Friday, April 29, 2011

Baking for a Cure!

Next week I’ll be participating in Bake for Hope.  I found out about this event at Cupcake Camp, at Jen from Beantown Baker’s  booth. 

Per the website, Bloggers Bake for Hope is a virtual bake sale. Bloggers will donate their time, ingredients, and shipping costs so there are no expenses associated with this virtual bake sale. All proceeds from the bake sale will be sent to the Massachusetts Komen for the Cure. The virtual bake sale will take place on May 4-6, 2011.  Buyers will make virtual pledges on the Bloggers Bake for Hope site, and at the close of the bake sale the highest bidders will be awarded the donated baked goods. They will make their donations via PayPal, and the bakers will then bake and ship their goods. Because the bakers are donating their ingredients, time, and shipping costs, there are no expenses associated with the virtual bake sale. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Massachusetts Komen for the Cure.  

I’m going to be making my M&M Cookies with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chips  for this event.  You can view these and all the other items available for auction here.  I hope that on May 4th you’ll head over to the site and bid on some baked goods (there are some awesome looking treats on there)!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Bark

Martha Stewart Living is one of my favorite magazines.  While some of her projects can be a little over-the-top for the average human, there are a lot of great ideas and recipes in it.  I had a page saved from the 2010 holiday issue on several different types of ‘bark’ to make, and since I had some leftover candy from Easter, I decided to make the Chocolate Peanut Butter version – you can view the original recipe here.

This was really easy.  You just need some chocolate bars (bittersweet and milk chocolate) and peanut butter! 

The first step is to line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Next, melt the bittersweet chocolate. 

I don’t have a double boiler, so I just placed a small glass mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water.   I also didn’t get to take a ton of pictures – it was too hard to do that while constantly stirring the chocolate and holding the bowl steady!

Melt the bittersweet chocolate and then pour onto the baking sheet.  Spread evenly.

Melt the milk chocolate and peanut butter together. 

Mine wasn’t quite as pretty as Martha’s...

Then pop into the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to get firm, and break up the bark into little pieces!  I had to refrigerate mine closer to 2 hours, since I used all natural peanut butter and it didn’t firm up as quickly as I’d imagine ‘regular’ peanut butter would.

Told you it was easy.  I’d also suggest doing all the ‘prep’ work first – break up the bittersweet and milk chocolate in 2 separate piles, measure out the peanut butter and set out the baking sheet and bamboo skewer.  This is definitely not the type of recipe where you want to measure as you go!

This is super easy, and the active time is only about 15 minutes.  The cleanup is really quick too!  This would be a great treat to make to hand out over the holidays or set out at a party.  You can also press different types of candy or sprinkles into it to make it look more seasonal or add a little something extra – I foresee myself experimenting with this a lot more in the future, now that I know how simple it is!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Bark

12 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 3 Ghirardelli 60% cacao bars)
4.4 oz milk chocolate (I used a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar)
¼ c creamy all-natural peanut butter
1 bamboo skewer - don’t eat this! ;)

·         Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil and line with parchment paper.  Set aside.
·         Melt the bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler or a glass or metal mixing bowl set over a pot 1/3 full of simmering water
·         Once bittersweet chocolate is completely melted, pour onto baking sheet and spread evenly
·         Melt the milk chocolate and peanut butter together until completely melted
·         Pour milk chocolate peanut butter mixture over the bittersweet chocolate
·         Use the bamboo skewer to create a swirled effect
·         Refrigerate until firm (at least 1 hour)
·         Remove from refrigerator and break apart

Friday, April 22, 2011

Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

I decided to make muffins again the other day, and this time I added banana and improved the recipe, enough that I feel comfortable posting the recipe here this time around!  I also decided to do mini's instead.  I used a similar recipe to last time, adapted from the book 100 Best Cupcake Recipes (there’s a recipe for banana nut muffins in the “Cupcakes for Breakfast” section).

I liked these much butter than the chocolate peanut butter chip ones I made last time; the bananas made them moister and added a much-needed kick of flavor!  The crusty sugar top worked better this time too, I think because I used raw sugar instead of granulated for the 'crust.'

First I got my ingredients out.

Then mashed up 2 ripe bananas.

Then I combined the bananas with melted butter, buttermilk (I used nonfat milk and lemon juice again), eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl I whisked together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt; then I added the banana mixture and mixed until well-blended.

This time, I used peanut butter and chocolate chips – yum! 

I used these Reese’s peanut butter chips and two kinds of Ghirardelli chocolate – these oversized milk chocolate pieces along with semi-sweet chocolate chips.

I mixed them all together and popped them into the oven for ~10 min, then cooled them on wire racks. 

And enjoyed!

Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
Makes approx 48 mini muffins

2c flour
3/4c sugar
½ tsp Baking soda
2 tsp Baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick melted butter
1/3c buttermilk
2 mashed up ripe bananas
1c peanut butter chips
1c chocolate chips
1 tsp raw sugar (to sprinkle on top)

·         Preheat oven to 375 and line muffin tray with liners. 
·         Mash up 2 ripe bananas in a small bowl.  Add melted butter, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk.  Mix together until blended.
·         In a separate, larger bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
·         Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and beat until completely blended.
·         Add peanut butter and chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed.
·         Pour into muffin cups, sprinkle some raw sugar on top and bake for 9-12 minutes.
·         Cool on wire racks, pour a glass of cold milk and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

M&M cookies with Chocolate and Peanut Butter chips

On a spring-like day a few weeks ago I picked up this HUGE bag of 'Bunny Mix' M&M’s at the store.

One of my favorite cookies is an M&M chocolate chip cookie, adapted from this recipe on the M&M’s website.  At Cupcake Camp, I spoke briefly with Jen at Beantown Baker about Bloggers Bake for Hope and decided to participate.  I was trying to think of baked goods that would be fairly simple to ship, so decided to contribute 2 dozen of these cookies.  And for something different, I added some Reese’s peanut butter chips this time.

I love these cookies because they’re easy to make and freeze really well.  Plus, M&M’s always has different holiday colors out for Christmas, Halloween, Spring, 4th of July, etc so it’s easy to make these festive for different occasions!

First I creamed 1c softened butter with ½c each of white and light brown sugars.

Then added 1 egg and 2 ½ tsp vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 2c flour, ½ tsp baking soda and 1/8 tsp salt.  Slowly add the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture.
ooohhhh when two become one....

Then add the good stuff!  For these, I added 2c M&M’s, 3/4c chocolate chips and 3/4c peanut butter chips.

Use a tablespoon to drop onto cookie sheets and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned at the edges. 

Cool on wire racks and enjoy!

Bidding starts May 4th and goes through May6th - be sure to check out the Bloggers Bake for Hope site to check out some of the other delicious treats that will be up for sale!

M&M cookies with Chocolate and Peanut Butter chips
(makes approx 36 cookies - if you don't eat 4 cookie's worth of dough like I do!)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk chocolate M&M’s
¾ cup chocolate chips
¾ cup peanut butter chips

·         Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl cream butter and sugars; beat in egg and vanilla.
·         In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt; slowly add into creamed mixture.
·         Stir in M&M’S®, chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.
·         If the dough is very soft, put in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to chill slightly
·         Drop tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
·         Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cupcake Camp

Last week I attended Cupcake Camp  - it was held at the Somerville Armory.  You can learn more about it here.  I first heard of Cupcake Camp a few years ago on Cupcakes Take The Cake, and I missed last year’s in Boston so I was really excited when I saw on Twitter that it was going to be held in Boston again this year!  I made my Thin Mint Cupcakes again, and did a mix of mini and regular size.  Big thanks to my friend Whitney for helping me bake/decorate the cupcakes AND set up at Cupcake Camp!
A little blurry - oops :)

Yum :)  Did I say THANK YOU to Whitney for helping decorate?!

King Arthur Flour was a sponsor and had a special booth set up with demonstrations – I can’t wait to try these mint chip ice cream cone cupcakes!
All the decorations are fondant!

Next time, I would probably make all minis – most people (myself included!) seemed drawn to the minis – more cupcakes, less stomachaches!  Plus then more people could try them – I ended up cutting the ‘regular’ size cupcakes into quarters anyway.
Another thanks to Whitney for this nifty sign ;)

I would also make more cupcakes!  Mine were gone within a half hour, sad L

Overall, this was a great time and it was wonderful to meet some fellow bakers and get some more cupcake ideas!  Some of the 'amateur' cupcakes were presented so well and tasted so good, I couldn't believe they weren't professionals.  I mostly tasted the 'amateur' cupcakes since I'd been to most of the bakeries that were there.  The sugar hangover the next day was well worth it.  I couldn't believe how packed it was, I left around 8:15 (the event went from 7-9) and the line was still around the block!

Below are some pictures I took while I was wandering around before the doors opened  – I tried to get the cupcake/baker’s names in the photos when I could, but feel free to let me know in the comments if you see yours here and want a call-out.  The lighting wasn’t the best at the Armory, so my apologies for some of the poor pictures!
These hamburger cupcakes were adorable!

I can't eat almonds so unfortunately couldn't try these, but I loved the frosting on them - so pretty!

These were fantastic - and presented so well!

These were gone before I could try one :(

I loved these adorable little honeybees

Whole Foods' Easter-themed cupcakes

Some of the amateur cupcakes were presented SO well, I couldn't believe they weren't professionals!


setting up the 'professionals' section

Beantown Baker's cookie dough cupcakes - one of my favorites of the night!

These girls were next to me - I loved these cupcakes!

The creamsicle cupcakes (2nd tier from the top) were to.die.for.

Loved this sweet cupcake bouquet - I think this was C-Cups?


These were from an amateur baker - how beautiful!