Lottie + Doof + Dana Cree!!

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danacree

I met Dana Cree this past autumn when I moderated a Taste Talks panel on one of my favorite topics, ice cream. Dana is one of Chicago’s most celebrated and beloved pastry chefs and is responsible for the sweets at both Blackbird and Avec, two of Chicago’s most celebrated and beloved restaurants. She has twice been nominated for a James Beard award for her work at Blackbird. Dana really loves making (and eating) ice cream. She’s been selling small batches of her carefully produced pints at Chicago’s Publican Quality Meats, where each one warmly introduces itself with a “Hello my name is…” tag. Someday she’ll undoubtedly have her own ice cream shop (I can’t wait!), but for now we hoard pints. Her ice cream landed her on that panel with me where I learned that Dana is funny (she talked about poop!), smart (further evidence available on her beautiful blog) and generous (here she is!).

There is one recipe that Dana is most famous for. It is these little peanut butter confections that have, up until now, shared a name with a certain commercially produced cookie. You know the one, its name rhymes with Mutter Putter. They have followed her across the country and become cult favorites everywhere she works. They’re currently on the menu at Avec, and they are spectacular. All of the sweet/salty pleasure you crave, crammed into a 1-inch by 1-inch square. Sometimes, they even get chopped up and folded into a pint of her vanilla bean ice cream. And now, thanks to the funny, smart and generous Dana Cree, they are yours to make at home.

But first! Back to that trademark protected name. Dana wants our help renaming these beauties. She plans on continuing to include them in her repertoire, and fold them into ice cream and she wants to have her own unique name for them (and avoid a cease and desist order). What should they be called?! How do we capture their magnificence in words? Let’s brainstorm in the comments below. Help us, Lottie + Doofers, you’re our only hope.

But second! Dana answered some pressing questions:

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LOTTIE + DOOF FOOD QUIZ with Dana Cree:

Sweet or salty?

Salty!

Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate.

Hot (spicy) or mild?

Spicy.

What won’t you eat?

cardamom, tripe, eyeballs, brains

Most memorable meal?

Lampreia, 2001.

  • Seared Foie Gras, Mango, saba
  • Gravlax cured salmon, potato puree, apple
  • Ravioli aperto, egg yolk, ricotta
  • Herb crusted lamb, whipped potatoes
  • Warm chocolate tart, vanilla sauce

I was in culinary school and it was the first transcendental food experience for me, in a minimalist Northern Italian-inspired restaurant in Seattle that is now shut. I immediately set to the task of getting myself a job there. It took several tries but I worked there for 3 years and it defined the path I set on for cooking after that.

Favorite object in your kitchen?

Our strange fuzzy little mascot “coconut”.

What are you scared of in the kitchen?

Falling down the stairs.

Where would you like to travel to for the food?

Mexico.

If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be?

Vegetable.

What are some of your favorite places to eat sweets in Chicago?

Beurrage, Jeni’s, Lula Cafe, Uzma Sharif chocolates, Firecakes, cookies by Anna Posey, Bang Bang, Nico for Amanda’s [Rockman’s] desserts.

What’s the story with this recipe?

I worked at a restaurant called Veil in Seattle, and the inspiration for the nutter butter was a feuilletine crumble with peanut butter and cocoa nibs, that sat under a peanut butter ice cream. When I was at Poppy and we started preparing a dessert Thali, a round tray that included a plated dessert, an ice cream coupe, and 4 little duets of sweet bites. I needed to come up with little confections and bites that were unique, and I re-appropriated the peanut butter crumble and altered it so I could press it into the base of a sheet pan, then I covered it with a white chocolate caramel, cut it in squares, and the rest is history! Since then I have introduced them to the menu at Avec, and we chop them up and add them to vanilla ice cream for our Nutterbutter ice cream in pints at PQM.

 

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Notes about this recipe: Perhaps no recipe has ever has a better ratio of work expended/deliciousness gained. This is a pretty simple recipe, though it may look scary at first. It uses a couple of pastry chef ingredients, feuilletine and cocoa butter, that will require seeking out. Feuilletine is something that more people should know about, it is versatile and delicious and a secret pastry chef weapon. You can find them both here. There is one spot where I had a tiny amount of trouble with the recipe. See the very subtle variations in color in the caramel glaze in the above photo? It should be more uniform in color. My glaze separated a tiny, tiny, bit in the batch of these I made to photograph (of course!). This can happen if there isn’t enough liquid in the glaze (probably a result of too much evaporation when you scald the cream). If, when you are whisking the caramel and white chocolate together it doesn’t seem like they are fully combining, try adding a teaspoon of hot water and it should do the trick. But also know, that this small imperfection did not effect the flavor at all. Just, you know, heads up.

Seriously, these are one of the best things you will ever make.

The Peanut Butter Confections Formerly Known as Nutter Butters by Dana Cree

Base

  • 450g peanut butter (preferred: Skippy, creamy)
  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 65g cocoa butter
  • 100g cocoa nibs
  • 300g feuilletine
  • 5g kosher salt

1. Spray a very flat quarter sheet pan with pan spray and line with parchment. Set aside.

2. Place peanut butter, milk chocolate, cocoa butter, cocoa nibs, and salt in a large metal bowl. Place over a double boiler to melt, stirring occasionally.

3. When completely fluid, add the feuilletine and fold to completely incorporate.

4. Transfer to the lined sheetpan, and spread the mixture evenly into the pan. Using the offset spatula, lightly massage the mixture until the feuilletine is flat and the fluid chocolate and peanut butter is visible on the top.

5. Chill until completely firm and prepare the topping.

Caramel Ganache

  • 100g sugar
  • 150g cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 2.5g kosher salt
  • 300g white chocolate
  • 40g butter

1. Scald cream with vanilla bean and set aside, keeping warm. Measure the white chocolate and salt into a bowl and set a strainer over the top. Set aside.

2. Caramelize the sugar until smoking and producing a froth on the top. It will look as if you are burning the sugar, and you are. this is necessary to bring any real caramel flavor through the white chocolate. Don’t be afraid, it will be delicious.

3. Remove the burnt caramel from the heat, and add the butter. Allow the butter to melt, and sizzle on the top of the caramel before stirring in, allowing the butter solids to brown. Once the butter has started to brown, stir the butter into the caramel, and add the warm vanilla cream, stirring until completely incorporated.

4. Strain the caramel directly over the white chocolate, and stir to incorporate.

5. Immediately spread the caramel over the nutter butter base and spread until even.

6. Chill overnight.

7. Cut into 1 inch squares for service.

They can be served cold from the fridge, which I kind of like best. Or at room temperature.

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This, obviously, makes a quarter sheet pan of amazingness, which when cut into 1-inch squares is a LOT of squares—117 to be exact. Good news: they keep really well in the fridge. At least for a week, maybe two, maybe longer. Also, they can be chopped up and folded into some vanilla ice cream. Also, they will help you make friends, so share them. Throw a party, they are reason to celebrate.

BUT WHAT SHOULD THEY BE CALLED??????????

84 comments to “Lottie + Doof + Dana Cree!!”

  1. One more! Peanut Better

  2. PB Carmeloos

  3. Hi Tim! I made these last night for a bake sale this weekend – they’re delicious! I’ve never added white chocolate to a caramel, it gives it a surprising texture. Your tip of adding a spoonful of water was spot on :) Do you think this recipe would also work with hazelnut butter instead of peanut?

  4. Hi Sue! So happy you made these. No reason it would not work with other nut butters. If you experiment, let us know what happens. These are perfect for a bake sale, because the yield is so high.

  5. Kristina says:

    May 8th, 2015 at 9:10 am

    Eatbnb (like Airbnb) for Eat Bitter Nutter Butter

  6. Peanut Butter Caramel Crisps
    Peanut Butter Feuill’s (fools) :D

  7. YUM! Okay. I know this is totally wrong. And it won’t be the same. But I think I’m going to try making these with Grapenut Flakes instead of the feuilletine because I don’t have any feuilletine on hand, I do have Grapenut Flakes with all their crunchy malty flakiness, I’m impatient, and someone’s got to try, right? I’ll report back….

  8. Sharing cookies is a great way to make friends.

  9. @K. Instead of Grapenut Flakes, maybe try cornflakes. In “Sweet Magic”, Michel Richard says they are close in texture and lightness to feuillantine, which he says is nothing more than crunchy bits of leftover crepe batter. One of his recipes uses them in a chocolate peanut butter cornflake crust.

  10. Mutter Putters is actually not a bad name

  11. Sandra Lea says:

    May 10th, 2015 at 6:44 am

    @K. I would definitely like to hear your results with the corn flakes. I was thinking using maybe rice crispies.

  12. R. A. Holmes says:

    May 10th, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Goober ganache

  13. I have a batch of these chilling in the fridge as we speak.

    Possible names:

    Peanut butter dreamies?
    Peanut butter dream squares?
    Peanut butter crackles?

  14. Nutty Buddies

  15. Peanut Cream Dream

    Legume Swoon

    DanaBar

  16. Peanut Sweet Dreams

  17. I made these using cornflakes rather than the feuilletine (since that’s what I had on hand). In my experience, cornflakes are much coarser than feuilletine, and the flavour is totally different. Overall, perhaps not the best thing to substitute, though it was worth a try, and they were still super yummy. Just a note, 300g cornflakes and 300g feuilletine have different volumes; I crushed my cornflakes down to approximate 2/3 of their original volume, but my finished product still looked way different than the photos above. I will crush them even smaller the next time I make them, and may reduce the amount used.
    The level of sweet versus salty in the squares was just right for me. Peanut butter is definitely the prominent flavour (yay!). The texture of the white chocolate caramel ganache is amazing, and I found myself wanting just to eat it by the spoonful. I must admit that I didn’t think the flavour of the cacao nibs stood up to the peanut butter, and didn’t think they added anything texturally (maybe because of the cornflakes?); will skip them next time I make these.

    No idea what to call them… Salted peanut butter crunch caramels?

  18. Hi Char- Thanks for letting everyone know! Yeah, cornflakes are just SO different from feuilletine…it is bound to lead to a bunch of different results. The cacao nibs are definitely noticeable in the original, and add some nice bitter contrast. And since feuilletine flakes are perfectly flat, they take up less room in the pan. Anyway, good for you for experimenting, though I am hoping you try with feuilletine at some point. : )

  19. Is it best to stick to commercial brands of nut butter because of the difference in emulsion? Some of the natural peanut butter brands have a layer of oil sitting on top and I wonder if that would affect the recipe?

  20. Hi Kate- Well, I think that the commercial stuff just tastes better than the “natural” stuff. So, that is my reasoning for using commercial in things. In the case of this recipe, Skippy is what they use in the kitchen, and so in an effort to accurately recreate the recipe, I suggest Skippy. My guess is that the recipe will still work with the “natural” stuff, but will be different. If you try, let us know!

  21. Charlotte says:

    May 14th, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    I hope I’m not too late, but –

    Creedents (‘dent’ from the crêpes dentelles of the feuilletine)

    Damndanas :)

  22. Reporting back as requested! I was eager to make these and we had an artisinal (indeed, maybe ‘natural’ is not the best term) peanut butter in the house and I can’t source Skippy easily in NZ. So I just used what I had. Obviously I can’t compare mine to the skippy version but the base seems to be fine. Because there is no sugar in the nut butter I used I would recommend that others adjust the sweetness of the base slightly to compensate if you arent adding them to ice cream.
    I did need to add a touch of water to the ganache and put it over a double boiler to get the right consistency. Once I did the gloss was stunning..
    These truly are great and well worth making your own feuilletine for. They really are salty bittersweet.
    Nutter bitters
    Bitternut bites
    Or… You know… PB & Cree

  23. Kate! Thanks for checking back in. Glad to hear that worked, and thanks for all of those tips.

  24. nutter betters

  25. Salty Peanuts OR Salty Peanuts in a Slab. I like in a slab. It’s kind of endearing.

  26. So obvious! They should be called Harvey Bars like Dana Cree originally wanted to call them after the original chef who created them.

  27. Hello! I don’t have any clever names for you, but I do have two quick questions: 1) Is there any advantage to using European vs. American butter here? 2) If left out at room temperature for a few hours (e.g. being served at a party), will the squares retain their shape, or will they get all melty? Thanks! :)

  28. Dafna- So sorry for the delay, your comment ended up in spam for some reason. 1. Not really. 2. They’ll get soft and slightly messy. I prefer them cold/cool…but they’d be fine if they were out for a couple of hours.

  29. As a fan of Dana’s for years (since her Veil days in Seattle!) I am super happy to see that she finally dished on this classic. LOVE

  30. Ok, I’ll be making these and on reading the instructions again (oh, for the 100th time) I realise that I’m confused re chilling the base before adding the topping: does the base have to be chilled completed before I’m adding the topping???

  31. Hi Evie- As instructed, chill base until completely firm. Depending on fridge, that could be overnight or just a few hours.

  32. Thank you so much! Wish me luck – I’ve never burnt sugar before. Well, not on purpose…

  33. Karen Cunningham says:

    December 7th, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    A little late to the party … I am mid recipe (base is chilling and working up courage to burn sugar). So happy to find this recipe. I go to Poppy whenever I visit Seattle and these are my favorite bite of the whole dinner. I’ve thought of ordering the dessert thali for 2 even when I’m alone – then I found out they would let me order some separately. A whole panl might be deadly. We’ll see :-)

    One quick question – I assume that although the base is completely fluid the nibs stay intact. That’s what mine did. Is that right?

  34. Yep, the nibs stay intact. Good luck with the recipe, and they really do keep for a very long time in the fridge…should that be an issue. ; )