Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Chocolate and peanut butter, the perfect combination right? These two partner deliciously in a chocolate cupcake loaded with peanut butter buttercream and dipped in chocolate, how decadent!

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CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES

makes 12 cupcakes

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE

modified from sweetapolita.com

Ingredients

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 large egg + 1 egg yolk,  at room temperature

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

6 tbsps cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup sour cream

2 tbsps mayonnaise

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and fill cupcake pan with liners.
  2. In mixer beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla on medium high speed until lighter in colour about 3 to 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs mixing until fully incorporated, scraping the bowl with spatula occasionally.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and whisk to blend together dry ingredients.
  4. Alternate adding dry ingredients and sour cream into the creamed mixture taking care to mix just until incorporated.
  5. Gently fold the mayonnaise into batter by hand.
  6. Evenly fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 17 minutes. Remove cupcakes from baking pan and let cupcakes cool completely on wire rack. *Taking cupcakes out of the pan should prevent moisture from developing in the liner which could cause it to separate.

PEANUT BUTTER BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large egg whites

1/8 tsp salt

12 tbsps unsalted butter, at room temperature cut into pieces

1 cup peanut butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method

  1. In bowl of stand mixer combine sugar, egg whites and salt. Set bowl over pan of simmering water and gently whisk till mixture reads 140 F on an instant read therometer.
  2. Transfer bowl to mixer and using whisk attachment whip on medium-high speed until glossy and fluffy about 5 minutes. Bowl should be cool to touch.
  3. Reduce speed to low and add in butter one piece at a time, mixing until each is incorporated. Increase speed to medium and whip till fluffy. Add in peanut butter and vanilla beating until smooth and fluffy. Place buttercream to pastry bag with plain 1/2 inch tip.
  4. Pipe about 1/3 cup frosting onto each cupcake. Chill cupcakes till buttercream is completely firm, about 1 hour.

CHOCOLATE COATING

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

1 1/2 tbsps vegetable oil

  1. Place chocolate and oil in a medium glass measuring cup wide and deep enough to dip the cupcakes. Microwave at medium (50% power) in 30 second increments mixing until smooth and melted.
  2. Holding the chilled cupcakes by the bottom, carefully dip into the chocolate to coat all the buttercream. Gently pull up and let the excess chocolate drip into cup before turning cupcake upright and placing on tray to set. Refrigerate until ready to serve then let them sit at room temperature to allow the buttercream to soften.
  3. ENJOY.

Salted Almond Nanaimo Bars

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These easy no-bake treats have less sugar than traditional Nanaimo bars and the addition of roasted salted almonds is a yummy twist. Try these today for a Canadian treat this Family Day.

SALTED ALMOND NANAIMO BARS

from Chatelaine

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup finely chopped salted roasted almonds

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 tbsp corn syrup

3/4 cup icing sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 tbsps custard powder**

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp almond extract

1 cup chocolate chips

** substitute equal amount dry Jell-o instant vanilla pudding mix

  1. Line an 8×8 baking pan with aluminum foil.
  2. Combine coconut, graham crumbs, almonds and cocoa powder in a bowl.
  3. Stir in melted butter and corn syrup mixing until well combined, then press evenly into prepared pan.
  4. Beat icing sugar with butter, custard powder, vanilla and almond extracts using a mixer on low to slowly incorporate all the sugar. Increase speed to med-high and beat for a couple minutes until pale and fluffy. Spread evenly over cocoa graham base.
  5. Microwave chocolate chips for 2 minutes at 50% power stirring halfway through until completely melted. Pour over custard icing, smoothing top. Chill for a couple hours until firm. Let stand 15 minutes at room temperature before cutting into 24 bars to prevent cracking the chocolate topping.

 

Chocolate Lava Cake

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Nothing says “I lava you” like a rich, chocolate lava cake.

Be kind this Valentine’s and whip up this decadent dessert for the one you love.

CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKES

Ingredients

1 tbsp butter for ramekins

1 tbsp cocoa powder for ramekins

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter

3 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

1 1/2 cups icing sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

pinch of cayenne powder

  1. Butter and dust six 3/4 cup ramekins with cocoa powder.
  2. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk eggs and yolks in large bowl to blend. Whisk in sugar, then slightly cooled chocolate mixture adding slowly to avoid cooking the eggs. Whisk in flour, chili powder, cinnamon and cayenne.
  4. Pour batter into ramekins, dividing equally. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover, chill.)
  5. Preheat oven to 450 F. Bake cakes until sides are set but center remains soft and runny, about 9-11 minutes or up to 14 minutes for refrigerated batter. Resist the urge to leave them in for a few extra minutes to avoid having them turn into mini chocolate cakes. We want the centers soft for the lava goodness.
  6. Run a small knife around cakes to loosen. Immediately invert cakes onto plates. Serve warm with ice cream, fresh fruit or a dusting of icing sugar.

runDisney Wine & Dine Half 1/2 Marathon 2016

November 8, 2015

The runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon 2015 is one race I won’t soon forget. To give you some background, I ran this race the previous year with my oldest son and it was his first half marathon experience. Through the cold rain we splashed and dashed making it to the finish line together. Now since I like a good nightime race I decided to give this one another shot figuring the weather would have to be better the second time around right? Well, not exactly. Mother Nature had other plans it seems. The weekend was gorgeous, hot, sunny and humid, perfect shorts and t-shirt temps. The evening of the race as I arrived at the start area the winds picked up and clouds formed overhead. I thought, OK well it’s breezy but at least it’s not raining. A few minutes later I could feel some rain droplets, then came the lightening. Uh oh. The officials announced we were evacuating the start area due to the weather moving inside to the Wide World of Sports buildings nearby. The hour long wait was dampening my enthusiam for the race but I smiled upon hearing 15,000 runners cheer when they announced we could move out to the pre-race area for a delayed start.

As we got into the corrals we learned the course would be shortened which I actually didn’t mind since it was late and my legs were getting tired already. Although it would have been fun to run through Animal Kingdom in the dark again, I was really looking forward to finishing and going to the after party to eat! Sadly the course was really congested since there wasn’t much open road for spreading out. I took the opportunity to slow down and take some final pictures of the Osborne Lights. This really gave me my much needed second wind to fly through the rest of the course. I finished the 6.72 miles in fine form, feeling great. The 10K is my favorite race distance and I’d love to see a future runDisney 10K night race with an after party. Now that would be epic!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

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With the holiday season upon us it’s time to think about getting together with family and friends to celebrate and enjoy a feast together. I love preparing desserts and often can’t decide between pumpkin pie or cheesecake. This delicious recipe solves that dilemma by combining them in one mouthwatering treat sure to satisfy both cravings. The original recipe is from the Disney Parks Blog and I’ve cut it in half and replaced the evaporated milk with cream. If you don’t have springform pan you can bake it in a 6″ or 8″ cake pan round being sure to grease well and line the bottom with parchment to keep the base from sticking. Don’t forget to serve with fresh whip cream and enjoy.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake
Makes 6 or 8-inch cheesecake

Adapted from Disney Parks Blog recipe

Crust

  • 3/4 cup crushed graham cracker
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons butter-melted

Cheesecake Filling

  • 1.5 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 7 ounces can pumpkin purée
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Melted chocolate, for drizzling

For crust:

  1. In a bowl combine the crushed graham cracker, sugar and ginger. Melt the butter and stir into mixture.
  2. Spray bottom and sides of the springform pan. Press crust mixture into bottom of pan using your hands.
  3. Place pan on a large piece of foil and wrap foil tightly up sides and around pan.

For cheesecake filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Beat cream cheese, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  3. Add egg mixing well. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  4. Whisk together pumpkin purée, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl until well combined. Add pumpkin mixture to cream cheese mixture, beating until well combined. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add heavy cream mixing well.
  5. Slowly pour cheesecake filling onto crust mixture in prepared pan. Drizzle with melted chocolate.
  6. Place foil-wrapped pan inside a larger roasting pan. Place oven rack and carefully add enough hot water to reach halfway up sides of springform pan.
  7. Bake 1 hour, or until center moves only slightly when shaken.
  8. Turn oven off. Crack open oven door, and allow cheesecake to cool inside oven 1 hour.
  9. Remove pan from water bath and set on a wire rack to cool completely. Cover top of pan with foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Cook’s Notes: Wrapping foil around springform pan prevents water from the water bath from getting into the cheesecake. The slow cooling inside the oven prevents cheesecake top from cracking.

Super Mario 3 tier cake

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It’s Super Mario time! I had fun making this cool 3 tier cake for my son’s birthday. To save on time I used the Duff Tie-dye cake mix and Fondarific fondant. The delicious buttercream recipe is from the awesome http://www.gretchensbakery.com.

INGREDIENTS

6, 8 and 10 inch cake layers, 2 of each

2 lbs. fondant

4-5 cups buttercream icing recipe follows

Buttercream -Gretchen’s Bakery
Yield: 6 cups
Ingredients
Unsalted Butter 1½ Cups (3 sticks) (336g)
Hi Ratio Solid Vegetable Shortening 1½ Cups (336g)
Confectioners Sugar (Domino Brand 10X Sugar) 6 cups 720g)
Heavy Cream 6 Tablespoons (90ml)
Vanilla Extract 2 teaspoons
Butter Extract 1 teaspoon
Salt ¼ teaspoon
Instructions
Combine the butter and shortening in the Kitchen Aid (or stand mixer) bowl with the paddle attachment
Whip on medium to high speed for about 3 minutes.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure it is evenly mixed and add the extracts and salt. Mix well. Stop mixer and add the sifted confectioners sugar all at once.
Mix on low speed until incorporated, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and then mix on high speed for 3 minutes.
Scrape the bowl again and then while mixing on low speed slowly drizzle in the heavy cream.
Increase speed to high and whip for another 5 minutes
Add the flavor extracts and then you are done!
The icing will gain volume almost to the top of a 6qt Kitchen Aid bowl and get very white. (*If you are using a hand beater, the volume will not get as high since the hand beaters cannot incorporate air as efficiently as the Kitchen Aid or stand mixers)

Camping in the Adirondacks

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This summer we visited our favorite spot in the Adirondacks, Rollins Pond. We managed to get in two trips this year and both times the weather was sunny and beautiful. The boys enjoyed splashing around in the lake and digging in the sandy beach. We took them out on the kayak a couple times and they really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to get them out on the water more often next summer. If you enjoy quiet camping on the lake, kayaking and hiking check out Rollins Pond.

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