I had this idea for peanut butter and jelly cookies a while back. My original vision was a thumbprint cookie with a peanut butter cookie base and a jelly filling. After I made flourless peanut butter cookies, I thought it would make a nice peanut butter cookie base.

To make them even better, I decided to use chocolate peanut butter. I originally bought the spread from Amazon, but I’ve since seen it at several grocery stores. I usually only like peanut butter in small doses, so adding the dark chocolate to it makes the spread more appealing to me.

Jiufen (Taiwan)

Usually when we visit Taiwan, we stay in the main city of Taipei. On this last trip though, we took some time to visit other parts of Taiwan, including the city of Jiufen.

Jiufen is a popular tourist attraction that also serves as the backdrop for the movie Spirited Away. It’s a small town in northern Taiwan, that used to be a gold mining town. “Jiu” means “nine” in chinese, and it is said that there were originally only nine families living in the town, hence the name. When gold was discovered, the small little village became very popular and filled with families.

The village is located in the mountain, and the drive there was quite precarious. While my mom and brothers slept through most of it, my sister and I were too nervous to fall asleep as our driver guided us up the narrow paths. Once there, we saw many tourist buses. After I got out and saw this breathtaking view though, I immediately understood why so many people come up here.

Jiufen Old Street is the most popular tourist attraction for the village. It’s a road that runs through most of the village and is full of shops. Because it’s such a big tourist attraction, every vendor offers samples and tried to draw customers to their store. It was sort of like Costco multiplied by a hundred.

One of the foods Jiufen is most known for is taro balls, which is one of my favorite foods. They are chewy balls, similar to mochi, though it is made of potato flour and taro. It’s usually offered with other types of flavors like green tea and yams, creating an array of pretty colored balls. It’s usually served as a topping for shaved ice, in red bean soup, or sometimes in hot beverages.

I never ate monkey bread as a kid. I didn’t even know what monkey bread was until after I started blogging. Now I’m doing some major catch up for missed years with different monkey bread variations. My latest version: Nutella monkey bread.

Soft dough balls filled with gooey Nutella. Can you think of anything better?