Banana Cookie Butter Ice Cream

I’ve just made the second best peanut butter decision of my life. The best decision, of course, was Dark Chocolate Dreams, but this is a very close second.

Cookie butter. COOKIE butter?!? Because I’m the girl who eats peanut butter out of the jar with a spoon on a near-daily basis, I couldn’t possibly walk past this in the nut butter/spreads section of Trader Joe’s without being intrigued. I highly recommend purchasing it as soon as you can and finding a safe spot to relax with the jar. And a big spoon. However, if you have a Trader Joe’s local to you, try finding it there before going on Amazon because it appears to be around $12.00 while I paid $3.69 in the store. I recently came across a vegan-friendly ice cream recipe that required no ice cream maker which probably makes it less “ice cream” and more “frozen delicious treat”, but I’m certainly not the one to judge. The recipe used cashew butter or almond butter as the base of the ice cream, but both of these products are very expensive and slightly bitter. I replaced the nut butter with the cookie butter, and it was nothing short of heaven. I also used a combination of maple & agave syrup, but if maple (pure maple) syrup is easier to find, feel free to use that as your sweetener.

It’s been days since I finished this ice cream, and I’m still drooling thinking about it. Must.have.cookie butter.now….

Banana Cookie Butter Ice Cream

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes approximately 2 cups

  • 3-4 large ripe bananas, sliced and frozen
  • 1 jar Cookie Butter (or one cup nut butter)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup plus 2 Tbsp agave nectar (or 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt

How to Do It

  1. Blend the frozen banana slices in a food processor with several short pulses or just enough to finely chop the bananas.
  2. Add the cookie butter, maple & agave syrup, and sea salt, and blend for 3-4 minutes on high speed until the mixture is fluffy and similar in texture to peanut butter. Serve immediately, and freeze the remaining portions (if there are any).

Recipe adapted from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan.

Tips & Treats

  • Let your bananas ripen for 2-3 days, and slice them before freezing. This will make it easy and quick to blend them into the ice cream later on.

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Vegan Strawberry Pie

Pumpkin Mousse

Love & Peanut Butter

Hello there! It’s been awhile!

This hostess-with-the-mostess hosted her fiance’s five closest friends and two sisters this past weekend to celebrate his 29th birthday. In a one-bedroom house. With one bathroom and no air-conditioning (minus the bedroom). If you did your addition correctly, you would know that was 9 people total sharing those accommodations plus my two furry children. There was only one monster birthday cake I could think of that would be able to take on that kind of crowd:

The “Honey I’m Peanuts About You!” cake. This recipe has a terribly corny (or nutty…?) name, but it’s a fabulous concoction of chocolate ganache, peanut butter buttercream, moist chocolate cake, and honey roasted peanuts. It takes the combination of peanut butter and chocolate one step further by incorporating the honey roasted peanuts, and the salty sweetness keeps it from tasting too over-indulgent. I made the cake for the first time two years ago for my honey’s birthday when I was still an amateur baker who was more interested in decorating than creating. I guess I still am an amateur baker…unless a paid internship counts. Anyway, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks since then that doubled the appeal and quality of this cake this time around, and I’m prepared to share them with you so you can delight in the peanut buttery goodness too.

As a side note-it’s more than a coincidence that I’ve chosen to spend the rest of my life with a man who is as obsessed with peanut butter and chocolate as I am. What the heck would I do with a guy who only liked vanilla?

“Honey, I’m Peanuts About You!” Cake

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes one 9-inch cake with 12-16 servings

For the Cake

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cups hot, strong coffee or espresso
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar, sifted or chunks removed
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 9″ round cake pans, greased and lined with parchment paper

For the Buttercream

  • 18oz jar of creamy peanut butter
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted

For the Ganache

  • 24oz semisweet chocolate chips or chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup (12oz) heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 12oz package of honey roasted peanuts, roughly chopped or broken (see tips below)

How to Do It

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Dissolve the cocoa and the buttermilk into the hot coffee or espresso, and set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together, and set aside.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer at medium speed for 5-6 minutes, or until the ingredients are light and fluffy. Slowly add the eggs and vanilla extract to the mixture, and scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary to incorporate all the ingredients.
  5. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and begin alternately folding in the dry and wet ingredients. This works best if you use a heavy rubber spatula and alternate folding 1/3 of the dry ingredients with 1/2 of the wet ingredients. The batter will be lighter than an average cake batter, but be careful not to overmix. The cake should be very moist when it’s fully baked which won’t happen if the batter is overmixed.
  6. Pour half the batter in each prepared pan, and bake for 40-42 minutes, rotating the pan at approximately 20 minutes. Test for doneness by sticking a fork or toothpick into the center of each cake. Remove from the oven, and allow the cake to cool completely in the pan on a baking rack.
  7. While the cake is baking, cream the butter and peanut butter together using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer until ingredients are completely blended and very creamy, 4-5 minutes. Remove the paddle attachment, and replace it with the whip attachment (if you’re using an electric mixer, you don’t have to worry about switching). Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar 1/2 cup at a time while continuously whipping the buttercream. The buttercream should be spreadable but not soft and should be similar to the texture of a thick peanut butter. If it’s still too soft after 2 1/4 cups of confectioner’s sugar are added, add more sugar 1/4 cup at a time until the desired consistency is reached. When you’ve finished whipping the buttercream, set it aside until the cake has completely cooled.
  8. Make the ganache while the cake is cooling. Place the chocolate in a large stainless steel mixing bowl, and place the heavy cream and butter in a small sauce pan. Heat the cream over medium-high heat until it begins to thicken and boil. When the cream begins to rise quickly to the top of the pan, remove it from the heat and pour it over the chocolate immediately. Allow the chocolate to rest with the hot cream for 5-10 minutes before stirring. At this point, use a heavy wire whisk to blend the chocolate and cream until the mixture is consistent and creamy. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes before using. The final consistency of the ganache will be similar to a canned chocolate frosting-spreadable but solid.
  9. When the cake has cooled completely, gently remove it from the pan, and using a sharp knife or cake leveler, split each layer in half horizontally. Place the first layer on a cake stand or flat plate, and generously top with peanut butter buttercream. Gently spread the buttercream over the layer to completely cover it, and place the second layer on top. Repeat until you’ve place the final layer on top of the cake. Spread a generous portion of the cooled chocolate ganache on the top and sides of the cake until it’s completely covered, and while the chocolate is still soft, cover the sides with chopped honey roasted peanuts.
  10. Cover the cake (this is easiest in a cake caddy so the sides do not touch anything), and refrigerate for at least three hours up to overnight before serving. You can freeze the cake for up to 4 hours also if you’re able to let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. This firms up all the layers and makes it extra indulgent!

Recipe adapted from FoodNetwork.com.

Tips & Treats

    Honey roasted peanuts are delightful…but they’re not easy to “chop” unless you have one of those handy-dandy slap-chop things. If you’re aren’t that lucky, put them in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, sealed with as much air pressed out as possible, and use a rolling pin to roll over them several times. This will give you fine pieces to cover the sides of the cake with, and be sure to press them on while the ganache is still soft.

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Mocha Monkey Cupcakes

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Mocha Monkey Cupcakes

I don’t often toot my own horn, but I must say, quite frankly, these cupcakes are THE BOMB.

I recently started following a blog called The Cupcake Project, which is written by a very creative woman who makes cupcakes out of everything but the kitchen sink (though I wouldn’t be surprised if that was next). She announced an annual contest for ice cream cupcakes in conjunction with Scoopalicious with the grand prize winner receiving a $250 gift card to a kitchen supply store of his or her choosing. Once I realized how simple it was to make “ice cream cupcakes” (i.e. cupcakes with ice cream on top…um, delicious), the little cupcakes in my head started spinning with ideas. After numerous Venn diagrams, spreadsheets, and web diagrams, I decided to mimic my favorite frozen treat in the world, the Mocha Monkey.

Unless you live in Quincy or Braintree, MA, you may not know exactly what I’m referring to though I’m certain plenty of other variations exist across the planet. The Mocha Monkey is a frozen coffee drink that has very little coffee but plenty of mocha, bananas, and peanut butter in it. It’s literally everything I love about dessert masked with the term “coffee”, which naturally makes me want it for breakfast. Unfortunately, I’m not one of the lucky ones who lives in Quincy or Braintree, MA, so the only time I get my precious Mocha Monkey is when I visit my very lovely jewelry-making, nature-loving, dog-mom friend Lauren, which is far too infrequently.

So I thought what better treat to come up with than an at-home cupcake version of the Mocha Monkey? If you enjoy banana bread, peanut butter, chocolate, or caramel macchiatos, you’re in for a treat.


Mocha Monkey Cupcakes



For the Cupcakes


Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 16 cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 bananas, mashed
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla


How to Do It

  1. Line two muffin pans with liners, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer for 2-3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the mashed bananas, egg yolks, and vanilla, and beat the mixture again until blended and creamy. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Using the whisk attachment or a handheld electric mixer, whip the egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form, 8-10 minutes. Gently fold 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the banana mixture.
  4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until blended. Fold the remaining 2/3 of egg whites gently into the mix.
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared pans, and bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes, rotating the pan once at the halfway point. Remove the pan from the oven, and let them cool slightly in the pans. Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.


For the Ganache


Stuff You’ll Need

  • 8 oz heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 oz semi-sweet baker’s chocolate, chopped


How to Do It

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a glass or stainless steel mixing bowl.
  2. Heat the heavy cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it begins to boil, and remove it from the heat. Pour the cream immediately over the chopped chocolate, and let the mixture sit for 3-4 minutes. Whip with a whisk until the chocolate is fully melted, and the mixture resembles chocolate sauce.
  3. Refrigerate to cool while making the buttercream and allowing the cupcakes to cool.


For the Buttercream


Stuff You’ll Need

  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp creamy natural peanut butter (not an extra sweet kind)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted


How to Do It

  1. Cream the butter with a paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add peanut butter, and whip again with the paddle attachment until blended. Add salt and vanilla, and whip again. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the paddle, and switch to the whip attachment.
  2. Add one cup of confectioner’s sugar, and whip at low speed to blend the sugar. Increase the speed as the sugar incorporates into the peanut butter mixture. Add the second cup of sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until the mix is slightly stiff but fully blended.


For the Ice Cream Topping

  • Two pints of Starbucks Caramel Macchiato ice cream or another rich coffee flavor


Putting it All Together

Here comes the fun part. Well, really, the fun part is eating the cupcake, but it can be pretty fun making it too. After I made the different components, I used a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip to pipe clumps of the peanut butter buttercream on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, and I put the pan in the freezer while I worked on the other items. Next, when the cupcakes were completely cooled, I dipped the tops of each of them in the chocolate ganache, and stuck them in the freezer so the ganache would harden slightly. I then poured myself a glass of delicious Rose wine, and took the ice cream out to soften. Once it was soft enough to work with, I used a large pastry bag fitted with a large cake icer and piped the ice cream (the best I could) over the chocolate-topped cupcakes. I used a sharp knife to cut slices of the ice cream from the icing tip, and finally, I placed the peanut butter rosettes on top of the ice cream.

Though it’s tricky to eat, this cupcake is on par with Heaven. I’m actually getting hungry thinking of one right now…

Wish me luck for my contest entry, and I’ll post a link to vote as soon as it goes up!

Cinco de Cupcake

It’s Cinco de Mayo this weekend as well as the Kentucky Derby. Other than tequila, mint juleps, and big floppy, flowered hats, I can’t think of any better way to celebrate than festive foods.

With that said, holy mole, these are my favorite cupcakes in the world. No cupcake shoppe I’ve ever been to has made anything close to comparing to this, and I’ve been to a lot. This combines the dynamic duo of peanut butter and chocolate (of course) with spiced chocolate cream cheese frosting so the flavors are so fun you’ll think there’s una fiesta de la boca happening.

If you’ve never baked cupcakes with cookies or candy in the middle before, my best suggestion would be to avoid the temptation to push the mini peanut butter cups all the way into the batter. Not only will the batter rise while baking, the peanut butter cup will naturally begin to sink because it’s heavier than the surrounding batter. You’ll be covering it with a bien grande glob of frosting anyway so no one will see the candy until they bite into the cupcake, and then muy bueno! It’s a surprise in the middle! If you bake the cupcake and the peanut butter cup has sunk all the way to the bottom, it means you’ve pressed it down too far. Just press each candy slightly down, and they’ll turn out perfect.

Surprisingly, the cupcake itself is not the star of the show. The cream cheese frosting is a form of spiced chocolate that is incredibly pleasing to the palette. If you haven’t tried spiced chocolate in any form but you’re a chocolate fan, you need to immediately add chilli powder and cinnamon to your next chocolate fix. This frosting in particular has the subtle taste of chocolate with a kick of these spices that will have you saying “muy caliente!” Luckily, the cream cheese keeps it from getting too hot.

Chilli powder, cream cheese, peanut butter cups, and basic chocolate cupcakes may sound like a less-than-normal combination for dessert, but I promise-these will disappear faster than you can shout “Ole!”

Double Feature Cupcakes with Mexican Hot Chocolate Frosting

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 12-14 Cupcakes

For the Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup or 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 12-14 miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups, unwrapped

For the Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted plus a little extra for texture
  • 3 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted

How to Do It

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Combine the butter and chocolate for the cupcake batter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat for 1 minute, or until both ingredients are melted. Be careful not to overheat and burn the chocolate. If the butter is melted, you can continue to stir the chocolate until it melts as well. Set the bowl aside.
  3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Blend, and set aside.
  4. Pour the melted butter and chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract. Add the granulated sugar, and beat with a handheld mixer or by hand until the batter is smooth and combined, about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix fully between each addition.
  5. Gradually add the dry ingredients, and whip until the batter is smooth. Do not overmix.
  6. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full using an ice cream scoop or large spoon. Gently place a peanut butter cup in the center of each cup, and press down slightly.
  7. Bake the cupcakes for 10 minutes, and rotate the pan. Bake another 10 minutes or until the cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly. Remove from the oven and cool slightly in the pan. Move the cupcakes from the pan to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  8. Prepare the frosting by creaming the butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. It’s best to use the paddle attachment for this step if available. Add the chilli powder, cinnamon, and salt to cream cheese mixture, and whip until they’re blended. Add the vanilla extract next. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar a cup at a time until you’ve added the 3 cups. Continue to add confectioner’s sugar 1/4 to 1/2 cup at a time if you need a more dense texture.

Recipe from Food Network.

 

The last of the peanut buttery chocolatey goodness (for now)

It happens to me every now and then where I just can’t sit still at my desk because all I want to do is disappear into the kitchen with my KitchenAid and a glass of wine. This happened yesterday. I had plans to go for a nice healthy jog and watch hours of Entourage (I’m trying to catch up on the whole series…you know, six months after the series ended), but all of a sudden, I just had to bake. Since creating delicious treats is my favorite thing in the world to do, I always listen to that instinct, even if it means changing around my plans. The exercise, of course, flew out the window first, and I even found it difficult to concentrate on last-minute projects at work because I only wanted to plan what I was going to make.

This is where my dilemma comes in. I’m not even talking about skipping exercise or only half-concentrating on my work; I’m talking about what I gravitate to every single time I make last-minute baking plans: peanut butter and chocolate. I hardly ever get the sudden craving to make something vanilla or fruity or even just plain chocolate, but it’s like a biological need that I have to combine peanut butter and chocolate. Simply put, I freakin love it. But unless my website was called loveandpeanutbutter.com (which I’m thinking maybe it should have been), it gets boring to read about the same flavors in different tasty forms over and over again. So I’ve made a plan to diversify…NO PEANUT BUTTER FOR A MONTH. Well, at least no baking with peanut butter…or at least, no baking with peanut butter and chocolate. This might be harder than I thought…

Anyway, the recipe below is adapted from a Martha Stewart peanut butter chocolate chunk cookie recipe, but I wanted to fun-ify it a little more by replacing regular peanut butter with The Greatest Peanut Butter in the World, Dark Chocolate Dreams.

And I had to add Reese’s Pieces to get some color, some crunch, and some deliciousness in there with the semisweet chocolate.

I chopped pieces of semisweet baking chocolate using a chef’s knife and a cutting board because the baking chocolate tends to have better texture and a richer taste than semisweet chips.

And I had to make these guys bigger than Martha did. Her recipe said it would make 36 cookies…I hardly had the batter for 24. Who likes small cookies?!?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 24 cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter or Earth Balance buttery spread, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs or 2 eggs’ worth egg replacer
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Reese’s Pieces
  • Baking sheets, parchment paper

How to Do It

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or use nonstick baking sheets.
  • Whisk the flour and baking soda in a small mixing bowl, and set aside.
  • Beat the peanut butter, butter, and sugars in a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer.
  • Add the eggs or egg replacer and vanilla extract, and beat until the dough is soft and moist.
  • Gradually add the flour, and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat until the ingredients are just incorporated.
  • Add the chopped chocolate and Reese’s pieces, and blend with the electric mixer or stand mixer for just 30 seconds. Fold with a rubber spatula to blend the chocolate more throughly.
  • Use an ice cream scoop or tablespoon to measure chunks of the dough evenly, shape them into rounded balls, and place them on the prepared baking sheets. These have very little spread so you can flatten them out with a large spoon or your fingers.
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until the edges are crisp and cracked. Remove from the oven and cool for ten minutes on the baking sheet. Move the cookies to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from MarthaStewart.com.

Bye bye peanut butter chocolatey goodness

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzel Balls

The length of the title of this recipe takes longer to say than the recipe takes to make. I promise. I also promise that these little delights are dangerous. I don’t mean you’ll eat one and feel horribly guilty afterward, I don’t mean they’ll destroy your diet, and I certainly don’t mean you wouldn’t want to be caught in a dark alley with them. What I mean is this-you’ll pop one into your mouth and love it, and then you’ll try another, and then…”What?!? I ate 7?!?”

They’re two-bite-sized, and they have a crispy texture that fools you into thinking they’re a light snack. They’re certainly not so it may take a little effort to exercise some portion control. Luckily, the recipe doesn’t make that much 😉

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzel Balls

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 10 tablespoon-sized balls

  • 1/2 cup good quality natural chunky peanut butter
  • 1 cup chopped salted pretzels
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate or 1/2 cup carob, nondairy chocolate chips
  • Baking sheet, parchment paper, small ice cream scoop (optional)

How to Do It 

  1. Begin by mixing the chunky peanut butter in a metal mixing bowl. Stir it just briefly to evenly distribute the peanuts and oil, and place the bowl in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Line the pan with parchment paper, and remove the peanut butter from the freezer. Fold the chopped pretzels into the peanut butter, and use a small ice cream scoop or spoon to remove chunks of the mixture. Roll them into tablespoon-sized round mounds. If the mixture begins to get too sticky to work with, place it in the freezer for another 5-10 minutes to rest.
  3. Place the baking pan with the peanut butter balls in the freezer for one hour to freeze.
  4. Before removing the tray, melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler, and place in a small, deep cup or bowl.
  5. Remove the tray from the freezer, and dip each ball into the chocolate. Move it around with a fork until the entire surface is covered in chocolate. Place back on the parchment paper. Freeze the balls until the chocolate has hardened, approximately 30 minutes. Move to the refrigerator or the counter to get to room temperature before serving…and watch how many you eat at once! They’re tricky!

Recipe adapted from Delish.com.

The Adult Fluffer Nutter

Happy short work-week for most! I enjoyed my long weekend, and somehow I was able to bake, even though I was swept up in The Hunger Games series. Seriously, I haven’t been able to separate myself from my Kindle for the last week. I think I was even reading while baking. Anyway, I found this lovely recipe while searching for a bite-sized dessert recipe for my friend Michelle’s birthday party. It took slightly longer than I’d planned for, but then again, that could have been my Kindle distraction. The steps in the original recipe seem a little overwhelming because it requires a bit of technique (you make your own marshmallow fluff), and because there are several steps to make this one little sandwich. I’ll do my best to break it down and make it seem as easy as (moon) pie.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Moon Pies

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 1 dozen moon pies

For the Dough

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus a little more for rolling out the dough
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Rolling pin
  • 2 cookie sheets
  • Parchment paper

For the Fillings

  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 cup good quality chunky peanut butter (I used Nature’s Promise Natural Chunky Peanut Butter-it was SO delicious)
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 pinch cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar, plus more for dusting (optional)
  • Small saucepan
  • Stand mixer, or a good quality electric hand mixer

How to Do It

  1. Cream the butter and brown sugar together at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Beat in 1 tsp of the vanilla extract and 1 whole egg.
  2. Gradually add the flour and salt, and beat until a soft dough forms. When the ingredients are just blended, remove the dough from the mixer, and knead with your hands until the dough is uniform and the texture is soft. Divide the dough into two mounds, and wrap each mound in plastic wrap. Flatten each mound slightly until it’s less than an inch thick, and let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line the cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. On a floured work surface, roll each mound of dough until it’s uniform and 1/8″ thick. Use a biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter (or if you have neither, use the lid of the peanut butter jar like I did 😉 ) to make 24 equal circles. Use the scraps of dough to roll out and cut additional circles. Place the circles on the cookie sheets, and place the cookie sheets in the refrigerator for another ten minutes while they firm up.
  5. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned, and rotate the pans 7-8 minutes into baking time.
  6. Remove from the oven, and allow the cookies to cool slightly on the pan before transferring them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely
  7. Cover half the cookies with the melted chocolate by using a spoon and pouring a small amount on each cookie. Use the spoon to spread the chocolate close to, but not touching, the edges of the cookies. Refrigerate the cookies to allow the chocolate to set for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Spread the chunky peanut butter on the other half of the cookies.
  9. Begin whipping the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt at medium-high to high speed until the stiff peaks of a meringue form.
  10. Heat the corn syrup in a small saucepan until boiling, and gradually temper the meringue by slowly pouring the hot corn syrup in a steady stream. Continue to whip for another two minutes, or until the mixture is glossy.
  11. Beat in the remaining vanilla extract and 1 cup of sifted confectioner’s sugar at medium-low speed until the mixture thickens and has the texture of marshmallow fluff. Congratulations, you just made your own fluff :-).
  12.  Let the marshmallow fluff cool completely, and then fill a large plastic        resealable sandwich bag with it. Make a small cut at the corner of the bag, and pipe the cookies covered in peanut butter. Be sure not to get too close to the edges as the marshmallow tends to be messy.
  13. Top the cookies with the chocolate halves, and refrigerate for several minutes to set.
  14. Let the cookies soften for up to two hours, and top with sifted confectioner’s sugar or cocoa powder and cinnamon.

Tip: These get very messy so try to set the layers between each addition. The cookies themselves are more like shortbread than sugar cookie so the addition of confectioner’s sugar or cocoa powder and cinnamon at the end helps sweeten the deal.

Recipe from Delish.com.

Not-for-a-Diet No-Bake Peanut-Butter-Chocolate Squares

Disclaimer: These are loaded with calories. They’re delicious. They’re addictive. I’m not responsible if you stray from your New Year’s resolution to eat them.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me introduce you to an extremely easy dessert that may disappear is less time than it takes to make them. The quality of the ingredients you use is definitely important with this dessert because nothing is baked. A poor quality ingredient won’t be able to hide behind a browned crust or under a creamy frosting. I replaced a few items in the original recipe to enhance the taste, including the use of my favorite creamy peanut butter, Jif Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter. This peanut butter is perfect to use in the recipe because it’s smooth, slightly sweet, and thick. I used cinnamon graham crackers to mix in with the peanut butter because it gives an extra spicy kick to the bars, and it makes them a bit more interesting if they’ve been spiced up.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Squares

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes approximately 2 dozen squares

  • 1 1/2 cups cinnamon graham cracker squares, or about 1/2 of a box of cinnamon graham crackers, crushed
  • 2 sticks Earth Balance or other margarine, melted
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 cups Hershey’s kisses
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 13″ x 9″ by 2″ cake pan
  • Parchment paper

How to Do It

  1. Lightly grease a 13″ x 9″ pan, and cover the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted Earth Balance or margarine, confectioner’s sugar, and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon, and mix until well-combined. It will be a thick mixture and may be difficult to spread with a spoon or spatula. Lay the mixture into the lightly greased pan, and spread with your fingertips instead. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 10 minutes to firm.
  3. While the peanut butter layer is chilling, cook the heavy cream and Hershey’s kisses over low heat until the chocolate is melted and begins to bubble. Spread the melted chocolate over the peanut butter layer, and spread with a rubber spatula or butter knife. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
  4. Slice in squares, and serve.

Peanut Blossom…Cupcakes?!?!

Oh yes, I have taken that fabulous little cookie-shaped piece of heaven and turned it into a cupcake-shaped piece of heaven. I first came up with this idea three years ago when I was beginning to really fall in love with baking, and it took me a few tries to transform a (perfect) cookie recipe into a cupcake recipe. I am especially proud of this recipe because it’s the first one I’ve created from scratch. Unfortunately, when I first developed the recipe, I was using Reese’s Peanut Butter as one of the main ingredients, but when I went to the local grocery store to find it, I was disheartened. Apparently, Reese’s doesn’t make peanut butter anymore 😦 😦 😦 I had to use something a little different to get that chocolatey-peanut-buttery taste so I chose my absolute favorite “healthy” indulgence (I say “healthy” because it’s vegan-friendly dark chocolate peanut butter that has fewer calories per tablespoon than regular peanut butter), Peanut Butter & Co’s Dark Chocolate Dreams.

It’s absolutely vital that you use the right peanut butter for both the frosting and the cupcake because of the range of peanut butters there are out there. Some are too salty, some aren’t salty enough, some are too sweet, some aren’t creamy enough…I felt like the Goldilocks of peanut butters when I was selecting my ingredients. I knew I wanted the chocolatey taste in the cupcake so the selection of the Dark Chocolate Dreams was easy enough, but I wanted something a little more natural and just slightly salty for the frosting. I selected Smart Balance Creamy peanut butter because it had the right taste, and the texture was creamy and smooth and didn’t have to be stirred like some other natural peanut butters.

Anyway, on to the good stuff. I’ll include tips on decorating at the end of the recipe.

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 18 cupcakes

For the Cupcake

  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sweet, chocolatey peanut butter like Dark Chocolate Dreams
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 18 Hershey’s chocolate kisses, unwrapped
  • 2 muffin/cupcake pans

For the Frosting

  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy, natural peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pastry bag with a star tip

For the Chocolate Topping

  • 10 Hershey’s kisses, unwrapped
  • Pastry bag with a small round tip

How to Do It

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line your pan with paper cupcake liners.
  2. Sift together the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and chocolatey peanut butter together on low speed until whipped and smooth, about 3 minutes. You can use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or use an electric hand mixer.
  4. Add the sugars to the peanut butter mixture, and cream together at medium speed until fluffy, or about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract, and continue to mix until ingredients are fully blended. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  6. Gradually add the dry ingredients in 3 steps, and scrape the sides of the bowl between each addition.
  7. When the ingredients are just blended, stop mixing, and scoop the batter into the cupcake liners until they are no more than 2/3 full. Gently push a Hershey’s kiss into the center of each cupcake. As the cupcakes bakes, it will bake around the chocolate so there is no need to push it to the bottom of the liner.
  8. Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes spring back when gently pressed.
  9. Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and cool slightly in the pan. Move to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the peanut butter buttercream frosting by whipping together the butter and peanut butter until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla extract, and continue to whip. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar, and pause to occasionally scrape the sides of the bowl.
  11. Melt the Hershey’s kisses to drizzle over the frosted cupcakes.

Tip: Use a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip to frost the cupcakes. Both the buttercream and the cupcake are fairly rich so you don’t need much frosting. Fancy it up more by melting Hershey’s kisses and putting them into a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. Drizzle each cupcake with a little chocolate.

Lighten it Up! Use Earth Balance vegan buttery spread (it comes in sticks too) to replace the butter in the recipe. It’s closer to cruelty-free, healthier, and, I promise, no one will know the difference 😉

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