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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Cardamom Carrot Cupcakes

Hello all you fine people, hope your October is going splendidly. I have finished two of three half marathons for the month (in Victoria, BC and Chattanooga, TN) and am currently spending the week in Iowa for work before heading to Oregon for my final race. Quite the trip seeing several friends and doing all the races, but I’m sure I’ll be glad to be home next week.

Cardamom Carrot Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

In any case, I’ve gone back to my usual sugary treats and have a lovely cupcake recipe for you today. During the month of September I gave up foods with added sugar (which was awful and I’ll probably never do that again) and so the first weekend of October I went a little crazy with the baking and made pumpkin bread, these cupcakes, and a surprise bonus post for next week. (Spoiler: it involves pumpkin.) I used new mini loaf pans for the pumpkin bread and they worked fantastically. (These pans, if you’re curious.)

Cardamom Carrot Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

I’d been wanting to make these cupcakes for awhile now, but carrot always feels like fall to me so I put it off all summer long. Although the original recipe is not spiced, I used spices from another Cupcake Project recipe I’d made several years ago. I’d enjoyed the latter recipe greatly but with the multitude of flavors going on it was just a bit overwhelming for me. When she posted her “spring” version earlier this year, it seemed much more my speed.

Cardamom Carrot Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

A light carrot and honey flavor enhanced with a few fall spices makes for a wonderful and somewhat unique flavor. The texture of the cupcake is fantastic and they rose perfectly for me which is always a nice surprise. Also, I tried out these cupcake liners I bought at Costco earlier this year and they are AMAZING. They unwrap from the cupcake with absolutely zero sticking which I was extremely excited about. Cannot recommend them enough.

Cardamom Carrot Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

In any case, if you’re looking for a fall treat that is maybe a little different from the norm, these are the cupcakes for you. I decided to pair them with the frosting from the original recipe because it is incredible and a totally different flavor from the usual maple and cinnamon of the season.

Cardamom Carrot Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

I hope you enjoy the concoction or use the recipes to create your own. And also check back next week for a fun Halloween idea.

Cardamom Carrot Cupcakes

Adapted from Cupcake Project
Makes about 18 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp

2 eggs

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup finely chopped carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 18 cupcake wells with paper liners and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Mix in honey and butter (yes, by hand) until completely combined.
  4. Stir in eggs one at a time, then add lemon juice.
  5. Fold in carrots and crystallized ginger.
  6. Fill each cupcake well with about 1/4 cup of batter, and bake 20 minutes. Tops should spring back when pressed gently.
  7. Let cool completely, then frost as desired.

Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting

Borrowed from Cupcake Project
Frosts 14-20 cupcakes

Ingredients

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. This will take a couple of minutes.
  2. Gently stir in powdered sugar one cup at a time, adding more or less if you prefer a stiffer or looser frosting, respectively.
  3. Beat in cardamom and vanilla until completely combined and mixture is fluffy again, about 30 seconds.
  4. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes and enjoy.

Peanut Butter Oreo Overload Brownies

Phew. Okay kids, I promised you sugar and here it is. All of it. So much.

The other week Pinterest lit up with these brownie Oreo peanut butter cupcake delights. The ones I happened across didn’t lead to a recipe, but it looked pretty straightforward. All I needed was a reason to make them because I certainly wasn’t going to eat 18 of these babies. Luckily, my work had a charity bake sale and these immediately came to mind as something I could donate.

Peanut Butter Oreo Overload Brownies {{Baking Bytes}}

Due to the brownie mix (which is one of the few things I’m okay using a mix for), these come together simply with relatively little time commitment and are easy to transport for parties. But let me warn you, they are rich! I am not normally one of those people who thinks thing are too sweet (I can eat chocolate pudding pie for daaaays) but these take it to a whole new level. I also don’t typically eat packaged candy (which is probably part of why it’s a bit overwhelming to me) but I made an exception for these.

Peanut Butter Oreo Overload Brownies {{Baking Bytes}}Peanut Butter Oreo Overload Brownies {{Baking Bytes}}

With a glob of peanut butter sandwiched between two Oreos and surrounded by brownie, these things do not mess around. Maybe you only want half of one, maybe you want five, I don’t judge. The fudgy-ness of a brownie, the crunchy-ness of an Oreo, and a smooth peanut butter filling give you all the textures you could want in one chocolatey bite.

Peanut Butter Oreo Overload Brownies {{Baking Bytes}}

I topped mine with some Reese’s peanut butter chips for some added flair, and because I always have them on hand anyway. Totally not necessary but they do look prettier that way, and as we all know: you do eat prettiness.

Peanut Butter Oreo Overload Brownies {{Baking Bytes}}

These would be great for an upcoming Halloween party (maybe cut them in half for kids) if you want to get away from all the pumpkin flavors. (If you don’t, my pumpkin ginger cupcakes are amazing, not that I’m biased.)

Peanut Butter Oreo Overload Brownies

Inspired by various Pinterest pins
Makes ~18

Ingredients

1 box brownie mix (for 8×8 pan)1
–> plus any ingredients called for on package

1 package Oreos (or knockoffs)
peanut butter
Reese’s peanut butter chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners and lightly grease with cooking spray.
  2. Mix the brownie batter according to package directions and set aside.
  3. Place an Oreo (or knockoff) in the bottom of each muffin liner and top with one teaspoon of peanut butter (using a cookie scoop will greatly speed up this process.)
  4. Gently press a second cookie on top of the peanut butter, pressing down till the peanut butter is spread evenly across the cookie.
  5. Add two rounded tablespoons of brownie batter on top of the Oreos, using a toothpick to spread it evenly down the sides and across the top. Liners should be almost completely full.
  6. Top with Reese’s peanut butter chips (optional).
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes (the tops should be matte).
  8. Let cool completely in the pan, then store in an airtight container.

Notes

1 I used the Ghirardelli brownie mix that Costco sells, but it would be much easier to use a mix that doesn’t have chocolate chips/chunks in the batter.

You may have a little leftover brownie batter, just bake it in additional liners, filling each about 2/3 full. Great for brownie sundaes after you’ve given all these away.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes and Buttercream Frosting

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, but especially to mine for being my proofreader (and just generally awesome). Thanks Mom!

Treadwell Ditch Trail 2013

This month my best friend finished her Master’s degree in Computer Science, which is super exciting! To celebrate the occasion I offered to make cupcakes for the party. The first time I made these cupcakes, a year ago, they turned out delightful so I decided to revisit the recipe.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Some of you may be thinking, “Vanilla? How boring.” but I assure you these cupcakes are amazing. Unless you are just completely anti-vanilla, in which case I think you might want to get that checked out. These cupcakes are light and summery with a full vanilla flavor and pretty specks of vanilla bean throughout. They are quite delicious on their own, but of course make a great base for almost any frosting. For this occasion I used the vanilla buttercream from the original recipe, as well as a blackberry buttercream I sort of made up as I went. Although it was delicious, it’s not quite ready to share. But don’t worry, it’ll definitely be up here soon.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

This is a very beginner friendly recipe as well as an excellent staple for the experienced baker. The original recipe calls for a vanilla bean, but I substituted vanilla bean powder which you can buy off Amazon. I love vanilla bean powder because it’s far less hassle (and cheaper!) than whole beans but has a much stronger flavor and the lovely specs that extract doesn’t. You can also use it in place of vanilla extract (or in addition to) in pretty much any baked recipe. I hear it’s also great to add a little to your coffee grounds before you brew it, but I haven’t personally tried this (yet).

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

These cupcakes are great for any occasion, but they are best for decently large parties as the recipe makes over three dozen. You could try shrinking the recipe, of course, but I suspect your friends would prefer you had extras to give away.

Pair with the vanilla bean buttercream frosting below, or your favorite frosting recipe. It would go great with a whipped cream frosting if you want to keep the whole concoction extra light. Maybe even Bailey’s whipped cream.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Adapted from Bella’s Bistro
Makes so many cupcakes (~40)

Ingredients

3 cups cake flour (or all-purpose)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
2 tsp vanilla bean powder

2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temp

1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line muffin tins with cupcakes liners.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat butter and vanilla powder together until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and beat until completely combined.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until just combined after each one. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. In a small cup, mix together buttermilk and vanilla extract; set aside.
  6. Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, add in alternating additions with the buttermilk, mixing on low speed just until incorporated between each addition.
  7. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary, and mix an additional 15 seconds.
  8. Using a 3 Tbsp scoop, fill the cupcake liners and bake for 18-20 minutes (a toothpick should come out clean).
  9. Let rest at least 5 minutes in the pan, then remove cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Frost and decorate as desired.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Bella’s Bistro
Makes enough for ~20 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temp

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 Tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Add sugar and beat on low speed until incorporated completely.
  3. Stir in vanilla and cream, then beat on medium-high speed for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. Pipe or spread on completely cooled cupcakes as desired.

Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes

Although they are not my greatest strength, I really enjoy making cupcakes. Or more accurately, I enjoy frosting cupcakes. Also sprinkles – they’re just so fun!

You may recognize this recipe from my blog header. These cupcakes are really easy, delicious, and one of the few recipes I didn’t have to modify for baking at 4500 feet. The addition of ginger is a nice distinction to a normal pumpkin cupcake, and the cinnamon frosting blends perfectly.

Just look how perfectly they rise.

I got this recipe from my friend Amanda, and it’s already become one of my favorites. I’m sure I’ll be making these every year. I decided to use the spider-web design from the recipe for half, and the fall leaf sprinkles I had for the other half. Unless you are an incredibly generous with frosting, you can probably cut the frosting recipe in half.

Spider-web Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes

From the kitchen of Amanda
Makes 12-18 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup (about 1 1/4 ounces) crystallized ginger cut into 1/8- to 1/4-inch pieces (unless you really like chunks of candied ginger, make sure these pieces are small)

Directions

  1. Position rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line muffin tin cups with paper liner.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger into a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low-medium speed, beat the melted butter, sugar and pumpkin until smoothly blended.
  3. Mix in the eggs and crystallized ginger. On low speed, mix in the flour mixture until it is incorporated. The batter will be thick.
  4. Fill each paper liner with a generous 1/4 cup of batter, to about 1/2 inch below the top of the liner. Bake just until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes for at least 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then remove and cool completely.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 to 2 teaspoons whole milk

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla on low speed until smooth and thoroughly blended. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and continue to mix until smooth, then beat on medium speed for 1 minute to lighten the frosting.
  3. Transfer about 1/4 cup of the frosting to a small bowl, and stir in enough cinnamon to make the frosting a light brown color and enough milk to make a thick but pourable frosting. Set aside to use for the spider-web decoration.
  4. Use a knife or a small spatula to spread the remaining frosting on top of each cupcake in a smooth even layer. Cleaning the utensil often against the side of the bowl (or with a paper towel) will help you spread the frosting smoothly.
  5. Spoon the reserved cinnamon frosting into a small self-sealing freezer bag. Press out the excess air and seal the bag. Cut a tiny hole in one corner of the bag, about 1/8 inch in diameter.
  6. To form the web pattern, hold tip about 1/2 inch above a cupcake and slowly pipe two circles, one inside the other, on the frosting. Pipe a dot of the frosting in the center. Drag a toothpick gently from the center of the cupcake to its edge, and repeat at each 90° interval.
  7. In between the previous lines, draw the toothpick from the edge of the cupcake towards the center. You should have 8 lines alternating in directions to form a spider-web. It may be necessary to add a new dot in the center.

    Try not to eat them all at once. =)