Tag Archives: chocolate

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Where have I been? Making crumb cake, that’s where.

“But Liz,” you say, “this post isn’t a recipe for crumb cake. This is an update of your Peanut Butter Cupcakes.”

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Yeah, yeah, I know. I decided I had to take a little break after 15+ crumb cakes over the course of the last three weeks, so I switched to another recipe lest I go insane, never to blog again. The full crumb cake deets are on their way the second I figure out why it tastes great but is sinking in the center.

(Help.)

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

For now though, let’s talk about Peanut Butter Cupcakes. I posted a recipe for them in the first few months of blogging, blanketed with Oreo frosting, and I was so, so proud. I think I ate like four in a day when I finally got those right. But then I made them again a year or two ago for some dude’s birthday and they were…dry. And I can’t be going around peddling recipes for dry cupcakes. It’s bad for my brand.

So, for my tenth sobriety anniversary, I went back to the drawing board with seven more years baking experience and a mission to fix these peanut butter beauties. I upped the butter, swapped buttermilk for an extra moist mix of sour cream and whole milk, adjusted the bake time, and well, the results speak for themselves. Especially with a little chocolate buttercream and a mini peanut butter cup garnish.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes
Peanut Butter Cupcakes
makes about 14-16 cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup creamy-style peanut butter*
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Buttercream & Garnish:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons heavy cream
mini peanut butter cups, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 14-16 cups in muffin/cupcake pans with liners. Set aside.

Make the cupcakes. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together whole milk and sour cream.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and peanut butter until combined and fluffy. Mix in dark brown sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Add half the dry ingredients followed by half the milk/sour cream. Add the remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining milk/sour cream.

Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full of the batter. Gently tap pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake cupcakes 22-24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in a couple of cupcakes comes out clean. The tops will look crackly—this is normal.Let cupcakes cool in the pan for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Make the buttercream. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner's sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Load into a piping bag fitted with a tip (I used a star tip here) or use an offset icing spatula to frost cupcakes. Garnish with mini peanut butter cups as desired. Serve.

Leftover cupcakes will keep covered at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.
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Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting (and a story about burnout)

Hi. Is anybody still here?

I’ve been a little MIA recently, owing mostly to the burnout I’ve been rocketing toward for the last year. It happened gradually—I went down to one post a week in February, quit posting to social media in June, didn’t do anything blog-related during my vacation in August, then took three more weeks away. I tried everything in my power not to disappear completely from this place, but nearly seven years into this endeavor, I was just…tired.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting (and a story about burnout)​

Running this one-woman show isn’t easy. Between testing, photographing, writing, posting, and promoting, each post takes about twelve hours start-to-finish. I make income from this blog, but throwing all the daily tasks of running it on top of my day job, trying to have some semblance of a social life, and regularly scheduled introvert hours had me on the verge of a breakdown. So, I stepped away.

I didn’t stop baking though. In fact, I have baked more. I have baked, dare I say, *better.* With more passion, without any expectations. I made things I wanted to make, whether or not they were seasonally appropriate or trending.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Take this Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting, for instance. I wanted to make it for months, and finally did it once I took the pressure off myself. It’s old-fashioned and simple, made with my go-to chocolate cake recipe and finished with a silky, tangy chocolate frosting. It’s rich and chocolaty, unfussy and unpretentious, with a glossy finish usually reserved for the cover of Southern Living Magazine. In short, it’s everything I want in a chocolate cake. I’m just glad I finally took the time to make it. I hope you will, too.

I am a little hesitant to dive back in here, but I think I am ready to get back to blogging. I’ve missed it. Posts may be twice a week or may just be once depending on how the rest of my life is going. For now though, I am back and oh-so glad to be in this little corner of the internet.

Hello, out there.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Chocolate Cake
makes two 9-inch round layers

Cake:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch Process)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon espresso granules (optional, but recommended)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (low fat is fine)
1 cup boiling water

For assembly:
1 recipe Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting (below)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, espresso granules (if using), baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to distribute ingredients evenly. Set aside.

In a separate medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and eggs, followed by vanilla and buttermilk. Whisk half the egg mixture into the dry ingredients, just until combined. Add half the boiling water. Whisk in the remaining egg mixture followed by the remaining water. Batter will be thin.

Divide batter evenly between the pans. Tap full pans on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake 25-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in their pans for at least 30 minutes. Run a small, thin knife around the edges. Invert cakes onto cooling racks and discard parchment. Allow to cool to room temperature.

While layers are cooling, make the frosting (recipe below).

Assemble the cake. Place one layer on a cake plate. Top with about 3/4 cup frosting, then sandwich the other layer on top. Frost and decorate cake as desired.

Frosted cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days, and in the refrigerator for up to a week.


Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
makes enough for two 9-inch round layers

2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons (heaping 1/3 cup) full-fat sour cream

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk together to distribute evenly.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in half the dry ingredients, scraping down the bowl as necessary. It may seem like too much, but it will incorporate. Mix in remaining dry ingredients. Add vanilla and sour cream, then beat on high for 2-3 minutes, until smooth and fluffy. Use to frost a 9-inch round layer cake (or whatever).

Neapolitan Icebox Cake

Neapolitan Icebox Cake​

Beautifully baked, elaborately frosted layer cakes are all fine and good, but have you ever skipped the oven entirely, stacked Oreos with three different flavors of whipped cream, let the whole thing set up in the fridge and called it a cake?

Neapolitan Icebox Cake​

Oh yes, Neapolitan Icebox Cake is where it’s at. This triple-layered, triple-flavored no-bake cake hits all the buttons you want in a summer dessert, including keeping the kitchen cool. Even mixing vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry whipped creams, it takes less than 45 minutes to assemble and slide into the fridge to set up.

There are two secrets to perfecting this icebox cake. The first is dipping each Oreo in milk before assembling the cake. This allows the cookies to soften all the way through by adding moisture to the creme centers. If you skip the dipping, you will still be able to slice the cake, but the areas near the Oreos’ creme filling will stay a bit tough instead of softening to a cake-like texture.

Neapolitan Icebox Cake​

As with all icebox cakes, the second secret is time! Though it only takes minutes to assemble, this cake has to be refrigerated for at least 8 hours before serving. Luckily, we here at E2 Bakes love a make-ahead recipe almost as much as we love cake. And that’s really saying something because we love cake a lot.

Neapolitan Icebox Cake​
Neapolitan Icebox Cake
makes one cake ~9 inch cake

1 batch chocolate whipped cream (recipe below)
55-60 regular Oreos, divided (I used 57)
~1 cup milk
1 batch vanilla whipped cream (recipe below)
1 batch strawberry whipped cream

For garnish (optional):
Chocolate Shell
crushed freeze dried strawberries
crushed Oreos

Use an offset icing spatula to smear a thin layer of chocolate whipped cream onto a 11-12 inch round plate or platter.

Create the first Oreo layer. Take one Oreo, dunk it in milk, then place it in the center of the plate. Repeat this process, arranging the Oreos so that they are touching and make a vaguely circular shape (mine is technically a hexagon). I used 19 Oreos per layer.

Top the first layer with the chocolate whipped cream, spreading it all the way to the edges.

Repeat the Oreo dunking and arranging process. Top with the vanilla whipped cream. Repeat the Oreo dunking and arranging one more time, then top with the strawberry whipped cream.

Refrigerate the cake uncovered for 2 hours. Then, gently cover the cake with plastic wrap and let refrigerate for 6-20 more hours, until ready to serve.

About 30 minutes before serving, gently remove and discard the plastic wrap. Drizzle the cake with chocolate shell and other toppings, if desired. Refrigerate the cake for 10 more minutes to ensure a hard shell.

To serve, cut slices with a large, sharp chef’s knife, wiping it clean between cuts. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. The freeze dried strawberry garnish will soften over time.


Chocolate Whipped Cream

1 1/3 cup heavy cream, very cold
2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip (but if you do, just add a little more cream). Store in the refrigerator until needed for cake assembly.

Vanilla Whipped Cream

1 1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 confectioner’s sugar

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip (but if you do, just add a little more cream). Store in the refrigerator until needed for cake assembly.

Strawberry Whipped Cream

~2/3 cup freeze dried strawberries
1 1/3 cup heavy cream, very cold
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Place freeze dried strawberries in a food processor and process until they are powder, about 45-60 seconds. Alternatively, place the berries in a sealed zip-top bag and crush well with a rolling pin or other heavy object.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, confectioner’s sugar, and pulverized berries. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip (but if you do, just add a little more cream). Store in the refrigerator until needed for cake assembly.

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats

Have you ever had Millionaire’s Shortbread? Called “millionaire’s” because it’s so rich, it’s a popular sweet in the UK, consisting of a buttery shortbread crust layered with homemade caramel and dark chocolate. It’s as delicious as it is beautiful to look at, and one of my favorite recipes that hasn’t made it onto this blog yet…though I have a sneaking suspicion it will before the year is out.

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats

For now though, I’m taking the Millionaire’s Shortbread look and flavors and pushing them in an easy no-bake direction, just in time for picnic season. Instead of using a shortbread crust, I’m swapping in a layer of Rice Krispies Treats!

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats

Oh, y’all, these Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats are so good! They’re super rich and delicious with an irresistible, chewy, crispy crust. And I mean, can we take a minute to admire these layers?!

Let’s take a look at each one. To start, I used my go-to Rice Krispies Treats formula. As a general rule, I use 1 tablespoon butter : 1 cup mini marshmallows : 1 cup cereal and round up as needed. I’ve doubled that formula to give the other layers a good thick base. If you like, you may use another formula (there are a zillion out there), but keep in mind that you want these Rice Krispies Treats to be sturdier than they are gooey to support all the other layers.

For the middle caramel layer, I decided to forgo the homemade caramel this time around, instead opting for a mix of melted soft caramel candies and cream. Some will sink into the nooks in the Rice Krispies Treats as it sets, while the rest will set smoothly to support the chocolate topping. Yum!

The top is the easiest layer of all three: dark chocolate and butter melted together until smooth and spread from edge to edge. Easy peasy.

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats

As with many no-bake treats, these are easy to make but take a fair amount of time since each layer needs to set up before the next can be added. The whole process can be done in a couple hours though (including setting time), so it’s no big deal. If you don’t have time to make these all in one go, you can take a few minutes here and there and assemble them at your leisure.

Once all the layers are set and chilled, it’s time to slice up the treats! Since these are so rich, I like to cut these pretty small (24 servings from an 8-inch pan), but do whatever makes you happy. While you need a few chills to set these treats properly, you may serve them cold or at room temperature. I like both, but am extra fond of the gooey caramel centers the room temp versions have to offer.

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats

Like I said above, I think these would be wonderful for picnics and other casual get togethers this spring. I took a batch to a meeting last week and they were *very* popular. More than one person said “I can’t believe you actually made these. They’re so good!” Just proof that you only need a tiny amount of effort for a dessert that looks and tastes like a million bucks!

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats
Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats
makes one 8-inch square pan, about 24 treats

Rice Krispies Treats:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups mini marshmallows
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Caramel Filling:
16 ounces caramel candies (1 1/2 11-ounce bags, about 60 caramels)
6 tablespoons heavy cream
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Chocolate Topping:
4 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Butter a 8-inch square pan. Line it with parchment, leaving overhang on at least two sides for removal. Butter again.

Make the Rice Krispies Treats. Heat a medium, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add butter and swirl to melt. Add mini marshmallows and salt, and stir constantly until melted. Remove pan from heat and stir in Rice Krispies cereal.

Transfer cereal to prepared pan. Use greased implements or hands (be careful—the mixture is hot!) to press the mixture into an even layer. Let cool completely.

Make the caramel filling. Combine caramels, heavy cream, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour caramel over the top of the Rice Krispies Treats and smooth to the edges. Let cool at room temperature for 20 minutes before transferring to the freezer for 30 minutes (or the refrigerator for 2 hours) to firm up.

Make the chocolate topping. Combine chopped chocolate and butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, just until melted. Drop chocolate over filling and use a small offset icing spatula to carefully spread it over the caramel. Let cool a few minutes before transferring to the freezer until chocolate has hardened and the bars are chilled through, about 30 minutes (or 1-2 hours in the refrigerator).

Use parchment overhang to remove bars to a cutting board. Carefully remove and discard parchment. Use a lightly-greased sharp chef’s knife to slice into 24 pieces. For cleanest slices, wipe knife clean between cuts.

Treats may be served cold or at room temperature. They may be kept covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For best storage, layer them with parchment or wax paper.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Mousse Cake

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Mousse Cake​

I am not a fan of strawberry desserts in February. They make exactly zero sense. We’ve got months before fresh berries are worth eating! That doesn’t seem to stop everyone from wanting them for Valentine’s Day though.

As a blogger, I can either resist or lean into situations like this. It’s safe to say that, in the case of this Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Mousse Cake, I’m leaning all the way in—all the way. With my favorite flourless chocolate cake base, a thick layer of strawberry mousse in the middle and a rich ganache topping, this is a Valentine’s Day dessert even I can’t resist!

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Mousse Cake​

This recipe looks fancy, but is actually very simple. The flourless chocolate cake base is a one-bowl whisk & bake situation that turns out fudgy and decadent every time. With a texture somewhere between an excellent brownie and the center of a chocolate truffle, this cake is fantastic all on its own, but today, it’s just the beginning.

Next up: the strawberry mousse—the star of the show! It’s airy and creamy, but still stable enough to layer thanks to a tiny bit of cream cheese and a whole lot of pulverized freeze dried strawberries. Why freeze dried? Because unlike February strawberries, they have a super-concentrated flavor and are delicious year-round. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s and Target, but I am sure there are plenty of places to procure them online.

You’ll notice that I introduce heavy cream into the mousse in two phases. First, I add a cup of liquid cream to the strawberries and cream cheese to help them become one mass. Then, I whip two more cups of cream and gently fold them into the strawberry mixture until it’s mousse. This may seem like a lot of fuss, but it results in a super light texture, which is exactly what we want. Layer the mousse on top of the cake, smooth it to the edges of the pan, and refrigerate for a few hours to set.

The last step in making Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Mousse Cake? Making the chocolate covering, of course! In this case, it’s just a soft ganache (mix of dark chocolate and heavy cream) that is poured over the mousse, then coaxed over the edges so that it drips down to the cake layer. I am sure there is some very fancy and precise way to do this, but I like it a little irregular.

Once fully assembled, the cake needs to be refrigerated just a little longer so that it slices well. I threw some styrofoam-flavored February strawberries on mine for flair, but feel free to decorate (or not) however you like. This thing is going to look gorgeous and taste like chocolate-strawberry magic no matter what.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Mousse Cake​

Would you look at those layers? They’re a thing of beauty! And that’s to say nothing of the flavor, which is outstanding. The rich chocolate and creamy strawberry mousse balance each other perfectly, and are truly irresistible. And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t like fruit with chocolate anytime of year.

Yeah, I know. I’m no fun. But I’m leaning in.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Mousse Cake​
Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Mousse Cake
makes one 9-inch round cake

Cake:
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
7 ounces unsalted European-style butter*, cut into small pieces
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Mousse:
2 ounces (1/4 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese
2 1.2-ounce packages freeze dried strawberries, pulverized
1 1/3 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups heavy cream, very cold, divided

Ganache:
8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream

Garnish:
fresh strawberries, if desired

READ THE ENTIRE RECIPE BEFORE PROCEEDING.

Make the cake. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter. Set aside.

In a double boiler or the microwave, melt dark chocolate and butter together, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Whisk in sugar. Allow to cool slightly.

Whisk in one egg at a time, combining completely after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Whisk in cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the center jiggles just slightly when the pan is jostled. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack, about 90 minutes to 2 hours. Do not remove the springform. Cake may be made up to a day in advance.

Make the mousse. In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until fluffy (1-2 minutes). Add pulverized strawberries, confectioner’s sugar and salt, and mix again. It will be very powdery. Add 1 cup heavy cream and mix on high until combined.

In a separate mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to whip 2 cups heavy cream on low for 30 seconds before whipping on high for 1-2 minutes, until stiff peaks form.

Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the strawberry mixture. Working with 1/4 at a time, gently fold remaining whipped cream into the strawberry mixture, until very fluffy with no white streaks remaining.

Pile the mousse on top of the cooled cake (still in the pan). Spread it into an even layer and tap the pan on the counter a few times to release any large air bubbles. Stick a layer of plastic wrap to the surface of the mousse. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Remove cake from the refrigerator. Remove plastic wrap. Run a thin, flexible knife dipped in warm water around the edge of the pan before removing the springform. Smooth the sides of the released cake as needed. Refrigerate if not topping immediately.

Make the ganache. Place bittersweet chocolate in a small bowl. Pour heavy cream into a small saucepan over medium heat. When it just barely starts to boil, remove it from the heat and pour the cream over the chocolate. Once the chocolate looks soft (2-3 minutes), stir it together with a fork until you have a smooth chocolate sauce. Let cool 10 minutes.

Place a cooling rack over a rimmed sheet pan. Top with the cake. Gently pour ganache over the top of the cake, then use an offset icing spatula (or the back of a spoon) to coax the chocolate over the edges.

Lift the cake off the cooling rack and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish with fresh strawberries, if desired. Serve cake.

For clean slices, dip the knife in warm water and wipe dry between cuts. Leftovers will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator, though fresh strawberries may degrade over time.