Thursday, November 16, 2006

Name this thing I made

The holidays are coming up and I am starting to plan what I'm making for gifts. I won't repeat exactly the same stuff as last year, I want to do a few new things. One item I plan on doing is chocolate covered nut clusters. First, I wanted a test batch to play around with. Work out things like how am I going to drop them, onto what, does that fit into the fridge, etc. Things I don't want to figure out the day of while trying to bake a batch of cookies too. Plus I wanted to try out different flavors and textures. I know chocolate and nuts go together but what else could work. Growing up I remember seeing these sea urchin-like things on cookie and candy platters. You know what I'm talking about, the dried chow mein noodles covered in chocolate and dropped in a spiny cluster. After randomly perusing one of my cookbooks, I ran across a recipe for something similar using butterscotch chips and peanut butter. They called them Butterscotch Haystacks. I know peanut butter is popular with the people regularly test my creations (Lorrie's coworkers) so I modified the recipe so the focus was the peanut butter.

based on the Butterscotch Haystack Recipe on page 444 of the The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook

Makes about 36 pieces

3/4 cup (4 1/2 oz) butterscotch chips
3/4 cup (7 1/8 oz) smooth peanut butter
4 1/2 cups (7 7/8 oz) dried chow mein noodles (make sure you have ones that are in decent condition)

First place sheets of wax paper on two 9x13 inch cookie sheets or similar low sided pans. Then combine the butterscotch chips and peanut butter in a large saucepan. Place over low heat. You don't need to drag the double boiler out for this if you stir regularly. Once the mixture is smooth and the color is consistent throughout, carefully add the chow mein noodles. Stir until the noodles are fully covered. A gentle hand is needed because the harder you stir, the more snaps and cracks you will hear. Breaking the chow mein noodles is bad. Nobody wants to eat a chunky, bumpy, peanut butter noodle ball. Nobody. Use two spoons to form the noodle pile, for lack of a better term, and place on the wax paper. Pop these into the refrigerator until they're set and then store in an airtight container.

Biting into one of these gave a definite crunch, which I liked. I hate biting into chocolate-coated pretzels rods and oops, no crunch. Stale. A thorough coating prevents this. The peanut butter taste was dominate, but good. The butterscotch made its presence known in the aftertaste and seemed to add a richness to the peanut butter.

Once they were done and packed, it was time to name them. I was still stuck in the Northwoods theme from the muffins so my initial attempt was 'Peanut Butterscotch Beaver Dams'. See how the 'Peanut Butter' and 'Butterscotch' were combined in a little word flow, nice right? But this seemed very long and I wanted a name that didn't take longer to say than it did to actually eat one. Lorrie and I batted around ideas but nothing stuck.

Lorrie took them to work the next day and held a contest: Name This Treat. She gave them some choices and let them vote. So that's what I am going to do here as well.

Here are your choices:

  • Beaver Dams

  • Nutter Dams

  • Candy Dams

  • Nutter Scotchies

  • Nutter Scotch Pixies

  • Nutter Scotch Haystacks

  • Nutterscotch Stacks

  • Nutter Nests

  • P&L Pullaparts

So vote early and often in the comments. If you have a different suggestion, that's fine too.


Claire said...

I like nutter nests and beaver dams.

Paul said...

Claire, thanks for your votes!