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Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups aka Chocolate Covered Crack

I learned something new the other day.  I learned that I cannot live without this stuff:

I kid you not, dear readers.  It is crack in a jar.

Last week, after many months of anticipation, a Trader Joe’s opened up a mere three blocks from my house.  SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!  Yes, you read right –  three blocks.   That’s practically in my own backyard!   I can walk or bike there if I want.  But, I’ll probably need to take the SUV when I go, if you know what I mean.

Yup.  I’ll definitely need the SUV.

Since I wanted to maximize my first Trader Joe’s shopping experience, I did some advance planning via Facebook [1].  I asked my friends in the “Trader Joe’s know” to  divulge what their absolute must have products were.  Over and over again I got the same response:  “Speculoos Cookie Butter”. [2]  At the time, I had no idea what Speculoos Cookie Butter was. But, it didn’t matter. If that many people recommended it, I was buying it.

My first thought was that it was some kind of real butter.  But when I searched the dairy aisle I couldn’t find it.   I started to panic a little.  Did everybody else in town beat me to it?  Could they already be sold out?  I nervously asked an employee where I could find the Cookie Butter and she directed me to the peanut butter aisle, where I found multiple jars of the stuff.  Apparently,  TJ’s Cookie Butter is actually a spread made from crushed speculoos cookies.  Speculoos [3] are thin, very crunchy, Belgian spice cookies made with flour, brown sugar, butter and fragrant, earthy spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and cardamom.   Biscoff cookies [4] are essentially speculoos, and TJ’s Cookie Butter is very similar to Biscoff Spread [5]  – only better – much, much better.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like Biscoff Spread.  But, TJ’s Cookie Butter is quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever eaten.   How good is it, you ask?  Well, I went back three times last week to buy more.  Each time, I went through a different checkout line so as not to get busted.  Pretty soon I may have to resort to wearing a disguise.  That’s how good it is.

Guess who?

Since I now have a stockpile of TJ’s Cookie Butter in my pantry, I decided that I should probably justify my greed by trying it in a few recipes.  You know, in the name of “research”.  Lots of tantalizing treats came to mind:  cheesecake, ice cream, and…Cookie Butter Cups.  Cookie Butter Cups!  Gah!   As if my obsession wasn’t already bad enough, now I was going to smother it in chocolate.

Cookie Butter Cups are just like peanut butter cups, except that the peanut butter is swapped out for cookie butter.  In the traditional confection, the peanut butter is combined with powdered sugar and a little butter.  Since the cookie butter is a little bit firmer that peanut butter, I microwaved it with the butter for about 30 seconds for a batter-like consistency.  Doing this makes it much easier to get the powdered sugar all mixed in.   Once the cookie butter filling is pretty well homogenized, it’s formed into small balls and left to firm up in the fridge.

While the cookie butter balls are chilling, it’s time to get the chocolate ready.  You can use any kind of chocolate you want.  Just remember that the quality of the product you choose will directly affect your final result.  In other words, use  a chocolate that you really like.  For my cups, I used a combination of Ghirardelli [6] milk and semisweet chocolate chips.  If I’d had some Valrhona [7] chunks in the house, I would have used them.

Line a mini muffin tin with paper liners.  Do NOT skip this step, or you’ll be chipping out your cookie butter cups with a hammer and a chisel.  Blast your chocolate together with some shortening in the microwave in thirty second increments until it is all melted and smooth.  Then, fill each muffin liner with about a teaspoon of melted chocolate.  You just want to coat the bottoms with a thin layer of chocolate.  Once all of the liners have been filled, pop the tin into the fridge for about fifteen minutes to set.  The cookie butter balls and the chocolate should be ready for the next step at the same time.

Next, place a ball on top of the chocolate in each paper liner.  I actually shaved a little off the tops of each ball so they wouldn’t poke through the tops of the cookie butter cups.  Don’t worry about wastage.  You can snack on the shavings while you work.  That’s one of the perks of being the chef de cuisine in your own kitchen.

After that, spoon enough melted chocolate into each liner to completely enrobe the balls. Don’t forget to purposely get chocolate drips on your fingers, so you’ll have to lick it off.  Of course I don’t do that.  Just sayin’.  Gently tap the tin on the counter a few times to make sure that the chocolate gets into all of the nooks and crannies. Finally, put the tin back in the fridge again until the cookie butter cups are completely set.

These Cookie Butter Cups are a great after-school treat for the kids as wells as a decadent indulgence for us grown-ups.  Plus, they’re super easy to make.  There’s no cooking or baking involved, except for a few minutes of microwaving.  Hell, even Mr. SGCC could manage that!  And, lordy, lordy, lordy, they are so ridiculously good!  It’s almost obscene!  I can’t wait to make some for Mini SGCC when we go to visit her at college in a few weeks.  She’s a Reese’s nut, and I know she’s gonna go crazy over these.

As fabulous as Cookie Butter Cups are, however, there is one down side to making them.  And, that’s the empty jar of Cookie Butter that’s left when you’re done.