Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Cupcakes

Last year I made Nutella Swirl Cupcakes and since then I’ve wanted to try a chocolate and peanut butter version. A fall birthday was the perfect occasion to try these out. This is an easy recipe, especially if you use a cake mix. (I won’t tell.) I should have done a better job taking photos of the process, but I promise it’s simple.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Cupcakes

Ingredients

Your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe (grab a mix and take it easy)
1/2 cup peanut butter

  1. Line cupcake tray with liners and preheat oven according to your chocolate cake recipe
  2. Fill each with 1/3 full with batter
  3. Soften peanut butter for 10-20 seconds in a ceramic dish
  4. Spoon a nickel-sized amount of peanut butter on top of the batter
  5. Swirl with a toothpick
  6. Repeat each layer one more time
  7. Bake according to your chocolate cake recipe

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Cupcakes-Yum!

I added chocolate frosting, but these are great on their own as well! What other combos do you think would be good for the swirl technique?

Pumpkin Brownies

October

Okay, I admit it, I’m one of those girls. You know, the one that just can’t get enough of pumpkin. A recent trip to Trader Joe’s included:

2 boxes of pumpkin bread mix
pumpkin granola
pumpkin cream cheese
6 cans of pumpkin

…and that was holding back.

The cashier asked me what I was planning to do with all that pumpkin. Well, first off were these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies I discovered last year.

My most recent endeavor was pumpkin brownies. It’s a great easy baking recipe, you only need three ingredients. Thank you, Pinterest.

Pumpkin Brownies

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Ingredients 

Boxed brownie mix (I used Ghirardelli)
1 can of pumpkin
½ tsp of pumpkin spice

1.       Preheat oven to 350 and line a 9×9 pan with foil, lightly spray.

2.       Mix ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

3.       Pour in your pan and bake for 40 minutes.

These will be a little gooey, but depending on your brownie mix you may want to start off baking for 30 minutes and check in.

So easy, so good!

The brownies were a great dessert to follow these Butternut Squash Spinach Lasagna Rolls. So many great fall flavors!

Do you have any pumpkin recipes to share?

Summer Kitchen Tunes

In my opinion, nothing takes the stress away like a little baking and dancing to some great tunes. I put together a playlist of what I’ve been stirring and jamming along to recently. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Summer Kitchen Playlist

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Highlights

Closer, Tegan & Sara: I have to admit, I was never a huge fan of this duo but I really like their latest album. Closer is just a perfect belt it and stomp it out song.

Royals, Lorde: Oh my goodness. Obsessed. This girl isn’t even 18 yet and she’s already creating a ton of buzz after the release of her EP. Her debut album is set to drop in September. This song is sassy and I absolutely love it.

If You Didn’t See Me [Then You Weren’t on the Dance Floor], Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.: Hate the name, love the band. Check out the video for this one. I’m pretty sure this song requires some spin moves.

Earthquake Weather, Matt Nathanson: One of my favorite human beings just released his latest album on July 16 (just in time for my birthday). Every single song is fantastic. It’s like a love letter to San Francisco. When my favorite song is constantly changing I know it’s an amazing record.

Call Me Maybe (Cover), Us: I love a good pop song, and you guys, Call Me Maybe is a great pop song. I won’t deny it but this version makes me feel a bit cooler.

What have you been listening to lately? Do you have a genre you like to listen to while you’re in the kitchen?

Easy Baking: Raspberry Brownies

I may have jumped the gun a little on my last post saying so long to winter. During the first week of April I was still wearing my winter coat and today I woke up to temps in the thirties. Those little details aren’t holding me back from spring fever. Here are a few favorites for April:

Hills Market Downtown: Just blocks from my office, it’s so nice to shop for local goodies here.
Red Pepper Pasta with Mushrooms and Spinach: This pasta was my favorite thing I’ve cooked in recent memory.
The Edible Balcony: Planning my garden with help from this book. This is the first time I’ve had some real outdoor space so I’m looking forward to my own veggies, herbs and flowers!

This time of year I want fast and easy recipes and these Raspberry Brownies are one of my go-to recipes that I try to always have the supplies for. The end result is delicious gooey squares with a great raspberry flavor. Bonus, you don’t have to feel quite as guilty eating these brownies. Next time you find yourself at Trader Joe’s, pick up some Reduced Guilt brownie mix and raspberry preserves so you’ll be ready the next time you’re having a chocolate craving.

Raspberry Brownies

Raspberry Brownies

Ingredients

1 cup light sour cream

1/4 cup applesauce

1 box Trader Joe’s Guilt Free Brownies

1/2 cup raspberry preserves

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and spray an eight inch square pan with cooking spray.

2.  In a large bowl, mix together the sour cream and applesauce. Add the brownie mix and stir until combined. Fold in the raspberry preserves with a spatula. Pour the batter into the pan.

3.  Bake 35 minutes.

Last Minute Gift Guide for Bakers

As I type I’m enjoying Christmas cookies and listening to Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Silver & Gold.’ If only there were a few snowflakes outside my window, then I would really be ready for the holiday. Okay, so I have a few more things to pick up so I’m not really ready. This is totally unlike me. Normally, the shopping is done and I’m laughing at those last minute shoppers, my apologies. If you still have some holiday shopping and have a baker in your life, here a few suggestions:

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1. Chalkboard Spice Jars from Anthropologie – I’m a sucker for anything with a chalkboard. These would look great displayed in any kitchen and are perfect for the baker in your life that is always experimenting with new ingredients.

2. Heritage Hill Glass Jars from Crate & Barrel – Your favorite baker spends hours slaving over the mixer only to put the creations in tupperware. They deserve better, imagine how amazing cookies would look in these jars.

3. Odd-Measure Stainless Steel Measuring Cups & Spoons from Williams-Sonoma – Every baker knows how important the right measurements are. Make life a little easier with these odd-measure tools that come in 2/3-, 3/4- and 1 1/2-cup sizes or 2-tsp., 1 1/2-Tbs. and 2-Tbs. sizes.

4. Bouchon Bakery Cookbook – Yes, I was the girl in the bookstore drooling over these pages. The author Thomas Keller says it all, “Baking is a unifying force. The smell of baking bread is the smell of sustenance and security. A bakery is an anchor – it draws a community around it. And that is one source of my desire to offer baked goods to as many people as possible, and why I’m so excited to be sharing the craft in this book.”

Most importantly, don’t stress about finishing that holiday to-do list. Just enjoy being with those you care about!

The Most Wonderful Time Every Four Years

Happy Olympics! The Olympics are celebrated on a holiday level for me. There are decorations, so of course there are treats! Here are the America cookies I made for the Opening Ceremony:

In other news, with the temperatures being so unbearable here in Ohio I haven’t done much baking this summer. The last thing I want to do at the end of the day is turn on the oven. So instead I’m creating quite the baking to-do list. I had the most amazing chocolate croissant at La Boulange while on vacation so this fall I’ll be making it my mission to master this treat. Also, can Columbus please get a French bakery like this? I want every single item on their menu. Is anyone else already daydreaming of fall?

Birthday Cake Pops

The Cake Pop. Chances are you’ve seen one of these bite sized treats. Starbucks started carrying them and now there is an appliance designed especially for these treats. The Cake Pop craze began with the wonderful Bakerella. These treats and her blog started my baking obsession.

I’m far from mastering the art of Cake Pops, but it seemed appropriate that my first post be dedicated to what started inspired this delicious hobby of mine. These were made a few weeks ago for a birthday party. I used yellow cake mix, vanilla frosting, chocolate coating and dark chocolate sprinkles.

9×13 in boxed cake
16 oz. ready-made frosting
48 oz. candy coating
Lollipop sticks
Styrofoam block

  1. Bake a boxed cake before you want to make the pops (it needs to be cooled). You can even bake the cake and freeze it so you’re ready when the Cake Pop occasion arises. One cake makes about 50 pops, so I often freeze half the cake.
  2. Crumble the cake, using your hands is really the best way to do this.
  3. Add 3/4 of a frosting container. Mix it into the cake until it’s moist enough to hold a round shape. Start rolling and place on a baking sheet covered in wax paper.
  4. Pop them in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Or, if you have some time, a few hours in the fridge.
  5. Heat the candy coating in a deep microwave safe plastic bowl. Trust me, use plastic. Ceramic bowls get too hot! Follow the instructions to melt the candy.
  6. Dip 1/2 inch of the lollipop stick into the coating and then into the cake ball. Hold the stick and dip the rest of the cake ball in the candy coating.
  7. Excess coating will be on the pop, tap your wrist to slide the coating off.
  8. Add sprinkles quickly. I’ve found it’s best to do this over a large bowl.
  9. Place your finished pop in a Styrofoam block to dry.
  10. Package and enjoy!