Friday, December 07, 2007

Adapting the old recipes

Earlier this month we decided to have a few people over to our apartment as a late birthday celebration. We anticipated doing something like this when we were back in the States in September, so we brought back a box of fudgy brownie mix, a jar of peanut-butter-we-know-for-sure-is-good, and a jar of marshmallow fluff - all ingredients for a recipe I used to make a lot in Boston that was really popular. (Credit to my aunt, who gave it me the recipe at my bridal shower!) The other recipe requirements were all things we knew we had in the cupboard in Germany, or thought we could buy in Germany.

Here's the recipe:

box of fudgy brownie mix for a 9x13" pan
jar of fluff
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups chocolate chips
3 cups Rice Krispies

1. Make the brownies in a 9x13" as directed on the box and let cool.
2. Spread the jar of fluff over the brownies.
3. Melt together the peanut butter and chocolate chips.
4. Stir in Rice Krispies.
5. Spread the chocolate-pb-Krispie mix over the fluff.
6. Let chill. Store somewhere cool (otherwise they get melty). If you live in Germany, "somewhere cool" might have to be your windowsill since your fridge can't fit any more than a box of milk and tomorrow morning's yogurt in it.

Some mistakes were made in this whole project.

1. Falsely remembering that we'd seen Rice Krispies in Germany and could get them there. This wasn't the case, at least in the places that we are able to quickly look. Quickly, I say, because the other related mistake was completely forgetting to buy the Krispies. I was already throwing the chocolate chips in the pot to melt them when I realized it. It was the day of the party and there wasn't time to do anything but send Damon out to look for some while I continued making the other food. He tried all the stores we usually shop at in Heidelberg, but there were no regular Rice Krispies. The only thing available was Choco Krispies, which aren't like Cocoa Krispies in the US, but are much larger. They're about the same size as grape-shaped Trix. (Although I heard Trix are round again, so there goes that.) I was hoping for something without the flavoring, but the only option was flakes of some kind. All the other cereals here are sugared. So, Choco Krispies it was.

2. Thinking that we could find something close to a 9x13" pan here. No luck with that either. Damon did find the below contraption in the bin at Lidl. The contraption is adjustable. So, I got out a ruler and made it 9x13" and set it on the cookie sheet and poured the brownie mix in.

Minuses: Well, it didn't hold in the batter. They turned out pretty thin, and it was exaggerated in one corner because our oven rack isn't level.

Pluses: The edges of the brownies that stayed inside the rectangle were nice and soft! Or it could just be the oven. I had a lot of problems in our Boston ovens keeping the edges from getting mysteriously rock-hard.

The thing might work if lined with foil or baking paper or something to hold in the mix, but I'm not sure how the results would be because I haven't tried it yet.

Then the pan didn't fit in the fridge and they had to cool NOW to set in time for the party, so we had to put them out on the deck to cool. This wouldn't work in the summer, so I guess next time I should plan ahead a bit further!

I didn't think they'd go over that well, what with PB/chocolate being such an apparently American taste, but I love them, so I made them anyway. As it turned out, they were really popular and I already got three requests to make them again for the office Christmas party. So, my sister is mailing me a 9x13" pan and some fluffy. And some brownie mix, because I know I like that specific mix for this recipe (fudgy Betty Crocker) and don't want to mess with it by using homemade brownies or any other mix! In return, she gets a round-trip train ticket to Paris when she comes in January. :)


  1. hahahaha woooooooooooooo FREE TRAIN TICKET <3 just cross your damn fingers... i am paranoid of customs!

  2. Yes, the chocolate/peanut butter combo can be very confusing for the Germans.

    But you guys are so adaptable! Rice Krispies are REALLY hard to find here. I know our local Real market has them (or at least had them, I haven't checked in a while) but I haven't seen them anywhere else. A couple of years after I moved here I wrote to Kellogg's Germany and whined to them about the serious lack o' Rice Krispies. After telling me they just weren't that popular here, they sent me two full-size boxes! Might be worth a try. :-)

  3. any combination of PB with anything is confusing for Germans ;-)

  4. "a box of milk and tomorrow morning's yogurt"... lolol. Hey, but does your dinky Euro-fridge have a freezer? Ours doesn't! I didn't know they even MADE freezer-less fridges.

    I just bought a small (like 8x8) brownie/cake pan in the US. Thank God I moved my 9x13 and pie plates with me here originally. Who'd have thought you can't even find a frickin' PAN, huh?! Let alone the Rice Krispies...

  5. Thanks for your comment yesterday - much appreciated.

    And I share your cooking challenges. My mom gave me a copy of the Boston Cooking School Cookbook - the one I grew up on and finding the ingredients here in Germany is a huge challenge, so every time I go back home I fill my suitcase with things like Cream of Tartar and Kosher Salt ...


  6. I agree with Christina, I've only seen Rice Krispies at Real,- for some reason.

    Trix were grape shaped for a while?!?!

  7. http://simplyemily.wordpress.comSunday, December 09, 2007 9:49:00 pm

    Baking in Germany is really difficult -- I always felt that my cookies and cakes turned out different, even with all the ingredients.

  8. Supposedly part of the baking problem is due to the difference in American and European-grown wheat. Flour here is lower in protein content and holds less moisture. It's also ground courser. If you're really into baking and want it "right", you might try sifting the flour several times first and possibly reducing the liquid in the recipe by a tad. Also, German baking powder is single acting, while American is double acting. Depending on what you're making, it can be a BIG difference. Some add 50-100% more German baking powder, but it still won't be like home. Only double-acting works the way we expect it to in our recipes.

  9. Oh my God, baking in Europe has been a nightmare. Cheap vanilla extract? Forget it. Shortening? Have no idea where to even start looking for that. Now you've made me hungry for Rice Krispie treats...

  10. Sara: You're right, I'm sure those dudes at customs are itching for some delicious marshmallow fluff! I'm crossing my fingers.

    Christina: I don't have any idea if there is a Real around here or where it would be, but if I ever find out I will have to get some. Rice Krispie treats sound so good right now!

    Kato: One day Germany will be won over by peanut butter....:)

    Dbunny: We have a pathetic tiny freezer. It holds one frozen pizza. Or two, if we've bothered to chip out the ice recently. I am envious when I read online about people making their leftovers/veggies last longer or getting great deals on big amounts of things by just freezing them. Freezing is a luxury!
    Also, interesting about the flour! I didn't know that!

    Richard: I can make very few of my favorites here. I never could have guessed that ingredients would be so different in the two countries. After all, the US is full of the descendants of German immigrants. I thought there would be more in common.

    Martina: Trix were all shaped like their fruit flavors for a few years. Now they switched them back to round.

    Emily: Interesting...I haven't had very much experience with baking American recipes here d/t my lack of all proper pan shapes! :)

  11. naechstehaltestelle: I actually buy Crisco shortening. At Real,-. But in a pinch you can use Palmin Soft, which you will find in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores.

  12. Never mind, I just saw that naechstehaltestelle is in Switzerland, I have no idea what the shortening situation is there!


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