In defense of excess

Apr. 15, 2014 @ 10:51 AM

In some places it’s called speculoos, which kind of sounds like a medieval medical/torture device.

It’s also known as biscoff.  That reminds me of a wrestling move. “Holy Moses! He’s giving him the old biscoff maneuver! That’s gonna hurt!”

But to me, the very best name for it is cookie butter.

Yes, you read right — cookie butter. Butter is pretty darn terrific, but butter from cookies? I want to meet the cow who had a hand in that.

Cookie butter is a spread made from a Northern European spiced short bread cookie. It looks just like peanut butter; they even have creamy and crunchy varieties. The flavor is slightly spicy with hints of caramel. There isn’t actually any butter in it, instead it’s crushed cookies mixed with vegetable oils. 

It doesn’t pack the nutritional punch that peanut butter possesses. Cookie butter is closer to Nutella (it actually has fewer calories than Nutella).

This is great for me, because I’m not a fan of the hazel nuts in Nutella. I’ve stayed away from it ever since I had a really, really bad date with Frangelica (hazel nut flavored liqueur). I can’t even endure the aroma anymore.

I get my Biscoff at Kroger.  It’s in the bakery department next to packages of the actual Biscoff cookies.

You can spread it on toast, dip fruit in it, or heat it and use it as a glaze.

Or, you can use it in recipes.

Sub it into anything that calls for peanut butter or Nutella.  You can also add it as an unexpected, secret ingredient to dishes.    

My first experimentation with biscoff led to one of my favorite ways to use it; in my completely over the top, ridiculous, crispy rice treats.

Exquisitely Extravagant Rice Crispy Treats

1 10.5 ounce bag mini marshmallows

1 16 ounce bag mini marshmallows

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

1 vanilla bean

2/3 cup cookie butter

2 teaspoons kosher salt

6 cups crispy rice cereal

Butter a 9x13 baking dish; set aside.  Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the caviar, set aside the caviar and put the emptied bean in a large, heavy-bottomed pot.  Turn the burner to medium-low and add the butter.  Melt the butter and leave on the heat until the milk solids in the butter caramelize to a deep amber color, and the aroma is nutty.  Be watchful; the butter can go from brown to burned in seconds, and when that happens it will be acrid and unusable.

When the butter has browned, remove and discard the bean pod, turn the heat up to medium, and add the marshmallows.  Stir continuously.  When they start to melt, add biscoff and salt.  Mix in and keep stirring until the marshmallows are completely melted.

At that point, turn off the heat, and add vanilla bean innards.

Stir in the cereal.  The best tool for this job is a large silicone spatula because the stickiness quotient of this goo makes honey look like WD-40.

Pour/spoon into greased pan, and pat down with spatula you’ve either buttered or sprayed with butter flavored cooking spray.  To get an even, flat pan of treats, take another 9x13 pan, and press down on the top.

Let cool.

You’d think the recipe is finished at this point, and any sane person would stop here, but au contraire, you’d be wrong, my friend.  This is me we’re talking about.

Once they are cool, turn on your oven broiler. We’re going to brûlée the top.  This stuff is chock full of sugar, so we might as well take advantage of it.

Watch it constantly and move it around under the broiler to make sure no place burns, and every bit gets browned. Broil until the top is the beautiful copper shade of the top of a well-prepared crème brûlée.

Let cool again, then slice.

Nope, this is definitely not health food. It’s something to indulge in infrequently, and in small quantities. But to paraphrase Socrates, “An untreated life is not worth living”.

When the opportunity presents itself, it’s a fine idea to pamper oneself with excess—just as long as it’s in moderation.

Thanks for your time.

 

    

Debbie Matthews lives, writes and cooks in Durham. Her email address is momsequitur@gmail.com.