This time of year, Maddy and I spend a couple weeks making cookies for our friends neighbors. Maddy wanted to share cookies with all her friends in her class this year. That increased our normal shares from like 20 to almost 50. 😓 It was...I mean, I love to bake. It's a lot of fun. It's basically all the best part of chem without the stupid molecule drawing parts. Just the blowing up bits and things taste good at the end. But this meant doubling our already doubled recipe plan and adding some cookie variety cuz...that's a lot of cookies to share. So we made our plan. And Bill got ready to eat all the cookies that didn't pass the bar. His sworn duty during the whole fiasco is Cookie Disposer.
I was making the last cookie, a red velvet peppermint thumbprint, when he came in with a, "Ah, finally, almost done. I couldn't take the roller coaster anymore." I'm sorry what? Apparently, he goes through an emotional rollercoaster - at the beginning, excited for all the extra sweets, in the middle sick of me baking every night and day like it's a job (it's fun! All the yelling is because we're having fun!), and the times he can tell I'm making a cookie I don't really like or I'm not having fun working around a 5 year old on a step stool. I was shocked. I mean, the only cookies I hate making are sugar cookies and those meticulous, ridiculous icing, out, my hand cramps just thinking about it. Anyway, he was on such a roll, I ended up drinking most of my wine before the cookies were out. These cookies have the best part added when they're brought out. I think he did it on purpose to get a few. But it got me thinking - would wine go with any of these cookies or candies? We'd made 9 variants.
Now I am going to put out an unpopular opinion. Most chocolate doesn't go with wine. Dark chocolate is about the only chocolate that could stand up to any of the wine. There's a whole weekend dedicated to chocolate and red wine in our valley, but as flavors go, they are actually rather uncomplementary. The sweetness of chocolate fights the fruity dryness of wine. For example, I made this chocolate peanut cluster. It was delicious. It made the Merlot pucker in my mouth. Nothing makes the Merlot pucker. I don't like coconut, so these coconut M&M bars we made didn't even get a taste, but I'd bet $20 they were too sweet too. Really, when it comes to most wine and chocolate pairings, you want a sweet wine to pair with something that sweet. Hence, ice wine. You would think Mexican Wedding cookies we made would pair well with maybe the Syrah, and ok, they were natural, but the powdered sugar finger prints on my glass looked ridiculous. And I just couldn't take the cookies (or myself) seriously. But the Syrah has quickly become a regular in my glass precisely because it pairs with, well, everything.
There are two cookies that I usually make that might pair with a red or white wine: peanut butter rice krispies and shortbread dipped in dark chocolate with sea salt sprinkles. The peanut butter rice krispies are an old family recipe my mom used to make when I was a kid. The shortbread is based on a recipe I found before pinterest existed and keep in a pre-pinterest recipe book. Both are super easy, and huge crowd pleasers. Bill calls shortbread "butter cookies" since a single recipe is made with a pound of butter (this year took FOUR pounds of butter 😳). I tried the shortbread with the dark chocolate with the Meritage and the Syrah. It was...well...Not Good.😬 The shortbread was sticking on the roof of my mouth and The Syrah had nowhere to go. But the peanut butter rice krispie...it has butterscotch in it too, which is what I think made it work with both the Meritage and the Syrah, but to seemed to work best with The Syrah.
I've been drinking my wine a little on the chillier side (65) since getting a fancy wine fridge as my big quarantine purchase (it's an under shelf fridge so not that fancy, but it was on sale, so I couldn't resist), which tends to tighten the flavor of reds a little. But it also moves the wine around my mouth a bit more. I don't know, maybe i'm weird. I drink my water warm and my reds a little cold. In the rice krispies, The peanut butter and butterscotch can coat your tongue a bit but The Syrah seemed to cleanse it a bit, making the flavor and experience quite pleasant.
The Syrah is so well balanced that the light spice that comes in at the end is almost like a refreshing mint course. Although, I found if I had too much butterscotch in my mouth when i took a sip of wine, there was a bit of acidity, so even this isn't a perfect pairing. It didn't stop me from having two. These cookies are addictive (and far too easy to make), and The Syrah is too, so be careful.
To make the Peanut Butter Rice Krispies:
18 oz creamy peanut butter
12 oz butterscotch chips
5-6 cups rice krispies
1. Prep a 9x9 pan by rubbing sides with butter and lining with parchment paper.
2. Melt the butterscotch chips in a large pot over medium heat. I do it directly on the stove.
3. once most of the chips are melted, Add the peanut butter and stir until it's smooth.
4. Remove from heat. Add the Rice Krispies. if you need to, add a little extra, the goal is to add until all of the pb & butterscotch mixture is fully soaked up. It's ok if there's a little too much pb & butterscotch, but then the cookies will be even richer, and the only thing that goes with them is water or milk.
5. Pour into a 9x9 pan. Let rest for 1-2 hours until the cookies change slight color.
6. hide cookies from your family so you get 1 or 2. that might just be my family.
Step 5 alternate option: if you're ambitious, you can line your counters with parchment paper. take a large serving spoon, scoop and drop a bit of each onto the paper. this seriously takes forever (or 20 minutes. but it feels like forever.) the setting time decreases to ~30 minutes. either way, cookies are ready in an hour. one way, you've worked for an extra 20 minutes. the other way, you've already opened the bottle of wine and read the gram for 20 minutes while everyone thinks you're still baking. just sayin'.
Steps 3, 4 & 5 (lighting may vary):