Ring in the New Year with Chocolate Peanut Butter Pancakes

Yes, you heard me. Chocolate. Peanut Butter. Pancakes.

100_4450Better yet, the peanut butter and chocolate are STUFFED into the pancake.

Winter and cold weather is ultimate comfort food time, and to me, comfort food usually involves gorging myself on carbs. So this recipe is NOT for the diet friendly resolutions you might have made for January 1st. But, if it’s January 2nd and you’ve already given up, then read on, otherwise, pin it for later. πŸ˜‰ I do intend on posting some healthified recipes though, this just isn’t one of them.

I love being inspired and getting a recipe right on the first try. It’s a magical feeling and I get to eat the reward rather than trash it (I’m a stickler for no food waste so I hate having to toss a batch of something because it didn’t work).

I had Double Chocolate Pancakes a few weeks ago at Bob Evans (basically chocolate chip pancakes served with chocolate syrup and a cup of table syrup). They were awesome, but definitely not worth running to a Bob Evans when the craving strikes and I was in a peanut buttery kind of mood too.

I searched the web for peanut butter cup pancakes and found a few options, but mostly just pictures. The Minimalist Baker (whom I’ve shared a recipe from before) has a delicious looking vegan and gluten-free option but I didn’t have access to those ingredients- but I do wish to try theirs someday! I was inspired by their Peanut Butter Cup PancakesΒ (<–click there for that recipe!) but I wanted to go a different route. And I didn’t have a lot of time, so I went for the short cut as well. Here goes:

Ingredients:
1 small (5.1oz) container of Bisquick Shanke ‘n Pour Buttermilk Pancake Mix
2/3 cup plus 2 TBSP Water
3 tsp cocoa powder (I used dutch processed)
Squirt of agave (optional, but gives the pancake added sweetness to counteract the cocoa)
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (divided)
2-4 TBSP Creamy Peanut Butter (divided) OR peanut butter chips
Oil for skillet
Chocolate Syrup, Butter, Maple Syrup, Powdered Sugar, Cocoa Powder, and/or Whipped Cream for topping (Optional)

Directions:
1- Preheat your skillet to medium-high.
2- Open the Shake ‘n Pour, add cocoa powder. Replace lid and shake to combine.
3- Remove lid and add liquid ingredients (water and agave). Replace lid and shake to combine.
4- Add oil to your hot pan and let heat for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
5- Pour in some of the cocoa pancake mix. (I made large pancakes, but you can make sand dollar ones if you wish.)
6- While the first side cooks, dollop some peanut butter in the middle of the pancake. You can make several small dollops or melt the peanut butter in the microwave and pour some onto the pancake.
7- After the peanut butter is on, top with some of the mini chocolate chips (the 1/4 cup in the recipe is for all pancakes so it will depend on how many pancakes you want to make).
8- Top with a little more of the batter to cover the peanut butter (otherwise it will burn in the skillet).
9- When the first side is done (time depends on the size, but you’ll see bubbles forming around the edges and middle of the uncooked side of the pancake.) Flip and cook until the other side is done (Will be quicker than the first side, but time depends on the size for large ones it was about 5 minutes for the first side and 3 for the second- but mine were large AND thick).
10- Remove to a plate (or if making a large batch, place a cookie sheet covered with foil in the oven on low to keep warm until ready to serve).
11- Repeat with remaining batter. It made 2 and a half large ones for me (which was fine since it was just me) which is probably 8-10 of the smaller sand dollar size, again, depending on thickness).
12- Serve topped with your choice of toppings.

*some variations*
You can easily mix up the combinations per your tastes. Try any of the following, or create your own!
*Keep the buttermilk base, fill the middle with jelly and peanut butter for tasty pb&j cakes.
*Keep the buttermilk base, fill the middle with a few teaspoons of pie filling for a fruity cake.
*Keep the buttermilk base, fill the middle with dollops of cream cheese and a few teaspoons of pie filling for cheesecake pancakes.
*Keep the buttermilk base or use the cocoa added base and fill with any variety of chocolate chips (white, milk, semi-sweet) and create a double or triple chocolate cake.
*Add a few drops of red food coloring to the cocoa base and fill with dollops of cream cheese for a red velvet cake

Of course, you can add a variety of items to the pancake base, including (and not limited to!) chocolate chips, fruit, sprinkles, any food coloring to match the occasion.
I love the idea of having the filled pancakes but an old fashioned plain buttermilk pancake with butter and syrup can easily hit the spot too. But, if a plain pancake bores you, use your imagination or take some of my suggestions and create a more exciting combination. Particularly if there isn’t a fancy pancake themed restaurant nearby.

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

100_4179It sounds egotistical to say that I know my cupcakes taste good, but it’s true. And it hasn’t just been me telling everyone– I’ve had several people rave about my cupcakes! I guess there’s no shame in being good at something and knowing it. πŸ™‚
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But, I can now say that I’m a prize-winning baker… it’s legit. Kind of. The artwork prize is from Leslie McCarthy (Please, please, please check out her website for more artwork!)

The weekly ladies Bible study group was holding a ‘snack’ competition. And these little guys won 100_4174“Best Sweet Snack.”100_4172

100_4182(And my kitty sure thinks I’m a winner! She’s been a fan of my buttercream for years! Besides, every time the camera comes out my little girl has to ham it up. It’s just like having a child, I’m sure of it!)

While the last weeks have been filled with more adventurous cupcakes- those with less traditional flavors, like apple cider and margarita- I decided to go back to the basics and stick with what I do best. The original. The signature.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting.100_4176

I begin with a chocolate cupcake recipe. Second to the fudgy beet cupcakes, this chocolate cupcake recipe featuring Greek yogurt is a favorite.

Even though I HATE yogurt, you can’t even taste it in this recipe. Trust me. I HATE yogurt, like I said. πŸ˜‰
You’ll want to begin with 1 container of a good vanilla Greek yogurt. I used Yoplait, because that’s what I had coupons for. The 5.3oz size is all you really need.

You’ll also need your basic cupcake ingredients: sugar, egg, flour, milk (buttermilk in this case), water, baking soda, vanilla… But there’s one twist!

I used a combination of white and brown sugar. It’s unusual to have brown sugar in a cupcake recipe, but I find that it really helps balance the Greek yogurt which can be a bit sour-tasting (hence the reason I don’t like it). The added sweetness helps fool you into not even noticing that there is no oil or butter in this recipe. At least that’s what I tell myself.

I won’t try to fool you into believing that this is all healthy. I DID use my peanut butter frosting, which negates any healthy properties of the low-fat cupcakes. Or, maybe you can justify having your frosting because the cupcakes aren’t as fatty. You can always use a whipped frosting, or marshmallow frosting is you’d prefer. I just love the taste of peanut butter and chocolate.

You’ll whisk the dry ingredients with the yogurt and sugars,100_4152 Mix in an egg,some cocoa, and buttermilk100_4153 Finish off with some boiling water and you have a beautiful batter.100_4154 100_4155

The outcome is a traditional looking chocolate cupcake. Nothing extremely spectacular to look at, but it is mighty tasty.

100_4157It certainly needs frosting though!

I wanted to decorate them in a cute fall theme, so I tinted some of my peanut butter frosting a darker brown color and piped on trees using a size 2 Wilton tip. I covered the top in festive mini leaf sprinkles.
To do this, you’ll want to flatten the top of your frosting. I piped on a bit of frosting, then used a spatula dipped in warm water to smooth out the top, as so:100_4161

These particular ones didn’t get completely flat, but flat enough for the trees.100_4159

I loved just sprinkling them on top then turning the cupcake over to remove the rest of the sprinkles that didn’t fit. I wanted it to look like the leaves were falling off the trees, so the trees don’t need to be covered heavily with the sprinkles.

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Everyone thought the trees were a cute idea, but I knew I had some frosting lovers as my audience. So, SWIRLS!Β 100_4180

These still look absolutely cute. But it’s basically a 1:1 ratio of cupcake to frosting, which isn’t a problem in my house!

Chocolate Greek Yogurt Cupcakes
Ingredients:

1 (5.3oz) container of Vanilla Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar (I used light brown)
1 egg
1 cup AP flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used a heaping 1/2 cup)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 buttermilk (I used dry buttermilk -found in the baking aisle- and mixed it with skim milk instead of water)
1 tsp vanilla (I never measure it, but since the yogurt is vanilla flavored, I didn’t use as much)
1/2 boiling water

Directions:

1-If using liquid buttermilk, measure into a measuring cup, add vanilla, and set aside. If using the dry buttermilk, combine the powder with the dry ingredients and measure out 1/2 cup of milk or water and set aside.
2-Combine sugars, egg, and yogurt in a large mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed until well combined.
3-Combine dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk together.
4-On medium speed, slowly alternate the dry and wet (buttermilk) ingredients into the bowl with the sugar/yogurt mixture. Begin and end with the dry mix and make sure it is incorporated before adding more.
5-Gently add boiling water on a low mixing speed.
6- Fill a lined cupcake pan 3/4 of the way full for mini cupcakes, 2/3 for standard cupcakes.
7- Bake at 350 for 10 minutes for the minis and 15-17 minutes for the standard or until a toothpick inserted in the middle removes clean. The cupcakes will have a moist/shiny top, so don’t let appearances fool you. These can be completely cooked but appear wet on the top.

**Note: I don’t have a recipe available for my peanut butter frosting (top secret!) but you can find many recipes online that are tasty.

Vegan Beet Cupcakes with RAW Vegan “Ganache” frosting

I love chocolate. I love beets. But, much like I love pasta and I love peanut butter, it doesn’t mean that the two would make a good combination. At least, that’s what I thought. I was extremely skeptical when I saw Β theΒ Minimalist Baker post a recipe for Fudgy Beet Cupcakes. Sure, I typically prefer my beets soaked in sugar and cider vinegar, but chocolate? I don’t know.

Good thing I’m a food adventurist. I’ll try just about anything. I’m more inclined to take a chance on the sweets though. I have experimented with gluten-free brownies before and have no issues with making a dessert healthier…. as long as it doesn’t affect the flavor. There’s nothing worse than biting into a healthy treat and spitting it out because of the ‘healthy flavor’.

I’m so glad that these cupcakes don’t taste healthy. I took them to a ladies group and those ladies thought I was joking when I told them they were healthy! As women, we try to justify our sweets a lot. I’ve heard things like “chocolate is a vegetable” and “calories don’t count when you’re sharing”, so, naturally “these are healthy” fits right up there.

Only, I wasn’t kidding! When I told folks what was in them they were shocked. You can’t taste the beets! I can’t really say anything with certainty, but it’s my understanding that the beets act not only a source of sweetness, but also help the cakes stay moist. I’ve made lots of different cupcakes recipes and most call for 2 cups of sugar, even though this recipe makes about 12 cupcakes, it still only uses less than one cup of sugar.

Minimalist Baker insists that they don’t NEED frosting- and they don’t- but frosting certainly never hurt a cupcake. But I wanted to stay true to the vegan theme and make a vegan frosting. I thought it’d be pretty simple, swap out the butter in my regular buttercream recipe and use solid coconut oil or other solid vegan fat… then, I read that confectioner’s sugar isn’t necessarily vegan. Glad I looked! I certainly never would have considered it to not be vegan- it’s just sugar, right? Turns out the way it’s processed affects it heavily. I suppose I would have known that if I followed a vegan lifestyle, but I don’t, so I didn’t know that. I’m glad that I do now! Of course- if I had just needed a ‘dairy-free’ cake, then using the confectioner’s sugar and vegetable shortening wouldn’t have been an issue.

On to my adventure:

Begin with 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla Almond milk and a teaspoon of vinegar. I used a raw organic cider vinegar, but a white vinegar is acceptable to. I happen to love cider vinegar (honestly- I could drink the stuff!) for the taste, but it also has numerous healthy attributes far too numerous to list here, but it’s great.
Anyway- you want to add the teaspoon to the cup of almond milk and allow it to curdle a few minutes. I allowed mine to sit while I gathered the rest of my ingredients.

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I used whole wheat flour this time. I think I used a combination of half white and half whole when I made these the first time. I find that using ALL whole wheat flour can give the cupcake an unnecessary nutty flavor. Not a bad thing, of course, but not what I generally try to attain.

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You also need cocoa powder. The recipe calls for a scant 1/2 cup. I don’t listen. I like mine extra chocolatey. A level 1/2 cup will suit just fine and not disrupt the flavor.

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Add some sugar to that…

100_3687Stir or whisk it up!

And onto the beets! The first time I made these I actually had fresh beets around the house. This time I had to used canned beets. My favorite part of using beets? Pink fingers.

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You’ll need half a cup of a beet puree. I took a few beets and some of the liquid and whirled them up in my mini food processor. It took about three-four of the small-sized beets that were in the can. They make a very creamy puree.
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Add that into your flour/cocoa mixture.
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And don’t forget your curdled almond milk. (Essentially, you’ve just made a vegan buttermilk. So- don’t be afraid of the sound of a ‘curdled’ almond milk. It’s the same as a buttermilk.)

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Mix it all up- it’s already got a pink tint to it. πŸ™‚100_3696

Don’t forget the oil, vanilla, baking soda, and baking powder! I used a melted coconut oil in mine. The batter is semi thick- not as runny as your typical box mix consistency.

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I had cute little Halloween themed baking cups that I decided to use- it IS October afterall. I also decided to make them into mini cupcakes, not standard.100_3706100_3707

I used my favorite scooper to make the cupcakes even. I use an ice cream scooper for the standards, and have two sizes of cookie scoops- I used the larger of the two.100_3708100_3711Fresh from the oven! And, dare I say, FLAWLESS! Perfectly puffed, rounded tops and they smell ah-maz-ing.

100_3714100_3719100_3726100_3717Yes, I took several pictures of the baked guys because they were so pretty.

One suggestion: if you make the minis- it will make 48 minis and they will bake at 325degrees for 7-9 minutes.

You COULD stop right here and serve these beauties plain, or sprinkle them with cocoa powder or a vegan confectioner’s sugar, or, you can top them with my vegan frosting!
This is a ‘ganache’-style frosting, similar to melted chocolate and heavy cream and butter, so it can’t be a true ganache, but would be the vegan alternative. It’s just as fudgy and finicky. πŸ™‚

Step one: 1/2 cup of cocoa powder100_3685

Step Two: Raw Honey100_3700

You’ll need 1/4 cup of that100_3702Step three: 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. You’ll want it melted, so pop it in the microwave for no more than 30 seconds or warm gently to melting on the stovetop. (I didn’t want to get a saucepan dirty for this little bit of oil)
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You’ll mix it all together and stick it in the fridge or freezer to firm up. I had such a small amount of it that it was easier to ‘whip’ up by hand, but it still created a very rough looking frosting. I had to let it at room temperature for it to become soft enough to work with then, but putting it in the fridge helped it firm up much quicker than if I would have waited for it at room temperature.100_3728Frost your beauties!100_3734100_3735

 

The frosting was very fudgy as well, and made the cupcakes seem more decadent and evil, but the frosting is healthy too! I had more than enough frosting to frost 48 minis and still have 1/4 cup left over, so I probably could’ve used more frosting on the cakes, but I didn’t want to overpower the cupcake since that has such a wonderful fudgy flavor on its own.

I hope that you’ll enjoy these cupcakes at your next event! Please feel free to share and visit the Minimalist Baker site for the recipe and others!Β Again- The recipe for the cupcakes is found HERE

 

RAW Vegan “Ganache” Frosting

Ingredients:

1/4 cup of raw honey
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
1/4 plus 2 TBS of coconut oil, melted
Splash of vegan vanilla

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a small food processor or use a hand held mixer. Once incorporated, cover and put in the fridge or freezer for about 15 minutes to firm up. Whip the cold frosting and frost cupcakes with spatula or knife.

**Coconut oil has a VERY low melting point. I’ve had coconut oil turn completely liquid during the time this past summer when our A/C broke and it reached greater than 90 degrees in the house. The frosting will melt in warm temperatures, so it is best served chilled or in a temperature controlled environment. It’s not great for sitting on a picnic table in the sun for your July 4th picnic. It’s still enjoyable and delicious, but really not pretty.

Sluttiest Brownies– Jo’s Delights Signature Brownie

I fully intend on giving credit where it is due, unfortunately, I can’t find the source for the “sluttier” brownies. If anyone knows or is that person, please leave a comment and I will absolutely amend this post to give the proper credit!

The “sluttier” brownies were the main inspiration for this baking adventure. Well, partly. Being a woman with monthly hormonal changes and cravings certainly didn’t hurt. So, maybe your excuse is hormonal, a pregnancy craving, or you just have an insatiable sweet tooth- any excuse you make is worth it for these brownies!

I’m not certain who came up with the “slutty” brownie variation- but I wish to thank him/her tremendously! A chocolate chip cookie base filled with and Oreo and topped with brownies? Yum! How can this combination be wrong?

So, when I saw the recipe for “Sluttier” Brownies, I knew it was another win. A Double Stuf Oreo and a peanut butter layer between the brownies and chocolate chip cookie? Yes, please!

I wanted to make it just a step better. Why not use a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup instead of just the peanut butter?

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I’m sure you can figure out how to make these on your own. I decided to remove the recipe because these have quickly become my signature brownie. They are what is most requested from folks and I can’t make money selling them if I give out my recipe. πŸ˜‰ I hope you understand. But I have plenty of other recipes coming that I’m sure you’ll love.