Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

48th birthdayForty-eight.  How did I get to be 48?  Most days I wake up, and I guess I feel like I’m in my mid-thirties.  There are days, however, when I do feel like I’m pushing 50 — when I get up at 4:00 a.m. a couple of days in a row, or when I run too many days in a row my right hamstring and hip start aching, or a day of yard work in the heat…..then I definitely start to feel my age.  I for sure can’t go at the pace I used to, and when I say pace, I mean in both running (my PB was years ago and I continue to get slower) and in just the day-to-day bustle of life.  But yet, even though the number continues to creep up, I still get excited about my birthday.48th birthday 2

I’m fairly certain it is because my parents, still to this day, go out of their way to throw me a birthday party.  I pick the menu, I pick the cake, my mom loads me up with presents, and I sit at the table and let everyone serve me.  Who wouldn’t love that?  The dinner menu hasn’t changed for years — this year I again requested my dad’s ribs. I typically request a crunchy coleslaw to go with it, but this year the green beans were in and so were the potatoes.  So my mom cooked up a mess of green beans and then she made ‘new potatoes.’  This was a term my Grandpa always used for little potatoes from the garden.  You wash and then boil them until fork tender, peel the skin off, and pan sear them in a little oil until the outside is crispy, and finally generously sprinkle them with salt.  It was one of his favorite ways to eat potatoes and truthfully one of mine too.

Now let’s get to the important part of this meal — the cake.  It’s funny because my dad and sister are always consistent with their birthday ‘cake’ requests.  I say ‘cake’ because my dad asks for banana pudding and my sister asks for cherry delight.  Let’s all say it together now — “YUCK!”

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting (thank you insidebrucrewlife.com)

48th birthday 3
Cake
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup cooled strong coffee
Chocolate Frosting
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
Peanut Butter Frosting
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons whipping cream
  • 4 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

Topping

  • peanut butter cups

Directions

Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugars and beat again. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until mixed in. Stir in the vanilla. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir together the milk and coffee. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture to the butter mixture. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour the batter in a foil lined greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Remove and let cool. Cut the cake in half and set aside. (My mom baked them in 2 – 8″ rounds.)

Melt the chocolate chips and butter in a saucepan. Let cool for 5 minutes. Beat in the sour cream. Sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Slowly beat into the mixture. Spread the frosting on top of one side of the cake. Place the other layer on top.

Beat the butter and peanut butter. Add whipping cream, salt, honey and vanilla and cream again. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until creamy. Cover the cake with the frosting. Add chopped peanut butter cups to the top, and halved peanut butter cups to the sides, if desired. Store in a covered container. Serves 14.  (So she says.  I say it serves about 8-10.)

48th birthday 4

I thought this cake was really good, but if I ever make it, I won’t use honey in the frosting.  It gave the frosting an unusual floral aftertaste.  Instead, I think I’ll use honey roasted peanut butter, which is what I typically use in peanut butter buttercream.  But overall, it was a delicious cake.

 

Flourless Marshmallow Crunch Brownies

It’s no secret that I love brownies — especially those with many layers.  I’ve seen this recipe floating around Pinterest for a while now, but for some reason it didn’t really appeal to me.  I can’t tell you why; after all, it has all my favorite things — a dark, fudgy brownie layer; marshmallow fluff; and peanut butter.  Regardless of why I hesitated, I decided to make them after we returned from North Carolina.  I was having cooking/baking withdrawal, and I needed something new.

My heavens, now I’m thinking — what in the world was I waiting for?  These things are to die for, and I now have a new favorite brownie.

Flourless Marshmallow Crunch Brownies

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 1 large container marshmallow fluff
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cups peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups Cocoa Krispies

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.  Combine the sugars and oil and beat until well combined. Add in the eggs and vanilla and whisk together. Beat for about two minutes.  Add the cocoa powder and salt to the batter and blend until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan.   Bake the brownies for about 25 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Once cool, spread marshmallow fluff over brownies.

For the topping, combine the chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter in a microwave safe dish. Microwave thirty seconds at a time, stirring at each interval, until smooth and melted. Fold in the Cocoa Krispies.  Lay dollops of the topping evenly across the top of the cooled brownies and then spread to cover the entire top. Wait until completely cooled to cut.

flourless marshmallow crunch brownies

And then do what I did — completely devour them.  I normally eat a few brownies from a batch and then share, but on these, I managed to polish off the whole pan except for the one brownie Gray wanted to try.  Then he just ate the bottom, and I had to toss the rest.  What a waste.

Ombre Brownie Cake

I usually live by the Baker’s One Bowl brownie recipe for virtually all my brownies, but I do admit to purchasing brownie mixes on occasion.  I typically buy them when Ghirardelli is on sale for when my sad, vanilla husband asks, “Can’t we just have plain, normal brownies?”

Recently, Kroger had Ghirardelli brownie mixes on sale so I picked a couple up.  When I got them home, I noticed this fantastic photo on the back of a round, 3-layer cake thing with different flavors of frosting in between — with the recipe right next to it.  As luck would have it, I had all the remaining ingredients in my refrigerator and cabinet.  So sign me up.  Sorry dear — no plain brownies out of these box mixes.

Ombre Brownie Cake

Ombre Brownie Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup each 60% Cacao, Milk Chocolate, and White Ghirardelli Chips
  • 2 ¼ cups heavy whipping cream, divided into three ¾ cup portions
  • ¾ cup light corn syrup, divided into three 1/4 cup portions
Directions:
Heat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease and line 3 – 8″ round cake pans with parchment paper. Prepare double batch of brownie batter as directed. Divide batter evenly into 3 pans. Bake 35-38 minutes. Cool completely before removing from pans.  Place each type of chips into 3 bowls. Heat cream in microwave at 30 seconds intervals until it just boils. Immediately pour ¾ cup cream over each type of chips. Let sit for a couple minutes, then stir until chocolate melts. Add ¼ cup corn syrup to each, stir until shiny. Let cool 2 hours before whipping with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Place cooled brownie layer on a cake plate and spread different variety of ganache between each layer. Serve chilled.
 Ombre Brownie Cake Gray Eating
Between the cake — and the Shrimp Lo Mein, my son was incredibly happy.
Shimpo Lo Mein
“All of this on a Wednesday night?” he asked.  One last thing on this cake — besides the fact that it is yummy — it produces lots of dirty dishes.

Take 5 Brownies

The day after school let out, Gray and I traveled to Indiana to see my parents for a few days and so that I could also run a 10 mile race.  Then we headed to Greensboro, North Carolina where we met up with Matt.  After staying there a few days, we went to the Outer Banks for vacation and back to Greensboro so Matt could work a bit more.  Then off to Asheville so I could run a half marathon only to leave right after that to head to Lexington, Kentucky to visit some family, finally ending up back in Indiana for a graduation party.  I felt like I’d been around the world.  We had a great time vacationing and seeing family and friends but I sure was happy to return to my own bed — and to my kitchen.  I’d grown weary of eating out.

After being home for two days, Matt had to head back to Greensboro so my days of meal cooking were short-lived.  But I’d missed my kitchen so I took to baking, and a matter of two days I’d made cookies, chocolate dipped payday bars, and these — Take 5 Brownies.  I was reminded of this candy bar when, before school let out, Gray decided to make one of those posters for his teacher where it used a combination of candy and words to tell a story.  Apparently, Take 5 candy bars are out of fashion in Columbia, Tennessee because I had to go to three different stores before finding some.  Given my love of layered brownies, I started wondering if there was a recipe out there for Take 5 Brownies.  After a quick search on Pinterest, I found this recipe, reviewed it, and then came up with this version:

Take 5 Brownies

Take 5 Brownies

  • Bake a batch of brownies in a 9 x 13 pan using the Baker’s One Bowl Brownie Recipe, omitting the pecans and adding in a cup of chocolate chips
  • Once the brownies have cooled, with a hand-held mixer, mix 1 cup crunchy peanut butter and 2/3 cup powder sugar.  Spread on top of brownies
  • Arrange 1 1/2 cups waffle pretzels in a single layer on top of the peanut butter mixture.
  • Sprinkle 1 cup milk chocolate chips on top of the pretzels.
  • In a microwave safe bowl, heat 2 tablespoons of heavy cream and 1 package of caramel bits on high for 90 seconds, then stir until smooth.  Pour caramel mixture over the top of the chocolate chip layer and let cool.
  • Finally, place 2 cups milk chocolate chips in a glass bowl.  Heat 1/4 cup heavy cream to almost boiling and then pour it over the chocolate chips.  Let it sit for 3 minutes.  Stir until smooth and then pour over the top of the caramel layer.  Let the ganache cool before slicing.

There you have it — Take 5 Brownies!

Take 5 brownies gray eating

 

Snickers Cheesecake

Several years ago, my parents gave me a cheesecake cookbook for Christmas, and the first few cheesecakes I made from that cookbook were complete disasters.  The first time I did a water bath, the water leaked into the cheesecake and completely ruined it.  I had one that wouldn’t set.  Then there was the one where the crust was soggy.  Oh, and the one where the top cracked and looked incredibly ugly.  I could keep sharing disaster stories, but I think you get the idea.  Needless to say, I gave up on cheesecakes for a while.

Last month I shared a recipe for an Oreo Brownie Cheesecake.  I decided to give that cheesecake a try because it was a combination of cheesecake and brownie, and brownies are definitely my speciality.   That cheesecake success gave me the confidence to try another.  So when I ran onto this Snickers Cheesecake recipe from handletheheat.com, I knew I had to make it.  After all, it had total “Barbified” written all over it — chocolate cookie crust, cheesecake filling with snickers, all covered in chocolate ganache, and then sprinkled with more snickers.  If that doesn’t have my name written all over it, then I don’t know what does.  Let me just say, I’m so glad I gave cheesecake another shot.  This cheesecake is seriously delicious…..and quite easy.

Snickers Cheesecake Whole

Snickers Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 30 Oreo cookies
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 32 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 18 fun-size Snickers bars, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 package Snickers miniatures

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Process the Oreos in a food processor until they become finely ground crumbs.  Add the butter and pulse until moistened. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool.
While the crust is cooling, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Add in the sugar, cream, and vanilla and beat until combined. Finally, stir in the Snickers bars.
Pour the batter into the cooled crust. Bake for 1 hour, or until set and the top looks slightly dry. If the middle is slightly wobbly, that’s fine. Cool the cheesecake completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate at least 4 hours. Release the cheesecake from the pan onto a serving plate.
Place the chocolate chips in a medium heat proof bowl. In a small saucepan heat the cream just until simmering. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips. Let sit for a few minutes then stir until the mixture is melted and smooth. Pour over the top of cheesecake. Sprinkle the snickers over the cheesecake. Slice and serve.

Snickers Cheesecake Slice

Oreo Brownie Cheesecake

I have a list of yet-to-make dessert recipes that’s a mile long — that’s because my sweet tooth is much larger than my stomach.  I usually like things to have lots of texture — something creamy and gooey with something crunchy, and of course, it must have chocolate as a main ingredient.  If there’s no chocolate, then I’m simply not interested.  I tend to prioritize the list based on the “Barbified” factor — how much junk and chocolate is packed into the recipe.  But a few months ago, I had to slightly re-prioritize my list based on “the no chewing allowed” factor.  There were a several dark and sad weeks in my house.

I decided to made this cheesecake shortly after my gum graft surgery because if cake was a soft food — then so was cheesecake.  I was only partially correct on this one.  The filling was soft enough, but the edges and crust were a bit too much for me.  I knew I was pushing my luck.  I ate the filling out of the center of my piece, then cut the rest of the cheesecake into slices and placed them in the freezer.  I knew I couldn’t fully appreciate how good this thing was if I couldn’t eat the entire piece.

Fast forward a month.  I pulled a slice from the freezer.  Now I could fully appreciate this thing, and believe me — I did.  It was dense and creamy all at the same time, and the crust added plenty of texture; I especially loved how the brownie was so fudgy and yet still slightly gooey.

Brownie Oreo Cheesecake

Oreo Brownie Cheesecake by Yummy Crumble

Oreo Crust
  • 23 Oreo cookies
  • 2 T melted butter
Cheesecake
  • 12 ounces room temperature cream cheese
  • 6 T sugar
  • 6 T room temperature sour cream
  • ½ t vanilla extract
  • ¼ t salt
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 12 chopped Oreo cookies
Brownie Layer
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ t salt
  • ¼ t baking powder
  • 3 large room temperature eggs
  • ½ cup melted salted butter
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9″ spring form pan.
  2. In a food processor, blend the Oreos until they are finely ground. Pulse in the butter until they are moistened.
  3. Pour the mixture into the pan and firmly press into the bottom and up the sides.
  4. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium high until smooth. Beat in the sugar until fully combined and smooth.
  6. Blend in the sour cream, vanilla, and salt. Next add in the egg and egg yolk until fully incorporated.
  7. Fold in the chopped Oreos and set the cheesecake batter aside.
  8. In a large bowl, blend all the brownie ingredients until the batter is smooth.
  9. Take ¼ of the brownie batter and spread on top of the baked Oreo crust.
  10. Using a cookie scoop, alternate scoops of cheesecake batter and brownie batter to create a marble effect.
  11. Cover the top with foil and place in the center of the oven.
  12. Bake for 1 hour, then check to see if the center has cooked through. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes if not finished.
  13. The brownie batter should still be a tiny bit gooey before taking out. It will finish baking. But you still want the brownie part to be gooey and fudgy.
  14. When the time is up, open the oven door halfway and let the cheesecake sit inside the oven while it cools down.
  15. Cool the cheesecake in the refrigerator completely before slicing.
  16. When ready to serve, slice, then place a slice on a plate then drizzle with melted dark chocolate and top with more crushed Oreos.

Roasted Beet Salad

After last week’s indulgent meal, I thought that this week we should exercise some restraint.  Saturday night’s ‘dog’ meal was rather simple — grilled ribeye steaks, roasted asparagus, and salad.  But a ‘dog’ meal requires at least one new thing, so I kicked the salad up a notch.  I always thought I didn’t like beets.  What I don’t like is anything pickled; I actually do like beets.  I discovered that a few summers ago when Matt planted his mega garden.

picking green beans

I complained that entire summer.  It seemed like every time I turned around, he was bringing in buckets of produce for me to either cook, freeze, or can.  Now, I’d give anything for that mega garden.  We won’t have one again this summer because of both his travel schedule and the fact that he wants to tear down his shop and rebuild it.  I’ll just have to look forward to next summer for a garden.  In the meantime, I will be happy with my potted tomatoes and herbs, but missing that garden made me think about some of the fantastic things I discovered that summer — like roasted beets.  I decided to purchase a few and try out this recipe.

Ina Garten’s Roasted Beet Salad

Here is my modified version:

3 medium-size beets, tops removed and scrubbed
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces mixed greens
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wrap the beets individually in aluminum foil and place them on a sheet pan. Roast them for 50 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size, until a small sharp knife inserted in the middle indicates that they are tender. Unwrap each beet and set aside for 10 minutes, until cool enough to handle, and then peel.

Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and set aside. While the beets are still warm, cut them into slices and place them in a large mixing bowl. Pour half the vinaigrette over the beets and toss.

Place the greens in a separate bowl and toss it with enough vinaigrette to moisten. Put the them on a serving platter and then arrange the beets, walnuts, and goat cheese on top. Drizzle with additional vinaigrette, if desired, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Beet Salad

There’s no way I would serve any Saturday night dinner without making a new dessert.  This isn’t exactly new — I make variations of peanut butter brownies all the time.  I’ve also made a chocolate peanut butter frosting using Reese’s spread.  But this time, I took my peanut butter buttercream recipe and added cocoa and finely chopped Reese’s cups and spread it on a batch of brownies.  Then I sprinkled chopped Reese’s cups on top and drizzled the whole thing with a peanut butter drizzle.  Sinful!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
¼ cup heavy cream
12-15 miniature Reese’s cups, finely chopped

In large bowl, cream butter, peanut butter and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually add in powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Slowly beat in heavy cream. Cream with a mixer at least two minutes until light and fluffy.  Stir in Reese’s cups.  Smear away on whatever makes your heart content — for me it’s brownies.

chocolate peanut butter reese frosting