September 22, 2014

Dark Chocolate and Caramelized White Chocolate Cupcakes

Since my boys got booted from their daycare where we live, I've been using their old sitter about 45 minutes away a bit more while we find new care for them. There are a few positives to the situation, one being that they adore their old sitter so much they don't want to leave her house. The other is my co-workers at that particular office are extremely appreciative of my cupcake baking endeavors. This treat from Love & Olive Oil was a huge hit. Even if you're not a big fan of white chocolate, you might enjoy it this way. Be sure to check out their site for detailed pictures of the white chocolate through the process. These chocolate cupcakes, with the hint of cinnamon, were moist and delicious, especially for a project that requires no mixer.

Dark Chocolate and Caramelized White Chocolate Cupcakes
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla 
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/3 cup dark cocoa 
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
8 oz. quality white chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more as needed
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line cupcake pan with 12 paper liners. Whisk together the milk, oil, egg and vanilla until incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Make a well in the center of dry ingredientsand pour in milk mixture. Stir just until smooth.
Pour into liners, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
Reduce oven to 225ºF. Spread chopped white chocolate onto a baking sheet. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove and stir/smooth with a rubber spatula, spreading it back into an even layer. Repeat the process every 10 minutes for 60 to 90 minutes or until the white chocolate is butterscotch in color.
Gently warm 1/3 cup cream in a small saucepan or the microwave until about 100-120ºF or just warm to the touch. Add the caramelized chocolate, and stir until smooth. Set aside, and let cool slightly to room temperature.
Core the cupcakes either with a corer or a knife. Fill with a small spoonful of the white chocolate ganache, and replace the tops of the cupcakes. You should still have about 1/2 cup of ganache left.
In a bowl, cream butter until smooth and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup powdered sugar, and beat until combined. Mix in remaining 1/2 cup of white chocolate ganache until smooth. Add remaining sugar, and beat until light and fluffy. Depending on the temperature of your ingredients, you may need more sugar or heavy cream to achieve the proper consistency. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes, being sure to cover the seams. Makes 12 cupcakes.

September 6, 2014

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

When you're going on a 3 1/2-week vacation with two children under three that involves 6,600 miles spent in a vehicle, you know you need cookies to keep your sanity for the first part of the trip at least. I used this recipe from Love and Olive Oil to give us something delicious to erase some of the screaming for the first 1,000 miles or so. (It worked, too. A bit of cookie bliss is necessary when your older child wakes your sleeping younger child, who then screams the remaining 45 minutes until you get to the hotel. Of course the older child wasn't bothered as he promptly fell asleep after waking his brother.)

Good cookies. They save your sanity, at least temporarily.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla 
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
36 dark chocolate peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. In a microwave safe bowl, heat butter and peanut butter until melted. Stir until smooth, and let cool.
Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, stir the melted butter and peanut butter together with sugars until it forms a thick paste. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla, and stir until incorporated. Gradually add dry ingredients, and mix until it comes together, using your hands if necessary. The dough may seem crumbly at first but should come together eventually. Mix in chocolate chips.
Scoop dough by the heaping tablespoon. Split and slightly flatten one half in your palm. Place peanut butter cup on top, and then squish remaining dough around to completely encase it. Arrange on prepared baking sheets, leaving about two inches of space between cookies.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until centers are set and edges are light golden brown. Remove from oven, and let cool for 10 minutes (or longer) on baking sheet, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 36 cookies.

Peanut Butter Pie

Sorry for my nearly 3-month hiatus from the blog. Apparently taking a month-long vacation and then moving into your new home takes a bit of time away from blogging. I have a list of about 10 recipes, though, to get on the blog to get caught up but most will be without pictures unfortunately.

I found this recipe from Brown-Eyed Baker and thought it would be the perfect easy recipe to throw together for my family who came to help with projects around our new home for a day. I made sure they earned their keep before pulling this pie out of the fridge, and everyone gave this pie rave reviews. Quite delicious, especially for the ease of preparation.

Peanut Butter Pie
24 Nutter Butter cookies, crushed
4 Tbsp. salted butter
6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. + 3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped peanuts

Make the crust by combining crushed Nutter Butter cookies and melted butter until evenly moistened, and then press into a 9-inch pie pan. Place in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

Beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar and 3 Tbsp. of heavy cream on low speed to combine, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-high, and whip until fluffy, about 1 additional minute. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and set aside.

In the empty mixing bowl, add the remaining 3/4 cup heavy cream, and whip on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to high, and whip until stiff peaks form. (Note: I had a major lapse in mind control and tried to whip my cream with the regular beater attachment rather than the whisk one. Don't try that at home. Insanely messy and ineffective.) Stir one-third of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture with a rubber spatula. Then add the remaining whipped cream in two additions, folding gently with a rubber spatula until no white streaks remain. Transfer the peanut butter mousse into the prepared crust, and spread into an even layer.

In the empty mixing bowl, add the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and mix on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to high, and whip until stiff peaks form. Spread evenly over the peanut butter filling, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, garnish with peanuts. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days. Makes one 9-inch pie.