Thursday, February 28, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

I have a confession to make........

I'm purely, utterly, hopelessly, totally, deeply in love with peanut butter.  It's one of the best foods out there.... slather it on heavily buttered toast-and drizzle it with honey, dip animal crackers in it, spread it on oreos, mix it in brownies, put it with ice cream, eat it with chocolate......  It just makes everything more amazing (though let me clarify- I only really like peanut butter in sweet things.  This divine condiment to all things should not be put in savory dishes.... the one time I had it in my soup I gagged- never going to want that again).  Oh, and it should never, EVER be paired with peppermint.  Just saying (but that's another story....).

So that's where this cupcake comes in.  The base was easy- the only chocolate cupcake recipe I use is Cook's Illustrated Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake.  It's moist and flavorful, very chocolatey, and a very easy and quick to make.

Then for the frosting.......I'd been on the lookout for a really good peanut butter frosting- not just any frosting, but one that would compliment and enhance it to the utmost.  And then one day I came across this one- I found it on another cooking blog.  I tried it as soon as the frosting was finished (what good cook doesn't sample as they go?) and I knew that I had finally found it!!  It was very peanut buttery, rich, fluffy, and not overly sweet- exactly what I wanted.  Originally, it was for a peanut butter cake, but then I figured since it was so good in a cake, why not just pile it on cupcakes instead?  Then you end up with a ton more frosting (the frosting is so yummy, we've been known to just eat it by the spoon-the leftovers, of course  ;D).  Then, a dark chocolate ganache, and then top it all off with a mini Reese's peanut butter cup, and there you go!  A perfectly amazing cupcake.  :) 

Hot cupcakes.... :)

Just look at that frosting..... *sigh*  Soooo yummy.  :)

A big bowl of this frosting would be a wonderful gift to yourself... just think!  A whole bowl allll to yourself!!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
from Cook's Illustrated

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (the higher quality chocolate, the higer quality cupcake: I like to use Callebaut chocolate)
1/3 cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 cup hot coffee
3/4 cup (4 1/8 ounces) bread flour
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-size muffin pan (cups have ½-cup capacity) with baking-cup liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour.

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting
from here:

1 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
8 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1-1/2  tsp. vanilla
2-1/4 c. powdered sugar
Place the peanut butter, butter, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-low speed, just until thoroughly combined. Add the remaining ingredients and combine again. Then turn the speed up to high and beat for 2 to 3 more minutes, until frosting is light, airy, and fluffy.  Frost cupcakes with your favorite frosting tip.

Chocolate Ganache
1/4 c. milk
3 T. unsalted butter
1 c. good quality semisweet chocolate chips (I like Guittard!)

Heat all ingredients in a bowl for about 1 minute- whisk until smooth, then drizzle over cupcakes.

To top it all off:
Place a Mini Reese's cup on top of each cupcake.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

No-Bake Cookie Dough Cheesecake

I must say, this dessert is the one to make when you just want something that is yummy and creamy and rich and simply childish.  Cookie dough ice cream.... who will actually not admit to secretly loving it, especially as a child?  Separating all the cookie dough bits, saving them for one last mouth-crammed bite..... *sigh*

And for those of us who simply would rather eat all the cookie dough straight out of the bowl, rather than bake it....... because that is the only way to eat it.  

And for those of us who are simply, deeply, hopelessly in love with cheesecake.  No-bake cheesecake.  

(if you don't end up wanting to put all the cookie dough bits in the cheesecake, just put them in a ziplock and stick them in the freezer.  They're quite addicting.)

Oh, and graham crackers.  I love graham crackers.  :)
But my favorite is cookie dough.  :)

No-Bake Cookie Dough Cheesecake

2 packages graham crackers, processed into fine crumbs (about 4 cups)
10 tablespoons butter, melted

Combine in a bowl, press into the bottom of a 9x13" pan, set in the fridge to firm up.

4 packages cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups whipping cream

Cream together the cream cheese, sugars, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whip the whipping cream into stiff peaks. Add in about 1 cup of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture, beating gently. Scrape the bottom of the bowl, and repeat till you have added in all the whipped cream.  Set in the fridge.

Cookie Dough
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Beat the butter, sugars, and vanilla together. Beat in water.  Beat in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the chocolate chips.
Roll the cookie dough into 1/2" logs. Refrigerate logs to firm up. Once firm, cut into 1/2" slices. Freeze the chunks while getting ready to assemble.

To Assemble
Spread half of the filling on the graham cracker crust. Sprinkle half of the cookie dough pieces on top, then spoon the rest of the filling over the cookie dough- smooth out with a off-set spatula. Sprinkle as many cookie dough pieces over the top as you would like, and then drizzle chocolate sauce over the cheesecake.

And there is is.... the finished cheesecake!!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I made these sugar cookies....  But not any sugar cookies.  Valentine's Day Cookies!!!  I always like making cookie around this time of year.  :)

I love looking through tons of food magazines, too, and I found this idea in a King Arthur magazine a couple months ago.  So I couldn't wait till February came around to make them.  I even picked out the sprinkles and made sure I had all the cookie cutters looooong before February came around.  So this year, I did stamps, notes, envelopes, and hearts.  :) And the stamps turned out pretty darn cute!

I love how simple white frosting always looks.... 

SPRINKLES.  :D  They're so messy, but so much fun.  

This year, I had some helpers with the sprinkles..... we had quite the fun time!!  And it's so much more fun to do it with them than all by your lonesome in the kitchen.  :)

And they got to have a cookie.  

And then that night I enlisted Emil to help with the pics!  :)

Harvest Sugar Cookies

3/4 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat until fluffy.  Gradually add dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Chill 1 hour.  Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes on greased baking sheet.

Hard Glaze For Cookies

1/4 cup meringue powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/3 to 1/2 cup cool water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Food color or paste

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the meringue powder, salt, and confectioners' sugar. Add 1/3 cup cool water and the vanilla and stir, or beat on slow speed. the mixture will seem hard and lumpy, but the sugar will dissolve after 4 or 5 minutes and everything will smooth out.
Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition to achieve a spreadable consistency. For a very smooth, shiny glaze, the icing should be the consistency of corn syrup or molasses.  Pipe around the edge of the cookie, and then fill in with an off-set spatula.  

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 11, 2013


Here's a food post for ya.

So, while I was visiting, I ended up making cinnamon rolls from The Pioneer Woman.  At first, I was rather skeptical  because there has always only been one, and only one cinnamon roll.... my mom's.

But, I tried these anyway....... and was amazed at my first bite.  They were different, tis true, than what I was used to, and  Mom's will always be my first favorite, but......

These are a very close second.

Probably because there's coffee.... in the frosting.  Like, really.  Coffee makes everything taste amazing.  :D


That, and warm cinnamon rolls smell amazing.  They make you want to eat all 6 pans.  In one sitting.

So you shall have to try them.  Soon.  :)

A rather super-long-due update. :)

Yeah.... this was supposed to be my cooking blog, where I rant and rave about all things cooking.

Moving on.

So this past week I've spent with my cousins, Mark and Katy Austen, to help out around the house because they just had a new baby, Margaret!!

So here's some pictures from the visit.... I had an a blast, and it was fun being called 'aunt' Grace.  :D

Isn't Margaret simply darling???

COOKIE DOUGH!!!  (this is Ellen Marie, btw)

Grant and his 'bun-bun'


Thinking....  Do I really want Aunt Grace to hold me... cause I know she'll feed me marshmallows and skittles?

Whatcha see?

Nothin much... how about you?

Sleepy baby.  :)

Will!  :D

Because Oreos are fun to take pictures with.  :P

She is just too cute.  :)

Mmmm...... Cookie dough cheesecake! 

She thought the flip-out screen on my camera very funny.  :D

Awwwwww!!!!  Don't you wish you were related to such cute kids??

She's awake!!

Cause even on bad hair days, she's still adorable.  :D

And to finish it off......