caprese grilled cheese

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I heard a rumor that April is apparently “National Grilled Cheese Month” (which is apparently a thing now). Since I had the whole month of April to hop on board with this theme, naturally I waited until the last (full) week to do so.

We’ll start with one of my favorite combos – caprese.

The bright flavor of the pesto with warm, creamy cheese, fresh ripe tomatoes, and crisp garlicky bread … Just trust me when I say that this combination is not one that you want to miss out on.

It’s basically spring inside of a sandwich.  Well, Spring inside of a warm, gooey grilled cheese sandwich. The hearty bread combined with the rich cheese and the burst of fresh ripe tomatoes makes this sandwich the perfect balance of filling and refreshing.

caprese grilled cheese

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2 sandwiches

Serving Size: 1 sandwich

Ingredients

    For the grilled cheese
  • 4 slices of hearty bread (I used Trader Joe's country white)
  • 2 slices mozzarella cheese, halved if necessary
  • 2 slices provolone or fontina cheese, halved if necessary
  • 1 roma tomato, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 4 basil leaves, torn
  • 2 Tablespoons pesto, homemade or storebought
  • Garlic butter (recipe below)
  • Garlic butter
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped or smashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

    Make the garlic butter
  1. Melt butter over medium-low heat in a small pan. Add garlic and salt; continue cooking over low/medium-low until very fragrant and cloves are lightly-browned and the salt has dissolved. Keep an eye on the butter making sure not to burn either the butter or the garlic.
  2. Remove from heat and pour into heat-proof container, straining out the garlic cloves. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Make the grilled cheese
  4. Have your mise en place ready to go as this will go quickly.
  5. Heat your skillet on medium heat until warmed. Place bread slices inside-down on your skillet and brush the tops with the garlic butter.
  6. Once the insides are toasted, flip over and spread inside of bread with pesto sauce.
  7. Layer with cheeses, basil leaves, tomato and another slice of cheese (I like to cheese both sides of my grilled cheese).
  8. Tent with foil (or a lid if you're fancy enough to own one) until the cheese begins to melt.
  9. Close the sandwiches and continue cooking until completely heated through and cheese is melted, flipping if necessary.
http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/21/caprese-grilled-cheese/

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DIY Peanut Butter Eggs

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If you live on planet Earth and have heard of Easter, you have probably encountered at least one Reese’s peanut butter egg in your life.  And, if you had consumed said egg, then you know it’s the best candy known to mankind.

Of course, as a die-hard chocolate/peanut butter fan (and a lifelong Reese’s egg eater) it was only a matter of time before I had to recreate these godly treats in my own kitchen.

reeses egg ecard

What I didn’t realize when I set out to make these how much effort I would end up putting into them.

First off, since I am a lover of dark chocolate while Future Husband loves milk chocolate (which is the more authentically “Reese’s” one to use anyway), I already knew that I had to make at least two versions.

Since I was already making two versions, I decided to go a step further than just changing out the type of chocolate used and decided to try a hard-shelled version and a milk chocolate soft-shelled (more Reese’s-like) version.

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Normally a hard-shelled chocolate requires two things 1> a chocolate mold (check!) and 2> tempering chocolate (not-check).

Since we’ve already discussed how much I loathe chopping chocolate, you can probably deduce that I also have no patience for tempering chocolate. This meant that the chocolate I got had to be low-maintenance chocolate. No chopping or tempering required.

Enter – these beautiful little guys. “No tempering” you say? I’m listening…

And did you notice how adorable and tiny they are? Already optimized for melting.

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Translation: NO. CHOPPING. REQUIRED.

Sold.

So, with just the use of my egg-shaped mold and no special tempering or chopping, my molded eggs came out shiny with a crisp snap while my dipped eggs came out perfectly soft and chewy.

Success!

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Now that my chocolate problem was solved, it was onto the filling.

Most of the recipes you see for Reese’s-type treats will put you somewhere between one and ten thousand pounds* of powdered sugar.  Now it doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that adding copious amounts of powdered sugar to a recipe will make your filling cloyingly sweet.

(*That may or may not be a slight exaggeration.)

We want our filling to taste like peanut butter, right? Not like powdered sugar. So clearly there was some work to be done.

This was easy with the hard eggs, since the mold held the filling it didn’t have to be particularly sturdy.

However, since we were dipping our soft-shelled eggs, we required a sturdier filling. One that we could mold in our hands without it either melting or falling apart. As easy as this seems, despite my best efforts, I could not get my original filling to be able to be molded by hand.

And I tried hard, like, really hard.

After stirring in several extra pounds of powdered sugar, I decided to attribute this failure to my use of coconut oil in my original filling, as it is the only major difference between the two fillings that I made.  And while my kitchen is a bit warmer than your average kitchen, even the freezer was no help. Once my frozen peanut buttery goodness touched the luke-warm melted chocolate it turned to goo.

So we needed to thicken our mixture, but not add a ton of sweetness to it… Enter: powdered peanut butter (or “peanut flour”). While this helped to both a> keep my filling peanut-buttery and delicious without adding sweetness and b> thicken my filling, it did not thicken it enough for me to mold.

So, back to the drawing board.

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I solved this issue by swapping my coconut oil for butter (sorry, arteries!) and added a tad bit more powdered sugar than I would generally prefer, but balanced it with a generous scoop of peanut butter powder and a pinch of salt. The result was surprisingly close to what the inside of an actual Reese’s egg tastes like. Combined with the soft milk chocolate coating, I’m pretty sure I hit the nail on the head. Or at least darn close to it.

And then, just for fun, I did a caramel-filled one. I used this pre-made caramel filling which could be pressed into the egg mold or rolled into an egg shape and … done!

Easy peasy.

I even made some with peanut butter AND caramel inside because I was feeling a little crazy. You, of course, can fill your eggs with whatever you like!

peanut butter egg 1242

 

Reese

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 8 to 12 eggs, depending on siz

Serving Size: 1 egg

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 to 12 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter flour (I used PB2 powdered peanut butter)
  • 8 to 10 ounces chocolate coating (I used Chocoley's Bada Bing Dipping & Coating Chocolate)

Instructions

    Make the filling:
  1. Place peanut butter, butter, and brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat at 50% power for 30 seconds and stir.
  2. Continue heating in additional 15 second intervals until butter is completely melted and stir the mixture until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Stir in the salt until incorporated. Stir in peanut butter flour and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar until incorporated.
  4. Stir in additional powdered sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the mixture stiffens almost akin to play-dough consistency.
  5. Cover bowl and place in fridge to cool, about 1 hour.
  6. Shape the filling
  7. Once cooled, scoop into a scant tablespoon-sized ball and roll into a ball.
  8. Place the ball in the palm of your hand and pat into an egg-like shape.
  9. Place onto a parchment-lined plate or baking sheet and continue with the rest of the peanut butter mixture.
  10. Cover peanut butter eggs and place in refrigerator or freezer until chilled, 15 to 20 minutes.
  11. Make the eggs
  12. Melt chocolate in a double-boiler or microwave. - I melted my chocolate at 50% power in the microwave and stirred, then continued melting at 10 second increments until it was mostly (85%) melted, then stirred to complete the melting process.
  13. Remove peanut butter eggs from freezer and working one egg at a time, quickly but gently drop the egg top-down into the chocolate, then flip to coat the bottom and lift out of the chocolate. Give it a couple gentle shakes to allow extra chocolate to drip off, then place chocolate-covered egg on parchment to dry. Use the back of a spoon or a butter knife to encourage your egg to jump onto the parchment.
  14. Repeat with remaining eggs until complete.

Notes

* Eggs can be made larger or smaller as desired, I got 10 out of mine.

* If your peanut butter is softening, return to fridge to chill and re-melt chocolate to try again.

* If you aren't a fan of the "dunk and flip" method, you can also dip the bottom of the egg into the chocolate, lift it out, and then spoon additional chocolate over the top of the egg to cover. Give it a gentle shake to distribute the chocolate and shake off the excess.

* My chocolate-dipping "tools" usually consist of a plastic fork with the middle two tines removed, and a plastic spoon. I know I'm killing the environment but it beats cleaning chocolate off of my cutlery.

* Although I've seen PB2 all around lately (even at Target!), if you can't find it I have seen peanut flour at Trader Joe's or you could use finely ground almond flour. I've also heard wonderful things about the thickening power of coconut flour, but have yet to purchase any.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/15/diy-reeses-peanut-butter-eggs/

Hard-shelled Peanut Butter Eggs

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 10 2-inch eggs

Serving Size: 1 egg

Ingredients

Instructions

    Make the filling:
  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt peanut butter, coconut oil, and brown sugar on 50% power for 30 seconds. Stir and continue to microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until mixture is combined.
  2. Stir in peanut butter powder followed by powdered sugar. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or until chilled.
  3. Make the shell
  4. Prepare a sheet pan (or just cover part of your counter) with a sheet of parchment paper.
  5. Meanwhile, make your chocolate shells. Melt chocolate in a double-boiler or at 50% power until chocolate is 85% melted; stirring every 15 seconds or so. Once chocolate is mostly (about 85%) melted, removed from heat and continue stirring until completely melted.
  6. Fill molds about 2/3 full with chocolate, then rotate and gently shake the molds to run the chocolate up the sides. Once completely covered, turn mold upside down over parchment paper and shake to remove excess chocolate from mold. Use an offset spatula or bench scraper to remove excess chocolate from the mold exterior.
  7. Set aside to firm up, about 20 minutes, which should be right about the time your peanut butter filling is ready.
  8. Fill the eggs
  9. Pipe or spoon peanut butter filling into your egg molds, making sure to leave at least a couple millimeters at the top. If you fill your molds with too much peanut butter, the chocolate bottom will not be able to cover the peanut butter completely. Continue with the remaining shells until complete.
  10. Put their tops (or bottoms) on
  11. Gather the (now hardened) chocolate pieces from your parchment and return them to the bowl with your remaining chocolate. Gently re-melt the chocolate.
  12. Using either a pastry bag (or ziploc bag) or a spoon, pour melted chocolate in a thick zig-zag over the exposed peanut butter of each egg.
  13. Gently tilt and shake the egg mold to distribute the chocolate until it completely covers the peanut butter, using extra chocolate if needed.
  14. Tap chocolate mold on counter a few times to release any bubbles, and using an offset spatula or bench scraper remove excess chocolate from the mold.
  15. Set aside to cool and harden, you may speed this process up by placing the mold in the refrigerator if desired.
  16. Release the eggs!
  17. Once hardened, give your mold a good whack on the counter over your parchment paper with the open side down. Don't be shy here, this mold is the only thing standing between you and your chocolate eggs... so you give it what it deserves!
  18. Continue whacking the egg mold firmly against the counter like a lunatic until some eggs release. Remove those eggs to a safe place (like your mouth) and continue whacking the mold against the counter until all eggs have been released.
  19. Reward yourself with a peanut butter egg, you worked hard and you deserve it.
  20. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (assuming your home is cool) or in the refrigerator.

Notes

* Don't chill your eggs between adding the peanut butter and the last bit of chocolate or the chilled peanut butter will harden the chocolate before you have a chance to spread it around.

* I'm not sure if re-melting chocolate works with all chocolate or just happened to work out for me because mine was made for such a thing... Maybe someone more experienced than I am in chocolate would be able to answer that.

* Although I've seen PB2 all around lately (even at Target!), if you can't find it I have seen peanut flour at Trader Joe's or you could use finely ground almond flour. I've also heard wonderful things about the thickening power of coconut flour, but have yet to purchase any.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/15/diy-reeses-peanut-butter-eggs/

[ Disclaimer: I did receive chocolate to try from Chocoley but I was in no way required to review or recommend their products to you. However, I am going to recommend their chocolate anyway because a> I loved working with it, it tastes great, it's reasonably-priced, and they will send you FREE SAMPLES. WHO DOES THAT?  As always, opinions expressed on wee-eats are honest and my own because it's my blog and that's how I roll.]

DIY Reese's Eggs | wee-eats.com

UPDATE: Per some requests I thought it would be helpful to include a list of the items I used for these recipes:

 

thursday things – a better way to chop onions, owl facts, peanut butter pudding, and more

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We are a couple of weeks into spring now so it’s only fitting that we are brushing triple digits, with our highs in the upper 90s. If anyone who does not live in the southwest US is looking for a summer room-mate – I’m free. Totally. Seriously.

Save me?

Please?

In food news I found one of those “kitchen tips” that is actually helpful (instead of rage-inducing). A whole new (to me) way to chop an onion. Seriously. I tried it and it was glorious and I will be chopping onions like this from now on.

I also stumbled upon what might just be the coolest cake ever. If you can call it a cake… It’s like a cake/gyro hybrid (is your brain melting yet?) I mean, they call it a cake so I think we can call it a cake. Let’s just stick with cake, OK?

Also, did you know that honey lasts forever? If so, did you know why honey lasts forever?

Ever confused about how much (or if) to tip? The answer is to always tip, but here’s a chart from Food Republic to help you decide how much.

I’m normally not a fan of videos because they require too much commitment. I mean, a whole minute and half of my time PLUS I have to turn on my sound? Come on now. But this one is worth it.

And this one only requires half of the commitment, because sound is completely optional. I think the moral of this one is that FH and I need to get a ping pong table.

I’ve also solved a problem that has been plaguing me for my whole life. The lack of peanut butter pudding. Has anyone else noticed this?

No? Just me?

There are a million flavors of pudding, aside from the usual chocolate and vanilla you can get butterscotch, pistachio, even cookies and cream and gingerbread… yet for some reason no one has created a peanut butter pudding that I can purchase at the grocery store.

How can this be!?

Well, after enduring this hardship for 29 years, I finally made my own. I wanted to keep it as easy as possible, so I just doctored an instant pudding mix to include peanut butter.

peanut butter pudding 1210 2

And it was glorious.

Never again shall I have to endure a life without peanut butter pudding, my friends.

Never again! (But seriously, Jell-o, get on that, will you!? Powdered peanut butter exists, PUT IT IN A PACKET WITH YOUR PUDDING MIX! WHO IS IN CHARGE OF THESE THINGS!?)

peanut butter pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 box instant french vanilla pudding
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter

Instructions

  1. Melt peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl on 50% power until smooth and runny, about 30 to 60 seconds.
  2. Beat milk and pudding mix in a medium bowl until the mixture begins to thicken, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add peanut butter and continue beating another 2 minutes until combined.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until set, at least five minutes.
http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/10/thursday-things-a-better-way-to-chop-onions-owl-facts-peanut-butter-pudding-and-more/

galette de rois

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Yesterday Future Husband and I were discussing food items. He said dinner “looked great” and I said something about how I was more concerned about how it tasted than how it looked and he said “well your food always looks good AND tastes good” (isn’t he just ever so sweet?). I replied that it wasn’t true, that sometimes my food looked ugly but tasted great anyway, to which he agreed.

The then followed with, “Or sometimes food looks great but it tastes AWFUL” to which I shot him a look and said “BUT NEVER MY FOOD OF COURSE!” where he caught himself and said “No, of course not your food. Never your food!”

No. Of course not my food. That would just be crazy.

Well this, my friends, falls into the middle category. Looks like the pastry equivalent of a melting burn victim but tastes like angel wings and unicorn glitter.

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In fact, if I had to rate this cake on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is best,  this cake gets a 2 on looks but on flavor… YOU GUYS the flavor… This flavor goes to 11.

Which is one more than ten.

Anyway, this was my attempt to make David Lebowitz’s galette de rois (aka: king cake).

The concept of king cake is thusly: You make a cake, you hide a “feve”. Your feve can be pretty much anything: a candy, a nut, a chocolate chip, or even a tiny toy… I recommend against the latter only because I am rarely eating at a speed at which choking is not already a hazard and I have no need to tempt my fate by including inedible objects in my baking. When cutting and serving your cake, HE WHO GETS THE FEVE RULES THE WORLD, or good luck, or fortune, or any variety of things depending on your region and the type of king cake you are enjoying. I’m not totally filled in on the whole history of king cake, I am much more knowledgeable about eating it.

As luck would have it, out of this whole cake the very first slice FH cut sliced right through the feve… which was extra alarming to him because he was (1) unaware of what king cake was (2) definitely unaware that there was anything hiding inside of it (3) afraid that I was trying to poison him.

After I reassured him that it was just a dried cherry and that it meant he could have been “the king” for the day had he been better at cutting things, we both had half of a feve. I think that means we are both half lucky for a year… or maybe 100% lucky for half of a year… I’m not really sure how this whole thing works. Maybe he canceled out all the luck by cutting right through the feve, that’s the more likely scenario.

Anyway, this cake was supposed to look like this:

It did not.

I could have cried and decided not to post it, or made a whole new one altogether, but having already consumed my weight in my “failed” king cake (and thoroughly enjoying it), I didn’t have it in me to make another one. Plus I was out of almond paste and the store always seems much farther when your belly is full of puff pastry and almonds.

Turns out all that filling that leaked out and baked on its own, that stuff is FREAKING DELICIOUS. In fact, I’ve been thinking about making a whole batch of the filling, spreading it out on a baking sheet, and baking the crap out of it because IT WAS THAT GOOD GUYS. Seriously. So good.

I’m sure it’s equally good (maybe even better) piled inside of the cake, as per Mr. Lebowitz’s picture above. My cake had much less filling (obviously, given the glorious almond paste puddle surrounding it) but was still irresistibly delicious, not to mention super easy to make… assuming that you can properly seal your edges unlike SOME PEOPLE. (/looks around)

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The moral of the story (if there is one) is that sometimes when you’re baking things don’t always go to plan.Your caramel will burn, sugar will explode all over your kitchen, or your mug cake will overflow and fill your microwave with (delicious) cake batter.

These things happen.

And when they do… you have a choice. You have the choice to give up or to try again.

You also have the choice to eat the crap out of your “failed” item anyway and just accept that the baking gods are just not with you on that day.

So, without further adieu, here is the recipe for David Lebowit’z galette de rois. Remember to seal the edges very tightly. Or don’t, it’s up to you really.

galette de rois

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 1 9-inch cake

Ingredients

    Almond Filling
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 pound (or 1 package) puff pastry, divided in two pieces, chilled
  • 1 feve (an almond, dried fruit, piece of candy, the choice is yours!)
  • Egg wash
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon milk

Instructions

    For the almond filling
  1. Combine the almond flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl or stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add the cubed butter and mix until it’s completely incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, and then add the vanilla and almond extracts. The mixture will be grainy, but that's ok. Cover and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Prepare the puff pastry
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. On lightly floured surface, roll one piece of puff pastry into a circle or square about 9 1/2-inches wide. Using a cake pan or pot lid, trim the dough into neat circle.* Place the dough on the baking sheet.
  5. Cover the dough with a sheet of parchment paper or plastic film, then roll and trim the other piece of dough and lay it on top. Chill the dough for thirty minutes.
  6. Assemble the galette de rois
  7. Remove the dough and almond filling from the refrigerator. Remove the top layer of dough and parchment or plastic from pan so that there is only one circle of dough on the parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. Spread the almond filling over the center of the dough, leaving a 1-inch exposed border.
  9. Strategically place your chosen feve somewhere in the almond filling,
  10. Brush water generously around the exposed perimeter of the dough then place the other circle of dough on top and press down very firmly to seal the edges very well.**
  11. To bake the galette, preheat the oven to 375ºF and decorate the top of your galette as desired by slicing into, but not through, the galette to create a design.
  12. Stir together the egg yolk with the milk and brush it evenly over the top. Try to avoid getting the glaze on the sides of the galette, as it will prevent the pastry from rising at the edges.
  13. Use a paring knife to poke 5 holes in the top, to allow steam escape while baking.
  14. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the galette is browned on top and up the sides.***
  15. Remove from the oven and slide the galette off the baking sheet and onto a cooling rack. The galette will deflate as it cools, which is normal. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

*As far as I can tell, trimming the cake into a circle serves no real purpose. Next time I think I will roll the pastry sheets into 9 to 10-inch squares and bake in a square shape (less wasted puff pastry!)

**Seal the edges VERY WELL. Like, Really well. David decorated his all pretty-like even

***During baking, if the galette puffs up too much, you may poke it once or twice again with a paring knife to release the steam.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/08/galette-de-rois/

[ Adapted from David Lebowitz ]

 

fluffernutter cake

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I already told you all about the Baked Sweet & Salty cake, and now the time has come to sing the praises of ye olde Fluffernutter Cake.

I will start by saying that I am surprised that there even was a fluffernutter cake, given the amount of cake batter I ate.

Peanut butter + cake batter is a dangerous combination.

Like, life-threatening.

I found this cake over on Faygie’s website (Life Tastes Good) and was immediately smitten. Anyone who has been on this site for more than millisecond probably knows that peanut butter is my one true love. Some of my earliest memories are when my uncle would come over with a small jar of Jif peanut butter and I would sit on the windowsill (with the curtain closed to conceal myself) and spoon it into my mouth over and over until the jar was gone.

Yeah, peanut butter and me, we go way back.

For those of you who DON’T know, a “Fluffernutter” is a sandwich composed of peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. Part of everyone’s dietary requirements. It’s great because it can be lunch or dessert, or both at the same time! I know it sounds weird but I promise it’s delicious. Seriously delicious.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy a fluffernutter sandwich in your lifetime, now is the time. You’re (most likely) a grown up so go to the store with this list:

1. White bread. Like, Wonderbread white bread. This is a fluffernutter sandwich, let’s not try to get all high and mighty on your whole wheat train.

2. Marshmallow fluff. You’ve seen this stuff, it comes in a jar. Real marshmallows will NOT do, you need this super processed sugary spread. (Also great for dipping pretzels in, FYI)

3. Your favorite peanut butter.

Now assemble the ingredients like you’re making a PBJ but with fluff in place of the jelly. Congratulations, now you’re 5 years old again. You’re welcome.

So while I was (literally) laying in bed thinking about what kind of cake I wanted to have for my birthday… the thought occurred to try conjuring a peanut butter cake… I don’t know that I’ve ever actually consumed a peanut butter cake. Frosting, of course, but cake? I don’t think so.

Then, as fate would have it, the very next day our dearest Faygie posted this very same cake on her blog.

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Fate, people. FATE.

And who am I to ignore fate?

Generally speaking when you have a peanut butter cake (or brownie/blondie/cookie) a lot of the time it can end up just tasting like cooked peanut butter. It’s hard to describe, but almost like just slightly burned eau de peanut butter without having a real authentic peanut butter flavor.

I was thrilled to find that this cake (well, the cupcake version, which I ate fresh out of the oven) tasted like straight up cake filled with peanut butter flavor. As an added bonus, since my dream of double ovens has yet to come to fruition and I don’t believe in moving cakes once they are in the oven (sorry, I know I’m supposed to “rotate cakes halfway through baking” but that just sounds like someone trying to trick me into dropping a cake or shaking the bejeezus out of it until it falls – no thank you) I had to bake my cupcakes on the top third of the oven, which I assume is why they didn’t dome properly and instead had flat peanut-butter-cookie-like tops.

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It was seriously like someone baked a delicious soft and chewy peanut butter cookie and attached it to an amazingly tender peanut butter cake. I want to make it again just to see if I can make it happen on purpose…

I made my cake (as I do with most of my cakes) a week in advance and thawed and frosted it the day before serving, and stored it covered in the fridge. Whether it was just that the cake doesn’t hold up well to freezing, or perhaps just because the sides were left unfrosted (or likely the latter since the cupcakes seem to do fine), the served cake was definitely more dry than the fresh cake. The flavor was still great, but the texture definitely suffered. So, my tip to you, is to make this cake no more than 24 hours prior to serving (or to frost the sides, which may prove challenging with sticky marshmallow frosting).

Additionally, for the first time in probably ever, I ran out of vanilla extract when it was time to make this frosting. Even though the frosting recipe doesn’t call for extract, my intuition told me that it would definitely benefit from a little extra kick of flavor – and I was right. The marshmallow fluff, though delicious. would have definitely benefited from the extra boost of flavor that a bit of vanilla would have offered. Oh, and I toasted some of the frosting. Because toasting and marshmallows go together like peas and carrots … or … you know… something and something else that go together really well.

Below is the side-by-side I did to taste-test the cakes before serving them for my birthday. Just like the sweet & salty cake, though this recipe made layers, I only had two cake pans of the right size so I got 4 layers and a dozen cupcakes. Which works out well for me because now I have a variety of cupcakes stashed in my freezer (win!).

cupcakes 2

Without further adieu, Fluffernutter Cake (with my notes).

Fluffernutter Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Yield: One 8-inch cake (3 to 6 layers)

Ingredients

    Peanut Butter Cake:
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter(*)
  • Marshmallow Frosting
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Instructions

    For the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans(*1) by lining with parchment and greasing. (I use Pam for Baking)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla until well combined.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and both sugars on low speed until combined. Add the softened butter and peanut butter, and mix on medium speed until the mixture is combined, it will be dry and crumbly.
  4. Add 1/3 of the milk mixture, and beat on medium speed for a couple of minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and add another 1/3 of the milk mixture, mixing well. Scrape the bowl down again, and the remaining milk mixture, and mix well, until smooth and creamy. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared pans (Faygie recommends a kitchen scale and I second her recommendation! I think each of mine were about 750g each, although my last "layer" was cupcakes so 3 layers may be different.)
  5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers of the cakes comes out clean, and the top of the cakes springs back when lightly poked, about 50-55 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn the layers out onto a rack to cool completely.
  6. For the frosting:
  7. Combine the sugar, egg whites, and salt in a heat-resistant bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water (think "double boiler" method here). Whisk constantly until the mixture is frothy and hot to the touch, about 5 to 7 minutes(*2). No, your arm won't fall off (though it will feel like it wants to).
  8. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high speed, using the whisk attachment. Continue beating until it gets fluffy, then add vanilla. Continue to beat on high until it’s thick, shiny, and bright white, and the bowl is cool to the touch. This took me about 7 minutes but that was using my Kitchen Aid Pro mixer, other mixers may take longer.
  9. To assemble the cake:
  10. Use a serrated knife to even out the tops of your cakes and cut each cake in half horizontally, as evenly as possible.
  11. Spread a 1/6 of the frosting onto the bottom layer of cake. Top with additional layer and repeat with the rest of the cake layers and frosting(*3), ending with the frosting.

Notes

* Generally speaking you don't want to use a "natural" peanut butter for baking. I always use Jif)

* I recommend baking this cake no more than one day before serving. If you intend to freeze the cake before serving, I recommend frosting the sides of the cake to help to keep it from drying out.

*1. I used two cake pans and poured the rest of the batter into cupcake tins and baked them separately. They took about 25 minutes to bake as cupcakes and served as a good deterrent to keep Future Husband from trying to attack the actual cake layers.

*2. If you want to be sure your mixture has reached the right temperature - you're looking to get to about 160 - 165F (this will kill any bacteria in the eggs) - if you don't have a thermometer it should be the temperature at which your sugar is completely dissolved. If you rub the egg white mixture between your thumb and forefinger it should feel smooth and not grainy.

*3. I used my hand-torch to "toast" my inner marshmallow layers for fun. It wasn't super noticeable flavor-wise. My ambition was to toast "Happy Birthday" into the top layer of frosting, but then I remembered that I suck at that - lacking both the handwriting skills and the torch skills to do so. If you have more skills (or are more brave) than I, it could be a fun embellishment.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/01/fluffernutter-cake-peanut-butter-cake-with-marshmallow-frosting/

[ Adapted from Life Tastes Good who adapted it from Piece of Cake]