Monday, November 2, 2015

Peanut Butter Snickers Cheesecake Bars

I made something sweet to sink your teeth into. Peanut Butter Snickers Cheesecake Bars. They make me want to go grab one right now. Yum!

Okay Snickers fans, have you had the peanut butter version? Yeah, well these little peanut butter temptresses almost make me forget about Reese’s peanut butter cups… my comfort candy of choice. I like these a lot better than the original Snickers, so I thought I’d throw them in some cheesecake batter and make some decadent little bars.

First up, the crust. I used chocolate graham crackers to mix with butter, but feel free to use good old golden grahams, too.

These bake in an 8 X 8 dish. Use a flat bottom utensil to help pack all the crumbs down flat.

Hey you. I’m sorry I have to cut you into tiny pieces, but it’s for a yummy cause.

Use a sharp non-serrated knife for smoother cuts.

And then, into the cheesecake bath you go. Once baked and cooled, these babies get covered with a blanket of chocolate ganache to keep them cozy … and to cover up the crack that opened in the middle, too. But you’ll never know now. When the ganache sets and then after the cheesecake has chilled in the refrigerator, cut into small squares.

You can totally serve them simple just like this.

But I thought I’d dress them up for a party scenario.

Pipe some peanut butter buttercream frosting on the center of each bar and then place a cut candy bar piece in the middle to jazz them up for guests.

………………………………………………………………….

Peanut Butter Snickers Cheesecake Bars

Crust
18 Chocolate graham cracker squares (1 wrapped package), crushed into crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 egg, plus 1 yolk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 fun size Peanut Butter Snickers (8 cut into small pieces for the cheesecake batter and four cut into slices reserved for decoration.)

Ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Frosting
1 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • To make the crust, stir graham cracker crumbs and sugar together in a medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir until completely combined.
  • Using the bottom of a glass or measuring cup, firmly press mixture into the bottom of an 8×8 inch baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and let cool.
  • To make the cheesecake filling, add cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar and flour to a large bowl. Using a mixer on medium-high speed, beat mixture until creamy and combined.
  • Turn mixer to low and add egg and yolk, mixing until combined. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined.
  • Gently stir in Snickers candy bar pieces and pour batter in prepared baking dish. Bake for 40-45 minutes, then remove and let cool completely.
  • To make the ganache, place chocolate morsels in a large heat-proof bowl and set aside. Add cream and butter to a saucepan and heat on stove at medium high. Remove just before boiling and pour over morsels. Let sit for a minute and then stir until completely combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over cooled cheesecake. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  • Cut into 20-25 bars and decorate with frosting to serve if desired.
  • For Peanut Butter Buttercream, beat butter and peanut butter until completely smooth and creamy. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Add confectioners’ sugar on low and then increase speed and beat until combined. Pipe buttercream swirls on top of each cheesecake bar and then insert a sliced Snickers candy bar piece for decoration.
  • Store cheesecake bars in refrigerator.
Note: You can also make these with a straight up cheesecake flavor and omit the peanut butter in the batter.

Enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Haunted Halloween Party

I went to the most amazing Halloween Party last weekend. Do you guys remember my friend Cupcake Julie’s Holiday parties? This one and this one? Well she haunts as good as she spreads holiday cheer. From statues to spiders, flickering lights to floating fog, the night was full of all kinds of frightfully fun sights and spooky sweets, too.

I made some of my eyeball cake pops to bring to the party. But this time, I dipped them using silver plastic forks instead of lollipop sticks. So much more fun and kinda gruesome. Click here for directions on how to make the original version.

To stand them up for serving, dip them in melted red candy coating and place on wax paper to dry. You can also use a toothpick to apply more red candy coating around the prongs of the fork. Bleeding eyeballs you know.

We also had scary red velvet cake skulls, skeleton brownies, chocolate mice, cookie bones, s’mores trifles, butterscotch puddings, mini pies and more. So much sweet fun.

But not as much fun as her Halloween decorations. Check out this larger than life-size Count Dracula.

And this little vampire statuette.

On piano… we have skeleton fingers.

A serving tray of body parts anyone?

A big book of spells.

Chains, ghouls, spiders and skulls. Spooky decorations were everywhere.

There were animatronic fortune tellers and floor crawling zombies, too.

Ummm… drinks anyone? The crazy chemist had some fun concoctions for us.

And this guy. He was hanging around outside to greet arriving guests.

Me? I went as a spider. But I was completely outdone by their front entrance.

And, I hate spiders, but somehow I wanted to hug this one.

Julie’s husband had the most amazing giant Grim Reaper costume.

And when I say giant, I mean towering. He was walking around on drywall stilts in creepy slow motion. Needless to say, we all wanted a photo with him.

Oh my gosh. This is awesome and probably my favorite part. When you went in the bathroom and leaned in to wash your hands, a ghost in the vanity mirror screams and scares the daylights out of you. So creepy. So fun.

There was a cemetery, too! Julie handmade all of these tombstones. And the lettering. Yeah… crazy!!! She used a drimmel to carve out all the words so the letters would look like they were etched out of stone. True dedication!

Oh … I can’t forget the creeping fog. It definitely set the mood for the night.

P.S. … That’s a wig I bought, but now I kinda want silver hair. What do you think?

Hope this Halloween is haunted and happy for you … and of course filled with the cutest spooky treats.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mini Monster Cakes

Mini monster cakes are on the menu today. That’s right, these are little bitty cupcake layer cakes all dressed up and ready for Halloween.

Making them is pretty easy. I used this chocolate cupcake recipe. It yields 18 cupcakes or 9 mini monster cakes.

On half of the baked cupcakes, remove the mounded tops using a knife.

To assemble: Unwrap the cupcakes and place a cut cupcake, top side down on a 4X4 inch piece of wax paper. Then spread some frosting on its bottom and place another whole cupcake on top, right side up like shown in the pics above. Frost the sides and top with buttercream by holding the cupcakes together in between your fingers and the wax paper. Apply frosting up the side and rotate until covered … then frost the top. This will be your crumb coat, so don’t worry about specks of the cupcake getting mixed in your frosting because you’ll be covering it all up later.

Place in the freezer to firm up for much easier handling. You can also add a second layer of frosting to create more cylinder-like shapes like I’ve done in the fourth photo. Just make sure the cupcakes are chilled and firm to the touch before decorating or else you will have a mess on your hands.

To decorate, whip up some tinted frosting in fun colors and use different tips for varying effects.

You can use this buttercream recipe. You’ll need three batches… maybe four if you make all 9 mini cakes.

This guy is a little spiky. I used a round #12 tip to pipe rows around the cake starting from the bottom and working my way up.

The eye is made of regular and mini-size Oreo cookie halves attached with frosting.

Oh yeah … before frosting, place the mini cake on a 4-inch doily and then on a piece of cardboard so you can rotate for decorating and then for transporting.

I used a grass tip (#233) for this one. You can work with two different frosting colors for a fun furry effect. Just pipe in random shapes making sure to get the colors close to each other so the white crumb coat doesn’t show from underneath.

For the mouth, cut an Oreo cookie half … in half … and press on top of the frosting. Then pipe more frosting so it overlaps the top of the mouth. Make sure he has several candy eyes so he can see how cute he is.

And throw on some cute bone candies to top him off. But really… you can use any candies you have on hand and just get creative with different designs. That’s the fun part. The possibilities are endless.

This one is covered in tons of candy eyes. I used a #21 tip and piped around the base. In the places I wanted eyes, I piped in a circular shape leaving room for the eye to sit in. This is mainly so I didn’t have a bunch of orange frosting squishing out around the eye when I pressed it in place. But… maybe that would look all monstery-cute, too.

I like how this one turned out… kind of hairy and tattered looking. This is made with a basket weave tip (#48).

When you place eyes in position, then just overlap the frosting on top so it all looks integrated.

Oh yeah – this one is easy. I didn’t use a decorating tip. Instead I applied a thin layer of green frosting and then covered the cake with my green candy shred. So spooky cute!

You can give them little signs to hold, too.

Just wrap washi tape around a toothpick and cut into a triangle shape for pennants.
Super easy.

Hope these minis make you smile.
Enjoy!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Chocolate Chunk Banana Snack Cake

It’s snack time! With the start of October, the internet makes me feel like I should be sharing pumpkin recipes. I mean pumpkin this and that is everywhere. But I don’t really feel like pumpkin right now. Actually, I’m not so ready for fall at all. I wish I could get two more months of summer in. Like every year. So that’s where this quick little banana snack cake comes in.

Simple ingredients.

And simply yum.

You can use mini chips in your batter, but I like them chunky with chocolate.

Enjoy the baked banana cake by itself or top it with frosting.

That’s right. Let’s slap on a layer of creamy chocolate frosting.

One of the reasons I love snack cakes so much is baking everything in one big, no-fuss, easy layer. Plus, that means lots of little squares to snack on for the next few days.

Chocolate Chunk Banana Snack Cake

Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 large bananas)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chunks

Frosting
1 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp milk

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 9 X 13 inch baking dish.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt until combined. Set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Add milk, continuing to mix until combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add flour and mix until just combined. Mix in mashed bananas. (Note: I used a food processor to mash bananas right before adding to the batter.) Stir in chocolate chunks.
  • Pour batter into prepared dish and bake for 30-35 minutes or until done.
  • Remove from oven and cool completely.

For frosting: Using a mixer, beat butter and vanilla until smooth. Sift powdered sugar and cocoa together and slowly add to mixer while on low. Increase to medium and beat until completely incorporated. Add milk a teaspoon at a time until desired creaminess.

Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

These major chocolatey chocolate chip cookies actually came from a mix. But not just any mix.

Master Pastry Chef and Mr. Chocolate himself, Jacques Torres now has a convenient way to make his famous chocolate chip cookies.

I was excited to give them a go because I use his scratch recipe all the time and it is one of my absolute favorites. Check out this older post I did on making them and trust me when I say that they are ridiculously good. The original recipe just takes some time (overnight chilling), more than one kind of flour, giant chocolate wafers to bake inside. So, I don’t always have the time to plan to make them or the right ingredients on hand.

That’s why this little mix came in handy to curb my cookie cravings. You just add butter and eggs. I was a little skeptical about the kind of chocolate that would be included in the bag because when I pressed around, it didn’t feel like it would have the big wafers I am used to with his recipe.

But oh boy … was I wrong. They are ginormous and bigger than the big ones I usually use. Here they are next to regular size chips on the right.

And here they are in my hand. Yes and yum. These are the kind of chocolate chips …I mean chocolate wafers that I can get behind. Or maybe even chocolate saucers, they’re so big.

Spoon, please!

Okay… this is what I’m talking about. Look at all that warm chocolate spilling out when you take a bite. So good.

A couple of things to note about these cookies… The mix is a little pricey. Like $18 for the bag. So I will probably stick to making them from scratch, unless I want to give the mix as a gift. That being said, the chocolate and ingredients I buy to make his original version ends up being around the same price when everything is said and done.

Also… if you do buy the mix and make them, let your dough chill for a while so they don’t spread as much. My cookies went a little flat.

And not quite like his scratch recipe cookies. Photos below are for reference from an older post. Check it out here.

Chocolatey

See what I mean. These are insane.

Chocolate Chip Cookie

And pretty!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

You really have to make them one day! Here’s the recipe for his famous cookies:

Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Jacques Torres' Chocolate Chip Cookies

Enjoy!!!

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