This was my first cookbook. I couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 years old, and I don’t remember if it was mine or shared between me and my sister and brother. What I do remember is my infatuation with the book’s recipe for Peanuts’ Peanut Brittle and my determination to make it. I enjoy the nut fresh-cracked from its shell, roasted and salted, as butter, in Asian dishes, combined with chocolate, banana or both. But to have it in candy form, hard, crunchy and sweet made right at home was something I had to experience. I vaguely recall the outcome of my first batch from the recipe; it was the late 60s after all, but a foggy image of something gloppy, chewy and dismal surfaces. Through the years I’ve nailed the skills to making brittle, thankfully, and I’ve since developed a recipe of my own.
What hasn’t changed is my habit of thumbing through cookbooks and food magazines. Periodicals are a timely reflection of trending ingredients and they can be an ideal way to stay on top your culinary game. Inspiration from the beautiful, stylized photographs can be hard to fend off—especially (for me) if the depiction is a glorious cake.
Fall is a homecoming for comfort food. Heartier fare heats up just as outdoor temps cool down. Squash, roasted fowl and casseroles take their rightful places on the glossy covers in newsstands. Such is the case for this month’s issue of Bon Appétit. The October 2012 publication features two gorgeously browned chickens in a roasting pan with equally attractive roasted potatoes all golden with crusted bronze edges. It’s enough to send your olfactory system into overdrive cued solely by the image.
My perusal of the magazine moved at a good clip. Of particular interest, being a baker was the article titled Layer It On, a piece dedicated to five celebratory cakes. Suddenly, the thumbing stopped dead in its tracks. There it was on page 124—a double-layer doozy in banana, chocolate and peanut butter. “So curious,” I thought. “Not a one says fall at all!” I sat silent for a moment, gazing at the warm earth tones of the cake’s crumb dotted by chocolate chips resembling the spots on a cheetah’s coat. A warmth emanated from the creamy peanut butter frosting as it nestled the chocolate kiss garnishes on top.
The maverick in me riled up. “It’s early in the season,” I rationalized. “There’s plenty of time for squash, roasted fowl and bread puddings. I must try this triple-threat cake now!”
Adapted from Bon Appétit│Recipe by Janet McCracken & Alison Roman