Peanut Butter Olive Oil Cookies

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A new year, another classic with a twist. I thought this post would come online much earlier to be honest, but with everything that’s been happening here, and with the past year’s late festivities and jolly holiday obligations, it well and truly has slipped my mind. I actually thought I already uploaded this one, really. Clearly I need help. But HERE’S to a symmetrical-sounding 2020.

I’m all for resolutions and change, but only if there’s a feasible plan involved. Some of mine include:

  • to stretch daily. I used to do this religiously everyday for 10-15 minutes, but lately I’ve gotten more into the habit of just cracking my back (and ew, my neck).
  • to do one thing at a time. It does feel good to multitask (read: supertask), but being at work and at home has made me realise how much more deep, focussed and creative work and creative thinking can be accomplished when doing one thing at a time. Slowly but properly.
  • to do a weekly review on Sundays. Sundays still remain days of reflection for me. Starting off with pancakes, proceeding to movies, then reflecting on what good and bad has happened throughout the week. It’s good to generally not take everything too seriously, so I won’t bash myself for foregoing all the apples I bought for my chocolate brownies, but it’s better at least to be aware of certain bad habits that may be unhealthy.
  • work on my personal/passion project at least twice a week.
  • eat out a maximum of twice a week!! And indulge in a drink once a week (been pretty bad health-wise recently so these will hopefully bring me to my senses again).

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If you read my previous post, perhaps you can tell I’m on a cookie roll at the moment. The end of 2019 saw me making the cream-cheese filled cookies too many a time and the start of this year has heralded a new star– the one and only peanut butter olive oil cookie and the token chocolate studs for all-round appeal. I was skeptical about giving this one a go because I was worried the olive oil would be too strong against everything else happening, but the oil is not too pungent here and actually adds a moist and fragrant depth. Together with the liberal sea salt sprinkle and melting chocolate in the middle, this is quite a gluey, peanut buttery dream.

Peanut Butter Olive Oil Cookies (makes around 7 cookies)

Ingredients

120ml (0.5 cup) olive oil

120g (0.5 cup) chunky peanut butter

300g (1.5 cup) light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs (vegan sub: use 3 flax eggs by mixing 3 tbsp of ground flaxseed with 7 tbsp water in a small bowl and let that gel for a couple minutes before using)

1 tsp baking powder

260g (2.25 cup) all-purpose flour

150g (a full bar) chopped chocolate

2 tsp salt

Directions

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line two baking trays with baking parchment. In a bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, egg, peanut butter (preferably chunky) and vanilla extract. Then briefly mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, chopped chocolate and salt in a separate bowl, then tip that into the wet mix and stir well until everything is just combined. Put golfball-sized pieces of batter onto your prepared baking trays, flatten them slightly with your hands and sprinkle on some Maldon salt (or regular salt) on top. Put them, one tray at a time, into the oven and bake for 15-17 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the middle of one cookie should come out with wet crumbs but the edges should be golden-brown and firm. Best enjoyed warm but can be kept for a few days in an airtight container, or freeze and reheat whenever you want (topped with vanilla ice cream!)

Tahini Blueberry Muffins

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I know the words tahini and blueberry make this sound pretty much holy, but the taste of these muffins are as lascivious as muffins can get. Not that muffins are meant to be lascivious or anything– they’re always taken as the granny-pants-boring stuff; the complete opposite. I abhor incorrect grammar and the use of words like lascivious in inappropriate contexts, but the fluff on this thing, flavours and textures made me think of that very word, so that they shall be. These muffins are so good, so simple, so delicious (and sexy).

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I think spontaneous, successful experiments call for celebration. It almost feels like a good replacement for the lack of dirty hands-on lab practicals the past week, though I’m eternally grateful for that one incredibly eye-opening introduction to anatomy dissections. As I peered under each vertebrate (cervical, thoracic, lumbar and coccygeal), fiddled with the moist muscle (sorry for the unappealing alliteration right there) and poked and prodded at the nerves and meningeal layers, I witnessed the magic that is the human form. I crave more of it now. There’s something grossly satisfying in touching something which you know is all you, and at the same time, everyone else. It’s universal, it’s each of us, it’s everyone.

The hands-on itch was a bit delayed– got home and had the blinding urge to experiment and yield results. Delicious results And seeing that I was visiting my fellow foodies Emily and Ella that night (!!), to make something not akin to your typical baked product felt quite appropriate. With lots of tahini and blueberries on hand, these babes were born.

I’ve recently been reading up a lot on our attitudes towards food, health and nutrition, and even with all the information and resources around us, am still boggled by the fact that so many of us are tricked into what I call ‘fake healthy’ eating. Different things may work for different people, but ultimately even the whole notion of ‘striving for balance’ proves to be an inherent problem. We all possess different gut flora, different sets of genes, different intolerances– how are we to rely on anything we hear, see and touch? Is the market trustworthy, justifiable? Diet. Oh, that contentious word.

Yes, it’s good to experiment and see what works for you (no meat, no eggs, etc), but I think it’s high time we stop believing everything we hear, and start listening to our bodies. I know, that phrase is so repeated it’s practically proverbial. And yet, it’s the one thing we must always remember. Chowing down on that Special K and sugary yoghurt isn’t a crime, but advertising betrays the truth, and unless your reward circuitry systems are truly messed up, there’s no saving anyone. All that sugar is practically like lifting up your shirt sleeve and injecting cocaine. So as much as I love sugar, sugar and more sugar, I’ve also become keenly aware on what’s right, and what’s just downright harmful (basically excessive consumption).

These muffins aren’t 100% healthy, but I’m ok with that, and you should be, too.

Because it’s a bloody muffin, guys.

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Tahini Blueberry Muffins (makes 6 large muffins, lightly adapted from my nut-butter-stuffed matcha cupcake recipe)

Ingredients

130g (1 cup) plain flour

70g (1/3 cup) white sugar

75g (1/3 cup) packed dark brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

2 eggs

113g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

80ml (1/3 cup) tahini

1 tsp vanilla extract

50g (1/2 cup) fresh blueberries

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 170C (340F) and line a muffin tin with liners, or simply place some cupcake/muffin liners on a baking tray.

In a medium bowl, briefly whisk together the flour, two leavening agents and salt. Dump in your blueberries and lightly toss to coat in flour.

In another large microwave-safe bowl, microwave your butter for 20 seconds until partially melted. Whisk the butter and two sugars in this bowl (quick creaming method) to aerate the mixture slightly, for at least a minute. Add the 2 eggs, vanilla and tahini, and whisk everything together well. Pour the dry mix into the wet mix, and use a wooden spoon or spatula to gently fold in the dry mix until everything is just combined.

Spoon the batter into 6 muffin liners, and bake in the preheated oven for 25-28 minutes. The muffins are large ones, so they need time to rise and brown. Check them at the 25-minute mark– a wooden skewer inserted right in the middle should come out clean. They should have a medium brown, almost caramelised and slightly domed top. You might even need a whole half hour. The insides will be fluffy and tender.

These muffins are best served the day they’re made, but you can keep them for an extra 1-2 days in an airtight container. Otherwise, freeze any uneaten ones in the freezer and microwave when the mood hits.