Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

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Our brother Luke turns sweet 16 during the first week of September, and since we’ll be away at college on the actual day, we decided to celebrate early with an ultra-sweet dessert. After looking through our many cookbooks and baking books, he gave a pretty low-maintenance request: something with chocolate and peanut butter. We’d had our eyes set on this cake recipe for a bit and had a feeling that it would be a hit.

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Picture a Reese’s peanut butter cup in cake form, and that’s this decadent dessert. Fluffy chocolate cake layers have a bit of ganache between them, and the whole thing is filled and frosted with the best peanut butter frosting we’ve had. We really love the one that ices these brownies, but this one was perfect for this cake with its lightness yet stability and spreadability. One note- while this cake was awesome at room temperature, it was even better when chilled. Just delicious!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

Serves about 16

Recipe from The Baker Chick, cake base originally adapted from Martha Stewart

We’re including instructions for doubling the frosting recipe since Audra of the original recipe frosted it as a naked cake, and we wanted a more traditional look. You’ll have a little frosting leftover- it’s delightful off of a spoon!

Ingredients:

For the cake:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ cups sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
4½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

For the ganache:

4.5 oz chocolate, chopped (we used half milk chocolate, and half dark, which we really liked!)
½ cup heavy cream

For the frosting:

24 tablespoons of butter, softened (3 sticks)
2 cups creamy peanut butter
6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks (do this in the bowl you plan to mix the frosting in first, transfer to a small bowl, and then proceed to the rest of the frosting so you don’t have to wash the bowl in between)

Chopped peanut butter cups, for garnish

Directions:

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3-8″ cake pans, and line with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the water, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and eggs. Stir the wet ingredients into dry until the batter is smooth.

Divide batter amongst the pans and bake for 20-30 mins, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to cooling racks and let cool.

For the ganache:

Put the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream on a stovetop until it just barely begins to simmer (it’ll be steaming). Pour over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Transfer to the fridge to cool and solidify.

For the frosting:

Cream the butter and peanut butter together until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until evenly combined. Let the mixer run on medium speed for another minute. Fold in the whipped cream until smooth.

Place the first cake layer on a cake stand and spread with half of the ganache. Add about 3/4 cup of peanut butter frosting (you’ll have plenty, so use as much as you’d like depending on your preferred frosting:cake ratio) over the ganache and spread. Repeat with the next layer, and then place the final layer on top. Cover the whole cake with frosting in a smooth layer, and garnish with chopped peanut butter cups. Enjoy!

Liège Waffles

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Leah and I were first officially introduced to Belgian liège waffles at a restaurant in Boston called Saus, which specializes in Belgian waffles and fries with a variety of sauces and toppings. It’s one of our favorite places to go, but when we aren’t at school there is a serious lack of these caramelized, crunchy, buttery beauties in our lives. We’d been pining after the recipe/homage posted on Smitten Kitchen for most of the summer and finally got around to making them during the last week of summer vacation. liegewaffes2

These waffles are nothing like a frozen waffle, a diner-style Belgian waffle, or really any other sort of waffle that you’d normally find on a breakfast menu in the U.S. They’re made out of a rich brioche dough, which contains plenty of butter (!). After an overnight rest in the fridge, you fold in crunchy pearl sugar (we found ours at Whole Foods) and start cooking! We loved these hot off the waffle iron with just a dusting of powdered sugar, but a drizzle of nutella is also a fabulous addition. There’s nothing like these yeasted, decadent waffles…going back to regular waffles is going to be a downgrade! All waffles should have melted, caramelized, crunchy sugar in them.

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P.S. Just a warning that caramelized/burnt sugar will inevitably end up stuck to your waffle iron. That’s ok…sugar is dissolved by water, so with enough elbow grease you’ll have a clean waffle iron again 🙂 It’s worth it!

Liège Waffles

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 16 waffles

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
2 tablespoons raw sugar, brown sugar or honey (we used brown sugar)
1 packet (7 grams or 2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 large eggs, at room temperature (running them briefly under warm water does the trick!)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 2/3 cups (460 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
14 tablespoons (200 grams or 7 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups pearl sugar

Directions:

Warm milk and water together to lukewarm approximately 110-116 degrees F, and place in the bottom of a large mixer bowl. Add sugar and yeast and combine. Set aside for 5 minutes until the yeast starts to foam.

Whisk in eggs and vanilla, then stir in all but 1 cup flour using a spoon or the dough hook of a stand mixer. Add the salt and combine. Using the dough hook of a stand mixer, add the butter, a spoonful at a time, thoroughly mixing in each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed before adding the next until all of the butter has been added. Add remaining flour and knead with dough hook on low speed for 5 minutes, or until glossy.

Now, the dough has to rise! Smitten Kitchen noted 2 ways to do this (we followed the fridge first method):

For room temperature first, cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 2 hours until the dough doubles. Stir with a spoon or spatula to deflate, re-cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge overnight, or up to 24 hours.

For fridge first, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge overnight, or up to 24 hours. The dough will not look fully doubled when you take it out. Then, bring the dough back to room temperature for 1 hour, stir to deflate, and let rise again for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Next, knead in the pearl sugar. Divide dough into 16 pieces.

Heat your waffle iron over medium heat. Greasing it shouldn’t be necessary if your waffle iron is nonstick. Place the first ball of waffle dough on grid and cook according to waffle maker’s instructions. Cook until bronzed and caramelized, which will take 3-5 minutes, and then carefully transfer with tongs or a fork to a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining balls of dough, adjusting temperature of waffle iron as needed to get the color you want.

Keep waffles warm in a 200 degree oven if you plan to eat them immediately, while you cook the remaining waffles. The waffles will harden as they cool because of the melted sugar, so these are best served warm! Enjoy!

 

 

 

Zucchini, Corn, and Poblano Tacos with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

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One of our favorite meals ever! 

We’re not vegetarian, but we have a lot of fun cooking vegetable-based meals for our family. We lucked out because our parents and 2/4 brothers eat everything we make, and the boys don’t complain about having meat-free dinners. For us, one of our favorite parts about cooking vegetarian is the creativity involved. Take a look at these tacos, for example!  They’re pure genius. Zucchini in tacos might sound a bit strange, but somehow it all just works. Perfectly spicy, a little bit creamy, and filled with crisp-tender veggies. There’s something about them that’s completely addictive, and if there’s anything that we’ve blogged about that you should try, we’d recommend these!

An awesome accompaniment to the tacos was roasted tomatillo salsa. We grabbed enough tomatillos at a farmer’s market to try two different recipes, and this one emerged as the favorite! Roasting the veggies makes the depth of flavor unbeatable. The recipe calls for cooking the veggies in a saucepan, but we’d like to try popping them under the broiler next time (minus the garlic) to see if we can streamline things a bit.

Zucchini, Corn, and Poblano Tacos

Recipe from More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless via Annie’s Eats

Serves about 6

Ingredients:

4 poblano chiles

3 tbsp. olive oil (divided)

1 large yellow onion, in 1/4-inch thick slices

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

3/4 cup Mexican crema, sour cream, heavy cream, or even Greek yogurt

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 lb. zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 cup corn kernels (fresh is best, but you can use frozen!)

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Crumbled cotija cheese and sliced avocado, for serving

Warmed flour tortillas, for serving

Directions: 

Preheat the broiler, and set the rack about 6 inches away from the top of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil and broil the poblanos, flipping occasionally, until blackened on all sides. Remove from the oven and wrap with foil for about 15 minutes. Once cool, peel the skin from the peppers and slice into cubes. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Cook the onion, stirring every so often, until browned but still crisp-tender. Add the garlic and oregano, and cook until fragrant. Add the poblanos and the crema/sour cream. Stir to combine.

In another skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini , and cook, stirring frequently until the zucchini is browned. Add the corn and cook until the corn is well-browned. Stir in the poblano-onion mixture, and then add the cilantro once removed from the heat.

Serve in tortillas with plenty of cotija and avocado slices. Enjoy!

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Recipe from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless via Pink Parsley

Ingredients:

8 ounces tomatillos, husked and washed (about 4-5)

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

1 jalapeño

1/3 cup loosely packed cilantro

1/2 small white onion, chopped

Juice of 1/2 a lime

Salt to taste

Directions:

Heat a nonstick skillet, and add the tomatillos, jalapeño, and garlic in a single layer. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the tomatillos are well-browned and soft, and flip the veggies. Cook until the other side has browned as well.

Remove the tomatillos and garlic and put into the bowl of a food processor. Continue to cook the jalapeño until it’s blackened on all sides. Once it cools a bit, remove the blackened skin and removed ribs and seeds. Roughly chop  and add to the food processor.

Add the onions, cilantro, and lime juice to the food processor and pulse until a coarse puree. Add salt to taste. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!