Thursday, July 23, 2009

Black Magic Cupcake with Reese's filling, topped with a swirl of Peanut Butter/Chocolate Frosting

Here in the evolution of a cupcake being garnished (and eaten):

If you like peanut butter and chocolate together, proceed with caution because you will soon become addicted to this cupcake.

One of my best and dearest friends, Meg Bliss, is leading the Miniwanca girls Odyssey trip this year. If you don't know what Odyssey is, it is a biking trip where you bike from New Hampshire to Michigan (through Canada) in about 30 days. And I am hosting these girls for a night in Ann Arbor. Because they are so amazing, I am making them a treat: Black Magic cupcakes with a Reese's filling, topped with a swirl of peanut butter buttercream and chocolate frosting.

Black Magic Cake

Adapted from Hershey's Kitchens
makes 2 dozen cupcakes


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 bag of miniature Reese's cups


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line pans with cupcake paper (I used a metallic finished one so they look more like a candy wrapper)
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes.
  3. Pour a little bit of batter into a cupcake wrapper, place a mini Reese's inside, put more batter on top... and continue until all the cupcake wrappers are full.
  4. Bake 23 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost as desired.

For the peanut butter frosting:

Adapted from Proceed with Caution (blog)

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cool whip

  1. In large bowl, with mixer on medium-low speed, beat butter, cream cheese, and peanut butter until smooth and blended.
  2. Add powdered sugar slowly, incorporating fully after each addition.
  3. Add cool whip and beat until smooth and creamy.

For the Chocolate Frosting:

Adapted from Magnolia Barkery

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, soft
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon milk
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate melted and cooled until lukewarm
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft and creamy - about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the milk as you need it, and beat until smooth.
  3. Add the melted chocolate and beat well.
  4. Add vanilla, and beat for 3 minutes.
  5. Slowly add the sugar and beat until you reach your desired consistency.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Peanut Butter Banana Bread WITH Chocolate Chips!

As the Ann Arbor Art Fair keeps rolling on, my oven is (essentially) continually on. For my shift on Friday, I made some Peanut Butter Banana Bread with Chocolate chips. This bread is incredibly dense and moist. My recommendation is to use mini-chocolate chips, I used regular sized chocolate chips and they all congregated in the middle of the bread (due to the weight) and it made slicing the bread a little difficult.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 medium ripe mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided use
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons raw sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Mash banana with a fork in a large mixing bowl. Using a mixer on medium speed beat in peanut butter, 2 tablespoons butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until creamy.
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in milk and flour mixture until just combined; stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake for 55 minutes. Remove pan from oven, melt additional tablespoon butter, brush evenly over the top, and top with turbinado sugar. Continue to bake an additional 5 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Cool for 20 minutes before running a knife around outside edges, removing, and transferring to a wire rack to cool an additional 30 minutes before slicing.

Double Butterscotch Feature!

Ah... it's Art Fair again. And Bivouac at the Art Fair is a very very special time of year. As I did two summers ago, I brought it baked treats for all my co-workers every day that I worked. And as Wednesday was the first day of art fair, I brought in TWO treats; more specifically, butterscotch treats. If anyone was wondering (but I bet you weren't) the reason for the double butterscotch is because my dear friend, and co-worker, loves anything butterscotch in it. Alas, almost every time I bake it never has butterscotch in it. This time I had Kirk in mind as I made two butterscotch treats: Marshmallow Blondies and Triple Chip Cookies. While I did some inventing on the cookies, I got the blondie recipe from this blogger.

First Up: Marshmallow Blondies

  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 baking dish.
  2. In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butterscotch chips and butter, stirring constantly until smooth. As soon as the they butter and chips are melted remove from heat and transfer the contents of the pan to a mixing bowl (Be sure not to over heat the butter and butterscotch chips or they will separate and appear curdled.)
  3. Cool the mixture to room temperature. Using an electric mixer, beat the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and eggs into the butter and butterscotch mixture.
  4. Mix in the chocolate chunks and marshmallows. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared ban. Bake for 30 minutes. The center will feel a little soft, but will firm while cooling.
  5. Cool completely before cutting.
Second Up: Triple Chip Cookies

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch (SECRET INGREDIENT!)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 oz dark chocolate chips
  • 3 oz white chocolate chips
  • 4 oz butterscotch chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Using a fork, beat together the butter and the sugars until smooth and fluffy.
  3. Add in the egg and beat until well combined. Add vanilla (and again) beat until well combined.
  4. Sift together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Slowly stir into wet mixture.
  5. Stir in chocolate chunks.
  6. Drop by tablespoons onto a greased baking lined with parchment paper and bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.
  7. ENJOY!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Asparagus and Parmesan Risotto - An Italian Experimentation

I had never made Risotto before, in fact my first time every having risotto was at this little restaurant off the beaten path in Florence, Italy (i.e. just a few weeks ago)! And honestly, I don't know why I had never eaten it before, it was wonderful! While I may have had a culinary epiphany, I still know why I was continually deterred from actually making risotto. Almost every thing I read online or watch on the Food Network continually reiterates how difficult and time consuming risotto is to make! I had a mental picture of me making risotto; standing over a stove for two hours continually stirring a pot waiting for something to happen. Luckily, this mental image was never fulfilled. While risotto is a relatively time consuming meal to make (as when it is cooking, you must be paying full attention to the pot), it wasn't too difficult (I would say anyone who is an intermediate cook would be able to successfully make the dish). The one ingredient to make a successful risotto dish: patience.

  • 29 oz of vegetable stock
  • 3/4 lb. fresh asparagus, washed, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer. Add asparagus and simmer over moderate heat until just cooked, about 90 seconds to 2 minutes, depending upon stalk thickness. Using a slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to a plate. Cover the stock and keep it at barely a simmer.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over low heat for 1 minute. Add rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until it is coated with oil, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the wine, stir and simmer until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add 1 scant cup of hot stock to the rice, cook and stir often, until it is completely absorbed. Continue to add the stock 1 cup at a time, stirring gently until absorbed.
  4. The risotto is done when the rice is creamy and tender but still slightly firm, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the asparagus and Parmesan cheese. Season with pepper to taste and serve.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I'm Back! Time to start cooking (Snickerdoodles!)!

Hello all! I am back from Europe and ready to start experimenting and cooking again! While Europe was amazing, what I found to be truly amazing was the depth of culinary skill in all the places that we visited. No matter where we ate, the food was so much different (and interesting) than most things I've tasted before. One of my goals for the rest of the summer is to try and replicate some of the things I've tasted: Dutch pancakes/waffles, hot pepper infused olive oil, many types of pasta and pizza, desserts (mainly sorbetto), and so much more! For those of you who work at the Bivouac/live with me/are in close proximity to me will most likely be subjected to tasting my experimentations. So consider yourself forewarned!

Now onto a recipe! This past Thursday I made dinner for my dad and sister; making risotto for the first time and a new, fluffier, snickerdoodle for dessert. For now, I will post the recipe for the snickerdoodle, I'll try and get around to posting the recipe for Asparagus Parmesan Risotto later today or tomorrow.

Light and Fluffy Snickerdoodle Recipe:

  • 2¾ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoon cinnamon

1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a baking mat and put in refrigerator to chill.

2. Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

3. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, it should have a very light and fluffy texture (think mousse, kinda). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition (just when you think you've beaten the eggs well enough, beat some more). Beat in the vanilla.

4. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, slowly beating just until the flour is blended.

5. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes (it will make forming the dough much easier).

6. In the meantime, mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

7. Heat the over to 350 degrees. Scoop 1-inch balls of dough and roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture to coat.

8. Place on chilled cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and bake for 10 minutes.

9. Chill the dough and cookie sheets between batches.

10. Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack. And if you're super daring - eat one fresh out of the oven (it'll be hard to stop yourself) or grab some nutella, make a snickerdoodle/nutella sandwich, and prepare yourself for heart attack.


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