Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

As you all know, this past Thursday was Nate’s birthday….or as Nate likes to call it, the day he’s “on vacation.” By this he means that I’m not allowed to make him run any errands.

Nate’s currently home during the day while I’m at work, and as most of us working folk know, most stores that you need to run errands at are only open during the hours we’re at work. So annoying, right?! I’ve been having Nate run some errands for me and he’s been none too pleased.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

I did really want to give him “the day off” on his birthday, but my library books were about to expire so I asked him to do me a favor and return my books to the library across the street from our apartment. I don’t even want to tell you how much he complained….but then I reminded him about this wonderful cake that I’d be serving him that evening. I didn’t hear another word. At least for a day.

Nate is a man of simple tastes, so when it came time to figure out what to bake up for his bday, I only had to think of his few favorite combos: chocolate-mint, red velvet/carrot cake + cream cheese frosting, and of course, chocolate peanut-butter.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

It seems that Deb’s ( from Smitten Kitchen) husband is a choco peanut butter fan too, and so when I saw this recipe on her site, I knew I had to make it. I’ve had good luck with the recipes on her site because they’re well-tested, so I was pretty sure this one would be a winner.

I have to say that as I added the 1.5 cups of water the recipe calls for and stirred it up, I was slightly skeptical. The batter before the water was added had normal cake consistency but after it was incredibly watery. I checked the site and no one had said anything in the comments about a typo, so I forged ahead.

please ignore the giant glob of glaze puddled on that side…

35ish minutes later I had the most fluffy looking cake I’d ever seen. After cooling the cakes in the pans for 20 minutes, I following Deb’s advice and shoved them in the freezer for about 30 minutes, which seems to have been a good choice given how delicate these cakes were.

My only other comment is that the glaze seems kind of clumpy when you melt the chocolate, pb, etc in the pan, but after adding the half and half and vigorously mixing, it smooths out nicely….so fear not!

Anyway, I know this is a bold statement, but I think it may be the most delicious cake I’ve ever made or eaten. Ever. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

And I wasn’t the only one who thought that. Nate and I had 3 friends over to dinner and the only sounds coming from them after biting into the cake were ooohs and aaaahs…and a few “this is amazing”s.

I know it may look complicated, but following Deb’s tips regarding the cooling times, it was surprisingly easy. I made the cake and pb frosting and frosted it all within 3 hours or so after I got home from work. After sticking it in the fridge overnight, I made the chocolate glaze the next evening, poured it onto the cold cake, stuck it back in the fridge to firm up while we started eating dinner. I then took the cake out about 30 min to an hour before we were ready for it so it could soften up.

YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS. Seriously, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze

From Smitten Kitchen via Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes

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makes one 8 inch 3 layer cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans. **Note batter will be incredibly watery

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. (Deb’s note: These cakes are very, very soft. I found them a lot easier to work with after firming them up in the freezer for 30 minutes. They’ll defrost quickly once assembled. You’ll be glad you did this, trust me.)

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. (Deb note 1: Making a crumb coat of frosting–a thin layer that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer frosting layer–is a great idea for this cake, or any with a dark cake and lighter-colored frosting. Once you “mask” your cake, let it chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm, then use the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coating. Deb note 2: Once the cake is fully frosted, it helps to chill it again and let it firm up. The cooler and more set the peanut butter frosting is, the better drip effect you’ll get from the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze.)

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. **Note the consistency will be incredibly thick and slightly grainy but this is normal.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. **It will separate before it combines and smooths out. Use while still warm.

Crispy Peanut Butter Bars

Yep, I’m back with another oven-free recipe. You do need to turn on the stove but only for all of 10 minutes max.

I found this recipe at one of my favorite sites: Serious Eats. Their recipes are, from my experience, well-tested and reproducible.

Crispy Peanut Butter Bars

I made these for a little impromptu dinner party I had. One of my friends came over because she is contributing to the little video Nate is making to show at the wedding. I can’t wait to see the finished product…it’s going to be amazing :)

Anyway, these are seriously awesome, and incredibly rich. I sent my friend and her husband home with extras to take to their 4th of July party and they were thrilled. Mostly because we were too full from dinner to really enjoy them that night.

Crispy Peanut Butter Bars

They’re kind of somewhere in between a rice krispie treat and a buckeye ball. You have to keep them refrigerated but they stay soft straight out of the fridge and they stick together really well.

Speaking of sticking together, here’s a little something my soon to be mother-in-law shared with me. I knew I liked elephants for a reason! You have to watch til the very end…sooooo cute!!!:

Crispy Peanut Butter Bars

No-Bake Crispy Corn Flake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

From Serious Eats

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makes 16 (2 inch)squares

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup light brown sugar
Pinch salt
4 cups corn flakes, lightly crushed
1/3 cup salted peanuts, chopped and divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Line 8- by 8-inch baking pan with foil. In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add peanut butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, and salt and continue to cook, stirring, until melted and smooth.

Stir in corn flakes, 1/4 cup peanuts, and vanilla until just combined. Spoon into prepared pan and smooth top.

In heatproof bowl over pan of barely simmering water (or in microwave), heat chocolate until just melted. Spread over top. Sprinkle with remaining chopped peanuts.

Chill until firm, about 2 hours. Remove from pan and cut into 2-inch squares.

As you know, I decided to make a tasty risotto for Nate the other day. But I realized that the meal was lacking in protein and I try to serve us balanced meals as often as I can.

I racked my brain trying to figure out what to serve with it, since I had zero desire to cook up any sort of meat. Nate suggested that I make an appetizer, and that’s when I remembered an interesting type of dip I’d seen going around the blogging world.

This dip is made with a bean base, like hummus, but with the addition of peanut butter and honey it becomes a wonderful spread for apples, graham crackers, or whatever else you want.

It’s simple to make too, since you just dump all the ingredients into a food processor. I used my small 3-cup one.

I hope you’ll get past the fact that this is made from beans and give it a try. This is a perfect way to serve your kids a snack that’s healthier than cookies and chips. Serve it to your family and don’t tell them what’s inside ;)

High Protein Peanut Butter Dip
Recipe by Me 

Serves 4 for a snack with things to dip

1 (15oz) can White kidney beans (aka cannellini beans), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp Smooth peanut butter
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Chocolate graham crackers and sliced apple for serving

Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend well.

I was on my way to my friend’s apartment recently, and as usual was running seriously early. I never really understood people who are always fashionably late. I get so nervous that the subway will be delayed or the walk will take longer than expected that I allow WAY too much time.

It doesn’t really bother me, though, because I’m pretty good at keeping myself entertained. Sometimes this involves window-shopping, other times I find a good place to sit and either read the book that I always carry with me, play on my phone (i.e. pretend I’m doing something really important so people don’t look at me weird), or just occupy myself with my own thoughts.

It’s amazing how many random thoughts are going on in my head at any one time. Nate can attest to this, as I blurt out irrelevant things that makes sense to me at the time (Duh, I’m thinking about them!), but make no sense to Nate. He actually caught my incoherent blabbering on video the other day, unbeknownst to me. After watching it played back for me, I gotta say that I feel pretty bad for the guy and don’t know how he puts up with me.

As you can see, I’m very good at going off on a tangent! Aaaaanyway, so the other day when I was early and needed to waste some time in the Times Square area, I saw a store called World of Chocolate and could not refuse a quick time-wasting trip. I have to say, the name of the store was quite deceiving. It was a pretty big let-down considering it was all of about 100-200 sq feet of space and only had Hershey’s products.

While perusing the aisles, I came across a bag of mini Reeses Peanut Butter cups. Not only were they totally adorable (I love anything miniature!), but I imagined they’d be absolutely perfect for a cookie recipe. I was thinking pb or chocolate base but hadn’t made a final decision yet.

So I took these adorable chocolates home and waited til I had a spare moment to create something. I started with the recipe I had created for the Chocolate Chocolate chip cookies, but to add some extra pb flavor, I subbed peanut butter in place of the butter in the recipe. I wasn’t exactly sure whether this would work or not.

As I started to blend the batter I realized how dry and thick it was, so I threw in another egg. Again, I had no idea what this would do.

While the batter was still rather thick, I put giant 1/4 cup balls of dough on the sheets a

nd baked them up. When I took them out of the oven and onto the drying rack I was a little worried since each cookie felt like a brick. I swear, so heavy! So don’t get worried when your cookies turn out heavy too.

At this point I was slightly worried that they’d be all dried out on the inside. But lucky for me, this recipe ended up a win! They were the fudgiest chocolate cookies ever. Nate gave them a giant thumbs up!!

If you can’t find mini pb cups, you could easily chop regular pb cups into 1/4-1/2 inch sized pieces.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter PB Cup Cookies

Recipe by Me

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makes 18-ish LARGE cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup peanut butter
4 Tbsp melted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mini reese pb cups (or chopped reeses pb cups)

Heat oven to 325 degrees and have racks on upper & lower middle positions. Put parchment paper on 2 oversized cookie sheets (or do it in batches with smaller cookie sheets).

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt & baking soda in medium size bowl. Set aside.

Mix peanut butter,  butter & sugars until thoroughly blended by hand or with electric mixer. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat at low speed until just combined. Stir in pb cups.

Roll scant 1/4 cup dough into ball. Put ball on cookie sheet leaving 2.5 inches between each ball.

Bake about 15 – 18 minutes, switching sheets halfway through reversing sheets front to back and top to bottom. Cool cookies on cookie sheets. When cool, peel from parchment.

*Note, cookies will be very heavy when cooked!

Do you ever do/say something to someone and you don’t quite have it in you to apologize with words, so you bake cookies instead? That’s never happened to me ;)

With all of the stress that comes with looking for a new apartment, finding a mover, scheduling time for painters to come, figuring out where the furniture will fit (actually, my mom took care of that- Thanks, Mom!), etc, you can imagine, perhaps, that my behavior over the past week or two hasn’t been stellar. Nate can attest to this.

Luckily, I have a patient man on my hands. He’s put up with my stressing, yelling, and ordering him around. And although he hasn’t helped me to take care of any of the details (except for getting his beloved FIOS set up), I can’t say that he deserves the rage I’ve let loose on him on several occassions.

So I thought that when he got home from work yesterday, I’d surprise him with the sweet smell of cookies wafting from the oven.

This is a recipe I came across online, although I’ve seen several variations in recent months and have been intrigued- Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I was skeptical at first. How could 5 ingredients create such a moist, tender and delicious cookie? But one bite of the final product and I was a believer.

Try these for when you want to surprise someone special…or even to treat yourself. They take 25 minutes max from start to finish. Give them to the appropriate person and all will be forgotten…right, Nate :)

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Southern Living

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Makes 2 dozen

1 cup chunky peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate morsels

 Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together peanut butter and next 4 ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Stir in chocolate morsels.

 Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

Bake at 325° for 15 to 20 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets on a wire rack 5 minutes. Transfer to wire rack, and let cool 15 minutes.