Peanut Butter Brownies

I've always been a sucker for the peanut butter and chocolate combo. Give me a pack of Reese's and they'll be gone before you can even open yours. Surprisingly, I haven't done much with the combo in terms of baking, except for these chocolate peanut butter truffles (which I couldn't stop thinking about for weeks later).

So when someone recently requested I make them brownies, I went for a peanut butter twist. These brownies are very dense - more of a fudge base than your typical cake-y brownie. Whatever you want to call them though, they're worth making.

Sweet, salty, crunchy, and chewy - the perfect blend.

Peanut Butter Brownies

For the brownies:
3/4c butter, room temperature
7 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1.5c sugar
1.5t vanilla extract
1/4t salt
4 eggs
1c flour
1c roasted peanuts, chopped

For the frosting:
1c peanut butter, chunky
1/4c butter, room temperature
3/4c confectioners' sugar
1/8t salt
1/8t nutmeg
1T milk
1t vanilla extract

For the coating:
7 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4c butter, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 325. Line a 13x9x2" pan with foil, then grease.

Make the brownies:
Place butter and chocolates in a saucepan over low heat until melted and combined, stirring constantly.
Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in the sugar, vanilla extract, and salt.

Add the eggs one at a time.

Stir in the flour, then the peanuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, then let cool.

Make the frosting:
Beat together the peanut butter and the butter until smooth.
Beat in the sugar, salt, and nutmeg.

Add in the milk and vanilla extract.
Spread the frosting on top of the cooled brownies.

For the coating:
Combine the chocolate and the butter in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until melted and smooth.
Drop on top of the frosting and spread to cover.

Chill the brownies until the coating is set, about 1.5 hours.
To store, cover and keep chilled.


Green Velvet Cupcakes

I'm back! Sorry for the recent disappearance, but life (and by life I mean work) has been getting in the way of baking and blogging. But with a holiday coming up this week, I couldn't let the chance pass by to try something new.

This week at work my team somehow got into a discussion about red velvet cake. Ever since then, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Red velvet has always been one of my favorite flavors of cupcake, but I've never been corageous enough to try it. Something about the unique ingredients (vinegar and buttermilk) has always scared me. Like I've said before though, I'm trying to start incorporating new ingredients into my baking, so I figured there's no time like now to try these.

Why green velvet though? Well obviously - St. Paddy's Day! This holiday will always remind me of the lepruchan that magically dyed the milk green every year and left green cakes in hidden places (not to mention the stories my mom tells about my sister and her best friend running all over the house looking for the lepruchaun). So, in the spirit of the holiday, Green Velvet Cupcakes (makes 6-7):

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
To make the cupcakes:

To make the frosting:

Add green food coloring to the frosting until the desired color.

I learned a few tricks while making these that might help you too:

No buttermilk on hand? Don't need enough to buy a full carton of it? Just mix either white vinegar or lemon juice with milk and let sit for 5 minutes. Since this recipe already calls for white vinegar, I just used this to make my buttermilk. Pour 1T vinegar into a measuring cup, then fill to the 1c line with milk and let sit. (Since I only needed 1/4c buttermilk for this recipe, I used 1/4T vinegar and filled to the 1/4c line with milk.)

Looking to cut some calories? Try using Neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese. Less calories and fat, but still just as tasty.

Once the cupcakes are cooled, decorate them with the frosting and sprinkles (I used light green sugar pearls), then enjoy! Keep these stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days... if you can manage to keep them around that long.