Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

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Yesterday was my husband’s birthday – the official kick off of our “celebrating season”. Within the next few weeks we’ll also celebrate my birthday and our anniversary. And next year we’ll be adding Father’s Day and baby boy’s birthday to this. Of course, this is on top of any graduations and weddings that are prevelant this time of year. It gets busy, to say the least. It also means we end up eating a lot of “celebrating” food.

When I asked Mark what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, he said none. It was just going to be us celebrating and he didn’t want a whole cake for the two of us. I can’t really blame him – but the idea of no birthday cake just didn’t fly with me. The solution was obviously just to make a smaller cake.

This one was chocolate and peanut butter – the birthday boy’s favorite – and sized for two. Perfect!


Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

(adapted from Picky Palate)
Serves 2-4

For the cake:
1/2 cup flour
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocoalte chips

For the icing:
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. milk

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, for decoration

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease a large ramikin (or any other bowl/pan you want to use).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt and baking soda.

In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the semi-sweet chocoate chips at half-power for 30 second intervals, until melted.

Add in the eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and melted chocolate chips into the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Transfer batter to greased ramikin and bake until a knife inserted comes out clean – the time will vary based on your pan, for me it was 45-50 minutes.

Let it cool for 10 minutes before removing from ramikin to cool completely.

Slice the cake in half to make two layers.

In a medium bowl, stir together the peanut butter, powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Adjust the amount of powdered sugar or milk to get desired consistancy.

Spread about 1/3 cup of the icing on top of one of the laters and then place the other layer on top. Use remaining frosting to cover the cake. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over as decoration, as desired.


What’s Baking: Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

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I got to pick the theme for this month’s What’s Baking and picked cheese. Of all the cheese recipes I have marked to make, I kept coming back to this one. It just looked so good.

And, it was. This is all from scratch – even the jam – so it takes a little bit of time and effort, but it’s so worth it!

Check back later this week to see what other cheese delights got baked up!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
(from Food Wanderings in Asia)
Makes 1 8″ round cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into chunks

1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sour cream (not low fat)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, cut into pieces
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. water
1.5 tsp. cornstarch
Chop the strawberries and toss them with sugar. If you want a more jam-like layer, finely chop the berries. I wanted distinguishable berry pieces in mine so I just gave them a rough chop. Heat them in a saucepan until they release their juices – about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the water and cornstarch. Add this to the strawberries and stir to combine. Cook a few minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Using a mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar and egg. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour and sugar. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Remove 3/4 cup of the crumbs and set aside. To the remaining crumbs, add in the baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir.
In a medium bowl, beat together the sour cream, egg and vanilla until well combined. Add this mixture to the large bowl of crumbs and stir until just combined. It will be lumpy.
Grease or line an 8-9″ springform pan. Press the cake batter evenly into the bottom, letting it rise up 1/2″ on all sides, making a well. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the well. Top with strawberry jam. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs.
Bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown on the sides. Let cool for 20 minutes before removing sides of the pan and letting cool completely.

Peanut Butter Fudge Pie

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I made this because I knew my husband would love it.

He generally gets the short end of the stick when it comes to meal planning – I do the cooking and make the shopping list so I get final say about what’s on the menu. It’s not that I disregard what he likes or doesn’t like – it’s just that I’m sure the meal plan would look a lot different if he was the one making it up. He’s a really good sport about it all, so periodically I’ll make something I know will be completely up his alley. Like, this pie.

This is creamy, peanut-buttery goodness. We happily devoured every bite.

Peanut Butter Fudge Pie
(slightly adapted from Taste of Home)
Makes 1 pie

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
12 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 chocolate crumb crust
2/3 cup hot fudge ice cream topping

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the peanut butter and sugar until well combined and then fold in the whipped topping.

Transfer the peanut butter mixture to the crust and spread evenly.

Using the microwave, heat the hot fudge sauce until spreadable. Pour over the peanut butter layer and  spread to cover. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.


Irish Cream Double Chocolate Cookies

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This month’s What’s Baking theme was Irish Cream – perfect for the holiday. We’re not Irish, so it’s not a big holiday for us, but I do use it as an excuse to invite our family over and make a big pot of beef and Guinness stew so making an Irish cream dessert for our get together was a no-brainer.

Irish cream liquor is not something we regularly keep in the house (and, since I’m pregnant, I’ve been trying to avoid buying bottles that will just sit around) so I was excited that these cookies use Irish cream coffee creamer instead of liquor. It ends up giving the same type of flavor, but was much easier for just one recipe – a win-win. These cookies were soft and fluffy and had just a nice, subtle Irish cream flavor. I’m sure I’ll be making them for future St. Patrick’s Day parties!

You can check out the rest of the Irish cream dishes other bloggers baked up on The Redhead Baker later this month.

Irish Cream Double Chocolate Cookies
(very slightly adapted from Something Swanky)
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Irish cream coffee creamer
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

Using a stand mixer, beat together the butter and shortening. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy. Beat in the egg, creamer and vanilla.

Mix in the flour, baking soda and salt until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Rolls into 1″ balls and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool for several minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.


Funfetti Cupcakes for Two

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Pickle dip. Ice cream bread. I bet you know what’s coming next, right? I won’t be cooking for two much longer – we’re expecting our first child this summer! We’re over-the-moon excited.

We found out last week that the baby is a boy, so it seemed appropriate to whip up something special to celebrate. I had blue and white sprinkles on hand already so funfetti was the obvious choice. There was lots of kicking going on after eating mine, so I’m sure baby boy liked them too.

I’m planning to continue blogging, although posts may be a little less frequent as we make the transition to a family of three. I’m also planning to share how we’ll stock the freezer pre-baby, keep ourselves fed post-baby and (eventually) how we’ll make our own baby food. I’m excited to continue sharing our cooking journey and hope you’ll be along for the ride!

Funfetti Cupcakes for Two
(from Chocolate and Carrots)
Makes 2 cupcakes

1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. milk
1 egg white
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. sugar
4 Tbsp. unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

Beat the canola oil, egg, milk, vanilla extract and sugar together. Add in the flour and baking powder. Fold in the sprinkles, being careful not to over mix. Pour into two prepared muffin liners in a muffin pan.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Let cool and then ice as desired.


Ice Cream Bread

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This is a really great recipe to have in your arsenal. It’s quick and uses ingredients that I always have around. It’s perfect for a quick after school snack or oops-I-forgot-I-was-supposed-to-make-dessert occasions.

The flavor of the bread comes from the ice cream, so you can use any flavor you want. I went with a basic vanilla ice cream and mixed in chocolate chips – it was great. I think mint chocolate chip ice cream with crushed Oreos would be really fun, too.

Ice Cream Bread
(from Stephanie Cooks)
Makes 1 loaf

2 cups softened ice cream (I used vanilla)
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Mix ins of your choice, optional (chocolate chips, sprinkles, fruit, crushed Oreos, etc.)

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.

Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in softened ice cream until well combined. Fold in mix ins. Place in a greased loaf pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, until top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool before removing from pan.


What’s Baking: Red Velvet Oreo Truffle Brownies

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We’re not big Valentine’s day celebrators. We’ve been doing the same date – a college basketball game and some sort of bar-food dinner – for years. It’s not terribly romantic, but it’s a fun night out and I honestly don’t miss the mushy stuff.

I do miss the fun Valentine desserts, though, which is why I was excited when I saw this month’s What’s Baking theme was red velvet. So perfect for Valentine’s Day!

These brownies were a delicious splurge. I sent most of them to work with Mark, because that Oreo truffle layer is dangerously addictive! These are gorgeous and impressive looking, but really not that hard to pull off.

You can check out the full roundup of all the red velvet treats on Kim’s blog, Just Baked, later this month!

 

Red Velvet Oreo Truffle Brownies
(from Pizzazzarie)
Makes 1 9×13″ pan of brownies

1 box Duncan Hines Red Velvet cake mix
1 3.3 oz. pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 pkg. Oreo cookies
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 325F degrees. Liberally grease a 9×13″ baking pan and set aside.

Whisk together cake mix and pudding mix. Beat in melted butter, eggs and vegetable oil until well combined. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing it to the edges. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Let cool.

Crush the Oreo cookies and mix pieces with the cream cheese until well combined. Spread over the cooled red velvet brownies.

Melt the 2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips and pour the melted chocolate over the Oreo layer, smoothing to cover. Sprinkle immediately with mini chocolate chips and pan them down lightly to set.

Refrigerate until the chocolate sets, then cut into bars. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.


What’s Baking: Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cookie for 2

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This month’s What’s Baking theme is “Small Servings”. I decided doing something savory would be a cop-out – I often scale down dinner recipes for just the two of us. Dessert seemed like much more of a challenge.

When I think of baking up a dessert, I never think of small batches – I think of big, special sweets. This cookie is sort of the best of both worlds. By being one giant cookie, it looks impressive and seems special. And since it’s just one cookie, you won’t end up with a ton of leftovers and the guilt of eating cookies all week.

Given how much I rave about chocolate peanut butter desserts, it’s no surprise we loved this. If you want to see what other bloggers baked up for this challenge, check out the roundup on Eva Bakes later this month!

Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cookie for 2
(from Sally’s Baking Addiction)
Serves 2

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. beaten egg (crack an egg, beat it, and use 2 Tbsp.)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup Reese’s Pieces
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined. Add in the peanut butter and mix until well combined. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and stir just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and Reese’s Pieces.

Scoop the dough onto the baking sheet. You want the dough to be rounded and a bit tall, but not totally round like a ball.

Bake for 17-19 minutes, until lightly brown around the edges. Remove from oven (The center may seem undone, but it’s okay! It will set as the cookie cools.) and let sit for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before serving.


Strawberry Snow Ice Cream

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During the last two winters, I’ve shared my recipes for snow ice cream and the chocolate version after snowstorms. It usually takes me a few storms to get the recipe right. This winter, though, I’ve been getting lots of time to play with new flavors. Strawberry seemed like the obvious next choice. It’s one of my favorite ice cream flavors  and if  you make all three flavors and you can have Neapolitan snow ice cream! This would be excellent with diced strawberries mixed in too.

In other news, what are your favorite ice cream flavors? We’re getting another snow storm today so I’m looking to experiment with even more variations!

Strawberry Snow Ice Cream

1/4 c. sugar
1 c. strawberry milk
Large bowl of snow

In a large bowl, mix together sugar and strawberry milk. Stir in enough snow to make an ice cream consistency. Enjoy immediately!


Crunchy Peppermint Bark Blondies

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Are you guys finished with Christmas yet? Because I’m not. We’ve still got the decorations up. The freezer is still full of Christmas cookies. I’ve got all my new toys strewn around the house. And, I’m just getting around to blogging my holiday recipes.

Maybe next week I’ll be ready for the new year?

I made these blondies for a cookie swap. I had intended them to be cookies, but as things evolved they ended up being bars instead. I actually think they came out even better than the cookies would have and they were a lot easier, since I only had one pan to bake instead of multiple cookie pans. You could also make these a bit less holiday-oriented by swapping the peppermint bark for chocolate chips.

Crunchy Peppermint Bark Blondies
(adapted from Christina Tosi via Glamour)
Makes 1 9×13″ pan of blondies

2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
2/3 c. light brown sugar, tightly packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 c. frosted flakes
1 lb. of peppermint bark, roughly chopped
1 1/4 c. mini marshmallows

Using a mixer, cream together the butter sugars for 2-3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, scrape down sides and beat for an additional 7-8 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together.

Stir in frosted flakes peppermint bark and marshmallows  just until incorporated. Refrigerate dough for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Line a 9×13″ baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Press dough into the lined pan, spreading to the edges. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until set in the center. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. Slice and store in an airtight container.