Death to Cupcakes: A New Era Begins (Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes)

Last year, I called it. Just saying.

Its official Crumbs, one of the nation’s largest cupcakes chains, has closed its doors. It seems Americans are tired of this once trend. We no longer feel the need to have a portion sized, personal cake with frosting decorated to wow us. We no longer want art on a platter, we no longer feel the need to pay $3.00 for a cupcake. Americans are tired of your shit cupcakes, you’re out.

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So that leaves me wondering, what’s the next trend? Cheesecake on a stick would be awesome! But then we would have to find portable ways to keep it cool. Gourmet Brownies, that’s something I can get on board with. What about good ol’ fashion cookies? Nah, too… ordinary.

What do you think the next food trend will be? Well if you figure it out let me know… in the meantime…

Chocolate and peanut butter go together like Bonnie and Clyde, Thelma and Louise, Tom and Jerry and Beyoncé and Jay-z. It just works, the salty and sweet, sweet and salty, throw a little sea salt on top and you have an edible euphoria unlike any other.

According to The thechocolatestore.com Americans consume 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year, which is approximately 11.6 pounds per person.  On the other hand according to the National Peanut Board (yes this exists), Americans spend $800 million a year on peanut butter, that’s a lot of jars! Obviously this paring is not going out of style any time soon!

Courtney’s coworker requested chocolate peanut butter cupcakes for his birthday and I am always more than happy to deliver. I made a rich chocolate cupcake using both dark chocolate coco powder, and regular coco power. I also decided that this needed a peanut butter filling, so a mock Reese’s filling was pumped into the middle of these suckers, topped off with a peanut butter butter cream.

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Chocolate Peanut butter cupcakes:

If you are allergic to peanuts, these will surely kill you. But if you are a chocolate peanut butter fanatic, these are sure to melt your heart!

Makes 24 cupcakes

The cake was adapted from: Hersey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate cake recipe

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup Hersey’s Dark Chocolate Cocoa powder

1/2 cup Hersey’s cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

 

Filling taken from a Wilton recipe:

1 1/2 Tablespoons warm melted butter

1/2 cup peanut butter room temp

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

 

Peanut-Butter, Butter Cream adapted from the wonderful Martha Stewart:

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

1 stick of butter, softened

2 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons whipping cream

 

 

 

Directions:

Cake:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. Mix together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).
  3. Pour into cupcake liners or greased cupcake tins, fill 3/4 full.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle come out clean

Filling:

  1. Core the cupcakes using either a knife or a cupcake corer if you have one
  2. Melt the butter and mix into the peanut butter and confectioner sugar till combined
  3. Resist the urge to eat all of it
  4. Using a spoon, or a bag fill the cored cupcake with this mixture.

Frosting

  1. Mix butter and peanut butter together, add in confectioners’ sugar, and add in whipping cream.
  2. Whip till desired consistency
  3. Again resist the urge to eat it all
  4. Either pipe, or spread on cupcakes.

 

 

 

 

Bedside Confessions (Chocolate Malt Cupcakes)

What the hell is malt? Like what is it? I understand it’s some sort of powdered milk substance, I also understand its delicious! But I just do not understand, how do you make it, where does it come from, is it dairy? I DON’T GET IT.
The first time I had a chocolate malt shake I was in California with Courtney and I was honestly skeeved out at first. The first problem is we were walking into a fast food joint, I do not do fast food. Seriously it kills me supporting it, the fake and gross things that go into fast food, dkfjasod;ehfj, I’m getting chills just thinking about it. After I finally walked in and order a Chocolate Malt shake I knew this summer would be awesome.
I never had a malt shake before California. I was baffled, did they make this everywhere? Can I get it in Pennsylvania? Why have my parents never told me about this? Can I have this every day? How bad is this for me!?!?!?! The malt intensifies the chocolate making it sweet, but not too sweet. It also gives it a grainier consistence which is weirdly addictive. I LOVE IT, I AM A MALT ADDICT.

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Back in PA I find malt on my shopping list way to frequently. I hate to admit it but I keep a bottle on my nightstand, just encase of that midnight milkshake (you think I’m kidding but I’m not!). The serving size is 2 TBSP but I will not deny dumping a quarter cup in a 12 ounce shake. I have pretty much tried it in everything and anything from chocolate milk to dipping bread in it, just like hot sauce, I will put that shit on everything.
My mom asked me to make cupcakes this weekend the only parameters being chocolate. The cupcakes were for a co-worker that we have both worked with. Jon turned 25 on Monday and this food loving fiend has asked if he could move in with us so he could enjoy my mother’s cooking and my baking all the time. We said no.
Anyways it just so happens that Jons favorite summer time drink is also chocolate malt shakes, so making a chocolate cupcake with a malt frosting was just common sense. This cupcake recipe below was originally used for a 2 layer cake and makes close to 3 dozen cupcakes. Also the batter needs to be mixed longer than normal, I would say a good 3-5 minutes or else you get clumps of baking soda/ flour still visible in the cupcake. Do not let the shorting in the frosting scare you it’s really VERY good. The malt and this frosting go down smooth, and easily makes enough to frost all the cupcakes – that is if you resist the temptation to eat the entire bowl.

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So turn your shake into a cupcake, and enjoy summer through all seasons!
Chocolate Malt Cupcake
Yields about 32 cupcakes
Ingredients Cake:
2 1/3 Cup Lukewarm Water
3/4 Cup vegetable oil
3 Large eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 1/3 Cup Sugar
3/4 Cup unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons baking soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
Ingredients Frosting:
1 Cup Unsalted Butter, Room Temp
1 Cup Vegetable Shortening
1/2 Cup malted Milk
4 Tablespoons Unsweetened, Dutch Process Cocoa Powder
5 Cups Confectioner Sugar
Directions:
1. To make the cake combine the first 6 ingredients and mix well.
2. Mix in the flour, baking soda and salt well until combined
3. Bake on 350 degrees, for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
Frosting:
1. Whip the butter and vegetable shortening until fluffy
2. Add the malt and cocoa powder
3. Add the 5 Cups of confectioner sugar 1 cup at a time
4. Wait until the cupcakes are cool before you frost
ENJOY!

Drunken Banana (Fool Proof, Drunk Proof, Easy Banana Muffins)

It starts at eight am, the phone calls, the emails, the issues, the drama. From eight am till five you are chained. Chained to a chair (which between you and me is not that comfortable), and doused with other people’s problems and lit on fire. It sucks. Day in and day out we continue this pattern. Issue after issue, crisis after crisis, and not one person likes it; not you, not the person on the other end of the phone and definitely not your boss. But we wake up each morning and do it anyway because we are crazy.

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Anyways, ranting aside, we all hate work, that’s a given. But on the occasion we all like to do nice things for our coworkers,Martini recipe like bake them chocolate chip banana muffins for breakfast, to show them how much you appreciate them not literally lighting you on fire when you complain. But also on occasion you like to drink away a hard day at work, and three key lime pie martinis in you realize those muffins are not going to bake themselves.

 

Coworkers around the world, I have done you a favor. Drunk proof muffins!! *I think I am required by law to say that if you are under the influence take my ideas lightly, while it might be fun for me to make muffins and risk burning the house down, you might want to think twice about this idea.* After a few cocktails sprawled out on the chase lounge by the pool, those damn muffins still linger in the back of your head. Well have no fear, follow this recipe somewhat and your muffins will come out wonderful!

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 Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

These muffins are super simple to make and one of my house hold favorite. When the bananas go bad and the fruit flies start buzzing be sure to reach for this recipe and not waste those sweet, beautiful bananas.

Makes roughly 24 muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup butter, softened

1/2 Cup sugar

1/2 Cup packed brown sugar

2 Eggs

1 – 1/2 Cups mashed ripe bananas (bout 3)

3 Teaspoons Vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 Teaspoons baking soda

1 bag of chocolate chips (or less, to taste really)

Directions:

  1. In a stand mixer cream butter and sugars
  2. Beat in eggs, bananas and vanilla.
  3. Combine mixture until combined.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips
  5. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups half way
  6. Bake at 350* for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
  7. Wait 5 minutes before removing from pan.

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Island Time… (Toasted Coconut Key Lime Pie)

Paradise to me has always been on a beach. There is something so relaxing about the crashing sound of the ocean, the heated sand under you, and all of your cares washed out to sea. Paradise for me is located in a place I’d like to call home, Hawaii. Island time is really different than Eastern Standard Time. When work calls you at three in the morning, you can roll over and hit ignore and nobody cares. When you try to contact people at 9 o’clock island time, and no one answers, it is kind of relaxing. At 12 in the afternoon if you feel like going surfing on your lunch break, it’s expected.May 21 through June 1 I was lucky enough to go to Hawaii with my parents, a graduation present for finally finishing college. From May 21 to the 26 I was in Oahu, and from May 26 to June 1 I was falling in love with Maui.

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Waikiki from the pier

Oahu was nice, if you like the city. High rise building and double digit floor hotels rose off the beach like concrete giants. Honolulu could compare to a small New York City, with bustling storefronts, and business men and women struggling to predict the latest trend in there respected markets. While the city remained busy, the mountains kept a watchful eye in the background, reminding the workers that an escape was only a short drive away.

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The Waikiki beach, so idolized in movies and TV shows, appears nonexistent in this Jersey girls eyes. On the East Coast beaches can stretch as far as a half mile, but here you had maybe 20 feet until the water’s edge, if you were lucky.  A rocky coral lined the beach, which did not affect the standard surfer, but kept the midlife beach goer out of the water. I did take a surf lesson with Gone Surfing, and let me tell you, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I am not weak by any means. I work out almost every day, and I pride myself on my toned body, but paddling the quarter mile out or whatever it may be killed me! Luckily the Gone Surfing team helps you get out, or I would never have surfed in Waikiki.

As you traveled away from the highly commercialized, somewhat polluted city the true colors of the island finally showed through. The island is beautiful! All of the beaches on the island are open to the public, and all of them have something unique to them. I would love to travel to the North Shore in the winter and see the giant wave’s crash on the beach and everything else around them. For now the lush green beauty of the mountains and the calm pristine beaches held me over.

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The pristine beaches of Maui

Maui was something entirely different, Maui was an island of dreams. As we flew in (it’s a 15 minute plane ride from Oahu) we could see sugar cane growing all over the island, and the mountains reaching into the clouds at a height of over ten thousand feet. On the ground it smelled sweet, a mix of sugar cane and plumaira filled the air. We stayed at the Honua Kai in Lahaina and trust me I would live there if I could. Golden sand beaches stretched on, with a sunset every night just over Molokai. There was a reef maybe 6 feet off the beach with the best snorkeling I have ever seen and I have snorkeled all over the world. There was turtles, parrot fish, the entire cast of Nemo, and even an eel or two, I was in fish heaven. On land the things to do greatly outnumbered my time spent there. The road to Hana highlighted my trip. 1 road, 68 miles, roughly 620 curves and 59 one lane bridges all to view the best of Maui. Scenic overlooks, arboretums, waterfalls, and a black sand beach are just a few things that made this drive so special.

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One of the many wonders of Hana

Without a doubt the most busy tourist section of the island was Front Street in Lahaina. We went there every night, may it be for entertainment, dining, or shopping, Front Street was the place to be. The Old Lahaina Luau was a wonderful interpretation of the islands rich culture through the best way they know how, dance. It was amazing to see these dancers contort their bodies, as well as tell the history of the islands all in a way that everyone could understand. I also managed to strike up a conversation with our “waiter” about snowboarding, which I found odd in Hawaii, yet loved.

The fruit in Maui is unlike anything I have ever tasted. On the road to Hana I stopped by a roadside stand and got 7 bananas for a dollar, 7!!! They were the sweetest, freshest piece of fruit I have ever tasted. I also stopped at a different road side stand and got a home grown avocado. This thing was huge!!! Nothing like the store bought avocado in Jersey this thing was the size of my face!! The pineapple drips juices like watermelon. After breakfast each morning I found myself having to wash up because I was covered in sticky juices from the pineapple I devoured. If I lived in Hawaii, the only thing I would eat would be fruit that I picked in the morning, avocado, and fresh fish, what else could I need?

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I was not leaving without a fight

I did not want to leave. In fact my father had to peel me off of a palm tree. I miss the 78 degree weather every day. I miss watching the rain shower come off the mountains in the mornings. I miss talking about surf, and the morning fishing report with the locals. I could move there for an extended amount of time and never run out of things to do. One day I will return only to make plans to live there for a year.

 

Coconut Key Lime Pie:

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One of my favorite desserts (Kona Coffee flavored ice cream aside) was Key Lime Pie that I had at Lahaina Fish Co. I normally don’t like key lime pie, but this was the epitome of island taste. It was so fluffy I thought it was cheesecake at first, but the taste cannot be denied. It had the light texture of damp clouds, and the flavor of tropical islands, definitely one of the most memorable desserts on the island.

Ingredients:

For crust:

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons of sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup toasted coconut

For the filling:

1, 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

4 large egg yolks

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh or bottled Key Lime juice

Toasted coconut to taste

Directions:

To make crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a large bowl combine cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter and coconut until combined.
  3. Spread with a fork in a greased 9 inch glass pie pan
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, remove and let cool.

Make filling

  1. Whisk condensed milk and yokes until combined
  2. Add juice and coconut flakes and whisk again until combined.
  3. Pour into the middle of the crust and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Cool pie completely on a rack.
  5. Chill, covered for 8 hours.

 

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Which came first: Tequila vs. Revolution (Vanilla Lime Cupcakes)

One tequila, two tequila, three tequilas more, four tequila, five tequila, six tequila, floor.

Happy Cinco De Mayo, we Americans will spend it sipping margaritas, taking shots of tequila followed by sour faces, and the hugging of the porcelain express. Leave it up to Americans to take a holiday from another country and turn it upside down, IT IS NOT A MEXICAN DRINKING HOLIDAY.

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WARNING HISTORY LESSON AHEAD: In 1861 Mexico was going through an economic crisis, debt was not being paid, other countries were involved, it was not a good time. Good ol’ Napoleon III decided that France should take over Mexico because of the prime real estate next to the US. So the French army went over to Mexico and started a French vs. Mexican war. On May 5th, 1862 they Mexican army was surprised by the French in Puebla but somehow, although the Mexican army was out numbered, they defeated the French for the battle of Puebla!

Mexico City was still taken over by the French, until they decided that they did not want it anymore in 1866 then handed it back over to the Mexican government. Cinco de Mayo in Mexico serves as a day of Mexican pride where they hold parades and mock battles, but tequila is not a requirement.  END HISTORY LESSON.

America has a great way of taking something and blowing it out of the water. Alcohol companies did a great job taking a celebration of pride and turning it into a day of drunken stumbling in the US, but hey who can resist a good shot of patron?!?

Unfortunately tequila and cupcakes don’t match, just like tequila and anything creamy doesn’t match, trust me I tried. However what is a must have with tequila? Limes of course and despite the lime shortage this year I was able to snag a handful and make wonderful Vanilla lime cupcakes. So take a shot, and chase it with these vanilla lime cupcakes! Happy Drinking Everyone!

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Vanilla Lime Cupcakes

Since tequila and cupcakes lead to a sour blend, these cupcakes signify what comes after the shot, and I am not talking about a sour face! This vanilla cupcake is super light and goes down easy, while the buttercream Lime frosting is not too sweet, but chases the cupcake like a champ!

Makes 12

Ingredients:

Cake

1 2/3 Cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 Teaspoon baking powder

1/4 Teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 Teaspoon of salt

1 Cup granulated Sugar

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, melted

2 Egg whites

1/4 Cup vanilla yogurt

3/4 Cup Milk

2 Teaspoons Vanilla extract

Frosting

1 Cup Unsalted butter at room temp.

6 Cups Powdered sugar

Juice of 1 lime, freshly squeezed

Zest of 1 lime

Few drops of green food coloring

Small lime slices for garnish, if desired.

 

Directions:

Cupcakes –

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a medium bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside
  3. Melt the butter.
  4. In a stand mixer (or a large bowl for a hand mixer) mix the butter and sugar. Mix in the egg whites, yogurt, milk and vanilla until combined.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until incorporated with no lumps.
  6. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 the way with batter, bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Frosting –

  1. With a stand mixer beat butter until lite and fluffy.
  2. Add powder sugar, salt, lime juice, and zest and mix until creamy
  3. Mix in a few drops of green food coloring
  4. Transfer into a piping bag and frost the cupcakes when cool

 

Running Away (Gluten Free, Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies)

Heart pounding, I run. My lungs, once full of air are now deflated and scrambling, but still continue. My shins absorb the impact of the worn concrete, walked by countless people, yet run by me. Aching arms continue to sway mechanically back and forth, they scream for a break, but none comes. Head held high and with determination holding me from looking back, I run.

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Saving the orangutans one run at a time.

I like to run. Trust me it’s not as bad as it sounds. As a former 3 sport college athlete I need something to keep my adrenalin going, something to hold hope that there will be one more game. I run because I can, it keeps me in shape, it clears my mind. The benefits of running are strongly outweighed by the cons and keep me happy, healthy and strong.

Last Sunday, April 27, 2014 I ran my first 5K. It was the Philly Run Wild through the Philly Zoo all to benefit the orangutans. First of all you have to understand that 3.1 miles for me is a warm up. I can easily run for 7+ miles without skipping a beat. In fact I think I held myself back a little during this race because I was still budgeting my energy for a longer run. But it was so much fun! The next day I came back to work and signed up for another 5K at the Working Dog Winery in East Windsor NJ!

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Right after Jess finished, is it just me or does she look a little tired?

With 5k fever on my mind I thought about eating cleaner, which is rough when your two best friends are Ben and Jerry’s, and the new Core Flavors, MMMM let me tell you, such an amazing game changer. Anyways, yes it’s true I don’t eat as clean as I should. I also have a small problem with gluten, or rather it has a small problem with me. I eat it, it kicks my ass, you get the picture. So I decided to cut out as much gluten as possible, and add more protein to my diet to hopefully gain those sexy running muscles (HA!).

With protein on my mind, and gluten out of my body I set out this week to develop a cookie that I won’t feel too bad eating, Ha, yeah right. While this recipe does not contain flour, it does contain a cup and a half of sugar, so you win some, you lose some. But on the positive side I do feel better when I grab 2 for breakfast.

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Fresh from the oven!

Flourless, Gluten Free, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the past I have made a gluten free, soy free, lactose free cookie similar to this, but not quite. If your dietary needs are all that and more please refer to Kim’s Kookies!

Makes about 36 cookies

Ingredients

2 cups natural crunchy peanut butter

1 ½ cups sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 bag dark chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Put peanut butter, sugar, beaten eggs, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and mix.
  3. Mix in chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop into tablespoon sized bowls and place 2 inches apart on parchment paper lined cookie trays.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they start to golden.

 

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Send Inspiration!!! (Perfect Chocolate, Chocolate Cake)

Lately I’ve gotten tired of the same old questions, “what’s new?” “Nothing”, “Whats up?” “Same ol’ same old.”, “Hows work?” “worky”. I need difference in my life, I need excitement. Luckily with the weather warming, cabin fever is finally wearing off and we can go for hikes and walks outside. Actually this past weekend I got to (re)plant potatoes with a local organic farm and got really, really sunburn – lobster status.

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Look! A wild Heron!

However even with this slight change in the weather I am still caught up in the mundane patterns of society. I don’t even know what to bake anymore, I’m running out of ideas, motivation is slipping from my slightly tan, and rather dry fingers. Bold statement warning: PLEASE SEND IDEAS! Ideas for baked goods, ideas for blog posts, give me a topic I can work with that. Give me a news article I can form something around that. I JUST NEED VARIATION IN MY LIFE. Okay boring rant aside I did get to make a pretty awesome cake recently. When you are 80 years old where do you see yourself? What do you hope to have accomplished in your life? To celebrate 80 years I made a 3 layered “zebra” cake for this wonderful lady (see photo below). This by far was the biggest cake I have ever made and the only time I made a tiered cake. I was actually stumped ealier in the week, I did not know what kind of support this cake would need. After a trip to A.C. Moore and $80 later I got the cake support I needed as well as a bunch of things I didn’t need. Image What I really want to tell you about in this cake is the chocolate. I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe, Hersey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate cake recipe. This is by far the richest, wettest, chocolatlyist cake I have ever had. This is not the first time I’ve used this recipe, Pair this with a peanut butter ganache you have a heart breaker. Pair this with a Bailys butter cream icing you have a dream. IMG_7964 Without further ado, Chocolate addicts please feast your eyes on the greatest chocolate cake recipe you may ever encounter   Hersey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake Recipe This will make a double layer cake easy. This time I paired it with a Bailys buttercream icing, it was a beautiful mixture of flavors. P.S. This is the same buttercream icing I use on the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes. Ingredients: Cake - 2 cups sugar 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 2 eggs 1 cup milk 1/2 cup vegetable oil 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 cup boiling water Frosting – 2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature 5 cups powdered sugar 6 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream Directions: Cake

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, and grease 2 9 inch round baking pans
  2. In a large bowl combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt
  3. In a stand mixer mix eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet along with boiling water and mix, the batter will be thin, this is normal.
  5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Cool ten minutes before removing from pan, wait an additional 15 before frosting.

Frosting:

  1. In a stand mixer whip the butter on medium speed for 5 minutes scraping the sides of the bowl down periodically.
  2. Add the powder sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing between each cup, until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the Baileys and whip until light and fluffy.