Thursday, June 28, 2012

Peanut Butter Stuffed Dark Chocolate Cupcakes...two ways

If I had to call any one of my recipes my favorite, I would have to say it is the recipe for my Cream-Filled Cupcakes. I remember thinking it up--I just knew it was going to be the perfect answer to an adult version of that childhood treat. I even got the squiggle on the top! Of course, now you can find Cream-Filled Cupcake recipes all over the Internet. It's OK...although I've tweaked the recipe over the years, my version is still my favorite.

A few weeks ago, my daughter had a birthday. Her usual request is for me to make a Banana Fudge Ice Cream Pie, but this year she was more interested in having me make something her boyfriend would like, namely anything with peanut butter and chocolate.  I got to thinking...wouldn't the Cream-Filled Cupcake be good in a peanut butter version? 

I made the first batch of cupcakes much like my original recipe, just replacing some of the butter in the filling with peanut butter. They were good. Very good. But, I made the mistake of not putting enough filling in them. The kids were a tad critical, all the while wiping chocolate off of their lips. I decided to try a different approach with the next batch.

For the second batch, I made a different recipe for the actual cupcake. Unfortunately, I over filled the cups in the cupcake pan....whoa...the tops overflowed just a little....

I managed to get them all out in one piece, but they were a bit wide. Then, when it came time to dip them in the ganache, the tops started coming right off! I ended up using a spatula to get the ganache on top, while leaving the cupcakes in one piece.

I also used a different peanut butter filling, remembering how the kids licked the frosting off of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes I made awhile back. This time, I not only filled the cupcake with the frosting, but I topped the chocolate ganache with a dab of it as well. Then I capped it with half of a mini peanut butter cup.

My kitchen was warm, so I refrigerated them to allow the ganache to set.

Which cupcake won the taste test? Frankly, on appearance alone, it was divided. Some liked the traditional look of the squiggle on top, but others preferred the cute little peanut butter cup garnish. They both taste great--my daughter preferred the second version and, indeed, the batch I took to work disappeared quickly. Since the second recipe was significantly different, I will post that one here. To make the first version, simply click on the link for Cream-Filled Cupcakes and replace one stick of butter for 1/2 cup peanut butter in the filling.

Peanut Butter Stuffed Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
Printable Recipe

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 egg
2/3 c. vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. buttermilk

2 c. flour
1 3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa (use the dark version, if preferred)
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking soda
1 c. hot coffee

Filling Ingredients:
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
4 tbsp. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. milk

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. heavy cream

15 dark chocolate mini peanut butter cups, halved, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pans with paper liners (about 30).

Combine egg, oil, vanilla and buttermilk. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Combine the egg mixture and the flour mixture, mixing well. Slowly mix in hot coffee. Batter will be thin. 
Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched.

For the filling, beat together the butter, cream cheese, and peanut butter in a medium bowl, until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time, beating after each addition. Add the milk and beat until creamy.

Fit a pastry bag with a long narrow tip and fill with peanut butter filling. Insert tip about 1/2 inch deep into the top of each cupcake and fill cupcake with frosting. Set aside unused filling.

Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Heat the heavy cream over low/med heat until it just starts to simmer. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let it sit for 2 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir the chocolate chips and the cream until well-blended.

Swirl the top of each cupcake into chocolate glaze, coating the top of each cake. Let the glaze harden for a few minutes (you can chill them, if desired), then, using leftover filling, pipe a swirl of buttercream on top of each cupcake. Garnish each cupcake with 1/2 mini peanut butter cup.

Which one would you choose?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Black Cherry and Dark Chocolate Chunk Muffins

It's time for the Monthly Improv hosted by Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month our flavor combo is Cherry and Almond and since I'm a a muffin roll...well...I couldn't resist. Of course, I used Greek yogurt and buttermilk, and to make them really special, I threw in some dark chocolate. Who wouldn't like that?

Black Cherry and Dark Chocolate Chunk Muffins
Printable Recipe

2 cups flour
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen dark, sweet cherries, halved
1 (4 oz) bar good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 egg, slightly beaten
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 (6 oz) container Black Cherry Greek Yogurt (sub plain or vanilla Greek Yogurt, if desired)
½ cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.; line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Fold in the cherries and the chocolate; set aside.

In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the beaten egg, butter, yogurt, buttermilk and almond extract.  Fold into the flour mixture until just blended, being careful not to over mix.

Use a cookie scoop to divide the batter into the muffin cups. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the tops of the muffins. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched.

Using frozen cherries was easy. Leave them frozen...they will be easier to slice and will mix well with the batter.

Use a good quality chocolate won't regret it.

I'm loving my little micro-plane spice was perfect for grating some fresh nutmeg into the batter.

Put the cherries and the chocolate in with the flour mixture and you won't have to stir so much when you add the liquid.

The batter will be fairly thick. Please don't over mix or you'll have tough muffins!

Now, check out what everyone else is making with Cherries and Almonds!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Butterscotch Banana Bread

I've said it before--I've never been a huge fan of regular banana bread. I'm not sure why. Perhaps,I've tried it once too many times when it has been dry and tasteless. The recipe I've used for years has chocolate chips in it, and I like it, but it's not my first choice when I think of things to make with bananas. 

The other day I was faced, once again, with overripe bananas. My husband wanted banana bread. Sigh. I do aim to please, however, so the question was not "should I make banana bread?" , but rather "how can I make this batch of banana bread tastier?".  It turns out it that it really wasn't that hard.

Butterscotch Banana Bread
Printable Recipe

3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
4 very ripe bananas, slightly mashed
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. F; butter and flour two 9 X 5 X 3 loaf pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.

Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat the bananas, sour cream, eggs, butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until well blended, about 2 minutes. Spoon the flour mixture into the banana mixture and beat on low speed until just blended. Stir in the butterscotch chips and walnuts.

Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf pans. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

So why did this recipe turn out better than my other tries with banana bread? Well, first, I did use more bananas--there are four large ones in there. The sour cream certainly adds moisture, and the toasted walnuts give it some good flavor. I also switched out the granulated sugar for brown sugar and added the butterscotch chips. I'm thinking it's the whole package...I just liked it.

Unfortunately, my husband was diagnosed with diabetes before he could take the first bite of this banana bread, so I will be doing some tweaking for my next batch. I'll be reducing the sugar a tad and swapping the full fat sour cream for the light variety. I may even sneak some whole wheat flour in there. Don't worry. I'll let you know how that all turns out, but in the mean time, it is all about portion control at our house.

One loaf was sliced and brought to work....

....and the other was sliced, wrapped, and frozen.

One slice, with a bit of peanut butter, has about 25 carbs. Not a bad snack.

So, while we face some new dietary challenges at our house, it's wise to keep in mind that all good things can be enjoyed in moderation. In the mean time, the next batch of cupcakes will all be going to go to my daughter and her friends. :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Blackberry-Lemon Muffins

Blackberry-Lemon Muffins

I was thinking of maybe having a "muffin Monday" segment on my blog, but (whoops!) it's Tuesday Wednesday. Does it count that I made them on Sunday? Really, who cares? These are terrific any day of the week and, since it is now just my husband and me at home, I like to bake up a batch to put in the freezer. While they are at their best warm from the oven, it's nice to be able to pull one out in the morning before work.

Who couldn't resist making blackberry muffins when presented with these beautiful berries?

Blackberry-Lemon Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 (6 oz) container lemon Greek yogurt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon peel
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon lemon extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.; line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt; fold in the blackberries and set aside.

Combine the egg, yogurt, buttermilk, lemon peel in a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup. Microwave for 20-30 seconds, until just warmed to room temperature. Stir in the melted butter.

Add the liquid mixture to the dry and gently mix together until just blended, being careful not to over mix. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and sprinkle the remaining sugar over the tops.

Bake muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

A cookie scoop makes it easy to distribute the batter.

If you prefer even more of a lemon flavor, omit the sugar topping and glaze the warm muffins with a mixture of powdered sugar and lemon juice.

You might see a pattern with my muffins...the addition of Greek yogurt and buttermilk. I like to use the flavored yogurts to compliment the flavor of the muffin, but you could sub plain. The buttermilk simply gives the muffins a great texture.

Blackberry-Lemon might just be my favorite combination so far, but don't think I'm finished with the whole muffin theme....there are a whole bunch of flavors whirling through my brain. I'm even thinking of some savory versions. What kinds of muffins do you like?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Strawberry Salsa

Have you ever thought of using strawberries in your salsa? I've had fruity salsas before, but not one that was more savory than sweet. Last week, my friends at Red Gold Tomatoes sent me a couple of cans of their Petite Cut Tomatoes and asked me to try out this awesome recipe for salsa.....with strawberries and tomatoes!

I'll be honest, my first thought was "why would I use canned tomatoes in a fresh salsa?", but then I remembered from my tour of the Red Gold plant that their tomatoes are canned within 45 minutes of arrival from the fields....that's more fresh than the tomatoes that you find in the store! Plus, the Petite Diced Tomatoes are already cut to the perfect size...I do like convenience. Let's take a look at this recipe, shall we?

Strawberry Salsa

1 pint fresh strawberries, diced
1 (14.5 oz) can Red Gold® Petite Diced Tomatoes, drained
1 small red onion, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

In a large bowl, combine strawberries, , RED GOLD® PETITE DICED TOMATOES, onion and peppers. Stir in the lime juice, garlic and oil.

Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

I didn't have a small onion...I just measured out about a half cup.

Remember, if you don't like it hot --remove the seeds!

Of course, I put my own spin on things and put in a handful of cilantro and I subbed olive oil for the vegetable oil.

My honest take on this? It's easy and delicious! I really thought there would be a "canned tomato" taste involved, but all of the ingredients blended together perfectly. The strawberries give this just a smidge of sweetness and a whole lot of flavor. Next time, I'll be having this over some pork or chicken.

*Disclaimer: I was provided two cans of tomato product in order to review this recipe. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Orange-Cardamom Rhubarb Muffins

I love Greek yogurt. I love muffins. I love muffins made with Greek yogurt. There. I said it. 

I spotted a 12 pack of yogurt at Costco and just had to buy it. Take note of the Blood Orange flavor. Blood  Orange? Wouldn't that be good in a muffin?

What else would taste good with Blood Orange yogurt? Rhubarb? Why, yes. I happen to have a few stalks. 
Let's try a muffin with Blood Orange yogurt and rhubarb. It might just work.

Orange-Cardamom Rhubarb Muffins
Printable Recipe

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1" pieces (about 3 stalks)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 (6 oz) container Chobani Blood Orange Yogurt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange peel. Stir in the rhubarb and set aside.

In another bowl, or large measuring cup, blend the egg, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla. Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and mix until just blended.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and sprinkle the remaining sugar evenly over the tops. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until the tops are golden and firm to the touch.

I used a cookie scoop to get the batter into the cups evenly.

Allow the muffins to cool for just a few minutes; serve warm.

Another muffin for my repertoire. Now I have my eye on the Black Cherry Yogurt....

Which flavor yogurt would you like to see in a muffin?