By Gini Rainey
In case you hadn’t noticed, The Cookbook Junkie took a bit of a vacay during the last few weeks. I am a structured writer – I always sit down to do my blog on Sundays following lunch. If I don’t, well, it just doesn’t seem to get done! But I was sabotaged by Christmas Day and New Year’s Day falling on Sundays this year. So there you go. Now, if you didn’t miss me, that’s ok, because I bet you’ve been busy over the last few weeks too.
A great gift that I recently received from my sister was a quart of whipped honey from the Three Bears Honey Company, which is located right up the road from my great grandfather’s homestead outside of Moorhead, Minnesota. While Three Bears boast that they have hundreds of beehives throughout the Red River Valley, I like to think that this jar was custom made for me by bees that were visiting the old homestead to help me stay in
touch with my roots. My sister also gave me a companion cookbook “The Buzz on Honey” that was written by Marcella Richman and published by Jumbo Jack’s Cookbooks in 2012. This is a great book, filled with some amazing recipes that include the common ingredient of, you guessed it, honey! It also features photos and information about the American, North Dakota, and Minnesota Honey Queens, as well as biblical references to honey. All in all, this is a great regional cookbook that is loaded with a lot of sweet ideas.
It also has several recipes that call for peanut butter/honey combinations in their ingredients. But, none of them can top the peanut butter cake that we enjoyed last night at Louie Jerger’s birthday party! (Did you notice that great segue?) I’m not sure if it was the great company, the great food, the great hospitality, or laughing our heads off while we played Cards Against Humanity©, but when that cake came out, and we dug in, you couldn’t have found a happier bunch of folks just about anywhere. And I’m telling you – when Tena came back out a couple hours later with the cake and we all dug in for more, I decided right then and there, this was my kind of party – a double dessert party! (BTW – anyone want my bathroom scale? It’s sabotaging my new year’s resolution!)
Tena graciously shared her recipe with me, probably because she wanted to see me get back on track with my blog. So to make her Texas Peanut Butter Sheet Cake, first preheat your oven to 350° and grease a 9×12 pan (the original recipe does call for a 15×10 jelly roll pan, but Tena used the 9×12 with great results). In a large bowl mix together 2 cups flour, 2 cups of sugar (if you’d like to try using honey in this recipe, substitute ½-2/3 cup of honey for each cup of sugar), 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt. In a sauce pan, melt together 1 cup butter, 1 cup water, and ¼ cup creamy peanut butter over medium heat and bring to a boil. (Tena shared that she doubled the peanut butter in the icing – mostly because Louie LOVES his peanut butter!) Pour the butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. In a separate bowl, mix together 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and ½ cup buttermilk until well combined, then add to the batter. Spread the batter in the pan and bake for 25 to 28 minutes – this time will need to be adjusted if you chose to use the 9×12 pan.
To make the peanut butter icing, melt ½ cup butter, ¼ cup creamy peanut butter (or chunky if you want to add some crunchy texture to the cake), and 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of milk in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and mix in 1 (16 ounce) box of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until well combined and spread over the cake while it is still warm. This is not a light weight recipe and will probably cause your bathroom scale to react the same way mine did! But, it is a great cake to serve while having a good time with friends – so what the heck! Life’s too short – eat dessert twice!