Tag Archives: Peanut Butter

Happy Birthday with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

square 625My baby recently turned 20! Kind of scary and yet also awesome at the same time to realize that I am no longer the parent of teenage children. I have made the exact same Chocolate Cake for him for the past 19 years. To say that he is a child that does not handle change well is putting it mildly. For the first 3 years of his life he cried every year on his birthday when we sang happy birthday to him. The more he cried, the louder his older brother and sister would sing. Whether it was to drown out his crying or antagonize him even further, I am not quite sure, but I have my suspicions!

Thankfully, for the next several years, the crying stopped but he would still get sad on his birthday. We just learned to keep things low key. Finally, on his 9th birthday he said he wanted to have a party with friends, balloons and streamers. I was thrilled and we went all out with the decorations. I even suggested that perhaps we make a special cake, maybe a train cake, or a swimming pool cake or even a rocket ship cake, like I had made for his brother and sister in past years.Train cake

swimming pool cake

rocketship cakeThose suggestions were met with a stony stare and then he informed me that he would like his regular chocolate cake with chocolate icing please. Hey, at least he said please! So as the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So, I continued to make his favourite cake every year. However, as a food blogger, I have found this to be quite frustrating. I needed new material to blog about! 

When I saw this photo of Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Mousse Filling on Serious Eats, I became transfixed. I could not stop thinking about it and began having serious cravings. This looked like the consummate birthday cake for my son. He loves the combo of chocolate and peanut butter. I showed him a picture of the cake and asked if this could be his birthday cake this year. He shocked me by saying, sure!Serious Eats-peanut-butter-mousse-chocolate-cakeI adapted the original recipe in several ways. The first thing I did was double the cake recipe. This chocolate cake recipe uses both bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder. Buttermilk and coffee round out the flavours to produce a fantastic moist, rich and fudgy cake. I wanted more cake in relation to the peanut butter mousse filling.pouring coffee on chocolatebuttermilk3 bowls 2 The peanut butter mousse filling gets a bit of tang from cream cheese and then the whole thing is lightened with some whipped cream.

mousse 1whipped creamadding whipped creamfolding cream into peanut butter mixturespreading pb mousseThe original recipe called for a ganache frosting, but I swapped in my favourite Chocolate Coffee Buttercream instead. The slight bitterness of the coffee was a great counterpoint for the sweet cake.spreading buttercream The final change I made was adding a dusting of peanut praline to the outside of the cake. I liked the textural crunch it added to the final bite. Without the praline I found it was just too many smooth textures in your mouth from the mousse and the buttercream.peanut praline large

piping buttercream

putting on reeses pieces

Click here to print recipe for Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

whole cake

slice on plate

Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies

in a box

You know that it is time to stop posting new cookie recipes on your blog when your inbox begins to fill up with comments from readers who tell you that they have baked several batches of your cookie recipes and now their clothes are feeling a little snug. Hey people, I got my own tight pants problems here!

So, that being said, I promise that this is my last cookie post for December. These cookies were inspired by Alice Medrich. In her book, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies, I was transfixed by a recipe for Salted Peanut Toffee Cookies. After reading her description, I knew I had to try these.

“Encrusted with toffee-coated peanuts and accented with flaky sea salt, these updated peanut butter cookies have a tender, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread texture. “

I whipped up a batch but sadly, I found the cookies to be a bit dry. I was envisioning a chewy peanut butter cookie with a crunchy coating. And then I remembered Mom Mom Fritch’s Peanut Butter Cookie recipe. My sister sent me this recipe almost 12 years ago and we had a good laugh over the name Mom Mom.

You see, when my first son was born, almost 23 years ago, he was my parent’s first grandchild. We asked my dad what he would like to be called, perhaps Zaidy or Grandpa. He said no, since he called his dad Pop, it only seemed fitting that now he would be called Pop Pop. As a joke, my husband said to my mom, and we’ll name you “Mop Mop.” We all laughed but somehow the name has stuck and 13 grandchildren later she is called Mop Mop (or more affectionately Moppy) by all those near and dear to her.

As it turned out, Mom Mom Fritch makes killer peanut butter cookies.  There is no flour in her recipe, so they are super chewy and moist. Rolling them in chopped honey roasted peanuts before baking adds a wonderful crunchy texture which contrasts so well with the chewy cookie in the center. I decided to take them up a notch further and pressed a nugget of white chocolate into each cookie as soon as they came out of the oven. (That genius idea was courtesy of Alice Medrich.) Heaven!

Spray your measuring cup with Pam and the peanut butter will slide right out!

spraying measuring cup

package of peanuts

chopping peanuts

Using a 1 tablespoon spring loaded scoop makes easy work of forming the balls.

scooping

Roll peanut butter ball in egg wash and then into chopped honey roasted peanuts. You will need to press the chopped nuts into the ball to get them to stick.

dipping in egg

rolling in honey roasted nuts 2

Press a nugget of white chocolate into each cookie as soon as they come out of the oven.

pressing white chocolate into warm cookies

Click here to print recipe for Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies.

cooling on tray 5

Peanut Butter Sizzle Truffles

If you think you are about to read a sweet Valentines Day post, you would be wrong. This is not that kind of story.

As a parent, when your children are young, they idolize you. They think that you can do no wrong and that you have the answers to all of life’s mysteries. But then gradually, that paradigm begins to shift. And there comes that day, usually when your kids are in their teens or early twenties, that they suddenly look at you and think, “My parents are so clueless.” For me, I can pinpoint the exact moment it happened with my oldest son. It was yesterday morning at precisely 6:17 a.m.

Let me back up a minute and go to the beginning of this tale. Wednesday afternoon I was in the bathroom, washing my hands. I went to open the door, but the handle seemed jammed. I twisted, jimmied and turned the handle for several minutes, before coming to the realization that I was locked in the bathroom. I opened my hair accessory drawer and tried to MacGyver my way out. After breaking several hairclips, a comb and some bobby pins, I realized I needed help.

Luckily my oldest son was home. I yelled for him and banged on the door, and eventually he heard me. “How could you possibly get locked in there?” he asked. After explaining to him that kind of comment was not helpful, I sent him to find a screwdriver. He tried to unscrew the handle to get it off, but somehow the screws would not budge. He suggested that perhaps I climb out the window. I was on the second floor, and there was no ledge or roof outside the bathroom window, so I quickly nixed that plan. He offered to get a ladder. I told him to call our handyman. Peter, the handyman, arrived and somehow got the door handle off and rescued me. I left the handle on the bathroom counter to deal with it later.

That night, when my husband came home, I told him what had happened. He asked, “How could you possibly get locked in there?” Why do they ask the unanswerable? We discussed how we would get the lock fixed or replaced and then we went to sleep. Fast forward to 6:00 a.m, when I was roused from a deep slumber by a loud banging from inside our bathroom. I went to the door, and my husband was calling my name.

Unbelievably he had gotten locked inside the bathroom. Of course I could not resist asking, “How could you possibly get locked in there?” Apparently, Peter just removed the handle and not the locking pin mechanism. So when he closed the bathroom drawer, the locking pin got jammed again. We had left the screwdriver in the bathroom the day before so he began fiddling, but nothing was budging. I suggested he remove the hinges and we could try to open the door that way. This was followed by grunting and cursing, but he got the hinges off. I tried to push on the door, but it would not budge. I needed my oldest son’s muscle.

I knocked on his bedroom door, and apologized profusely for waking him up. I explained that his father had gotten himself locked in the bathroom and I needed his assistance. As the realization of what had happened began to dawn on him, I could almost see the little speech bubble forming above his head and the words forming…”These people are idiots!” However, I guess I raised him right because he never actually said the words. He slowly walked down the hall and used his shoulder and hip top give a few good pushes to the door. It finally gave way and my husband was free.

I spent the next few hours, on-line trying to find matching door handle sets, to no avail. I was feeling stressed! I needed to create and it had to be something chocolate.

I needed a complex project to take my mind off the whole bathroom door fiasco. Peanut Butter Sizzle truffles it was. This recipe hails from Andrew Garrison Shotts beautiful book, “Making Artisan Chocolates.” The sizzle in the title refers to a pinch of cayenne pepper in the filling. Just the thing to calm my nerves!

It begins with the making of the “Caramel Crunch”. Sugar and corn syrup are cooked until amber and then poured onto a silpat sheet or some parchment paper. Cover with a second sheet of parchment and roll with a rolling-pin until flat. let harden and then pulverize in the food processor.

Melt some milk chocolate to 88° F. Add smooth peanut butter (not the kind you buy at the health food store), the caramel crunch, some cocoa butter and a pinch of cayenne. I tasted after adding a pinch but felt it needed more. I probably used almost half a teaspoon. It was that kind of day! Let the mixture sit for a few hours until it firms up a bit. Resist the urge to eat it out of the bowl, just like this.

Then spoon it or pipe it out into little mounds and chill for a while. Crush and toast some salted peanuts.

When the mounds are firm (I chilled mine all day), roll them between your hands to form round little balls. Get some bittersweet chocolate ready for dipping. Andrew says to temper the bittersweet chocolate for dipping. Since you are rolling them in peanuts after dipping, it is not absolutely necessary to temper the chocolate. If you are keen to learn to do so, here are some step-by-step instructions. Andrew Garrison Shotts explains the difference between tempered and untempered chocolate beautifully,

“Tempered chocolate sets quickly at room temperature, hardens as it dries, is shiny and brittle, shrinks slightly as it sets (and therefore releases easily from a mold), has a smooth mouth-feel, and once set, holds it’s luster and shape at room temperature for extended amounts of time without melting.”

Or if you actually have a tempering machine, now would be the time to break it out! I have been dreaming of having my own ever since visiting here, so I finally broke down and bought one.

The outside is salty and crunchy from the chopped peanuts. Then you bite through the dark bittersweet shell and inside you discover the sweet creamy peanut butter filling, with a bit of crunch from the caramel. It’s not until after you swallow that you get the bit of heat from the cayenne, right at the back of your throat. A pleasant little sizzle. Just the thing to calm the nerves! I think I may have to stash a supply of these in the bathroom, just in case!

Click here to print the recipe for Peanut Butter Sizzle Truffles.

Day 5: Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Bark

On the 5th day of holiday baking my true love ran to the store to get me another 2 kg jar of crunchy peanut butter for this creation.  I think I love this recipe so much because it really allows the artist in me to come out.  I was never very good at drawing, so baking has become my creative outlet.  With this peanut butter bark, you get to swirl the chocolates with the tip of a knife and create an unbelievably beautiful marble pattern.  It is so impressive.  I have made this recipe probably over 150 times over the past 18 years and it never ceases to thrill me.

I am not even sure where I found the original recipe anymore.  I think it was printed in our local newspaper (The Ottawa Citizen).  It is critical to use good quality chocolate when making this.  Do not use chocolate chips for melting as chocolate chips are made to hold their shape when baked. Chocolate chips have hardly any cocoa butter and that is why they keep their shape. Chocolate chips are not usually good for melting as they may be lumpy and some types may even have a gritty texture after melting.

My sister told me about an amazing source for top quality chocolate.  www.qzina.com.  They are the largest North American Importer and Distributor of Gourmet Professional Chocolates & Specialty dessert ingredients.  They sell to Whole Foods, Ritz Carleton, Four Seasons, Loblaws, Safeway and other retail giants.  But they will also ship to home consumers.  I paid $16.92 a kilo for Cacao Barry White Chocolate (callet form) and $15.04 a kilo for Cacao Barry 64% Bittersweet chocolate (callet form).  And is there anything sweeter than having a huge crate of chocolate delivered to your house?

Melt white chocolate and peanut butter together in a large bowl, set over a pot of simmering water.  Do not even think about using health-food store peanut butter.  Kraft or Skippy are best!  When they are smooth stir in salted roasted peanuts.  Pour this mixture onto a foil and parchment lined jelly roll pan.

Then comes the art.  I made a little video showing how to do the next few steps.  Watch!

Chill and slice!

To print recipe, click here.

Bobby Flay’s Peanut Butter Caramel Swirl Brownies

 

Okay, I have become a little bit obsessed with Bobby Flay’s show “Throwdown” on the Food Network.   It might be the catchy theme song that I just can’t stop singing, or maybe it’s just Bobby’s curls that I am obsessed about.  I used to have curls just like that before I discovered the CHI flat iron.  For those not familiar with the show,  here’s  The Food Network’s summary of the main plot :

“Flay is on a secret mission: to challenge the absolute masters in different kinds of cooking – award-winning BBQers, bakers, pizza makers and more. In each episode, one of these cooks thinks Food Network is shooting their profile for a show. What they don’t know is that Bobby is going to drop in for a surprise visit and challenge them to an unexpected cook-off.”

In 91 episodes so far Bobby has won 28 challenges, tied one and lost 63.  In baseball parlance he’s batting 307 which for a major league ball player is pretty respectable.  The latest episode I watched was a brownie throwdown.  Shawna Lidsky and Katherine Hayward of The Vermont Brownie Company prepared their famous goat cheese (chevre) brownies.  Bobby challenged with his Peanut Butter Caramel Swirl Brownie. 

 I was actually shocked that the judges chose the chevre brownie as the winner.  I am not a chevre lover.  I find the taste a bit cloying but perhaps the chocolate helps to temper that tang.  I was mighty pleased, however,  to see that Shawna and Katherine top their brownies with a pinch of sea salt.  Ever since watching that episode last week I have been unable to think about anything other than Bobby’s brownies.  I had to make them.

The original recipe instructs you to line  a 9 x 13 inch pan with foil.  My sister Bonnie has brainwashed me into believing that foil should never come into contact with food as studies have shown that Alzheimer’s sufferers have a high concentration of aluminum in their systems.  Although cooking in aluminum pots or using aluminum foil has not yet been scientifiacally proven to cause Alzheimers, my sister is adamant in her belief.  

Besides, the foil does not usually peel right off the baked goods and someone always ends up biting into a brownie with foil stuck to one corner.  In my family, that someone is my Uncle Stephen.  He always gets the bone in the boneless chicken, the olive pit in the pitted olive salad and the foil on the brownie.  So now I line my baking sheets and cake pans with parchment.  Here is an easy way to line a square or rectangular baking dish that I learned many years ago when I worked at Dinah’s Cupboard in Toronto.

You begin by making a caramel sauce.  Water and sugar are combined in a small pot and cooked without stirring for several minutes until it caramelizes and becomes amber in colour.  Then whipping cream is whisked in.  Next a half cup of peanut butter is mixed in. Here’s a great tip: spray the measuring cup with Pam and the peanut butter will slide right out, without sticking.  Transfer to a bowl and let mixture cool for about 30 minutes.

 Chop the chocolate. Then melt with butter over a double boiler.  While the chocolate mixture cools, break some eggs, whisk them with brown and white sugar and combine with the melted chocolate.  add some salt, flour and chocolate chunks.

 

 Then comes the fun part, making the peanut butter caramel swirl.

As promised, the parchment peels right off once the brownies have cooled.  Because of the high percentage of unsweetened chocolate in these brownies, they are not too sweet.  The taste of peanut butter is pronounced and the hit of caramel is a perfect background note.  Only one small complaint:  Making these dirties a lot of bowls and pots!

 

With a glass of milk, they are the perfect snack for watching an episode of Throwdown.

Peanut Butter Caramel Swirl Brownies

Ingredients

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup
Pinch sea salt
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
6 ounces high-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon espresso powder
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown muscavado sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions

  1. Bring the cream to a simmer over low heat in a small saucepan. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat and cook, without stirring until amber brown. Slowly whisk in the warm cream until smooth and let cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter, corn syrup, sea salt and 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and let cool until thickened at room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  2. Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper..
  3. Combine the butter, unsweetened chocolate, 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate and espresso powder in a medium bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Let the chocolate melt over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, both sugars, vanilla and salt until smooth. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the flour in 2 additions (the batter will be thick). Stir in the remaining 4 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate.
  5. Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Using a tablespoon, drop dollops of half of the peanut butter caramel every 2 inches over the top of the batter. Carefully add the remaining batter and smooth over the caramel. Smooth the top and dollop the remaining caramel over the top. Use a butter knife to swirl through the batter to get a marbleized effect.
  6. Bake until the top is set but still soft and the edges are puffed and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 23 to 25 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out still gooey (be brave!–underbaking the brownies is one of the secrets to their fudgy texture). Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. For the neatest cuts, refrigerate the pan for about 20 minutes before cutting the brownies. Using the foil, lift the brownie slab out of the pan. Carefully peel off the foil and put the brownie on a large cutting board. With a large sharp knife, cut the brownies into 48 squares. (The brownies can be stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 3 days; they can also be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 2 weeks.)