Monday, April 15, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Dough Bars

This past weekend my boyfriend came to visit me at school for my final sorority formal (how depressing is that?!) and as with each visit, I reward his 6-hours of driving with something decadent and delicious. This weekend, it was peanut butter cup cookie dough crumble bars from Averie Cooks.

I've never met someone who loves the peanut butter-chocolate combination as much as this boy does. For Valentine's Day, I sent him a 1-pound peanut butter cup, and when the company failed to deliver it by the holiday they sent him another one for free. He hadn't even opened the second one, so we chopped it up and used it in these bars.

Just as Averie describes in her post, this recipe is super easy. The cookie dough base and the "crumble" on top are made from the same batter, and the filling is just chopped pb cups and sweetened condensed milk, which makes them melt-in-your-mouth gooey. Also, as per her instructions, make sure to let these bars sit for at least three hours after baking. While it's tempting to dig right in, the soft center needs to set before cutting.

If your significant other/friends are anything like mine, these will be gone within the day. This recipe only made around 16 bars (which seems like a lot but really isn't when they're being eaten by six people) so I would suggest doubling it and baking them in a 9x13 inch pan.

My favorite helper, trying (unsuccessfully) to talk and chew. You can find this recipe in the link at the top of the post!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Strawberry Cake

I'm really excited about this cake. Here's why:

So first of all, it's super pretty. But more importantly, it's also really good. Like moist (sorry, I hate that word too, but I don't want to say "it has a nice wet to dry ratio with a good crumb" because I think that just essentially means "moist" and why would I waste so many words?) and light with a hint of strawberry flavor. It also can be played around with to make a bunch of combinations! I could use blueberries or blackberries in place of the strawberries, and then the cake would be blue! Definitely trying that next.

I had to include a shot of the cake without any of its adornments, since it baked up so nicely. I did a single layer cake because it was approximately 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night and I didn't feel like assembling a layer cake. I was even tempted to leave it sans frosting, but the pudding/dream whip topping was too good to leave off.

I adapted this recipe from The Law Student's Wife, though only because I was without certain ingredients. Either way, I would highly recommend this recipe. She suggests making it for an anniversary (so cute!) but I'll be using this recipe for any and all warm-weather festivities.

Strawberry Cake with Vanilla Whipped Frosting
(makes two 6-inch rounds or one 9-inch round)
2/3 c. fresh or frozen whole strawberries (thawed)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. 2% milk (or whole milk)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature

For the frosting:
1 packet instant whipped topping, like Dream Whip
1 package instant french vanilla pudding mix (the smaller box)
1 1/2 c. 2% milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour the cake pans.

Food process or smash strawberries with a fork (I did the latter, no such luxury as a food processor in my college apartment) until they are liquidy.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, combine the milk, vanilla and strawberries. Set aside.

In a stand mixer (or in a medium sized bowl by hand) cream the butter until it is light in color and fluffy. Slowly add sugar and continue to beat. Slowly add the egg and egg whites, mix until just combined.

Slowly add half the flour mixture to the butter and sugar, mixing until incorporated. Add the milk mixture; mix. Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just combined (do not overmix!)

Pour batter into pans and bake around 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.

To prepare the frosting:
In a stand mixer (or by hand), whisk together the instant whipped topping and instant pudding mix. Add milk and mix until blended. Increase mixer speed to high and beat 4 to 6 minutes until stiff peaks form. Frost cooled cake and top with whatever your sweet tooth desires.