Rants, raves, fiction, and laughs

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Monica IRL

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.



Gracie said...

Bless your heart. "wipes tears of laughter from eyes"

I'm going to help you find a way to do this that won't kill you.

Too funny. :D

Laura Eno said...

Oh, no... Maybe heat it up? I've never tried nutella, not needing yet another addiction but it sounds wonderful. *no. won't. buy. any.*

Sessha Batto said...

You need a magic bullet - chop dark chocolate chips into tiny pieces and blend them into smooth peanut (or cashew) butter - YUM! make it more like chunky peanut butter texture (so it doesn't get stiff like it does with the cocoa powder, or runny like the syrup)

Marisa Birns said...

Oh, laughed...and sympathized! Well, you're not allergic to peanuts obviously, so what about adapting homemade nutella recipe, using peanuts instead. Oh, and LOVE the look of your blog!

* 2 cups chopped PEANUTS
* 3/4 cup to 1 cup powdered sugar
* 1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (such as Hershey's Extra Dark cocoa)
* 1/8 to 1/4 cup canola oil

Place peanuts in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until nuts start to clump together in a ball. This will take some time (about five minutes), so be patient. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and process again for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture turns dark and the ingredients are well combined. Now, slowly drizzle in enough *oil to make a spread.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 weeks.

Makes approximately two cups (16 servings).

Danielle La Paglia said...

I loved it! I was cracking up the whole way through this! You could try heating it up to see if that would help. Personally, I just take a Hershey's bar and dip the little pieces into the peanut butter. It's wonderful! But you can't spread it on a sandwich. :(

Thanks for sharing your little misadventure with us. :)

Tony Noland said...

Great reminiscence. Peanut butter, chocolate and power tools... a confluence for the ages.

I'll second Laura's suggestion of mild heating. A bit of microwaving does wonders for peanut butter-based confections.

Deanna Schrayer said...

Oh Monica, I'm so sorry for you, but I'm still cracking up. Love your analgogies. You sound so much like me - I eyeball everything too.

This reminds me of one of my concoctions that I just HAVE TO HAVE every now and then - peanut butter, powdered sugar and a little dribble of milk, stir a while and eat (right away 'cause it also clumps up if refrigerated). I have no idea how much peanut butter or powdered sugar, (because of the eyeball thing).

Hope you find the solution soon!

Carrie said...

This was seriously cute and different. Sometimes, truth is better than fiction.

Maria A. Kelly said...

Funny stuff, Monica. If you find the perfect recipe, let me know. I don't like hazelnuts, so I don't like Nutella (sorry) but I LOVE LOVE LOVE Reese cups!

Monica Marier said...

Yay! I'm super-thrilled for the warm reception of my first autobiographical story. Thanks everyone who convinced me to post this. And also super thanks to Mari and everyone who made me question my fluffy fairy-cake looking blog. I hope the re-do is easier on the eyes.

ganymeder said...

LOL. You could probably make something close on the stovetop with a larger ratio of liquid...

Nice job. Cute story!

Mari said...


I can't believe you've actually tried to make peanut butter nutella. Fantastic!

I'm no cook, but if my first try was almost successful like yours, I'd start from the beginning and try to fix the problems as I went. In your case, you could try adding butter or oil. Just an idea. Or you can go with Mari-girl's recipe, heh.

Absolutely looove the new look! It's very nice and more comfortable for the reader, especially because of the text font color. Love the new head banner too. ;)

Monica Marier said...

Thanks for all the suggestions for improving the recipe. If any of them work, I'll definitely let y'all know. : )

John Wiswell said...

Unsurprising that you come off as colorful as your fictional characters, Monica.

Monica Marier said...

@ John *L* I write what I know.
I might have to finally chronicle that infamous "Plum Sake Incident" that my friends keep reminding me of.

Anonymous said...

This had me laughing so hard. Brought tears to the eyes.
Adam B @revhappiness

Cecilia Dominic said...

Oh, wow, this was great! I can totally sympathize, having had a few kitchen disasters fueled by PMS desperation and creativity. I hope it worked out with all the tips you got above!

Now I really want to make cupcakes...


Eric J. Krause said...

This was a lot of fun to read (though it sounds like it was very frustrating to experience). Your writing flowed well in this, making it as entertaining as fiction. Well done!

Monica Marier said...

UPDATE: my husband fixed it by adding Vegitable oil. I was grossed out at first until he pointed out that the Peanut Butter actually contains veg. oil.

I'm still ashamed that I fixed it while I was still debating power tools. The battle of the sexes continue, but we've switched goals at halftime.