Friday, January 30, 2015

Peanut Butter Cake Bars

Each week when we go to the grocery store, we (well my husband) looks at the store’s app and adds all these digital coupons. One week, he added cake mixes to the coupons. Now, I don’t really use cake mixes all the much, since I like to bake cakes from scratch, but I usually do have a cake mix or two in the cupboard. There are quite a few cookie recipes that use cake mixes as the base. I found this recipe shortly after we picked up the cake mixes and thought they sounded great.

It’s honestly hard to go too wrong with chocolate and peanut butter. These worked out well for me, as I made the base of the bars right when I got home from work, let them cool while we ate dinner, and then finished up the filling and the ganache after dinner. I refrigerated the bars for about 2 hours, which seemed to work. Ganache can be tricky; if you let it harden too much then the bars are impossible to cut. Ok, maybe the ganache was a little soft, but there are only so many hours in the night.

The base of these cookies was a little different than I expected; I thought the base would be fudgier. The base is drier, more cake like, which shouldn’t be surprising since it uses a cake mix as the base. The peanut butter and ganache layers are excellent! Maybe I would increase the amount of peanut butter filling, so that the ratio of peanut butter is higher. Still, there are great as they are, and again, you can’t go wrong with such a classic combination.

Peanut Butter Cake Bars
1 Devil's Food Cake mix
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg
3/4 cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
Milk, if needed

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (or 2 cups chocolate chips)
¾ cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” x13” baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

 In a large mixer bowl, add the cake mix, melted butter, and egg. Stir on medium until the mixture forms a cohesive dough. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 12 minutes. Cool the base before making the filling.    

In a large mixer bowl, combine the peanut butter and vanilla. Beat on medium until combined. Add the powdered sugar and ½ cup whipping cream and beat until smooth. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a tablespoon or two of milk to thin it. Spread the filling evenly over the cooled base. Refrigerate while preparing the ganache.

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the ¾ cup whipping cream to just before the boil. Pour the heated whipped cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Stir the mixture until smooth and glossy. Spread the ganache over the peanut butter layer. Refrigerate for several hours before cutting into bars.

Recipe from Something Swanky

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is for Browned Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake. That’s really a long title for what is a fairly simple cake. I had looked at making this cake a couple of weeks ago, when I realized that it requires ingredients that I already had on hand. I ended up making it over the weekend (how appropriate!) and I took it to work to help celebrate January birthdays at work. You can check out how the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers fared with this week’s recipe by visiting the Tuesdays with Dorie site

This cake is a simple butter cake, where you brown the butter before adding to the batter. I’ve browned butter a couple of times and it’s true, it is just a matter of seconds between browned butter and burnt butter. I learned the hard way before, so now I am very careful when browning butter. I did use a vanilla bean since I had one on hand. Somehow scraping the seeds out of a vanilla bean looks a lot easier on tv than it is in real life. 

This cake baked up very nicely, although it was just a touch under baked in the very center. It looked lovely. You almost got to see a picture of the lovely cake in the pan, because I just couldn’t get the cake out of the pan! I had buttered and floured the pan, but I guess not enough because it was thoroughly stuck to the bottom. I ended up cutting the cake in half, removing half of the cake and then I was able to get half of the cake out of the pan cleaning. Not a total loss. The flavors in this cake aren't extravagant, but I really like the cake. Next time, I will line the cake pan with parchment.

Recipe from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan, page 6

Friday, January 23, 2015

Oatmeal Pistachio Cranberry Cookies

I wasn’t sure what type of cookies to make this week. After all the excitement of December we’re back to the regular routine and I just wasn’t sure what sounded good. I asked my husband to pick a few cookies that sounded good to him. He found a couple of winter-themed cookies and these were the ones that sounded best to me. I love the combination of cranberries and pistachios. Maybe you think of them as a Christmas combination, but I like the combination all year around.

When I first read this recipe, I didn’t see the flour listed in the ingredients. I thought that they would be quite strange with no flour, but then in the end they do have ¾ cup of flour. I think cookies just need the flour to give them some structure! This recipe is very classic, but has the perfect combination of flavors.

Oatmeal Pistachio Cranberry Cookies
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup shelled pistachios, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, add the butter brown sugar, and sugar. Beat on medium until light. Add the vanilla and egg and stir until combined. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour/oat mixture. Stir in the cranberries and pistachios with a spatula.

Scoop the dough onto the cookies sheets using a 1 tablespoon scoop. Bake for 14-16 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for at least 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Make and Takes