Peanut Butter Smore’s Cake

Well, April has flown by. It’s crazy how fast the month passed. It probably helped a bit that in the middle of the month, I had a week off of school for Easter holidays. The week off was fantastic, mainly because Paul and I spent it in Jamaica! It was our six-month-delayed honeymoon.
Ahh, it was fantastic. Sun, sand, and all the jerk chicken we could eat! Paul even brought jerk spices home so he could try to replicate the Jamaican Jerk flavour. It’s smoky and spicy and absolutely delicious. Either way, the day after we got back was Paul’s birthday! We didn’t do too much the day of, just went to brunch with a friend, but I didn’t get a chance to make Paul a birthday cake last week.

THIS week, however, I had some time, and when I asked Paul earlier in the week what he wanted as a birthday cake (I had been asking him regularly for the last month and a half) he said “I’ve had lots of time to think about it, and I’ve decided I want a Peanut Butter Smore’s Cake.” The matter was settled.

I decided to go straight to Pinterest, because I had quite a few pins on my various dessert boards, and settled on this recipe for a Smore’s cake. I did make a few changes of my own, and it turned out FANTASTICALLY. I added peanut butter into the cake batter, which made it a little thicker, but still worked. I also made homemade peanut butter and chocolate marshmallows to use as garnish (those recipes are coming, I promise!). Paul was so excited about the concept I came up with he refused to even try the marshmallows, which were finished first. He said he didn’t want to ruin the whole cake experience.

So, this cake is a peanut butter graham cracker cake, a whipped chocolate ganache filling, homemade marshmallow fluff frosting, chocolate ganache drizzle, and homemade peanut butter and chocolate marshmallows. Of course, I also toasted the marshmallow frosting and the marshmallows on top, because smore’s. I’ll put everything below except for the marshmallow recipes, because I’ll post those a little later.

Okay, I won’t torment you any more. To cake!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9-inch triple layer cake

For the cake:

2¼ c. flour
2¼ c. graham cracker crumbs
1½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. salt
1 c. peanut butter (creamy or crunchy works, I used half and half)
1½ c. butter, at room temperature
1½ c. brown sugar
¾ c. sugar
6 eggs
1½ c. buttermilk
3 tsp. vanilla

For the ganache filling:

12 oz. milk or semi-sweet chocolate
6 oz. heavy whipping cream

For the marshmallow fluff frosting:

1/3 c. water
¾ c. sugar
¾ c. light corn syrup
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
½ tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla

For the ganache drizzle:

10 oz. milk or semi-sweet chocolate
5 oz. heavy whipping cream

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line cake pans with parchment paper or Miracle Cake Release.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and peanut butter until combined and fluffy. Add the sugars and beat again. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla, beating after each addition.

Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk in small increments to the wet ingredients, beating after each addition. Begin and end with flour additions. Beat to combine, but do not overmix. Separate the batter evenly between the prepared pans, and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from pan and cooling completely.

To make the whipped ganache filling, chop chocolate and place into a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream, on the stovetop or in the microwave, until hot, but not boiling or scalded. Pour the cream over the chocolate, let stand for 2-3 minutes, then whisk together into a smooth consistency.

Place the ganache in the refrigerator until cooled and thickened, but still soft. Transfer to a mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, and whip until the ganache gets fluffy and lightens in colour, about 2 minutes.

To make the marshmallow fluff, combine the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan with a candy thermometer attached. Whisk to combine, and heat over medium-high heat. Do not stir the mixture any more.

In a completely grease-free mixer bowl with the whisk attachment, place the egg whites and cream of tartar. When the sugar syrup reaches 225° F, start whipping the egg whites to soft peaks.

When the sugar syrup reaches 240° F, take it off the heat and slowly start adding it to the egg whites in a thin, steady stream. Once all of the syrup is added to the egg whites, turn the mixer to medium-high and continue whipping.

Continue to whip for 7-8 minutes, or until the mixture looks stiff and glossy. Add the vanilla and whip until the fluff has cooled.

 

To assemble the cake, trim all uneven edges or tops to flat layers.

Place one layer of cake on a cake stand, then top with half of the whipped chocolate ganache. Spread the ganache evenly, then top with the second layer of cake. Cover the second cake layer with the rest of the chocolate ganache, and spread evenly. Top with third layer of cake. Put in the refrigerator for the ganache to firm up.

Once the whipped chocolate ganache is firm, spread the marshmallow fluff over the top and sides of the cake. It is okay if it looks messy, because it will be topped with more chocolate and torched.

After the marshmallow fluff is on the cake, torch the fluff with a brulee torch so it looks toasted.

Drizzle the chocolate ganache sauce over top of the marshmallow fluff, and top with chocolate and peanut butter marshmallows for garnish. Toast the marshmallow garnish if desired.

Chocolate Mint Sugar Cookie Bars


Hello friends!

I think lately I’ve been baking as a form of procrastination. I have a lot of school work to do, and I don’t always want to do it. (But I always get it done, don’t worry!) Every once in a while, lately on weekends, I’ve been deciding to bake up a storm. These sugar cookie bars came about on a bit of a whim, and I’m so glad they did!


Chocolate and mint is not for everyone, but Paul and I are huge fans! The nice thing about these bars is they don’t take very long to mix up. Call me a simple woman, but I’m all about things that don’t have me spending all day in the kitchen. (I love those recipes too, but I need to be in the mood to make them!)

I found the original recipe here, and while I didn’t have Andes mint bars, I decided to top them off with chocolate chips, because why not. If you are a fan of chocolate and mint together, I guarantee these will hit the spot!

Ingredients

Yield: Approx. 24 bars

For the cookie base:

½ c. butter, softened
½ c. brown sugar
½ c. sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. milk
2 c. flour
½ c. cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt

For the mint frosting:

½ c. butter, softened
½ tsp. mint extract
6 tbsp. heavy cream
¼ tsp. salt
4 c. icing sugar
green food colouring (optional)
mint chips/chocolate chips (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until combined. Add in egg, vanilla and milk. Beat again.

In a medium bowl, add the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to combine evenly. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until a cohesive dough is formed.

Press dough evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 14-15 minutes. Do not overbake.

Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat the butter, mint extract, and heavy cream together until smooth and fluffy. Add in the salt, icing sugar, and food colouring and beat until smooth and creamy.

Spread over cooled bars and garnish as desired. Slice into squares and serve!

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Okay. I haven’t made a cake in a long time, and I did so because two of my beautiful friends celebrated their birthdays and they are both a big fan of red wine!

I’m not the biggest wine fan myself, so I had a little help in choosing the wine to bake with, but if that is deterring anyone who is like me, and not a huge fan of wine, you can still make this cake! I found that the wine did not overpower the cake at all, and it added a nice flavour.


I found the recipe here, and I am quite pleased with it. I made my own vanilla buttercream instead of the icing suggested (because mascarpone is ridiculously expensive), and I’ve included that in the recipe below. It still worked very well together, but if you like mascarpone, go for it!

Enough chatter. On to cake!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 8-inch cake

For the cake:

¾ c. cocoa powder
1¾ c. flour
1 tsp. espresso powder
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
½ c. vegetable oil
1¾ c. sugar
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. red wine – I used Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon

For the frosting:

2 c. butter, at room temperature
3¾c. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

For the red wine reduction:

1 c. sweet red wine
4 tbsp. sugar

For the cake, preheat oven to 350° F. Brush 3 8-inch cake pans with miracle cake release or line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, espresso powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine eggs and oil. Add in sugar, beating to combine, until mixture turns pale. Reduce speed to low, then add in vanilla and milk.

Add in dry ingredients, mix until just combined, then add in wine and combine until smooth.

Divide batter into pans evenly, then bake in preheated oven 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks completely before icing.

For the red wine reduction, in a small saucepan combine the wine and sugar. Bring to a boil, then continue to simmer on medium-low heat until wine reduces to about ¼ c. It may take about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before using on cake.

For the vanilla buttercream frosting, in a mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add the sugar 1 cup at a time. Add vanilla and salt, and beat until smooth and combined.

To assemble cake, place cooled cake layer on a cake stand or board. Top with a generous layer of icing (doesn’t have to be too thick, but should still be there). Place second cake layer, repeat layer of icing, and finish with top layer of cake.

Ice the top and sides of the cake, getting the sides as smooth as possible. The original recipe had a “naked cake” look (meaning scant icing around the sides), and I decided not to do that. Drizzle the red wine reduction over the top of the cake. Slice and serve.

 

 

Nanaimo Bar Tart


Well, another original recipe. This recipe came about quite suddenly. Paul and I had been talking about tortes and tarts, and my mind just started wandering when Paul went to work.

I wondered if a Nanaimo Bar Tart could possibly work, and started thinking…. I took a shortbread recipe for the crust, and changed it up a bit, as well as using the custard powder and turning it into a thick custard, topping it off with a smooth chocolate topping.


I threw it all in the fridge to set up. That was the hard part – waiting for it to set to make sure that everything tasted good and worked together. However, the waiting and experimentation paid off, because WOW did taste good!

The tart turned out very good, but very rich, and already I’m cursing the slightly-bigger-than-normal piece that I cut for myself and finished with gusto because it was just THAT good. Either way, if you are a Nanaimo Bar fan, then this tart should be right up your alley!

Enjoy an original recipe! 🙂

Ingredients

Yield: 1 8-9 inch tart

For the tart shell:

1 c. butter
1¼ c. flour
¾c. coconut
½ c. sugar
¼ c. cocoa

For the custard layer:

¼ c. plus 1 tbsp. custard powder
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. sugar
2½ c. milk

For the chocolate layer:

½ c. butter
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium microwave safe mixing bowl, melt the butter. Add in the flour, coconut, sugar, and cocoa. Mix together until combined, and press into the tart pan and up the sides, trying to make as uniform and even as possible.

Bake the tart shell in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, and set aside to cool while making the filling.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the custard powder and sugar, then gradually pour in the vanilla and milk while whisking to create a cohesive sauce with no lumps. Whisk over a medium heat until a full boil and the custard thickens, whisking frequently. Once the custard thickens, pour into the cooled tart shell and let thicken and cool.

In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the butter and chocolate chips and melt on short bursts, combining until smooth.

Once the custard has thickened more, and formed a skin on top, pour the chocolate over top of the tart and even out, being careful not to mix the custard into the chocolate.

Let cool and set completely, in the fridge or on a wire rack, then slice and serve. Store in the refrigerator.

Turtles Cupcakes

Why have a Turtle when you can have a Turtle’s cupcake? I was invited over to a friend’s for a wine night and she jokingly suggested that I bring cupcakes. Well, she told me she was joking, but that really got me thinking. I haven’t made cupcakes in a long time, and therefore decided to!
I scoured through my Pinterest board, and came across these beauties. I knew as soon as I saw them that yup, these cupcakes were the one to make. I found the original recipe here, and I didn’t modify it in any way… except to double it. I’m sorry, but I need more than just 12 cupcakes. A girl needs to share!

These cupcakes are totally reminiscent of Turtles. There’s a chocolate base, covered in a salted caramel buttercream, then sprinkled with chopped pecans and more salted caramel… Oh yeah, these things are good! I also decided to make a little surprise in the middle of the cupcake. With a paring knife, I cut out a small hole in the top of the cupcake, filled it with chopped pecans and caramel, then put the cupcake back over the hole to fill it and iced the cupcake. It was beautiful – the little surprising crunch of the pecans and the soft gooey caramel right in the middle. A great little bite.

If you want, you can also drizzle some chocolate sauce on top of these beauties. I chose not to, because I sprinkled a generous helping of pecans over the top, and I wanted that crunch factor.

I forgot the best part! You don’t even need your mixer! Just one big mixing bowl, and you’re set! 🙂 Like you needed another reason to make these cupcakes! I also use the homemade salted caramel recipe that I first posted about in my Salted Caramel Apple Bars. It’s a great recipe – I’ll have to do a post just on that – it takes 10-15 minutes at most.

Ingredients:

Yield: 12 cupcakes (recipe can easily be doubled)

For the cupcake batter:

1 c. flour
¾ c. sugar
½ c. cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ c. milk
¼ c. vegetable oil
½ c. boiling water

For the salted caramel buttercream:

¾ c. butter, softened
3½ c. icing sugar
1/3 c. caramel sauce (homemade or store bought)
1 tsp. vanilla
1-2 tbsp. heavy cream

For garnishing:

Caramel sauce
Pecan
Chocolate sauce or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Mix in egg, vanilla, milk, and vegetable oil until combined. Whisk in boiling water until smooth and incorporated.

Divide batter among 12 paper lined muffin cups, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Bake in preheated oven for 16-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and tops spring back.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for about 10 minutes before cooling completely on wire rack prior to adding frosting.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: In a bowl using a stand mixer or your hand mixer, cream butter on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 – 4 minutes. Beat in powdered sugar and slowly mix on low speed until mixture comes together. Add caramel sauce then vanilla and beat on medium-high speed. Add heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time until light and fluffy or desired consistency is reached.

Fill a pastry bag with frosting and pipe onto cupcakes. Top with chocolate chips, chopped pecans and drizzle with caramel sauce.