Showing posts with label peanut butter frosting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label peanut butter frosting. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake from Cleo Coyle (A Great Use for Halloween Treats)

The Reese's Peanut Butter Cup is the number one most popular candy in America. This delicious marriage of chocolate and peanut butter is also the number one favorite of this blog's followers. 

(To see the results of the poll you took last week, click here.)
To see the results of last week's
Top 10 Candies Poll, click here.
Many of you left fun comments about your favorite candies from past Halloweens. Some of you even shared brands that I'd forgotten about or were new to me, including: the Violet Crumble (made by an Australian candy company); the Triple Decker; and the ingenious Sky Bar

Among the comments was this one from ceblain, which mentioned a marriage of something more than chocolate and peanut butter. She wrote:

"...For our 50th wedding anniversary in November our daughter and son-in-law are taking us (and our three grandchildren) to PA and our first two day or three day stop is in Hershey....Should be fun and it will be wonderful to be with our daughter and her family as we celebrate a half century of being married."

Happy 50th Anniversary, ceblain! 
I would love to send you the Reese's Mug as an anniversary gift from me and my husband, Marc. We have a long way to go for 50 years, but we certainly hope we'll make it, too! Contact me via my public mail box and I'll get your address to send you the mug. My mail box is CoffeehouseMystery(at)gmail(dot)com.

BTW - The winner of last week's comment-to-win contest (via random number generator) was Wendy West

Congratulations, Wendy,
you won the Reese's Latte Mug!

Thanks to everyone who entered and left comments. Stay tuned for more giveaways as I count down the weeks to the release of my new Coffeehouse Mystery (Billionaire Blend).

As for my recipe this week, I was (obviously) inspired by America’s favorite candy choice (and yours). All you need is a few ingredients, including a handful of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. So go ahead and pinch a few from your kids' trick-or-treat bags. They won't mind, especially after they take one bit of this amazing cake. So let's start baking! 

~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle, who thinks
chocolate and peanut butter
make a good marriage, writes
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
with her husband.
Cleo Coyle's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake

This classic cake is out of this world. Truly. My husband, Marc, absolutely flipped for it. It's impressive to serve because it's full of flavor and (despite the candy on top) not overly sweet.

While this Devil's Food may appear sinful, the peanut butter actually brings protein and nutrition to the dessert. Sure, the candy scattered on top looks decadent, but in truth it's no more than 4 snack size peanut butter cups chopped finely (after freezing--one of my tips for keeping the candy intact during the chopping process). 

For those of you who don't bake much, you'll be happy to know that I used a cake mix starter for this recipe, which means you can bake this crowd-pleasing cake without one worry that it will fall or come out uneven; and, I promise you, my added ingredients will do wonders for the flavor. 

And speaking of flavor: I think it's the vanilla in the peanut butter icing that takes it over the top, evoking that delicious Reese's peanut butter filling. And away we go...

To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Makes one 9x13-inch sheet cake

Cake Ingredients:

1 standard box of Devil’s Food cake mix 

2 tablespoons natural, unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup low fat milk (1% or 2% is best) 

1/3 cup brewed and cooled coffee (*see my note)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter 

1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil 

3 large eggs, lightly beaten with fork

Ingredients to finish:

Peanut butter Icing (recipe included)

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped into small pieces (In my photos, I used 4 "snack size" peanut butter cups; not regular size and not minis or miniatures) 

*Cleo’s Coffee Note: You will not taste the coffee in your cake. Coffee is a way to boost the chocolate flavor in any recipe. If you’d rather not use coffee, no worries; simply increase the milk to 1-1/3 cups.

Directions: First preheat your oven to 350° F. and put your peanut butter cups in the freezer (this will allow you to slice them without smushing them). 

Get out a 13 x 9-inch baking pan and lightly coat the bottom and sides with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. 

Place the “Cake Ingredients” into a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer blend on low until ingredients are combined and then beat on high for 2 full minutes. (You are beating air into the batter, so don’t cut it short.) 

Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes in an oven well-preheated to 350° F. Do not over-bake. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (with no batter clinging to it). Allow to cool, and then frost with my Peanut Butter Icing (recipe included). Garnish with chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (see my tips below). 

Cleo’s garnishing tips: Be sure to freeze the peanut butter cups before chopping them. Slice carefully, making sure to keep the pieces small but intact (do not smush them). Finally, when you place them on the cake, do it one piece at a time, turning the peanut butter side up and putting the ridge side down into the icing (as you see in my finished photos). This will give your cake a more pleasing appearance.

Peanut Butter Icing 

Frosts the top of one 9x13-inch sheet cake


1/2 cup creamy peanut butter 

4 Tablespoons butter (1/2 stick), softened (room temperature) 

4-1/2 teaspoons milk 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

1 cup powdered sugar

Directions: Using an electric mixer, cream the peanut butter and softened butter until fluffy. Add the milk and vanilla. Blend on low speed until smooth. Finally, add the powdered sugar and beat on high until you have a light and fluffy frosting. (If your climate is dry, and the frosting is still too stiff, add 1 to 2 more teaspoons of milk and beat again.)

Did you know the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup was invented by a former dairy farmer named H.P. Reese who worked for Milton Hershey as a shipping foreman?

Inspired by Mr. Hershey, Reese started his own candy company in the basement of his home, using Hershey’s chocolate to make the peanut butter cup. After the death or Mr. Reese, his six sons merged their company with Hershey’s—not unlike their culinary product. 

And speaking of culinary products:

I certainly hope this cake is one you will... 

Eat with (Halloween) joy!
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

A Coffeehouse Mystery

Countdown to Release:
December 3rd

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Witches and Ghostly Wisps -- Oh My!

When I wrote The Diva Haunts the House, I immersed myself in all things spooky and ghostly. To that end, I visited a haunted sanatorium, St. Albans Psychiatric Hospital, in Radford, Virginia. My friend, Amy, who is always game for interesting adventures agreed to go with me.

My father worked in the radiology department at St. Albans when I was a child. I still have a vivid memory going there with him once. The front doors closed behind us and locked before the doors in front of us opened. That's a very eerie feeling. One that I didn't experience again until I visited someone in jail.

The hospital was abandoned some years ago. Originally built as a boys' school in 1892, it's a huge, sprawling building that sits high on a hill. From the other side of the river, it looks, or used to look, like an elegant mansion.

These days, it's downright spooky with broken windows and peeling paint. But remnants of former beauty remain -- the broad main staircase and huge moldings hint at better times for the building.

St. Albans has been the focus of a number of paranormal investigations, some of which you may have seen on television.  It even has its own Facebook page and Twitter page!  

This amazing video was taken at St. Albans by Grave Concerns Paranormal.  

Seven Hills Paranormal Society says St. Albans is the most active site they have investigated.  They specifically mention shadow people and unexplained noises.  Investigators from Seven Hills, as well as many other individuals, have reported that someone touched them when no one else was there.  Hearing voices and footsteps is not uncommon.  Assorted paranormal investigators have recorded eerie electronic voice phenomenon and have seen apparitions.

It's a little bit creepy to visit a haunted site to begin with and St. Albans certainly doesn't need any dressing up to make it scary. There are narrow stairways, and lock down wards, and plenty of stories about water that turns on and off, and people who felt someone touch them. Nurses are said to have spent their shifts sitting on the stairs at night, checking on patients only when necessary. It would be easy for someone unfamiliar with the building to get lost, which would be scary indeed.

The photo above was taken when the lights were turned off in the bowling alley. I thought for sure that if anything weird showed up in my photographs, it would be there. As you can see, there's nothing sinister.

So Amy and I drove home, sad to see the state of the old building. Neither of us heard anything odd, felt a cold entity, or were "touched" by a ghost. End of story, right?

A year later, I pulled out the photos that I took, looking for some to use. It was the first time I had viewed them full screen. Maybe we weren't as alone as we thought!
This is radiology. Do you see the wisp in the air at 11 o'clock?

This is the wisp enlarged. You can see that it is partly in front of the open cabinet door, so it's not a stain on the wall.

Fear not, the ghosts haven't made me forget a recipe! This frosting makes enough for witch cupcakes but if you are like my friend who thinks the cake is really only something to hold the frosting, then you might want to double the recipe.

Peanut Butter Surprise Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes
(makes 12 cupcakes)

1 cup flour
1/2 cup high quality unsweetened powdered chocolate like Pensey’s
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups minis

Combine flour, powdered chocolate, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and blend well with a small whisk or a fork.

Cream butter with sugar. Add each egg and beat well. Add the flour mixture in small amounts, alternating with the milk. Beat in the vanilla.

Divide between cupcake papers, filling each about 3/4 full. Insert a Mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in the center of each cupcake and push down into the cupcake batter just a bit. Bake 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Peanut Butter Frosting

1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar

Allow butter to come to room temperature. Cream it with the peanut butter. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beat until desired consistency is reached.

Witch Cupcakes

These can be made with any cupcake. I added a little bit of turmeric to the frosting to give the witches a yellowish tint, but green would be very cute, too.

I have to say that these were fun to make and very easy. If you baked the cupcakes and made the frosting ahead of time, this would be a fun project for kids. I would just set bowls of the candies on the table and let them create. I bet they would come up with spectacular witches!

Tootsie Rolls
Green Mini M&Ms
Red Jolly Ranchers
Peel and Strip Twizzlers
Mini chocolate chips

Twist an Oreo cookie apart. Scrape off the white middle and save. Cut each cookie in half.

Roll out a Tootsie Roll. If it sticks to your cutting board, just slide a knife underneath it to loosen. Cut a triangle for the top of the hat.

Place one half of an oreo cookie about 1/3 of the way down as the brim of the hat. Place the hat above it. I bent them a little bit to add character.

Add two green mini M&Ms as eyes.

 Mold two small pieces of leftover Tootsie Roll as eyebrows. If you place them close together and slant them a little, they look menacing.

 Cut off a tiny bit of the Oreo middle and mold it into a cone for the nose.

 Cut a thin piece off a red Jolly Rancher and mold it into a frown. Add strands of Twizzler for hair, and of course, a mini chocolate chip wart.

 When I was all through, I was disappointed by my grouchy group of witches.

So I turned their frowns upside down and lifted their eyebrows. Much better! These are exactly the same cupcakes.

Witches not right for your little goblins? The instructions for my Vampire Cupcakes are over at Cozy Mystery Book Reviews.