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Archive for Snacks

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Cookie Spread, a.k.a. Cookie Butter

Biscoff Spread Jar

Speculoos Spread

Cookie Butter

Tumbador Cookie Butter

Nuts & More Cookie Butter

[1] The original Biscoff Spread, used for filling cookie sandwiches at Picky Palate. [2] The European name for Biscoff Spread is Speculoos (photo courtesy Dutch Shop). [3] Trader Joe’s three private label versions include original, crunchy and cocoa swirl (photo courtesy Baking Bites). [4] A favorite flavor, from Tumbador Chocolate. [5] Even health food stores sell cookie butter—as a protein boost (photo courtesy Nuts & More).

 

Where did the cookie butter craze originate? In Belgium!

THE HISTORY OF SPECULOOS SPREAD (CALLED BISCOFF SPREAD IN THE U.S.)

Cookie spread or cookie butter began as an entry in a contest sponsored by Belgium-based Lotus Bakeries.

Lotus is the maker of Speculoos (spice) brand cookies, known the world over (and called Biscoff in some countries). Els Scheppers, a contestant on the reality show The Inventors (De Bedenker), pulverized the cookies and mixed them into “the original speculoos pasta*.”

It wasn’t that far-fetched an idea, but it was a great one. Belgian parents (including Scheppers) were already making sandwichs of buttered bread, the butter topped with crushed Biscoff cookies.

She didn’t win the contest, but Lotus Bakeries approached her to obtain the exclusive rights to sell the Biscoff spread.

They are actually called speculoos (spice) cookies in Europe, but the name was deemed too hard for Americans to pronounce. Because the biscuits were so popular with coffee, the cookies were rebranded as Biscoff for the U.S. market. (It may look like peanut butter, but it’s nut-free.)

After its arrival on these shores, companies large and small jumped on the bandwagon. Home cooked created Biscoff cupcakes with Biscoff frosting (here’s the recipe).

Hershey’s and other large companies made cookie spreads. They were made in conventional cookie flavors, plus Chocolate Macaroon and Pumpkin Spice.

Even health-oriented stores sell it, manufactured from Nuts & More, a company that got Shark Tank funding. Their “High Protein + Peanut Spreads” include Toffee Crunch and White Chocolate, among other flavors.
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*Pasta is derived from the Latin word for paste. In Europe it is used to describe foods from spaghetti (a paste of flour and water) to meat loaf (a paste of ground meat and fat to the fruit squares (pâte de fruit) that we call fruit gels.

 
COOKIE SPREAD/BUTTER VERSUS NUT BUTTER

Before we go further, let us emphasize that cookie butter is not a substitute for peanut [or other nut/seed] butter.

They may be touted as alternatives to nut butters, but that’s only in spreadability, not in nutrition. They are better compared to chocolate spreads. To avoid confusing consumers, all of the cookie-based spreads should be called cookie spreads, not cookie butters.

  • Natural nut butters are simply ground nuts and a bit of salt. Supermarket brands often add caloric sweetener, vegetable oils and stabilizers (mono and diglicerides
  • Nut butters have protein and fiber. Cookie butters do not—unless they so specify.
  • Large brands of nut butters have been headed in the direction of cookie butter (actually, it’s vice versa), with chocolate swirl and other flavors.
  • Nutella, a hazelnut and chocolate spread, is not much more nutritious than cookie butter. It has some protein fiber from the hazelnuts but lots of sugar. On their website, sugar is listed as the first ingredient, followed by palm oil. The two “good” ingredients, hazelnuts and cocoa powder, are third and fourth.
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    MAKE YOUR OWN COOKIE SPREAD

    You can use any cookie that can be ground into a powder. This leaves out oatmeal raisin (but plain oatmeal is OK), chocolate chip, anything with nuts or a filling. Don’t despair if this eliminates your favorite: You can add these “textured” ingredients as mix-ins after the butter/spread is blended.

    Some options:

  • Biscoff or other spice cookies
  • Famous Chocolate Wafers or bake your own
  • Ginger snaps
  • Graham crackers
  • Oatmeal cookies
  • Peanut butter cookies
  • Sugar cookies, snickerdoodles
  • Swedish thin cookies (Annas Swedish Thins, Cookie Thins, Moravian Cookies, etc.)
  • Vanilla wafers
  •  
    You can add in anything else that can be smoothly blended or ground:

  • Cocoa powder
  • Flavored extracts
  • Nuts (chopped is better)
  • Purées (e.g. pumpkin for the holidays)
  • Small candies and baking products, e.g. mini chips, mini M&Ms
  • Spices
  •  

    RECIPE: COOKIE SPREAD OR COOKIE BUTTER

    You can keep the spread in the fridge for 14 days, maybe more. If you’re giving it as a gift, note the expiration date on the label.

    If you want to make a homemade version of Biscoff Spread, here’s a recipe.
     
    Ingredients Per 14-Ounce Batch
     
    For The Spread

  • 2 cups (8 ounces) cookie crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons white granulated or light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more if desired
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla or other extract
  •  
    For The Mix-Ins

  • 1/2 to 1 cup of whatever you like
  •  
    For Serving

  • Assorted cookies, biscuits, toasts, whatever
  •  
    You can serve just one type of cookie; but a selection is more fun.
     
    For Gift-Giving

  • Mason jar or other tightly-lidded container
  •  
    Preparation

    1. GRIND the cookies in a food processor until very fine. Measure out 2 cups.

    2. ADD the crumbs back into the food processor along with the cream, butter and sugar; process until well combined. If the dip is too thick for you, add cream a bit at a time to thin it.

     

    Oreo Cookie Butter

    Biscoff Cupcake & Frosting

    [6] Make cookie spread gifts and party favors (photo courtesy The Cottage Market). [7] Consider double-cookie-spread cupcakes. Sweet As A Cookie went all the way and created this recipe with Biscoff spread in both.

     
    3. BLEND in your choice of mix-ins. Put in a jar in the fridge. To serve, bring to room temperature spreadability.

    We couldn’t sign off without showing you this Biscoff Cheesecake.

      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Chukar Cherries Snack Packs

    Chukar Cherries Snack Pack

    Cherry Cluster

    [1] Grab-and-go cherry and nut mixes for the person who wants—or should want—better-for-you snacks (photo courtesy Chukar). [2] Cherries on the branch (photo courtesy 2020site.org).

     

    If you want to gift someone a better-for-you sweet treat, we recommend these grab-and-go bags of Triple Cherry Nut Mix from Pacific Northwest cherry specialist, Chukar Cherries.

    There’s no sugar added; just the national sweetness of dried Bing, Rainier and tart cherries mixed with heart-healthy pistachios and almonds.

    A cloth sack with 12 bags of Triple Cherry Nut Mix is $39.95 Get yours here.

    There are many other treats at Chukar.com.
     
    FUN CHERRY FACTS

    Cherry pits have been found in Stone Age caves. Perhaps our earliest ancestors, when not busy trying to run down wooly mammoths, also had an appreciation for the cherry and benefitted its antioxidant properties, including an abundance of vitamins A, B, and C. Perhaps they even enjoyed it with freshly spear-hunted boar or wild fowl.

    Their descendants—us—have been known to particularly enjoy cherries with duck and pork dishes, and snack as often as we can on the cherries, fresh or dried.

    Russians traditionally sweeten their tea with cherry preserves.

    Germans distill cherries into brandy (Kirschwasser).

    Iranians mix it into rice.

    Many nationalities use cherries in cakes and pies, over ice cream, tossed into salads, skewered as a cocktail garnish, sprinkled over soft cheese, garnish on pancakes, in the center of an indulgent chocolate bonbon, and of course, to make jams and preserves, salsas and relishes.

    Then, there are drinkable cherries, from juice to liqueur to wine (cherry fruit wine).

    The question isn’t what you can do with cherries—but what you can’t.

     
    WHERE DID CHERRIES COME FROM?

    The ancestors of today’s domesticated cherry trees originated in the Caucasus Mountains, which extend from southeastern Europe into Eastern Asia, between the Black and the Caspian Seas. They run through modern-day Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Russia and Turkey.

    Cherries slowly spread through the Mediterranean and then headed north, but didn’t become widespread in Europe and Britain until the 15th century. By the 17th century, cherries were so popular that English emigrants brought stock to plant orchards in America, along with apples, peaches, pears and plums.

    Here’s more about cherries and the different types of cherries.

     
      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK & GIFT OF THE DAY: SuperSeedz Gourmet Pumpkin Seeds

    Superseedz Super Spicy

    Polenta With Pumpkin Seeds

    Spaghetti With Pumpkin Seeds

    [1] SuperSeedz is made in nine flavors, from sweet to savory to hot and spicy (photo SuperSeedz). [2] In addition to snacking, SuperSeedz make delicious garnishes and mix-ins; here, mixed into a vegetable garnish for polenta. Here’s the recipe for the polenta and the spaghetti from Taste With The Eyes. [3] Add some Tomato Italiano SuperSeedz—or Curious Curry or Somewhat Spicy—to your favorite pasta.

     

    Over the past 12 years of nibbling, we’ve had lots of Top Picks Of The Week. All are wonderful foods, but some become part of our everyday lives—because they’re what we usually eat.

    SuperSeedz, gourmet shelled pumpkin seeds that we first discovered in 2007, is one of those.

    A better-for-you, nutritious, fiber-filled and very flavorful, crunchy snack, we also love it as a garnish.

    At $4.99, the five-ounce bags make really nice Thanksgiving favors and stocking stuffers, and are great for everyday grab-and-go.

    SuperSeedz are non-GMO verified, cholesterol- and trans-fat free, gluten-free, vegan and allergen friendly.

    Each one-ounce serving has 7 grams of protein and a good hit of iron and zinc.

    In nine flavors, sweet, savory and hot, there’s a choice for everything.

    SAVORY SUPERSEEDZ

  • Curious Curry: beloved even by non-curry lovers.
  • Really Naked: totally plain.
  • Tomato Italiano: tomato, basil, garlic, onion, oregano, pepper, sea salt (the company calls it “bruschetta on a pumpkin seed).
  • Sea Salt: the original.
  • Somewhat Spicy: a just-enough-spice blend of aged cayenne pepper, garlic, sea salt.
  • Super Spicy: black pepper, cayenne, garlic, habanero, red crushed pepper, sea salt (be warned, it’s hot).
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    Beyond Snacking…

    As A Garnish, Use Them On:

  • Dips, including hummus
  • Eggs
  • Fresh cheeses (cottage cheese, goat cheese, ricotta)
  • Grains and grain bowls, polenta
  • Grilled chicken and fish
  • Indian and Tex Mex dishes
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Pasta and pizza
  • Salads
  • Soups
  • Vegetables (especially green beans and winter squash)
  •  
    As A Mix-In To:

  • Breads and corn muffins
  • Dips
  • Rice and other grain dishes
  •  
    SWEET SUPERSEEDZ

  • Cinnamon & Sugar, like cinnamon toast without the toast.
  • Coco Joe, following the trend of salted chocolate.
  • Maple Sugar & Sea Salt, new and noteworthy.
  •  

    Beyond Snacking…

    As A Garnish On:

  • Cake and cupcake frosting
  • Cold and hot cereal and granola
  • Fresh cheeses (cottage cheese, goat cheese, ricotta)
  • Fruit salad
  • Ice cream
  • Pancakes and waffles
  • Puddings and mousse
  • Yogurt
  •  
    As A Mix-In To:

  • Carrot and zucchini cakes/breads
  • Chocolate bark
  • Cookie and brownie batter
  • Ice cream
  • Muffins
  • Trail mix
  •  

    Superseedz Snack

    Superseedz Tomato Italiano

    [4] Fill up a bowl for snacking. [5] Sprinkle Tomato Italiano on pasta, pizza or polenta. Or roll a log of goat cheese in it (photos courtesy SuperSeedz).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Caramel Apple Dip With Apples & More

    Caramel Apple Dip

    Rainbow Baby Carrots

    [1] Caramel apple dip (photo courtesy Eat Wisconsin Cheese). [2] Rainbow baby carrots (photo Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE).

     

    If you’ll be home on Halloween—either dispensing candy or hunkering down—you need a Halloween treat that isn’t candy.

    Thanks to our friends at EatWisconsinCheese.com for this recipe.

    It’s easy to make with purchased caramel sauce (or if you’re hard core, your homemade sauce).

    The caramel dip is a bit indulgent, but you can:

  • Substitute plain or vanilla Greek yogurt for the cream and cream cheese.
  • Serve the lowest-calorie dippers: apple slices, carrots, celery and pretzel sticks.
  •  
    RECIPE: CARAMEL APPLE DIP

    You can use this as a dip or a spread, a snack or a dessert.

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup prepared caramel sauce
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup apple, peeled, cored and finely diced
  • Lemon juice
  •  
    Dippers

  • Apple slices or dried apple chips
  • Carrot and celery; sticks
  • Ginger snaps or graham crackers
  • Potato chips or pretzels
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BEAT the heavy cream in a medium bowl with an electric mixer, until stiff peaks begin to form (about 2-3 minutes).

    2. ADD the apple pie spice, vanilla extract, salt and caramel sauce. Mix until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.

    3. ADD the cream cheese and mix until just incorporated. Add the diced apple and mix until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Serve with fruit and/or graham crackers, gingersnaps or other cookies. When ready to serve…

    4. TOSS the diced apple in lemon juice to prevent browning. Here are other ways to prevent browning.

     
      

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    HALLOWEEN RECIPE: Candy Corn Popcorn Balls

    Two years ago we published a recipe for orange-tinted Halloween Popcorn Balls, shaped like pumpkins.

    This new recipe was created by Meghan McGarry of Buttercream Blondie for PotsAndPans.com.

    We like it even better, because what Halloween celebrant doesn’t look forward to candy corn?

    The candy corn theme does double duty between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

    QUICK TIP: No time to make popcorn balls? Tao the candy corn and marshmallows with regular popcorn and a drizzle of honey or agave to bind them (or the candy corn will end up at the bottom of the bowl).
     
    RECIPE: CANDY CORN POPCORN BALLS

    Meghan created a sweet-and-salty recipe with salted peanuts. We used the honey roasted peanuts we had on hand, and added a few dashes of salt.

    If you don’t want to use nuts at all, substitute an additional 1/2 cup of candy corn, butterscotch baking chips, or Halloween M&Ms (they’re white and made in the shape of candy corn), etc.

    For gifting, you can wrap them like a pomander in orange curling ribbon, or in individual clear cellophane bags with a ribbon tie.

    Ingredients For 8-10 Popcorn Balls

  • 12 cups popped plain popcorn*
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup candy corn
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts (we used honey roasted peanuts)
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons Halloween sprinkles
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LINE a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Spray a large bowl and a spatula with cooking spray and add the popcorn. Set aside.

    2. MELT the butter in a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Once butter begins to melt, add the marshmallows and stir continuously until melted. Then stir in vanilla extract.

    3. POUR the melted mixture over the popcorn and gently toss with the spatula. Add the candy corn and peanuts.

    4. SPRAY your hands with cooking spray and continue to mix by hand until everything is coated and combined. Add the sprinkles just before you’re almost done mixing.

    5. SHAPE the popcorn into balls and set on a parchment-lined sheet pan to cool.
     
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    *If popping the corn from scratch, you need 6 ounces or 2/3 cup of kernels.

     

    Candy Corn Popcorn Balls

    Halloween Confetti

    Halloween Confetti

    [1] Candy corn popcorn balls from Meghan McGarry. [2] Halloween sprinkles from Halloween sprinkles from Dress My Cupcake. [3] Halloween confetti from Kreative Baking.

     

      

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