Two nights ago, Old Mother Hubbard here went to her cupboard to fetch not a bone, but something—anything—to make a dessert for book club. No dice. Not enough butter for a piecrust. No unsweetened chocolate for brownies. A crumpled bag with about 12 hazelnuts in it. Now, any normal person would have bailed and brought a bottle of wine, but I’m the sort of frugal cook who gets a charge out of making lemonade from lemons—especially if it’s a dried-out, semi-zested lemon half I find at the bottom of my produce drawer.
A handful of butterscotch chips reminded me of a simple peanut cluster recipe an intern once shared at the office—equal parts butterscotch and chocolate chips, with a ton of dry-roasted peanuts stirred in. So I rummaged, adding a broken bar of bittersweet chocolate and a half-bag of semisweet morsels to the meager pile of butterscotch chips. Popped those in the microwave to melt, and kept hunting.
My bare cupboard suddenly seemed stuffed with possibility. I mean really, what doesn’t taste great with chocolate? I started pulling down the obvious stuff: almonds, apricots, toasted coconut leftover from another baking project. But then I got more creative. What if I crushed those potato chips? Or how about those waffle cookies I bought to garnish ice cream sundaes but never finished?
Eventually I settled on a trail-mix inspired combo of salted peanuts, raisins and some not-quite-stale pretzel sticks. I stirred in enough ingredients to coat everything with chocolate and dropped rows of clumpy blobs on a parchment-lined baking sheet. After 15 minutes in the fridge, they were ready. Will they win a beauty contest? Not a chance. But they’re delicious—I say as I munch one right now with my morning coffee—and I’d like to think that the old-fashioned Midwestern resourcefulness that inspired them makes them taste all the sweeter.
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