Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte a la Mode

Ah, October. While most think of Halloween all month long, I focus on race season. Every weekend except one is taken up by a race, with this past weekend being the sole half marathon and taking place in Dallas. Unfortunately it was crazy hot and I missed my goal time by several minutes, but I did get third place in my age group and an award to boot!

I’m now in Houston and kicked off the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing which I’m superbly psyched to be attending. I do miss Bozeman’s October weather, but a whirlwind weekend with my favorite aunt for running and eating and Six Flags, followed by the inspiration of being around so many women in tech fields (plus my first time in Texas), is definitely worth skipping a few properly autumnal days.

Mini Peanut Butter Torte a la Mode {{Baking Bytes}}

Even with my disinclination towards Halloween, it does make for a great excuse to bake overly decadent treats that have no real justification. Although I’m still working on losing a few pounds and ergo drastically limiting my sugar intake, these tortes a la mode I made for my anniversary with M last Valentine’s Day are even more appropriate for the current holiday season.

Mini Peanut Butter Torte a la Mode {{Baking Bytes}}

The original recipe created a full-size dessert, but I felt a mini version was the right choice for me. Already portioned, pretty for pictures, and simpler to tote around. As a bonus, it’s also easier to give away the extras to my unsuspecting coworkers. I have included the instructions for the miniature ones, but for the full-size option simply double the recipe and use two 8″ cake pans.

Intensely chocolatey and riddled with peanut butter flavor, these tortes are drizzled with more of both because, well, why not? Topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to round out the experience, it’s an immensely rich dessert and high in presentation points.

Mini Peanut Butter Torte a la Mode {{Baking Bytes}}

Fudgy chocolate cake interspersed with chopped Reese’s, the tortes on their own are a wonderful treat, made extra decadent by sandwiching a spread of peanut butter, and drizzled with a peanut butter glaze and chocolate sauce. Smooth vanilla ice cream tones down the decadence just a tad, and makes for a lovely creamy and fudgy juxtaposition. (The sauces also make great ice cream toppings on their own.)

Mini Peanut Butter Torte a la Mode {{Baking Bytes}}

For an extravagant dessert experience bring out the big guns and make these layered tortes a la mode as directed below. For maybe a slightly more tame dessert endeavor, just top each mini torte with a little peanut butter glaze and chocolate sauce, and call it a day. Whichever route you take, or perhaps a hybrid of the two, your peanut butter chocolate lovers are sure to be thrilled.

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte a la Mode

Adapted from My Baking Addiction
Makes 6 or 12 servings

Ingredients

Cake
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup sugar
2 eggs

1.5 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt

5 Reese’s cups, chopped

Filling
peanut butter, heated if necessary for spreading

Glaze
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 – 4 Tbsp heavy cream

2 Tbsp prepared chocolate sauce

vanilla ice cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Liberally coat a mini cheesecake pan with cooking spray. (A muffin tin will also work.) If you’re using anything besides silicon or mini springform pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk melted butter and cocoa powder until completely combined.
  3. Stir in the sugar 1/4 cup at a time, mixing well between each addition (use a spatula).
  4. Repeat with eggs, 1 at a time.
  5. Add vanilla, flour, and salt, and stir until there are no streaks of flour.
  6. Fold in chopped Reese’s.
  7. Divide batter evenly between mini cheesecake (or muffin) wells, about 3 Tbsp each.
  8. Bake 18-25 minutes, until tops are matte and a toothpick comes out mostly clean, similar to brownies.
  9. Let cool completely.
  10. Run a knife around the edges of your pans and remove all cakes.
  11. Spread peanut butter on half of the cakes (I used about 1 tsp each), then top with another cake. Transfer to a platter, cake plate, or individual plates (or whatever you plan to serve from). Alternatively, for 12 smaller servings you can carefully cut each cake in half, spread peanut butter on the bottoms, and replace the tops.
  12. Whisk together additional peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and 2 Tbsp heavy cream until smooth. If you want a thinner glaze, add additional heavy cream in small amounts at a time until desired consistency is reached. (If you are making 12 servings and want ample glaze, you may want to double the amounts.)
  13. Carefully top each mini cake with 1-2 tablespoons of glaze, letting it drip slightly down the sides.
  14. Drizzle with melted chocolate chips or chocolate sauce.
  15. Just before serving, top each stack with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  16. Enjoy!

Notes

I recommend you use a sweeter peanut butter like Jif or Skippy which probably doesn’t need to be heated, but if you insist on using a natural peanut butter it might need to be warmed a little in order for it to be easily spreadable.

I used homemade chocolate sauce I already had on hand; Hershey’s or similar would work great, or melted chocolate chips are always a good option. If you are concerned with presentation, I recommend putting the chocolate sauce in a piping bag and cutting off a very small tip so you have good control over your drizzle.

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Blueberry Boy Bait (two ways)

Spring has definitely sprung over here with a high of 72 yesterday (followed by a couple inches of snow this morning), and the warm weather has gotten me thinking about the berry pies and lemony goodness that become more popular in the coming season. I decided something blueberry was definitely in order and perused my bookmarks and Pinterest boards in hopes of seeing something that piqued my interest.

Blueberry Boy Bait {{Baking Bytes}}

It didn’t work (ha) but I did ultimately remember a fabulous blueberry dish I made at home several years ago called Blueberry Boy Bait. The name has always made me giggle and the dish is amazing. A quick Google search brought me right to the lovely post from Smitten Kitchen I so fondly recalled.

Before we get much further, please bear in mind there is absolutely nothing healthy about this. It’s cake. I know there’s no frosting, but it’s like 90% butter (slight exaggeration) and 100% delicious and you should definitely make some. Just know that this is not a health food, and if you’re looking for one of those you should bake some Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins instead.

Blueberry Boy Bait {{Baking Bytes}}

Still here? Excellent. Rich and buttery, fluffy and moist, brimming with blueberries, and topped with a cinnamon & sugar coating I always adore, it’s hard to have just one piece. After making it again, I’m honestly not sure why I waited so long and it will definitely be put in a more regular baking rotation. It pairs equally well with a cup of coffee for breakfast or snack, and a glass of milk for dessert. Or a handful straight from the cooling rack to your mouth because you “accidentally” didn’t grease the pan well enough and had to hide the evidence.

Blueberry Boy Bait {{Baking Bytes}}

The blueberries do always sink to the bottom for me, but I consider this a feature rather than a problem, as it results in a perfectly proportioned cake-to-blueberry ratio with every bite. The cake is somewhat fragile, so be careful removing it from the pan. If you’re concerned about presentation, you could bake them in a muffin tin with paper liners instead, but I have not personally tried this.

Blueberry Boy Bait - Lemon {{Baking Bytes}}

Since spring was in the air, I tried a lemony version as well. I definitely prefer the original, but this is a nice alternative if you’re in the mood for it.

Blueberry Boy Bait

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 8×8″ dish

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar

1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1 cup whole milk (2% worked great)

1/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not thaw)
1 Tbsp flour

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not thaw)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8×8″ baking dish and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the paper too.
  2. Add butter and sugars to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for about two minutes on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Add eggs to butter mixture one at a time, mixing until just incorporated and scraping the bowl between each one.
  5. Alternate adding flour (1/3 at a time) and milk, starting and ending with flour.
  6. Toss 1/4 cup blueberries with remaining one tablespoon flour and fold into batter. (It won’t look like enough, but I promise it doesn’t need more.)
  7. Spread into prepared pan and sprinkle additional 1/4 cup blueberries onto the batter. Mix together sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle about half over the top.
  8. Bake about 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top doesn’t look super wet.
  9. Immediately sprinkle with additional cinnamon & sugar topping (optional but recommended). Cool at least 20 minutes in the pan before serving.
  10. Attempt to not eat the entire pan in one sitting, but fail deliciously.

Blueberry Boy Bait - Lemon {{Baking Bytes}}

Lemon Blueberry Boy Bait

Make as above except substitute 3 tablespoons of milk with lemon juice. Omit cinnamon sugar topping. Whisk 3/4 cup powdered sugar with 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice and use to lightly glaze cooled cake.

Champagne Layer Cake

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}I hope you cherished or survived your Valentine’s Day, depending on where you stand with the so-called holiday. My anniversary with M happens to fall on this overly Hallmarked date and on that Saturday we celebrated six years together. We celebrated with a bike ride given the ridiculous lack of winter but it was a wonderful day nonetheless. M makes dinner (usually Swedish meatballs; yum) and I make a layer cake.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

I’ve made chocolate and raspberry and peanut butter and chocolate, as well as other delicacies not featured on this blog, and all were very delicious. This year, however, I was looking for something different. I perused Pinterest and implored the masses on Facebook, and happened across a scrumptious-sounding champagne cupcake on Sprinkle Bakes. Obviously I was looking to build a layer cake and not cupcakes, but the recipe looked easily adaptable. Just in case, I questioned Heather, the brilliant author of SB. Not only is she a brilliant blogger, but she’s a delightful person and promptly assuaged my very minimal doubts. Next step: buy champagne!

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

I chose a bottle of Barefoot Bubbly Pink Moscato Champagne, because I like Barefoot wine and a sweet champagne seemed like a solid plan. As a bonus, the reduced champagne in the frosting tinted it a very pale pink which I felt was appropriate given the occasion. Although it seems like a lot of steps, each part of this cake came together easily and could definitely stand on its own. Together, however, they create a supremely champagne experience without feeling like you’re getting drunk off dessert. (Not that getting drunk off dessert is necessarily a bad thing. Pudding shots, amiright?)

Despite having nearly the entire bottle within the various pieces, it’s still a fairly light cake. The taste of champagne is definitely prominent but not overwhelming, and I felt it was a welcome change to the usual chocolate confections. I think M was a little disappointed it’s not the kind of cake you pair with ice cream, but I promised to make it up to him on his birthday.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

A soft crumb and a custard filling enveloped in a fluffy frosting make for a textural dream in addition to the totally different but amazing flavor. It would be an especially lovely ending for a dinner party if you’re a classy folk but would be great for any special occasion. If you’re looking to switch it up from all the usual flavors, this is the cake for you.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Champagne Cake

Adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
Makes one 9″ cake

Ingredients

1 cup butter, room temp
2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sour cream
1 cup champagne

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour two 9″ cake pans, lining the bottoms with parchment paper. (Butter and flour the paper as well).
  2. Cream  together butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing completely after each one. Mix in vanilla.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together champagne and sour cream. Mixture will be fizzy.
  6. Starting and ending with the flour, alternate adding it and the sour cream mixture to the stand mixer. Batter will be thick.
  7. Divide evenly between prepared cake pans (about 3.5 cups of batter per pan) and bake for 30-35 minutes. Cake will brown but that’s okay! Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Freeze completely cooled cake layers for 30 minutes or until ready to use.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Champagne Cream Filling

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup champagne
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 egg + 2 egg yolks

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Combine 1/4 cup heavy cream, champagne, and sugar in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high then remove from heat.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup heavy cream and cornstarch, then mix in the eggs and egg yolks.
  3. Slowly stream in one third of the hot champagne mixture, whisking constantly so the egg doesn’t cook.
  4. Bring the remaining champagne and heavy cream mixture to a boil again, then stream in the egg mixture, whisking constantly until it thickens to a pudding-like consistency.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Champagne Buttercream Frosting

Makes just enough for one 9″ double-layer cake

Ingredients

1 cup champagne

1 cup butter, room temp
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 Tbsp champagne

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce 1 cup of champagne to 2 tablespoon. Pour into a small bowl and allow to cool.
  2. Add butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixture and mix briefly by hand to incorporate the sugar.
  3. Cream together with the whisk attachment until mixture is well combined and fluffy, scraping the bowl once or twice as necessary.
  4. Mix in reduced champagne and additional tablespoon of champagne from the bottle.

Assembly Instructions

Ingredients

2 champagne cake layers
1 batch champagne filling
1 batch champagne buttercream frosting

Directions

  1. Prepare a cake board, trimming if necessary.
  2. Level cake layers. Place a small amount of frosting on the cake board and gently press one cake layer on top.
  3. Evenly spread desired amount of filling on the cake (I used the whole batch), then gently press the second layer on top (cut side down) making sure it’s level. Then use a spatula (or your finger) to ensure the edges are smooth.
  4. Spread and/or pipe the frosting on the cake, and decorate as desired.

Notes

This was barely enough frosting to spread on the cake. If you intend to do any piping or you like a lot of frosting, I recommend making 1.5 batches.

Lemon Bundt Cake

Hello my friends,  I’ve been busy attempting to find a lemon cake to share with you guys. As mentioned last post, attempt #1 was rather a fiasco, resulting in an overflowing, collapsed mess that was somehow over-baked and under-baked at the same time. And to top it off, it failed to cleanly come out of the pan.

Failure

Disaster.

The following week I tried again, using a new recipe. This recipe baked beautifully but was not quite as lemony as I prefer. I like lemon desserts to smack you in the face with lemon rather than leaving you wondering if that was really lemon flavored after all.

And so this weekend, attempt #3 was meant to boost the lemon flavor from the previous week, which was successful, finally.

Lemon Bundt Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

I finally present to you a fully lemony bundt cake for your springtime pleasure. If, like me, you’re ignoring the attempts at snow outside and the chilly wind, and looking longingly towards the blue patch of sky, bake this cake. This morning was a rather gray day, with flurries of now, but as I type up this post it’s now sunny and nearing 50 degrees.

Lemon Bundt Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Obviously the weather gods approve of lemon.

Fairly dense but not sickeningly sweet, the lemon scent permeates the air even before you have a taste. The color of sunshine guarantees a smile even on a cloudy day, and the burst of flavor leaves no questions about its contents. Although I love a strong lemon flavor, I realize it’s not for everyone. If you prefer it a bit more subtle, leave out the syrup step entirely. If you want the experience to have a bit more ka-pow (definitely a technical term), the syrup will give you that. Add as much or as little of it as you like, but make sure you poke deep holes into the cake to allow the syrup to permeate all the way through, or you’ll be left with a soggy bottom/middle that sticks to your wire rack. Don’t be afraid of the holes, they won’t show once the cake is inverted.

Lemon Bundt Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

This is an easy cake, and although a teensy bit time-consuming, it’s very beginner friendly. It would make a delightful addition to any table, sure to please any lemon fan. If you do decide to forego the syrup step, I recommend using a thinner glaze than shown here so you can cover the entire cake. The glaze is a necessary complement to the plainer cake and this will ensure you have some with every bite.

Lemon Bundt Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Lemon Bundt Cake

Adapted from Baking Bites
Serves 8-12

Ingredients

Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs
2 Tbsp fresh lemon zest

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup buttermilk

Syrup

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar

Glaze

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1-3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour a 10+ cup bundt pan.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and cream on medium speed until lightly colored and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating until just combined between each one.
  5. Stir in lemon zest.
  6. Add one third of the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.
  7. Repeat with lemon juice, one third of flour mixture, buttermilk, and remaining flour mixture (in that order), stirring just until incorporated with each addition.
  8. Scoop into prepared pan, gently smoothing out the top.
  9. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.
  10. During the last 10 minutes of baking, heat 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/2 sugar to boiling, then remove from the heat.
  11. Immediately after removing from the oven, poke deep holes in the bottom of the cake, and slowly pour the lemon syrup evenly over it, letting it soak into the cake.
  12. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then carefully invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  13. After the cake is cooled, vigorously stir together powdered sugar and lemon juice, adding more or less of each to desired consistency, and drizzle over the cake.
  14. Let the glaze set 20-30 minutes, then serve on its own or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Notes

  • You’ll need 5-6 lemons for the whole recipe
  • A skewer or a meat thermometer is ideal for poking holes

Peanut Butter Layer Cake

Happy President’s Day! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend (and Valentine’s Day, if you’re into that sort of thing.) Friday marked my 5-year anniversary with M, and as usual I baked a cake for the occasion. Each year I use a brand new recipe I’ve never tried, but luckily so far all of them have been delightful. Two years ago was a chocolate raspberry layer cake, and last year was a black forest chocolate cake I haven’t added to this blog yet. Maybe I’ll do a flashback post one of these days.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

This year, I wanted to hark back to the first cake I ever made: a chocolate cake, cream cheese peanut butter frosting, and chocolate ganache decadence that was amazing, albeit incredibly rich. Chocolate and peanut butter are a mutual favorite and this year I decided to reverse it in anticipation of a slightly less decadent confection. Borrowing a peanut butter cake recipe from The Daring Gourmet and pairing it with the same chocolate buttercream frosting from two years ago resulted the cake version of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

The cake is moist with a fabulous peanut butter flavor, and pairs beautifully with the chocolate buttercream. I opted for just frosting and no extra filling, but for an extra kick some chopped peanut butter cups would be fabulous between the layers.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Peanut butter chips make a fun polka dot decoration that keeps with the peanut butter theme while being a contrasting color to the frosting. Bonus: they are super easy to decorate with.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Below find The Daring Gourmet’s peanut butter cake recipe with my minimal changes, followed by a reprint of my chocolate buttercream. The original cake called for baking it all in one layer and cutting the cake in half, but since I don’t have a tall enough cake pan for that I opted to divide it before baking. I actually prefer this method because there’s no cutting involved, but both ways should work equally well.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

As for the frosting, I used about a tablespoon of dark cocoa and the rest regular to keep with a more traditional Reese’s pairing, but if you’re a dark chocolate kinda person, go ahead and use all dark cocoa. It will be amazing. For assembly, use your favorite method or head on over to my chocolate layer cake for my own method. Just ignore anything that mentions a filling and use peanut butter chips or another topping for some flair.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

So next time you have a peanut butter fanatic to please, this cake will definitely fit the bill. Just be sure to sneak a piece for yourself.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake

Borrowed from The Daring Gourmet
Serves 8-12

Ingredients

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup (rounded) creamy peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar (loosely packed)

2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

Directions

  1. Line the bottoms of two 8″ (or 9″) cake pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour the pans, especially the sides.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. In a large mixing bowl (or with a stand mixer), beat the oil, peanut butter, and brown sugar on medium speed until combined and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix on low until just combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
  6. Starting with the dry mixture, alternately add it with the buttermilk, beat gently with each addition just until combined. Batter will be fairly thick.
  7. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans and bake for 18-22 minutes. A toothpick should come out moist but not wet.
  8. Cool cakes in the pan for a few minutes, then turn onto a cooling rack to cool completely (about one hour).
  9. Wrap each layer carefully in plastic wrap, and freeze for 1 hour or until ready to frost.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

From Savory Sweet Life
Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar
½ cup sifted cocoa powder3

½ tsp table salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup tablespoons milk, half and half, or heavy cream

Directions

  1. Beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes.
  2. Add sifted powdered sugar and cocoa, and mix on low (unless you want a blizzard) until combined.
  3. Add vanilla, salt, and milk or cream and beat for 3 minutes on medium speed.
  4. If necessary, thin with milk/cream (1 tablespoon at a time) or stiffen with powdered sugar to desired consistency.

Notes

1 This cake is pretty beginner friendly, just be careful not to over-bake it.
2 It keeps well on the counter for a few days, just be sure to cover it with plastic wrap. (Once the frosting has set it shouldn’t stick much.
3 I used part dark and part regular, but any combination of cocoa powders will do; just make sure it all adds up to a half cup.