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Red Velvet Sweetheart Cupcakes

  For some reason, this year I've been on a bit of a Valentine's kick.  Heart-shaped sprinkles, an excuse to buy little candy hearts, eat chocolate, lace, pink and red...I guess I didn't realize how much I like that stuff.  Other than the whole Cupid deal, anyway.  I'm a happy single pringle, I'm not sharing my chocolate or Sweethearts with anybody.  You've been warned.
  Please excuse the very moist appearance (despite the fresh sprinkling of sugar), they were determined to look like they'd been refrigerated overnight.  Which they were, of course.  I made them yesterday for my piano teacher's birthday, and this was the only heart one I had left to photograph for you, bear with me.  They still taste danged good, that's a fact.

  I first encountered this recipe last summer, when my cousin was getting married and I contributed with 4 dozen purple velvet cupcakes.  Yep, purple.  My first test batch came out a suuuperr dark purple, they looked almost blue.  The day we were to leave for the two-hour trip, I baked up the cupcakes using a little less food coloring, and they came out way too brown looking.  Some referred to them as chocolate velvet...but hey!  At least they tasted good.  For the occasion, they served their purpose and I was satisfied.  It was awesome bustling around and arranging pretty things on tables with my aunts :).  I have only one crappy cell phone pic taken there, I was in a bit of a bluster just getting them together.

  That all being said, this is probably the best red velvet I've ever had.  And the cream cheese frosting will knock your socks off, maybe even your feet.  It's my favorite favorite favorite.
  I don't generally recommend anything other than pure natural stuff, but I do encourage the use of imitation (and thus, clear) vanilla extract here.  At first I was skeptical, but I did want a nice white appearance for the wedding.  The next couple times I used natural, and I ended up with a stranger consistency and not-so-pretty color.  It's certainly edible though, to be sure.  I leave it to your own judgment.
  It's also been mentioned on other sites that the cake is a little oily.  Personally, I prefer moist over dry, but it's possible to cut the amount down to 1 1/4 or even 1 cup if you really want to.  I think these have such a lovely, fluffy texture as is.

  Now, you're probably wondering about this heart technique.  After seeing it on Glorious Treats, I had to pair it with red velvet.  A word of advice: fill the cupcake liners about 1/2 inch from the top.  I suppose it can depend on how much a recipe will poof, but here the more dome, the better.  I sorta forgot that 1/2 inch thing.  I did the usual 2/3 full, and I had almost no domes to cut off.  I ended up just piping/spreading frosting on all the others, but I did get a salvageable amount of heart cut-outs from the more dome-y ones.  Just...don't be like me.  I was frustrated.
  But all's well that ends well!  I'll try to have a better brain next time.
  I've put together a little chart, just like Miss Glory did.

1. Cut off the top of the cupcake with a serrated knife, using the liner as a guide.
2. Use a small, heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a heart shape from the cupcake dome.
3. You may pipe or spread the frosting into a slightly mounded shape on the cupcake's center.*
4. Gently place the dome back onto the cupcake and press down a bit. 
5. Sift on some powdered sugar, if desired (you can sprinkle the dome before putting it back on, if you like).

*with the rather crumbly/sticky consistency of red velvet, I chose to first pipe on a circular mound and carefully smooth it outwards.

P.S.You can make little heart sandwiches with leftover frosting, as seen in step 4.

  That's all there is to it!  It's a nice alternative for those who don't like heaps of frosting, but still like to eat pretty cupcakes.  I'll definitely be using this method again!

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Yield: about 24 cupcakes
Ingredients for the cake:
  • 2½ cups cake flour
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp. (1 oz.) liquid red food coloring
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. distilled white vinegar

Ingredients for the frosting*:

  • 10 oz. cream cheese, chilled
  • 6 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 tsp. vanilla extract (preferably clear, for a prettier color and texture)
  • 3 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, well-sifted 

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar.  Beat on medium speed until well blended.  Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners (if using the "sweetheart" frosting method, fill the liners about 1/2 inch from the top, to ensure that you'll have domes and edges to cut off later).  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes.  Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Sources: Cake via Annie's Eats, originally from Saveur, found on Apple A Day via The Way the Cookie Crumbles--frosting originally from Confections of a Foodie Bride
  "Sweetheart" cut-out idea found on Glorious Treats, originally from JustJenn Recipes


Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Pancakes

  For some reason, walnuts always remind me of my grandma.  So do wholesome breakfast foods, like pancakes.  Usually when I first try out a recipe, I stick with it and make changes later.  Buuut being that these are just pancakes, I thought I could get away with jazzing them up a little.  I made about half a dozen of these plain (they're still awesome that way, don't get me wrong), and then dumped in some chocolate chips and walnuts.  I had too, grandma made me.  I'm pretty sure she could smell these from heaven.  This is why we call food heavenly, is it not?

  I went a little bananas (hahaaaa) here.  You know those little spots of batter that dribble onto your griddle as you ladle?  I have always loved those little spots.  I requested the little pancakes from my mother when I was a younger youngin.  And before popping them into my mouth, I'd just fawn.  
  This might be considered playing with your food (then again...isn't all food photography?), but I couldn't resist.  I pulled out a few pieces from our old doll house, and went into conniptions.  Well, not really, but I was quite please with these :) Allow me to indulge my cute tiny things obsession.

    Okay, got it out of my system.  But I am so doing this again. 
  That being said, the pancakes were really, really good.  I made a double batch, and there are two pancakes left from the two days they've been in existence.  They're wonderfully convenient to just pop in the toaster, and the banana flavor intensifies as they sit in the fridge.  

  Listening to Jack Johnson is highly recommended.

Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Pancakes
Yield: about 8 pancakes
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus additional for greasing the pan
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 small ripe banana
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • Additional banana slices, for serving
  • Maple syrup, whipped cream, etc. for serving
  • about 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • about 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 200˚ F.  Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl; set aside to cool slightly.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; whisk together to combine.  In another medium bowl, mash the banana then add the milk, eggs and vanilla and whisk to blend.  Add the banana mixture, melted butter, walnuts and chocolate chips to the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix gently with a rubber spatula until just blended (the batter will be slightly lumpy).  Let sit.

Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Grease lightly with butter.  When you splash a few drops of water on the hot surface and they sizzle (awesome word), it's ready.  Drop the batter in 1/3 cup portions onto the heated cooking surface.  Cook until a few bubbles form in the top surface and the bottom is golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Carefully flip the pancake over and cook on the remaining side until golden brown, 1-2 minutes more.  Transfer finished pancakes to a plate in the warm oven while you use the remaining batter, re-greasing the pan as needed.  Be sure to make mini pancakes to fawn over.  Serve warm with maple syrup and sliced bananas as desired. 

Sources: adapted from Annie's Eats 


Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce

  Ginger tea, reading American Girl books and Little House in the Big Woods, throwing chunks of caramel into chocolate chip cookies, trying not to bite everyone's head off, kicking nudging the annoying cats that dance about the feet, and trying not to think about senior year.  Sounds pretty subdued-ish, which is a nightmare for me.  An idle mind...you know. 

  I can't say that I'll miss this week.  Or this month.  I really need to do something, I need some motivation.  I need to get a job.

  I will not go steaming off, my life is good.  Very good.  It's too good.  Ever felt like you can't live up to such a good life?  That maybe somebody else would be better off in your shoes of opportunity?  I don't know what to do with it, I just want to curl up somewhere and be.  I just want to be, I want peace.  I want the ACT done, I want high school done, I want my life to go on, I want to know what in the heck I'm supposed to do with it, I want to feel like praying.  

  Sorry, I steamed.  I'm done now, promise.  Just had to have my little whine-fest.  Oh, winter blues!  Why so foreboding, 2012?  Leave me be.

  I'm sorry there's such a lull around here, to the few of you who so faithfully attend to this blog (hi, mom!).  I appreciate you, truly.  I made you caramel sauce!  I made you a topping for ice cream, a dip for apples, an excuse to dip a spoon in a jar at midnight.  This is a wonderful thing, the challenge over my Christmas break, the beast that took four times to get right.  And even so, it completely seized up when I added the cream, merely because I was not paying enough attention.  An hour of simmering and stirring to smooth it, people. Foolishness, pay attention and warm your cream.  But even then it can be quite arbitrary, sometimes it will seize, and sometimes it won't.  It's how it rolls.

  I realize that my mood is far from triumphant, I'll try to work up the charisma.  I mentioned my experiences in my other caramel post too.  Just don't be so intimidated by my spewing, this was only my first personal experience with caramel.  So doy, it was hard.  Many, many others have made this with great success, it just took me awhile to get there myself!   

  Caramel is my good friend now, but even so we do have our little rows.  I don't think I'd like it quite as much if it weren't a challenge.  It keeps me accountable, a bit of humility when you "think you're all that."  Success comes when you patiently, so patiently work for it.  And go after it with a big stick.  Pots will be thrown, spoons flung.  It all comes together, I promise.  You never lord over food, you never put yourself up so high.  You work with it, always.
  So I leave you, take your pots and sugar and cream and practice practice practice.  Caramelize, fight, win!

Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1¼ cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • ¼ tsp. coarse salt
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Measure out your cream into a microwavable measuring cup or dish, scrape the vanilla bean seeds into it and heat in the microwave until warm.  

Spread the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a large, deep, sturdy saucepan.  Place over medium-low heat, watching carefully.  When the sugar begins to liquefy around the edges, use a heatproof spatula to gently stir it towards the center (it won't always liquefy at the edges right away, it may bubble up in the middle first).  It can take some time for the sugar to melt.  Continue stirring very gently until all the sugar is melted, taking care not to over stir the sugar into hard chunks.  If this happens, reduce the heat and try to melt the chunks without stirring.  Once the liquified caramel reaches a deep amber color, immediately remove the sauce pan from the heat (to test the color, spoon a drop onto a white plate or bowl).

Carefully whisk in half of the warmed heavy cream along with the vanilla bean seeds. The mixture will steam and bubble violently, be careful.  Stir until the cream is well incorporated, then whisk in the remaining cream.  Stir in the salt and the vanilla.  If any sugar has hardened (seized), place the saucepan over low heat and whisk until smooth.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  If needed, it can be rewarmed in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat.

Sources: Annie's Eats, who found it on Cook Like a Champion.  Originally from The Perfect Scoop.  I highly recommend checking out David Lebovitz's two posts on caramel making.


Nutella Rice Krispie Treats

  Sometimes you need make something incredibly simple yet delicious.  This was one of those times.  When one is tired and it's 8:00 on a school night, and one has a bag or two of marshmallows, a jar of nutella, and a box of rice krispies...the rest is history.

  Now, I can't take credit for this beyond awesome creation, kudos to Tracy at Sugarcrafter for her nutellaholic ideas.  Also, I think this is my new favorite way to cut.  As much as I adore them, a few bites put into the tall bars and the roof of my mouth is not happy.  I dub this rice krispie biscotti.  Plus, their seemingly smaller size definitely allows for a few extra.

  You can certainly use cocoa krispies with these, I just went with what I had on hand.  And since a few around my house aren't big white chocolate fans, I went without the pretty drizzle Tracy did, but a simple dab of extra Nutella sufficed.  And I'd recommend a double batch (9x13), just because.  My 8x8 will be put to better use when I have only myself to feed.
  The flavor in these, oh man.  It kinda blew me away.  For some reason semi-sweet chocolate chips and Nutella balance out the sweetness of many-a-cup of sugary marshmallows perfectly.  It's amazing how much taste these guys pack away.
  And yeah, they're already gone.

Nutella Rice Krispie Treats
Yield: one 8x8 inch pan

  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup nutella
  • 4-5 cups cocoa krispies, or other puffed rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Grease an 8x8 inch pan.  In a small, microwave-safe bowl, heat the nutella for 30 seconds or so until warm and somewhat runny. In a large microwave-safe bowl, heat the butter and marshmallows 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each time, until melted and smooth.  Working quickly, stir in the chocolate chips and warmed nutella.  Stir in the rice krispies until well-coated with the mixture.

With greased hands, press the mixture into the pan (at this point, you can fold the mixture in half over itself to make it taller if desired [I didn't], or mix up another batch and press it on top of the first layer).  Let cool and set, then cut into bars as desired.

Sources: adapted from Sugarcrafter


Basic Granola

  I've been getting tired of time-consuming oatmeal for breakfast, so I'm always on the lookout for quick or prep-able breakfast things that last me awhile, and taste good.  This granola is awesome for many reasons: it's delicious, it's not the sodium-sugar-filled boxed stuff, it's super-easy to whip up on a weeknight, and you can do almost anything you want with it.

   Currently my mind and schedule has not been my own.  As much as I love homeschooling and its many benefits, it's sometimes just downright hard.  This is true for almost anything, public/private/whatever school.  But that's where I'm at right now, a little befuddled.  And slightly saddened, my sisters leave for their individual colleges this weekend, and it will be awfully quiet around here.

  But life goes on, eh?  Maybe things will ease up a bit soon, and I will be able to make time for creativity and friends when Advanced Math isn't holding me hostage three hours at a time.  
  Another note on this granola: I added the nuts separately due to my nut-finicky sisters.  I just toasted them and also threw in 2/3 cup of peanuts, mainly for my father's enjoyment.  This is lovely with milk or over Greek yogurt (my preference), especially cherry!  Chocolate chips are also advisable, you can say that you had cherries and chocolate for breakfast :) 
  Now if you'll excuse me, I must join my family as we enjoy our last night.

Basic Granola
Yield: about 14 cups

  • 2 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 6 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed, or wheat germ (optional)
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Place a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the coconut to the pan in an even layer and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and toasted.  Transfer to a small bowl and carefully wipe out the pan.  Return the pan to the heat and add the chopped walnuts and almonds.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 3-4 minutes (toast them a wee bit longer and set them aside if making as a separate option).  Stir in the oats and canola oil and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the oats are lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the oat mixture to a large bowl and stir in the honey, ground flaxseed or wheat germ (if using), cinnamon, and salt.  Spread out onto the prepared baking sheet in an even layer.  Bake, stirring every few minutes, until the granola is light golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and stir in the toasted coconut.  Move the granola to one side of the baking sheet and press gently into a thick slab.  Let cool to room temperature.  Break the dried and cooled granola into small clusters and store in an airtight container.

Sources: adapted from Annie's Eats, originally from The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook 


Vanilla Bean Caramels

  As much as I love making food, there are surprisingly very few kinds that I have no problem greedily stuffing my face with.  This is for two reasons: 1) I was always the kid who made sure everybody got their fair share, especially when it came to food.  I would run around the house with the last cookie, making sure everyone had gotten one, I would distribute much-appreciated treats that my dad brought home...stuff like that.  That's still a part of me, I guess.  2) I'm sorta picky.  I really am...but in the best of ways.  To quote the food critic from Ratatouille, "I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow."  I'm definitely not that picky (or rude), but everyone likes food, duh.  I just happen to like it a bit more.

  For most chocolate is a huge weakness...I guess it depends on my mood and the form of chocolate, but otherwise I often find it to overpowering.  Don't get me wrong, I do like chocolate, I'm just not obsessed is all.
  So what do I find irresistible?  Enter caramel.  Sweet, chewy, golden, sprinkled with fleur de sel...I'm gone.  

  For far too long I thought caramel was those hardened, bland little Kraft squares.  While they no doubt serve their purpose in baking, and perhaps hold their place in a few hearts, they fooled me.  They are nothing, nothing compared to making your own caramel.  

  About that...making caramel is a daunting task, admittedly.  These recipe gave me no trouble, but I had some run-ins with an amazing caramel sauce (coming soon).  It took me four times to get that caramel sauce right...but I did it, darnit.  And I loooove it.  How did I do it?  I just rolled up my sleeves, spent a lot of time reading up on it, and I tackled it.  I would not give up. 
  And if you're intimidated by the candy thermometer, don't be.  Really, nothing could be easier.  Just make sure you've recently calibrated your thermometer so you can adjust the finished temperature for the candy, if necessary.  Mine's a couple degrees off (210 degrees on boiling), so I go to 246 degrees, it totally depends on your thermometer.  Also, do not just submerge your thermometer into a boiling hot mixture (or water), it's really bad for it.  Let it adjust to the temperature by having it in the pot the whole time.
  So anyway, I happily continue my caramel obsession, even with all its temperamental-ness.  It's so worth it. 


Vanilla Bean Caramels with Fleur de Sel
Yield: 64 caramels

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise and scraped
  • 1¼ tsp. fleur de sel, plus more for sprinkling (I get mine from Williams-Sonoma, it really does make a difference.  But a coarse sea salt is also feasible.)
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup water

Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper.  Lightly butter the parchment.

In a small saucepan, combine the cream, butter, vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds, pods, and fleur de sel.  Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water.  Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove the vanilla bean pods from the cream mixture (random step it seems, but right now is a much better time to do it so you don't rush yourself later).  Boil, without stirring but gently swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture is a light golden caramel color. 

Carefully stir the cream mixture (hopefully you've removed the vanilla bean pods before this) into the caramel – the mixture will bubble up, so pour slowly and stir constantly.  Continue simmering the mixture until it registers 248˚ F on a candy thermometer.  Immediately remove from the heat and pour into the prepared pan.  Let cool for 30 minutes, then sprinkle lightly with additional fleur de sel.  Continue to let sit until completely set and cooled.

Cut into 1-inch pieces (a buttered pizza cutter works well).  Wrap the individual caramels in small pieces (about 4x4-inch squares) of wax paper.

Sources: Annie's Eats, originally from Confections of a Foodie Bride


Applesauce-Spice Muffins

  Yeah yeah, this is more of a fall treat...with a photo that brings about thoughts of spring.  I don't know quite what I was going for, but I do know that this needed to be prettied up and I had only 15 minutes before the sun went down.  The house was too dark, so I went outside and took pictures of a muffin on a china plate on a wood pile,  in my classy sweats.  No, we don't really have close neighbors thankfully actually.

  Did I mention that it was cold?  Dedication.  Or idiocy, take your pick.  Either way, I like how these came out.  Judge me if you will. 

  But!  These muffins are incredibly simple to whip up, and truly delightful.  My lovely Auntie e-mailed me this in the fall, which is the most notoriously busy time of my life.  Consequently, I didn't get around to making these.  
   So I dug this out from my extremely well-organized recipe pile, and discovered that we had exactly 2 cups of applesauce in the fridge.  And I just so happened to have some leftover cinnamon streusel topping...recipe tweaking ensued.  Done and done.

  I'm pretty sure we've eaten a dozen and a half of these (yields 3 dozen) in the past two days, always a good sign.  Also, if you're strangely afraid of or allergic to nuts, they're very much optional.  I did only 1/3 of a batch with walnuts, to cater to my sisters' tastes.  I'm the only one besides my parents who likes them (walnuts...not the muffins!).
  This is lovely in all its originality, but I'm definitely planning on tweaking it some more...so stick around for that.  (Hint: It will not be any lighter in calories, sorry.  Sort of.)

Applesauce-Spice Muffins
Yield: Makes 2 dozen large, 3 dozen regular, and probably 6-7 dozen minis

Ingredients for the Muffins:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 3 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans, optional)
  • confectioners' sugar for dusting (optional)

 Ingredients for the Cinnamon Streusel Topping:
(These amounts just cover the 3 dozen regular-sized muffins, adjust as desired)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup rolled instant oats
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°  F. Grease muffin pans or line with paper liners.   

To make the streusel topping, in a small bowl combine flour, cinnamon, oats and sugars, and toss with a fork until well-combined.  Add in the melted butter and mix until all dry ingredients are moistened. 

 Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well-combined and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl between additions as needed.  Beat in the applesauce and spices until well-combined.  Add the dry ingredients and beat well (batter will be thick and lovely).  Stir in the nuts, if using. 

Spoon the batter into the muffin wells, filling each about 2/3 full.  Sprinkle tops with cinnamon streusel.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Mini: 10-12 minutes, regular: 12-14 minutes, large: 15-20 minutes.  Let cool slightly then remove from pans.  Let cool completely or to room temperature on cooling racks.  Sift confectioners' sugar onto muffins just before serving, if desired.  

(Notes: Baked muffins freeze well, just sprinkle with confectioners' sugar when thawed.  The batter also keeps up to 1 week in the refrigerator.)  

Sources: Adapted from my Auntie Angie, originally from her friend Jamie.  Topping adapted from Annie's Eats.


Peanut Butter Fudge

  Okay, this is a recipe that can really save you when you remember the night before a gathering that you need to bring something.  Store's closed, you're tired, and it's way too late to let butter properly come to room temp.  Oh, and your electric mixer's bowl is dirty.  And your family is watching a movie, and you want to enjoy Christmas vacation.

Totally hypothetical.

  But anyway, give this 15 minutes or so and you'll have a lovely 8x8 pan of fudge cooling in your fridge.  You've got 64 pieces, you bring those to the family gathering and generously leave some when you depart.  Then you take the rest to a (New Year's) party, leaving any remnants behind.  Guilt-free!  Unless you happened to stuff your face rather ungraciously at the party.

  Plus, this is a really good excuse to just eat peanut butter by the handful.  It's crazy good, no joke.  This coming from the girl who's dubious about microwave recipes.  I found one that exceeded my expectations, woot!  

  The only thing is if you don't have a pound of confectioners' sugar on hand (you should be able to find it in boxes or something), you need to weigh it out using a kitchen scale.  Any other way I wouldn't recommend, but if you get super  desperate try 3 1/2 cups and go from there.  If the mixture seems too easy to stir yet add more, but do not let it get super crumbly.  It has to be able to easily maintain its shape when being pressed into the pan.  Now don't be intimidated by all this mumbo-jumbo, microwaves vary sometimes in power and humidity plays a key factor, just work with it.  It's easy!
  Eat it, like it!

Peanut Butter Fudge
Yield: sixty-four 1-inch pieces

  • 8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more at room temp. for greasing pan
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 16 oz. (1 pound) confectioners' sugar
Line an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with parchment paper.  Lightly grease with butter.  

Combine the butter and peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave on full power for 2 minutes.  Remove from the microwave, stir, and microwave on full power for 2 minutes more.  Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave.  Add the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar to the bowl.  Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until evenly combined.  The mixture will become difficult to stir and lose its sheen.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and spread into an even layer.  Place an additional piece of parchment directly on the surface of the fudge.  Refrigerate until cool, at least 2 hours.  Use a large knife to cut into 1-inch pieces.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week (I choose to keep mine in the fridge, it seemed to hold up better that way.).

Sources: Annie's Eats, originally from Alton Brown