This is a true story with very little modification. I was feeling anecdotal today, so enjoy a small snippet of the weirdness that is my life. WARNING: May contain nuts
Okay, so lately on Twitter the discussion of choice has been about Nutella. You know the chocolatey hazelnut spread which is sweeter than God’s own spit? I used to eat it in England, but had to stop shortly after discovering it. It turned out I was allergic to hazelnuts. I’d never had a nut allergy in my life so this seemed too cruel. Still, the burning ears, hives and asthma attacks had their say and I was forced to give up Nutella.
So these days’ I’ve had Nutella on the brain and I’ve been pining for that choclately nutty taste. It made me furious that no one in the food market had tried to come up with another kind of chocolate-nut spread. Why not chocolate-cashew, or chocolate-peanut butter? What kind of land of opportunity was I living in where this idea was not promptly stolen and copied by three competing comestible companies and marketed to death?
Thus stymied, I eased my cravings in the following manner. I’d take a dollop of peanut butter, and mix in a dab of chocolate syrup. If I was really in a rush, I’d put PB on both slices of bread and drip the syrup on directly. This was slightly less of a success since the syrup ran out and would saturate the bread.
Yesterday afternoon, in what can only be described as a PMS/PMT-fueled rage I grabbed the jar of peanut butter and squeezed a large glob of chocolate syrup into it. I was going to make my own damn chocolate peanut butter. I mixed the two compounds in with a fork, completely coating my stirring hand as it thrashed inside the jar to combine it. I didn’t want to use up all the chocolate syrup and I didn’t want to add too much sugar, so I had another brainwave: cocoa powder! They use it in Nutella–they said so in the commercial.
I grabbed that rarely-used tin from the shelf and tapped some of the brown powder in. I didn’t measure anything. I seldom measure anything while I’m cooking, preferring to “eyeball” it. Which means if the recipe calls for a tablespoon I tend to toss in something that’s between a ¼ a teaspoon and half a cup. I like to err on the side of too little, however, seeing as one could always add more later. As you might guess, I’m really good at barbeque rubs and stews, but not so great at baked goods.
As I stirred my concoction, I noticed that it was getting harder to stir, and I wasn’t combining the peanut butter evenly with the chocolate. I threw the fork in the sink and experimented with other implements, a spoon, a cake froster, a potato masher, a spatula. All lay in the sink, covered in peanut butter (or in the case of the froster, human blood). After a lot of muscle strain and sweat (and a few band-aids) I felt the mixture was thoroughly integrated. I gave a self-satisfied smirk and enjoyed the first fruits of my labour. It was delicious. Not too sweet, but very chocolatey. It tasted like Reeses peanut butter cup. Success!
Now today, I felt in need of a similar fix and prepared to make an open-faced PB&C sandwich. I dove my knife into the jar covered in sharpie (saying MINE! KEEP OUT!) where it promptly stuck fast. I tugged at the knife and it came out cleanly without a trace of my invention on the blade. In growing concern I looked in the jar and prodded the jar with the knife. Inside the jar was a much thicker mass of solid protein. I dug a spoon in and pulled out a large brown ball. It seemed malleable so I tried spreading it on the bread, only to have it roll on the surface like an armadillo.
What was going on here? Where was my smooth creamy mix? I deduced that I must have added too much cocoa powder, turning the peanut butter into peanut mortar. Using my fingers to smash down the playdough like lump, I tried eating it on the bread. I nearly choked. It was still tasty, but it now had thick smothering texture of bathroom caulk. I downed a glass of water to free the clinging blockage from my throat.
I then stood in my hello-kitty slippers on the cold stone floor, just staring at the jar. It wasn’t fair. Peanut butter and chocolate should be automatic GOOD no matter the ratio. Since the problem intrigued me (and I was busy avoiding writing) I decided to try and fix the recipe. I added more chocolate sauce, it being sort of liquid. It didn’t work. I thought in vain that if I’d had peanut oil I could add that, but I didn’t so I couldn’t. I wondered which other liquids I could use. Coffee? No. Whiskey? Heck no. Milk…. Maybe after all else fails. But I restrained myself. I knew from experience that adding “creative” ingredients was setting myself up for disaster.
My last option was to work that mix to death with stirring until the proteins broke down (I’m making this science up as I go, can you tell?). But the mix was so solid it refused to move. I began to long (once again) for an immersion blender, y’know those sticks that are pretty much miniature outboard motors? It was at this point that I began contemplating adapting my power drill to the task. Maybe the auger bit? After actually getting out the bit case I realized that I needed to put down the power drill and walk away from the kitchen.
So there ended my attempt to make the world a sunshinier place for Nutella lovers with hazelnut allergies. Unfortunately I have my mother’s “just go with it” creativity along with my dad’s “superglue can fix anything” mentality. This has caused similar kitchen disasters when I stray from the path of known cuisine. I still have this brown lump of putty sitting in a jar, and maybe, when I’m more grounded I might attempt to fix it, but I really think I should stop before I start setting small fires. And I should get the hell back to my manuscript.