June 20, 2017

Loaded Peanut Butter Brownies

This brownies from Crazy for Crust caught my eye because chocolate and peanut butter is my favorite flavor combination, far surpassing chocolate and mint in the recent years. They come together quickly in a single bowl, and the add-in options are adaptable depending on whatever you have stockpiled. (Or am I the only one who squirrels away baking supplies, cookies and such in the freezer to have handy for whatever creation I want to make?)

These were good, especially warm with vanilla ice cream. The brownie base itself wasn't my favorite, lacking a bit of depth. Perhaps dark chocolate cocoa powder would make the difference in a future version. Still, for a one-bowl brownie, these top store bought brownies any day. My family and our friends certainly didn't complain.

Below is the recipe with my adaptations based on my sugar stash.

Loaded Peanut Butter Brownies
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 1/2 cups mini peanut butter cups
1 cup peanut butter chocolate chips
1/4 cup Reese's Pieces

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil, and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in eggs and oil until completely mixed. Stir in all the add-ins except the Reese's Pieces. Spread evenly in the pan. Sprinkle with Reese's Pieces. Bake for 20-26 minutes or until brownies are set (a toothpick inserted comes out clean, except for melted chocolate and peanut butter chips). Makes 24 brownies.

June 12, 2017

Crazy (Vegan) Cucpakes

When Teddy's running buddy accepted our offer to stay at our house during her visit here, my first thought was, "I have no idea what to feed someone who is vegan!" I basically told her I'd need her help to figure out what to make for meals, but at least I had this cupcake recipe from Sweet Little Bluebird ready to try for vegan cupcakes. (And the name of the cupcakes does not imply vegans, or vegan cupcakes, are crazy. It was the popular name given to a cupcake (or cake) that had no eggs, butter or milk.)

These cupcakes were moist, delicious and a hit with everyone. I wasn't as confident in my frosting as the cupcakes themselves, but the mixture of peanut butter, coconut cream and powdered sugar turned out rather well. I think next time, I'd look to do a raspberry jam and coconut cream frosting. I think the raspberry flavor would play well with the coconut notes.

Crazy (Vegan) Cupcakes 
1 1/2 cups flour
3 Tbsp. cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
5 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 cupcake tins with liners, and set aside.


In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients well. Make 2 small divots and 1 larger divot in the dry ingredients. Pour the vinegar and the vanilla each into separate small divots. Pour the oil into the larger divot. Add the water, and stir together with a fork. Divide mixture evenly among cupcake liners. 

Bake 15 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Makes 12 cupcakes. 

Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread

This recipe from Bakerella was made by my baker-in-training AJ. I think it may be his new favorite banana bread recipe because it not only contains chocolate chips, but it also contains chocolate banana bread. The best part of this banana bread, even though it was delicious, was AJ taking our picture to post on Facebook with the following caption that he dictated:

Best cooking buddies forever! :-)

Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder, divided
1/2 tsp. baking soda, divided
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1 1/2 cups ripe bananas, mashed (about 3-4 bananas)
1/2 cup butter, mostly melted and cooled
2 eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
 
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9 X 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper overhanging sides of pan. (I skipped the parchment paper and ended up without the bottom of my bread attached.)
 
For the regular banana bread: whisk together 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. baking soda and 1/4 tsp. salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
 
For the chocolate banana bread: whisk together (in a second medium bowl) the remaining 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. baking soda and 1/4 tsp. salt. Set aside.
 
In a third bowl, combine mashed bananas, melted butter, sour cream, eggs and vanilla until combined. Divide mixture, and add half to each flour mixture, stirring each until combined. Add 1/2 cup of chocolate morsels to each batter, and stir until combined.
 
Place small spoonfuls of both batters into prepared loaf pan layering and alternating between each. Then gently make a couple of swirls in the batter with a knife without over mixing. Sprinkle loaf with remaining chocolate chips. Bake 50-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Makes 1 loaf.

June 1, 2017

Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars

I made these bars from Brown Eyed Baker for a recent weekend up north, figuring they'd be a huge hit with the kiddos. Then I promptly ate the majority of these bars up north. I figured they might be safe from be because they weren't chocolate, but they were sweet and buttery and delicious.

These are easy to make and even easier to eat. (My mother-in-law was grossed out by the fact that the frosting layer was as thick as the cookie layer. I view that as a positive, not a negative.)

Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars
Bars
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
Rainbow sprinkles, for decorating

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan or line with parchment paper, and set aside.In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar, and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla,and beat to combine, about 1 minute.

Reduce the mixer speed to low, and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing only until barely combined. Use a rubber spatula to finish mixing, ensuring there are no pockets of flour remaining.Using a spatula, spread the dough into an even layer in the prepared pan. (The dough will be thick and sticky.) Bake until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice. Reduce the speed to low, and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high. Add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.

Spread the frosting over the cookie bars, and decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Cut the bars into squares and serve. The cookie bars should be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days (you can store them in the refrigerator for up to 1 week). Makes 24 bars.

May 24, 2017

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

The last week involved a lot of sweets at my house, thanks to me using my birthday as an opportunity to bake my way through a handful of bookmarked recipes. These chocolate cupcakes from Brown Eyed Baker were one of two cupcakes I baked.

The cupcakes were an excellent chocolate cupcake, but my ganache center didn't really set. When I dolloped the ganache onto the cupcakes prior to baking, it settled down creating a divot. So I filled that divot with sour cherry jam. Win-win. Ganache and cherry jam and dark chocolate.

The frosting provided in her original post is good but not my favorite. It's a very soft frosting, so I'm going to include the ganache frosting I used on a different cupcake that I think would be excellent with these.


Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes
Ganache Filling
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
Cupcakes
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup (28 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup (177 ml) hot water
3/4 cup (117 grams) bread flour
3/4 cup (149 grams) sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla 
Ganache Frosting
12 oz. chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream

First, prepare the ganache for the frosting. Heat the heavy cream until hot, but try to avoid boiling it. Pour over the chocolate, and let stand 2 minutes. Whisk until combined. Set aside in the refrigerator to cool completely. (You want it to solidify basically.)

Next make the ganache filling. Place all ingredients in a small bowl. Microwave on high until the mixture is warm to the touch, about 20 to 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth, and refrigerate until barely chilled, about 30 minutes. (You don't want this to solidify, or it will sink to the bottom of the cupcakes while baking.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 liners. (I used one extra liner and ended up with 13 cupcakes.) Place chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Pour the hot (essentially boiling) water over the top. Whisk until smooth, and then refrigerate 20 minutes.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Set aside. Then whisk the oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla into the cooled chocolate mixture. Once smooth, stir in the flour mixture.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Place a dollop of ganache in the center of each cupcake, using all the ganache filling. Bake until the cupcakes are set, about 17 to 19 minutes. Cool in the cupcake pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.
Once cupcakes are cooled, finish the ganache frosting. Place the cooled ganache in a mixing bowl. Beat until lighter in color and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Pipe onto cupcakes. (If your cupcakes have divots from the ganache, feel free to top with a cherry or other jam before frosting.) Makes 13 cupcakes.