Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Peanut Butter Pie...with Chocolate Sauce. YUM.

I know what you are thinking....again with the Chocolate and Peanut Butter combination?  Here's the thing: it is a scientific fact that one person can never consume too much of the chocolate and peanut butter combo.  That fact may or may not be true, but seriously....Peanut Butter Pie is one of my favorite pies.  After you try this recipe (that is really easy too!), this will become one of your favorites too.


Hot Fudge Sauce:
•    1/3 cup heavy cream
•    1/4 cup light brown sugar
•    1/4 cup light corn syrup
    •    2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    •    1/8 teaspoon table salt
    •    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    •    4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips   
Peanut Butter Pie:
    •    8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
    •    3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
    •    3/4 cup creamy peanut butter, at room temperature
    •    1 cup heavy whipping cream
    •    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    •    2 ounces shaved milk chocolate
    •    Chopped peanuts, optional
    •    1 (9-inch) baked chocolate cookie pie crust

For the sauce: Add the cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla extract to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and turn it up to medium heat (if the saucepan isn't heavy-bottomed, then turn it slightly cooler than medium heat so the chocolate doesn't burn). Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the chopped chocolate.  After that, stir the sauce continuously until the chocolate is melted and it has thickened, roughly 3 to 4 minutes. Take the pan off the burner, and let the sauce cool for 10 minutes before serving.

For the pie: In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and the peanut butter, and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes).
In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream with an electric mixer on high until thick and light. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract. Once you have added those two ingredients, continue to whip the cream until stiff peaks form.  Next, take the whipped cream and pour into the peanut butter mixture, and using the electric mixer, combine the two together for about 1-2 minutes. Pour the batter into the pie shell, sprinkle with the shaved milk chocolate and freeze for 4 hours.

If desired, serve with the hot fudge sauce, but you can also add whipped cream, and chopped peanuts if you want to make it even more decedent!

Overall, this pie is great.  It is rich and light all at the same time, and each bite is very smooth.  This pie is great any time of year and is super easy to make.  Because there is no baking, I whipped up two pies and threw them in the freezer in less than 30 minutes (clean up included!).   Am I obsessed with the Chocolate and Peanut Butter combo?  Absolutely.  But, maybe next time I will make something that doesn't include those two ingredients.  Maybe.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chocolate and Peanut Butter....ASSEMBLE!

I have said it before, and I will say it again:  there is no better combination than chocolate and peanut butter.  I think it is safe to say that I would eat just about anything that involves this combination (no, that wasn't an invitation to see what I'll eat, so don't ask).  I recently found this recipe on a blog and have been dying to try it, but I haven't just because I knew exactly how rich these bad boys must be.  I was right.  
Needless to say, I found a reason to make them when recently one of my coworkers found out the gender of her baby (a baby boy....congrats!), and I thought these cupcakes were perfect with which to celebrate.  I give to you....Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cupcakes, or as I like to call them, Heaven.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup hot water
1 Tbsp White Vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 - 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
1/3 cup White Sugar
1/3 cup Confectioner's Sugar
3/4 cup Chocolate and Peanut butter chips, divided

First, start off by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  Take a muffin tin, line them with muffin liners, and set it aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.  Add oil, water, vinegar and vanilla to the dry mixture, stirring it just until smooth.  After that, take your chocolate and peanut butter chips, and stir them into the batter.

Next, in another large bowl, beat together the egg, cream cheese, peanut butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed (I did this for about 2 minutes).  Add in the confectioner's sugar next and beat this until creamy.
Now comes the fun part:  spoon 1 level tablespoon of chocolate batter into the bottom of each cup.  Next, take the peanut butter mixture and evenly spread 1 level tablespoon on top of that.  To top it off, take another tablespoon of the chocolate batter and fill it up to the top.  With the remaining chocolate and peanut butter chips, sprinkle over the tops of each of the cupcakes. 

You will want to bake the cupcakes about 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (Do not over bake!  You want the cupcake to still be soft and squishy-ish or else they will become dry and harder than rocks).  Let the cupcakes cool in pan for about 15 minutes.  Lastly, remove the cupcakes from the pan to cool on a wire rack for another 15 minutes.  These can be served warm or cool, but seriously....the warm ones were so good (you will just need a glass of milk).

I think the best part about this cupcake is the inside: it quite literally is a simple peanut butter cheese cake, so it gives it a delicious, smooth taste to it while complimenting the entire dense cupcake.  No matter what you do, these cupcakes really do look like something you would see in a professional bakery, even though it doesn't take that long to whip up. there a better combination out there?  I really think not.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Think Rich, Look Poor.....The "Hipster" Cookie

As a resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, there is a hot fashion genre here that I still haven't quite grasped the concept's called "The Hipster."  Robert Lanham, author of The Hipster Handbook, defines a hipster as "one who possesses tastes, social attitudes, and opinions deemed cool by the cool.  The Hipster walks among the masses in daily life but is not a part of them and shuns or reduces to kitsch anything held dear by the mainstream. A Hipster ideally possesses no more than 2% body fat."  While I find this definition hilarious, it reminded me of a cookie recipe that I found and have always wanted to try.  Martha Stewart has this "Cookie a Day" email that I receive and one day it was the "Toasted Pecan Butter Cookie."  The picture of the cookies and the ingredients needed had me thinking these sounded an awful lot like a Hipster.

Why do I think this cookie reminds me of a Hipster?  No, it's not the that this cookie wears plaid, has ironic eyeglass frames, wears skinny jeans, and looks as though it hasn't showered in a few months.  It reminds me of a hipster in a lot of ways: this cookie looks bland, colorless, and as though it has no flavor at all, which is similar to hipsters' drab clothing they wear.  However, it calls for pecans, which tend to be expensive (like shopping at Urban Outfitters), uses confectioner's sugar instead of normal sugar which makes it kind of an obscure recipe (obscure similar to all of the music Hipsters listen to and books they read), and smell awesome while they are baking (most hipsters actually do smell good because of their designer perfume/cologne....they just look homeless).  My coworker, Tiffani, jokingly said that this cookie was like a Hipster too because you had to "think rich" because the ingredients looked simple but were expensive, but "looked poor" in how simple it is, which is a perfect way to describe it.

With that, let's see if I can truly call this the "Hipster Cookie."

The Hipster Cookie
3.5 oz pecan halves, toasted (1 cup)
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tbsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 C. Flour, sifted

To toast the pecans, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Pour pecans on a cookie sheet or into a shallow pan, and cook in the oven for 8-10 minutes, stirring them once.  FYI: the longer the nuts bake, the stronger the nutty flavor becomes, but be careful not to burn them.

Turn the oven down to 325 degrees.  Once the pecans have cooled, break each nut into 2 to 3 pieces.  Next, using a mixer, cream the softened butter and sugar until pale (about 2 minutes).  While still mixing, add the vanilla and salt, then reduce speed to low.  Gradually add the flour, beating until the flour is just incorporated.  Stir in the toasted pecans until distributed evenly.  Next, cover dough, and refrigerate until firm for at least 15 minutes (or overnight if you want; just let the dough come to room temperature before using).

Drop tablespoon sized scoops of dough onto a baking sheet about 2 inches apart (the cookies flatten out when they are baking).  Bake the cookies until edges are golden, which depending on the oven and cookie size is about 15-20 minutes.  Let them cool for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool.

So, is the name I have given the cookie appropriate?  Absolutely.  When they come out of the oven, they do look pretty drab like I thought they would (not like the baked goods I normally like to make which tend to be flashy), however, they really do smell awesome while they are baking.  The toasted pecans taste amazing mixed in with the sugary, buttery cookie.  I would say this cookie is probably something that could be found in one of those organic bakeries Hipsters love to go to so that they can discuss art, music, and obscure things that you and I wouldn't know anything about.