Friday, October 5, 2007

Baking Blind

Why does anyone bother to make a cookbook that has no pictures? Cooking from a cookbook without pictures is like shopping in a bakery that has no diplay cases. You have to know exactly what you want going in, and there's zero chance of coming out with a little something wonderful and unexpected just because it called to you.

Can you imagine your favorite cooking show without pictures? Can you imagine Emeril sitting in a comfy chair describing how he'd make a dish? Where's the zip and sizzle when you're listening to a description?

Have you ever been in a restaurant and watched someone else's dinner go by and told the waiter, "That's what I want!" That's because, rather than just reading a description in the menu or having your waiter tell you about it, you saw it.

I'd seen several blogs with wonderful posts about baked goods made from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. Needing to get in on this action, I requested it from the library. When it came I thought, "Wait a minute. I've already checked this one out. And never made a single thing from it!" Sure enough, same book. No pictures.

But since it had gotten such glowing reviews from other bloggers I flipped through the barren pages to see what it had to offer. By the time I returned it to the library (after renewing it once) it was bristling with bookmarks. Everything in there sounded amazing.

With a name like Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies, I just had to try them. What separates them from the masses of p.b. cookies out there? Peanut butter chips for extra punch. Yes!! As I made the cookies I had a wonderful idea. I had a quart of Roasted Banana Ice Cream in the freezer (from The Perfect Scoop, of course, and it's totally worth making, even if just for the heavenly aroma of the bananas and brown sugar roasting in the oven) and bananas and peanut butter are one of my favorite pairings. Ta Da - Peanut Butter Roasted Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches. Delicious! And I'll show you the pictures to prove it.

Peanut Butter Roasted Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches
adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup chunky-style peanut butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp (for sprinkling) sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.

In another large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanut butter chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Using a fork, lightly indent with a crisscross pattern, but to not overly glatten cookies. Lightly sprinkle cookies with sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Do not overbake. Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they are not.

Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Allow Roasted Banana ice cream (or other favorite) to soften a bit, spread a generous amount onto the back (flat side) of one cookie. Press the back of another cookie onto the ice cream, so that the two cookies encase the ice cream and the fork-patterned sides face out. Wrap each sandwich individually in plastic wrap and place in the freezer to harden. You might want to hide them, otherwise they'll disappear quickly!


Peabody said...

I like my cookbooks to have pictures too...a frame of reference is always nice.
I love they idea of your ice cream sandwiches...and your last picture is cracking me up.

Melinda said...

It has only just occurred to me that you are plotting to take over the ice cream man's van. Very cunning plan.
The peanut butter banana pies will be a hit.

Anh said...

I think I actually had the same cookbook (or the 2nd one). I admit I haven't tried any recipe yet. Perhaps I should!

Your cookies are so lovely as usual!

Julie P said...

Might have to try husband is a huge pb fan.

I agree with you 100% on the cookbook thing with pictures. Every recipe must have a photo!

sarah C. said...

Dude, it's all about the pictures any ways. If they skimp, and have a cheap photography, or don't have pictures for every recipe... what's the point? I mean come on, what are the odds?


VeggieGirl said...

yes, I agree - I do wish that more of my cookbooks had pictures of what I was making; but sometimes it's fun to just see how your OWN rendition of the recipe turns out, so that you're not disappointed if it doesn't look EXACTLY like the picture.

oooh, these ice cream sandwiches are quite lovely-looking. peanut butter (or my favorite, almond butter!) + bananas = wonderful flavor combination

Cedar said...

That looks sensational! I am such a fan of the combination of peanut butter and bananas.

SteamyKitchen said...

I can totally just taste this through the screen!!!

Susan said...

You're better than I am; I just put the book right back if it doesn't have pictures.Though your delicious pb cookies have me reconsidering checking out that cookbook. See what I mean? It's SEEING your cookies that is making me want to get the book now.;)

Nan said...

Ohhhh, sounds gooooood. And just when I thought I was safe from ice cream temptation, too...

Manggy said...

Lovely cookies! I love the combination.

Re: pictures in cookbooks - fortunately drop cookies are more forgiving appearance-wise than cakes or tarts.

Belinda said...

Lynn, you are so right about the no pictures deal...I can rarely be enticed to make a recipe from a book when there is no photo to accompany it. I guess I'm not that much of a visionary! I'm glad you took a chance with these though. They look the smiley face! :-)

Violette said...

I know what you mean about the pictures. I never make any cookbook recipe if there is no photo; just not tempted. I stopped buying books that don't have a photo of each recipe coz it always ends up being ignored.

Rose&Thorn said...

Having a book without photos is like putting on make-up with no mirror - You never know how it is going to end up.

Big Boys Oven said...

really uniquely stacked... look so gorgeous

Anne said...

I too prefer cookbooks with pictures. At least I get preview of the finished product. I love Magnolia Books. But my favorite would be More From Magnolia and I've tried quite a few of the recipes and I'm always happy with the outcome.

you made me envious again with your beautiful cookies :)

lynn said...

Peabody - re the last picture - tried to train my daughter not to play with her food, but she still does.

Melinda - Oh, you found me out!

Anh - we should do a blog survey of how many unused cookbooks people have. And then arrange a swap.

Julie P- What's not to love about peanut butter?

Sarah - of course you'd be unable to function without pictures! :-)

VeggieGirl - Ooh, almond butter cookies. That would be awesome!

Cedar - Thanks!

SteamyKitchen - Good deal. Flavor and no calories!

Susan - yup, it's all in the visuals.

nan - no, no, we're far from done with ice cream.

Manggy - Thanks so much. You're right - it's hard to really mess up a drop cookies. Unless you burn it.

Belinda - Ice cream sandwiches just make everyone happy.

Violette - Smart move. I've purchased many cookbooks that sat on the shelf unused because they had no pictures.

Rose & Thorn - Well put!

Big Boys Oven - Thanks!

Anne - I'll have to try the More From Magnolia. Let me know your favorites and I'll give them a go.

Kelly-Jane said...

My Magnolia book does have a few pictures in the middle, but not nearly enough that's for sure!

Fantastic cookies :)

Blue Zebra said...

Lynn it's times like these that make me wish I wasn't allergic to peanuts. :( I adore pb cookies and these look fantastic and the sound of these with roasted banana icecream...Welll *drool*!!!

Great write-up Lynn!!!!! :D (and I just really find cookbooks without photos virtually useless cuz I'm such a visual person! :( )

Anali said...

I totally agree about the pictures! Pictures make me drool, which make me want to bake! I'm a first time visitor and your pictures grabbed me and got me to read the post. Your pictures are wonderfully creative and fun. I'll be back! ; )

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Lynn this post should get you a book deal!
Gadfry, I've been able to pass up both these books till now . . . I may just have to give in. It sure would be lush to give into these ice cream cookies!
That's a foodies smiley face if ever I saw one!

Contented Me (Kristin) said...

thank you thank you thank you. first, for airing your frustrations with picture-less cookbooks. Why wouldn't we want to see photos of the dishes we're planning to make! and secondly, for creating the most mouth-watering combination of treats that I simply have to go home and try a batch for myself. (my husband thanks you too, he just doesn't know it yet!)

Yujai said...

Oh yea, I don't buy cookbook without attractive pictures!

Oh well, I admit I am the kind of person who would judge books by it's cover anyways...haha!

Your photo looks gorgeous!