Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes with PB Cream Cheese Frosting


Hello all– Peanut Butter & Chocolate– goes together like peaches & cream or bacon & eggs.  It’s just a pretty irresistible combination.  I’m imagining this could be a hit at your 4th of July Bar-b-que!!

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES WITH PB CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Cupcakes:
1 chocolate cake mix
vegetable oil
water
3 eggs
1/3 cup peanut butter

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter
4 oz. cream cheese
1 box powdered sugar (about 3  2/3 cups)
1/2 tsp.vanilla
3 to 4 tab. milk

Make the cake mix according to the recipe on the box. (Mine used 1/2 cup oil, 1  1/4 cup water and 3 eggs.)  Use an electric mixer– and also add in the 1/3 cup peanut butter.

Use cupcake paper liners in cupcake pans to make 24 cupcakes.  Fill the cupcake cups 1/2 full with batter and the pop them into a 350 degree oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until the cupcakes are firm to the touch.

Let the cupcakes cool before you frost them.

To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, 1/2 cup peanut butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla.  Add the milk, a little at a time until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

Top the cupcakes with frosting and dig in!

Toffee Cookie Bars


Hello there– You know that addicting toffee that people make at Christmas?? So so delicious!  Just in case you’re reading Tammy, it was the best Christmas gift — I’m remembering that jarful you gifted us.

Well, this is the cookie version of that toffee, more crumbly and tender, but studded with almonds and toffee bits, topped with chocolate.  It really is delish, in that toffee candy sort of way!

TOFFEE COOKIE BARS
6  tab. butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup plain toffee bits, divided*
2/3 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup whole toasted almonds, chopped

With an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and powdered sugar until it forms a thick paste.  Then beat in the flour and salt until it looks like sandy crumbs.  Stir in 1/2 cup of the toffee bits.

Spray a 9″ square baking dish (or 11″x7″ baking dish) with cooking spray and then spread the crumb mixture into the dish.  Pat it down to make a smooth even surface.

Bake the cookie layer at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips over the cookie layer when it comes out of the oven.  Let them sit 5 minutes to soften and then use a broad knife to spread the chocolate evenly over the cookie layer.
Sprinkle on the chopped almonds and remaining 1/4 cup toffee bits.

Let the cookie bars sit until they cool to room temperature and then cut them into neat little squares.

Best Basic Bundt Cake!


Hey there– Here’s a little cake recipe everyone should have up their sleeve.  Easy, quick and it always comes out moist and tender– and so so chocolatey!

And thanks Trisha (the world’s best neighbor) for the loan of the bundt pan.  I can always count on Trisha to borrow an egg or some butter when I’m out.  And there’s the time she let me use her oven in the middle of her kitchen remodel on the morning when my oven went out and 20 ladies were coming for breakfast!!  I hit the neighbor jackpot with Trisha!

BEST BASIC BUNDT CAKE

Cake:
1 chocolate cake mix
1 box instant chocolate pudding (3.9 oz. size)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup water
4 eggs
1 packet instant coffee (about a tablespoon)
2 cups chocolate chips

Glaze:
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tab. butter
1 cup chocolate chips

So easy– with an electric mixer beat together the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil, water, eggs and instant coffee for 4 minutes.  Then stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into a bundt pan (or any tube baking pan) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put it into a 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes– until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely before you invert it onto a pretty plate.

To make the glaze, heat the butter and cream in a sauce pan until it just starts to simmer.  Turn off the heat and stir in the 1 cup chocolate chips.  Keep stirring briskly for 3 or 4 minutes to temper the chocolate.
Drizzle it over the cooled cake.  Yummm!

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cake (for Easter)

Hey all– It’s the day after Easter here.  Spending the morning stashing bunnies and plastic eggs away for next year.  And toasting up some leftover biscuits and jam for breakfast.

And sending off this Easter Cake recipe to you.  It’s cherries and chocolate nestled into a white cake, with cherry cream cheese frosting.  Add a few Cadbury eggs on top (or birthday candles for a different occasion) and it’s ready to go!

CHERRY CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE

Cake:
1 white cake mix
canola oil
3 eggs
water
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped to tiny bits

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
8 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. amaretto (or vanilla)
1 pound box powdered sugar (3  3/4 cups)
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped fine
2 tsp. juice from the cherry jar
garnish: Cadbury Easter eggs

With an electric mixer, make the cake mix according to the directions on the box (mine added 1/3 cup oil, 1 cup water and 3 eggs).  Beat for 2 minutes.  Then stir in the chocolate chips and chopped cherries.

Spoon the batter into 2   9″ cake pans (or a 9″x 13″ pan) that has been spray with cooking spray.  Pop it into a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cake layers are golden and firm to the touch.  Let the cakes cool completely before you frost them.

To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, cream cheese, amaretto, powdered sugar, chopped cherries and cherry juice.  (Start on the lowest setting or the powdered sugar will fly out of the bowl!)  Beat until it is all smooth and creamy, with little cherry bits here and there.

Spread frosting on the first layer.  Top it with the second layer and then frost the top and sides.  So pink and pretty!

Chocolate Toffee Caramel Cake

Hello all–  We’re still in Wisconsin here.  And still waiting for snow.  I checked the weather report today and it’s suppose to snow later in the week, the day after we leave!!  Meanwhile it’s sunny with a cold wind that will take your breath away!  OK, that’s all for the weather report– will send along more Wisconsin news (and photos!) in a couple days…

So now here’s the cake– crunchy toffee bits, tiny his of chocolate and caramel sauce and wrapped in and around a moist tender cake.  With a scoop of ice cream, just grand!  I think you’d like it!

CHOCOLATE TOFFEE CARAMEL CAKE
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1  1/2 cups canola oil
5 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
8 oz. bag toffee bits
1  1/4 cup mini chocolate chips*
1 cup caramel sauce

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the brown sugar, white sugar, oil land eggs.  Add in the flour, baking powder and salt and keep beating.  Beat in the milk.  And finally, fold in the  mini chocolate chips (save out 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top the finished cake)  and toffee bits (save a handful to sprinkle on the cake later).

Spoon the batter into a large bundt pan or tube pan that has been sprayed well with cooking spray.  Pop it into a 325 degree over for 80 or 90 minute (!!) until the cake is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan for at least an hour.

Remove the cake to a large plate and Drizzle the caramel sauce over the top and sprinkle on the reserved mini chocolate chips and toffee bits.

* I like mini chocolate chips more than the standard size, because they don’t sink to the bottom of the cake and spread the chocolate more uniformly.

Strawberries & Cream Chocolate Cake

Hi everyone– Happy to say the strawberry stands around here have opened up for the season!  I don’t know about you, but when the strawberries appear, it seems like spring is here.  So we’re putting them to good use with this creamy strawberry filled triple fudgy  chocolate cake.

STRAWBERRIES & CREAM CHOCOLATE CAKE

Cake:
1 chocolate cake mix*
water
canola oil
3 eggs
1 cup mini chocolate chips**
1 cup hot fudge sauce

Topping:
2 cups strawberries, cut to small bits
1 pint heavy whipping cream (2 cups)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
1 big pretty strawberry for garnish

Using an electric mixer, make the cake according to the directions on the box.  (Mine used 1  1/4 cups water, 1/2 oil and 3 eggs.)  Stir in the cup of mini chocolate chips.  (Save the hot fudge for later)

Spoon the batter into a 9″x 13″ baking dish*** that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  And bake the cake about 25 minutes until it is firm to the touch on top.

Poke holes into the top of the warm cake and drizzle in the cup of hot fudge to fill the holes and coat the top of the cake.  (You may need to warm the fudge sauce 30 seconds in the microwave to make it pourable).

Let the cake cool completely before adding the topping!!

Remove the leaves and cut the strawberries to small bits and set aside.  With an electric mixer beat the cream, pudding mix and powdered sugar until it is thick and set (the whisk attachment works best for this).  Stir in the strawberry bits and spoon the cream onto the top of the cooled cake.  Garnish with a single pretty sliced strawberry.

You can serve it right away, but if it sits in the fridge for an hour or two the topping will set up more firmly. Enjoy!!

*I like Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate cake mix
**Mini chocolate chips are best because they don’t sink to the bottom, like the regular size ones.
***In place of a 9″x 13″ baking dish, I used an 11″ springform pan.  If you don’t have one of those on hand and want round cakes– put the batter in two 9″ cake pans.

French Chocolate Cake and a Good Book!


Bonjour!  Just finished reading On Rue Tatin, Susan Loomis’ story of her family’s move to a town in Normandy, where they renovated a 12th century Convent to make their home and immersed themselves in the luxury of French cooking.  The book is studded with recipes.  Here is her favorite chocolate cake!  It’s sort of a cross between a brownie and a chocolate souffle!

FRENCH CHOCOLATE CAKE
(Originally known as “Gateau au Chocolate de Mamie Jacqueline”)

7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (a rounded cup full)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, separated
pinch salt
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
powdered sugar for garnish

Melt the chocolate in a large microwave proof mixing bowl– about 90 seconds.  Stir until smooth.  If the chocolate still has lumps, microwave it 10 seconds more and stir again.  Then immediately stir in the butter so it will melt with the warm chocolate.

When that is all blended, whisk in 1 cup of sugar (minus 1 tablespoon of sugar saved for later).  Next mix in the flour and 1/4 teaspoon of  salt until it is all combined.

Separate the eggs, putting the yolks into the bowl with the chocolate mixture and the whites into another clean mixing bowl.  Stir in the egg yolks.  And then whisk the eggs white along with the tablespoon of sugar and pinch of salt– until the egg whites are glossy and soft peaks form.  (The whisk attachment on my hand mixer worked well, took a little over 4 minutes)

Fold he egg whites into the chocolate cake batter until it is thoroughly blended and then spoon it into a 9″ cake pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake it up at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until the cake is firm to the touch and  sharp knife inserted comes out clean.

Let the cake cool to lukewarm and then shift powdered sugar over the top of the cake.  So good warm with a bit of ice cream!

Susan Loomis sort of has my dream life– She moved to Paris as a young woman and attended La Varenne École de Cuisine, a cooking school for Americans.  She found friends and small shops with tempting foods all over the city.  Later when she returned home she met, loved and married a sculptor, Michael Loomis and eventually the two found their way back to France where they purchased an ancient convent building in Louviers, a charming town in Normandy.  It took a long a grueling renovation to make the place a home for them and their small son.  But through the years they encountered a large circle of people, from the surly priest next door to warm shop keepers, farmers at the market, the florist sisters across the street and many others who became close friends. I was totally charmed by the book, wanted to write to Susan and ask if I could drop in and stay for the summer!  If you like glorious food, beautiful countryside, and wandering cobbled streets, I think you’d like this book as much as I have.

P.S. Each chapter includes recipes from the author, including a version of this cake!