Monday, October 22, 2007

October 13-15, 2007: Peanut butter and jelly drops

On Saturday night, Kerrie and Daniel invited a gaggle of refugees from Queensland to their home for a housewarming and movie night. They invited us all to bring a DVD to share and challenged us to team our movie choice with some thematically appropriate food or drink. Much as I love a theme, I found this one a particular challenge. The DVDs I wanted to share didn't have memorable eating scenes at all!

I decided to go ahead and take Press Gang (a favourite TV series from my tween years) regardless. This series was set in a newspaper office run by high school students and featured reams of snappy dialogue, but was most compelling for the love/hate relationship between the highly strung, very English editor Lynda Day and the American wise-guy sometime-journalist Spike Thompson. So why not find an edible clash of England and America?

This proved to be perfect Nigella territory. I was keen to try making her jam doughnut muffins, but they didn't really allow for early preparation and easy packing. But there, on the facing page, lay the answer: peanut butter and jelly drops. The original shortbread-y jam drop, perfect with a cup of tea, transformed by the injection of America's favourite food pairing.

These went down well enough on Saturday night, but a bit of leftover biscuit dough allowed me to refine my method on Monday night and share the ultimate version after Mike and Jo-Lyn cooked us dinner. Saturday night's drops were a little too firm and didn't taste of peanut butter at all. Monday night's drops didn't look cooked but were actually perfectly chewy and decidedly peanut butter flavoured! So the message here is don't don't DON'T over-bake these - they took no more than 10 minutes in my oven. This lesson could well translate to the peanut butter choc-chip cookies I made last month. Perhaps their peanut buttery goodness will do better with an even shorter bake.

Some other food and movie pairings from the night? Enjoy Napoleon Dynamite with cafeteria-style potato gems (Tater Tots), and add some Chinese-style barbeque sauce to cut the grease. Bagels or pancakes suit The Breakfast Club, while The Big Lebowski should be washed down with a White Russian. To see more food in film, check out this blog event held last August by Susan from The Well-Seasoned Cook.

Peanut butter and jelly drops

125g butter, softened
150g castor sugar
125g brown sugar
200g smooth peanut butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
about 2/3 cup red berry jam

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars; add the peanut butter and mix until combined, then mix in the eggs and vanilla.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, then gradually introduce then to the butter mix. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about an hour. (I refrigerated leftover mixture for a couple of days and it was perfectly fine.)

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C and grease a baking tray. Roll tablespoons of the biscuit dough into balls, place them on the baking sheet, and use a round handle end of a spoon to make an indentation in the centre of each biscuit. (Nigella suggests a firm thumbprint.) Although Nigella bakes these jamless, I suggest adding it before baking: dab it into the indentations using two teaspoons.

Bake the biscuits for 10-15 minutes (my best ones were only in for 10 minutes). Make sure the base holds together, but don't worry that most of the dough is still soft - these will be deliciously chewy once cooled. Transfer to a cooling rack while you repeat with the remaining biscuit dough.


  1. Sounds like such fun, very clever idea.... Vida x

  2. Thanks, Vida - you're kind to call it 'clever' rather than just 'clutching at straws'! :-)

  3. Oh stop it... you really strike me as an intellect, a vegie one at that, probably the MOST intellectual of intellects... it will not be war of the minds when we meet I can promise you that!! Honestly I think it sounds fun, and you need to be clever to work it all out, I would have just bought along my favourite food and lied through my teeth as to what it all meant!! Vida x x

  4. No war of the minds necessary, Vida! Good food and good company are the most important ingredients, and we certainly had those.

  5. Aww, I looooove Press Gang! There is one eating scene in the series that I can remember - the one where Spike and Lynda have a race to see who can eat fastest with chopsticks and Lynda cheats, using one chopstick as a skewer to spear the last four pieces of food on her plate... :)

  6. Wooo, another Press Gang fan! Yep, I remember that scene - I think it was an exotic stir-fry dish cooked by Spike himself. Not ideal food to prepare and share at a movie night, but a very enjoyable scene. :-)

  7. Oh yum, those bikkies sounds far too yum. Yet another thing to add to my 'try and make it' list

  8. Anna, based on the baking I've seen on your blog I think these will be just your thing - enjoy!

  9. What a fabulous idea cindy, i reckon that just might catch on :)

    How good was press gang! Those afternoon programs on the abc (degrassi, grange hill, and at the risk of showing my age the goodies) were staple of my childhood. Speaking of Nigella has here Express book come out yet?

  10. Hi SL! I was also devoted to many of those ABC afternoon shows and now have most of Degrassi on DVD. :-)

    I haven't noticed Nigella Express on sale, but I assume it's out - Sarah appears to be cooking her way through it at, erm, express pace.

  11. Thanks for the mention. Technorati is so unreliable with documenting links that I only just found yours the other day. Your housewarming and movie night sounds like it was SO much fun!

  12. It was great, Susan! I'm glad this found its way to you eventually, I did enjoy going through the Food in Film entries.