peanut buttery hypocrisy

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

nutter-butter-illustration-crop-9794552I share recipes. All of them. It’s one of the deepest arteries of our pastry kitchen at Blackbird, pumping fiercely through our body of work. It started the day Heston Blumenthal opened his recipe book to me as a young stage, a stark contrast to the restaurant I had come from, one that wrote recipes in code just in case the formula slipped from it’s grasp.

I have many oft spoken sound bites to support this practice.

“If you don’t pass a recipe along it dies the moment you take it off your menu, and who wants to see their work die?”

“It’s hard enough for me to get highly trained professional cooks to achieve the exact intended result with my recipes, in my kitchen, under my watch. There is no risk of loosing our identity by giving our recipes away.”

“Everything I have, I have because someone else gave it to me in one form or another. It’s important to give what we take.”

“It’s nearly impossible to follow a recipe without inflecting part of yourself into it, my recipes will become something else every time someone else makes them, just as everyone else’s recipes become something different when I make them.”

“No one can steal what is being given away.”

I’ve disallowed cooks from bringing in “secret recipes” to use for mingardise, or staff meal. If it’s in our kitchen, it belongs to everyone.

But underneath it all, I’ve been hoarding one recipe. It’s called a nutterbutter, and it’s a salty-crispy-peanut-butter-milk-chocolate-cocoa-nib-fuelletine concoction pressed into a bar, and covered in tahitian vanilla infused caramel. It’s absolutely addicting. I should know, I’ve been supporting a 3-ounce-a-day nutterbutter scrap habit since 2007. This unique confection was created to fill one of 4 small dishes flanking a plated dessert and a composed ice cream on Poppy restaurants dessert Thali. If I’m not mistaken, it’s still there. When I moved to Chicago, I started making them for Avec, served in sets of 4 on little wooden boards. Later in my time with One Off Hospitality, when I started packing ice cream in pints with the Hello My Name Is stickers for Publican Quality Meats, I folded nutterbutters into vanilla ice cream, and when we have a few spare minutes, we tuck that ice cream between two peanut butter cookies.

I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this confection, and I’ve watched people fall in nuttery-buttery love, all the while knowing it was mine mine mine. My precious.

But how much does the nutterbutter really belong to me?

The inspiration? Taken from a component on a dessert I inherited when I took over the menu at Veil restaurant in Seattle. The dessert itself, a salted peanut butter ice cream with milk chocolate anglaise, set over a crunchy mess of peanut butter coated crispiness, was taken by the chef of Veil from his pastry chef at a previous restaurant. I don’t know this pastry chefs first name, only that his last name was Harvey, a fact cemented by my early desire to call these little peanut buttery squares “Harvey Bars”, a nod towards the inspiring chef. Even the name, nutterbutter, taken, and very very trademarked.

So how could I preach GIVE and then keep something created from so much TAKE to myself? What can I say. I’m human, it’s beautiful, and I wanted it to be mine.

Well, now it’s yours.

A jolly fellow named Tim approached me to contribute to his wonderfully blog Lottie & Doof, and I saw it as my opportunity to right my selfish wrong. The recipe is posted here, right here!

For those nutterbutter lovers that have asked me for the recipe for so many years, I am sorry it took me so long to give up this recipe. Please take it and remake it a million times over. Put it on your menus. Make if for your mingardise plates. Make it for potlucks and holiday cookie tins. Fold it into ice creams like I do. But most importantly, if someone asks, give them the recipe.

Now, in the spirit of give and take, I’m going to ask you for something. A name. While no cease and desist order has come from the corporation that rightfully owns the name of this peanut buttery square, it’s not for us to keep.

So as this recipe passes from my hands to yours, lets join forces and rename it something that truly belongs to us.