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. 😉 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 Pancakes (<–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. 🙂
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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. 😉
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! 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.

Peanut Butter Kit Kat Cupcakes

Anyone still have candy from Halloween? I think it’s the perfect excuse to experiment with cupcakes, but we don’t get many trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood and I don’t have children of my own to sneak candy from- so I can’t blame anyone but myself if there is candy in the house. Occasionally, I do buy candy with the intentional purpose of cupcakes. But then I have to make the cupcakes right away or risk eating it myself. An extra bit of candy found its way into the house last year, along with some other inspirational ingredients.

So I experimented with cupcake flavors. I whipped up a batch of vanilla cupcake batter, divided it up, and added a bunch of different ingredients. Among a maple cake, a cinnamon cake, and a banana cake, I made a peanut butter lover’s. I topped it with peanut butter frosting and garnished it with a peanut butter chip. Amazing…. and, now that I knew I could add different flavors to what can be a boring vanilla cupcake, I decided to try something even more adventurous.

Thus, Peanut Butter Kit Kat cupcakes were born.

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Oh these things are a dream! A lush peanut butter cake with Kit Kat pieces and a milk chocolate truffle buttercream, topped with a mini Kit Kat. Perhaps you’re wondering what to do with all that ‘leftover’ Halloween candy? (Sorry, “leftover” candy is a foreign concept in my house. There is no such thing.)
You can pretty much chop up any candy and throw it into a cupcake batter or cookie dough. I just chose Kit Kats this time around. Afterall, I did Rolos and peanut butter cups awhile ago. Yes, I even did those Chocolate Malted Milk Balls for a cake. As for something not chocolate? Stay tuned for Pixy Stix Cupcakes.

So, a vanilla cupcake. Seems easy enough. I have a few recipes that I enjoy, and I’m still seeking an absolute favorite, but you may already have one. If not, there is no shame in whipping up a box mix to personalize. When I first began experimenting with cupcakes I didn’t have a complete arsenal of from-scratch batters, so I did rely on cake mixes, but not anymore.

The vanilla cupcake I decided to use starts with two sticks of butter:

100_38534 eggs,100_38581 cup of milk. (I use whole milk in baking.)100_3860

And a mixture of cake flour, AP (all-purpose flour) and sugar. (It also needs baking powder and a whole lot of vanilla, of course.)100_3861

This picture shows it processed together with the cold butter- thus why it looks a bit like canned cheese. It tastes so much better than canned cheese, I assure you!100_3862

So, I mixed up the batter then, because I was only making 12 cupcakes, I measured out about 5 cups worth of the vanilla batter into a separate bowl to make  it peanut butter. The remaining batter can be baked up immediately or stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days (no more than a week!).

To make the batter peanut butter, I added 1/2- 3/4 cup of peanut butter. It depends on your taste. I started with 1/2 then added some more because I wanted a strong peanut butter flavor. Because the peanut butter thickens the batter slightly, it’s crucial that you don’t overcook these.100_3863100_3864I had Reduced Fat peanut butter on hand because that’s all the store had that day (That’s what happens when they have an awesome sale on peanut butter!). A regular peanut butter would work just fine, but stick with creamy. You don’t want to have a super crunchy batter (you need to chop up Kit Kats to add yet!)100_3867I had the snack size on hand (Hooray for candy being on sale in October!) And chopped up 10 of the snack size packs. That’s 10 of the 2 stick packs in ONE bag of snack size. Or 5 of the standard-size bars (at 4 sticks each). 2 and 1/2 of the King-sized (at 8 sticks each).100_3869

I did a rough chop. You’ll want a variety of sizes, but you don’t want to go too large or too small. You want to know that the Kit Kat is in the cupcake but not bite into an entire Kit Kat.100_3872

Your batter should have a pretty even distribution of Kit Kat pieces. Next, scoop them into lined cupcake pans!100_3875

And bake. Aren’t they lovely? I shortened my bake time. 325 for 20-25 minutes should do the trick. I checked it a bit before 20 and it was still slightly underbaked so I turned off the oven and left them in there for a few more minutes. I just wanted it to bake gently and evenly. Leaving the oven on would have overbaked them in my oven. You may find that you can bake them normally (following the directions for your cupcake batter). I have an older oven and have to compensate for uneven baking.100_3877

It almost resembles a muffin- but it has a cake texture.

But it needs frosting. Badly.
I had a batch of chocolate ganache frosting and a batch of buttercream in the fridge. Normally, I’d just melt some chocolate and once it’s cool, mix it into the butterceam, but, ganache is already so similar. It has heavy cream, melted chocolate and butter already in it, so it’s halfway there anyway. The buttercream has the confectioner’s sugar that makes it a little bit sweeter and the ganache has an intense chocolate flavor. I can’t tell you what measurements I used, I just mixed it until it taste right…. probably about 1:1 ratio. 1 part buttercream to 1 part ganache.100_3882

It’s a lighter brown color than usual, but tasted fantastic. Still VERY chocolatey. So, I used my 1M piping tip and piped a ‘rose’ on top.100_3886I could have left it as is, but I can’t do that. I love having an edible decoration that gives people an idea of what flavors they’re eating. So, Kit Kat Minis to the rescue!100_3883The best part is that I don’t even have to cut these to adorn the tops of the cupcakes! They’re the perfect size for a standard cupcake! They might be a little overpowering on a mini cupcake though.100_3888The middle has flecks of Kit Kat and consists of the deliciously moist peanut buttery cake.
100_3935 And the OCD in me says that I need to make sure that the “KIT KAT” on the cupcake is facing the same way, but it’s delicious!100_3890100_3900100_3894 Yum. That makes for one happy client.

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. 😉 I hope you understand. But I have plenty of other recipes coming that I’m sure you’ll love.