutella in place of PB! Sue and I have also taken to tucking a mini pretzel twist in the center of some of the sandwiches (as shown in the one I took a bite out of above!).