I love grocery stores. It’s a phenomenon I can’t explain, but there are few things in life I look forward to more than heading to one of my favorite food stores, and there are many, looking around, and buying all the amazing things they have to offer. Over the past couple of years I’ve found my favorite products at my favorite stores. Fish and produce from Papa Joe’s Market, dry goods and the basics from Kroger, peanut butter, candy, cookies, and snacks from Trader Joe’s.
In fact Trader Joe’s may be my favorite store to explore. There’s so much crammed into those aisles; everytime I look I see something new. Don’t get me started on the Gummy Tummies (you’ll learn more about my obsession with candy as time goes on), the Lentil Curls may be the best snack ever, and at Christmastime, the Gingerbread Men are among the best grocery store cookies available.
Then there’s the peanut butter. Have you ever taken a look at what’s in most of the typical grocery store peanut butters? Sugar, oils, mono and diglycerides. The reduced fat ones are even worse, typically containing the same amount of calories with some of the healthy peanut fat removed and replaced with more yucky ingredients. Even the natural grocery store brands still usually contain some added sugar and oils. Enter Trader Joe’s amazing nut butters. I’m focusing on peanut here, but they also have delicious almond butters, in addition to sunflower seed butter.
I almost always buy unsalted nut butters, though the salted ones are just as yummy and high quality, so the only ingredient? Peanuts. Yes, it looks a little different when you open it. There’s a bunch of oil sitting on top. With some muscle the oil is stirred in, don’t discard, leaving a final product that is creamy and super peanuty. I prefer it chilled in the refrigerator, where it must be stored once opened. When cold, its texture is quite similar to that of the grocery store peanut butters even I was used to a long time ago. I can’t say enough good things about Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter, so go grab a jar, and then try it out on this amazing recipe. Then I know you won’t be able to tell the difference.
Fudge is yummy. However, most of it contains chocolate, and even the ones that don’t are far too risky for me to eat since they are made on equipment that processes chocolate constantly. This has left me in a fudge free world for quite some time, and that is simply a world I’m not okay with.
I’d like to try some more traditional fudge in the future, but for now, this more than hit the spot. I wanted something easy to make, and it doesn’t get any easier than Alton Brown’s Microwave Peanut Butter Fudge. I never knew the fantastic things that could come out of the microwave.
It takes a little muscle to bring the fudge together (thanks, Mom, for doing the stirring!), and a lot of willpower to resist eating until chilled, but as Alton himself would say your patience will be rewarded.
The final product has an intense peanut butter flavor with perfect sweetness, and a texture that is soft and creamy. The peanut butter comes through, while being mellowed, though not overpowered by sweetness. It’s kind of like the ultimate version of the inside of Reese’s Pieces, or Reese’s Cups, I imagine. While an allergy friendly nut butter would work here, I wouldn’t use anything crunchy, or it will throw off the silky smooth texture. In addition, I would refrigerate the peanut butter before making this to give it a firmer consistency, making it easier to work with. A small portion goes a long way, as it is very rich. Plus the smaller the portion, the less guilt there is for eating more than one piece. It will fly off the plate, and you’ll be quickly whipping this up as your new go-to dessert recipe all the time.
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 cup Trader Joe’s Unsalted Creamy Peanut Butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 pound confectioners’ sugar (usually a whole box)
- Put the butter and peanut butter in a medium to large bowl. Cover with a paper plate. Plastic wrap may alternatively be used, however, I wasn’t so sure about plastic in the microwave. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir before microwaving on high for two more minutes. The mixture will be bubbling and incredibly hot, so use caution. Stir briefly before adding vanilla and confectioners’ sugar. Stir with a large spoon to incorporate all of the ingredients. The mixture will become difficult to stir and will lose its sheen. Once this has happened, scoop the mixture into a square 8 inch pan lined with parchment paper with a large overhang. Spread the mixture as evenly as possible in the pan. Fold excess parchment over the top of the fudge to cover it. Refrigerate until completely cooled, about 2 hours. Cut into 64 1 inch pieces, 8 cuts across the top, 8 cuts down the side. Fudge may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week. Alternatively, fudge freezes incredibly well. To do so, wrap it in parchment and foil, place it in a freezer bag, and thaw at room temperature for several hours before enjoying.