I created something delicious last weekend

chocolate salted caramel peanut butter cookies
chocolate salted caramel peanut butter cookies

Some friends host a cookie exchange party every year, and they have a panel of judges determine which ones are the best. I decided to do something a little different this year, rather than following a basic recipe for the same old, same old. I started thinking about it shortly after Thanksgiving, which may be why I decided to take my inspiration from the turducken.

I began with a basic peanut butter cookie dough (mine came from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book), which I chilled while I ran some errands and then made a chocolate ganache (warning: that recipe makes far more than you really need for this). I’d picked up some salted caramels from Trader Joe’s recently, and I chilled them in the freezer before chopping into three pieces each.

Next, I shaped the peanut butter cookie dough into a log and divided it into 24 slices. Carefully, I shaped and flattened each slice into a cookie round, as thin as I could while keeping it from falling apart. I spooned some ganache on a round, added a piece of the salted caramel, and then put another flattened round on top. I sealed the edges together, making a little pie/turnover out of the cookie, and then placed that carefully on the baking sheet. They baked beautifully, and spread out more than I was expecting, so the second round were spaced a bit more.

Ultimately, they did not win the competition, but I received an honorable mention and plenty of compliments. Well worth the effort.

Does anyone have suggestions for what to do with a bowl full of well-refrigerated chocolate ganache?

la la la la zzzzzzz……

USA-based online CD trading site to give 20% of revenue to performing artists.

Today, USA-based online CD trading site la la opened its doors to the public. Although the site remains in beta testing until the official launch in July, new members are able to register without needing an invitation from other beta testers or the site administrators. With this soft launch comes an announcement of the “Z” Foundation, a non-profit organization that will donate 20% of the trading revenue of la la to performing artists. Founder Bill Nguyen hopes to eventually increase that percentage to 90%.

From the start, the vision of la la has been focused more on providing inexpensive ways for music fans to discover new artists and less on getting music for cheap. The site seeks to create a community that promotes music in general and supports performing artists in particular. The “Z” Foundation is one outlet for that vision. Eligibility is available only to working musicians, defined as any individual who has performed on a recorded release or live performance in the last year and whose music-related income accounts for more than half of their total income. To register, musicians can go to http://www.lala.com/z.

I have been a beta tester for la la over the past two months, and with 144 trades (total of sent and received) under my belt, I am willing to admit that I’m a fan of the site. As a friend to several full-time performing musicians, I’m also a fan of the “Z” Foundation concept. Music is an essential part of my life, and I appreciate the opportunity to give back to the musicians while also swapping out CDs I don’t listen to anymore for new-to-me CDs. There are other media trading sites out there (Title Trader, SwitchDiscs, etc.), but only la la has stepped up and given something back to the people who make this music available in the first place. That’s something to sing about.