Butterless Peanut Butter Cookies Save Friday

Friday as I was leaving work I thought, maybe someone wants to go out for drinks. But the moment passed and the office emptied and I was on my way home to an empty apartment. I sat on my bed for a while going through a list of things I could do and people I could call. There were plenty of options, but all involved getting up off of that bed, exerting the energy to make a connection, and then getting into my car and going somewhere. I even turned down free dinner and the best homemade margaritas ever at my parents’ house because I couldn’t be bothered to drive half an hour.

I made my go-to dinner when I’m home and lazy–pasta with shredded cheese and settled on the couch for a night of sloth. I flipped TV channels, alternating between Sex and the City reruns, Say Yes to the Dress (the obnoxious bridesmaids one), and–let’s reserve judgement here–Freaky Friday (the Lindsey Lohan/Jamie Lee Curtis one). And before you go clucking your tongue and shaking your head and pitying my sad taste in movies, I just need to say that I have an affection for movies when Lindsey Lohan was cute/pretty/likable.

Anyway. A couple of hours into this funfest I decided that I needed to make cookies and I needed to make them without butter. Because I didn’t have any. It turns out this is not an unusual endeavor because I had a few recipes to choose from. The end result wasn’t quite the same as a chewy cookie filled with butter but it tasted great dunked in milk.  I think it could have a stronger peanut butter flavor but overall, they’re pretty good for missing a major cooking ingredient and something I’d make again in a pinch. I might add oats to a normal peanut butter cookie recipe; I like the crunch they add.

My husband came home around 11:00 while I was watching DC Cupcakes Takes New York and I saw my night through his eyes and we went out to a bar for a few hours. Sure, it was the closest bar to our house, but it was better than the couch.

I followed The Curious Cook’s recipe, using 1/4 cup peanut oil and 1/4 cup vegetable oil. If you don’t use peanut oil, I’d up the amount of peanut butter.

Reece’s Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Don’t even try to tell me your sick of cupcakes. It’s not possible.

I had initially planned a cake and a cheese cake for the shower, both of which I was excited to make. The cheesecake was envisioned as orange scented with a thick layer of dark chocolate poured on top. The cake would have been a remake of Emma’s Birthday Cake, the Key Lime and Coconut, but instead of graham cracker cake, the pound cake I’m obsessed with and filled with lemon custard rather than lime.

However, Mother knows best. She said cupcakes would be easier to serve and display nicely and sure enough, she was right. I hate when that happens, mostly because it happens ALL THE TIME. I still have both of those cakes stuck in my head so please invite me over and ask me to bring dessert. I make a lovely dinner guest, I promise.

I used the Hershey’s recipe again and while it’s a great tasting recipe, I’m not crazy about the texture or the way it shapes up. It’s very spongy and sticky and rises straight up and then spreads out flat. In an attempt to create my own chocolate cake recipe, I followed the rules from this super helpful website and started experimenting. Note to self: do not experiment with the cupcakes you plan on giving your mother for her birthday. They came out dry and crumbly. Thankfully, filling them with vanilla marshmallow cream and topping with chocolate helps. Here’s one I made special for my Husband:

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Our wedding anniversary is next week but more interesting is that this week marks ten years from our first date. Fortunately, neither of us knew we were on a date because it involved a culinary disaster in which my future husband used a shot glass as a measuring cup, misjudged its size, and ended up turning Lipton Pasta Sides into soup.

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I am all over the place today. Let me try to bring it back around. Here is the tip I used for the Reece’s cupcakes, the Ateco 867. It’s a nice big one and makes a fantastic swirl, but doesn’t finish with a nice peak. How do we solve that? Stick half of a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup in the middle. Rule number one: if it doesn’t look good, cover it in frosting/sprinkles/coconut/candy.

This recipe combined Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake and my Peanut Butter Frosting. I slapped some melted chocolate on the tops of the cakes like I did with the Oreo, mostly because they spread too much and I ended up trimming the edges with my kitchen scissors. The chocolate covered up the rough edges. See Rule Number One.

Elvis Cupcakes

A few weeks ago I offered my baking services to Sylvie for her assistant’s upcoming birthday. Since said assistant is crazy ’bout Elvis, Sylvie had a great idea for Elvis-themed cupcakes: peanut butter and banana. (Apparently, the King was fond of PB&B sandwiches.) Of course there were an infinite (or, like, three or four) number of ways to attack: cake flavor, frosting flavor, filling, no filling—so many options. Sylvie thankfully narrowed it down to banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting, which was a fortunate pairing. I happen to have a fantastic, tried and true, peanut butter frosting recipe and I’d wanted to turn my banana cookies into cupcakes.

 

Is there a difference between banana cupcakes and banana muffins? Somehow I think of muffins as more dense, but I’m not sure what makes them that way. I couldn’t decide if what I had made was distinct in its cupcakeness, or if it was just a muffin in disguise. Can you think of a muffin that couldn’t be turned into a cupcake by adding frosting? I’m starting to think that there is a very thin line between breakfast and dessert.

 

Anyway, Sylvie did what Sylvie does: makes things pretty. She showed me the print out of Elvis heads that she planned on cutting out one by one to decorate the cupcakes. I told her she was crazy—me, the person who insisted that every corner of my wedding invitations, invitation inserts, programs and menus, every sharp paper edge be rounded. But the thought of hand-cutting those circles of Elvis gave me the shivers. Sylvie is dedicated to her craft.

 

And with reason! The cupcakes looked fantastic, as you can see from Sylvie’s gorgeous photos, and hopefully worth any hand cramps. The Elvis touch was appreciated by all, most of all the cupcake eater-of-honor.

Elvis Cupcakes

Makes around 24 cupcakes

For the cup cakes:

1.5 sticks butter (3/4 cup)

1 teaspoon vanilla 

2 eggs

½ cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

2 very ripe bananas

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

2 sticks butter

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup smooth peanut butter

2 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 350

In a mixer, cream together butter and vanilla until fluffy.

Add eggs and continue to beat well.

Add white and brown sugar until mixed in and then add banana until mixture is smooth.

In a small bowl, combine four, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add dry ingredients to the mixer and beat slowly until combined.

Pour batter into cupcake liners and bake for 18-20 minutes.

Cool.

Cream butter and vanilla for the frosting, adding peanut butter and mixing until smooth.

Add sugar and milk, if needed.

Frost your cooled cupcakes. Decorate with Elvis. Enjoy!

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Banana Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

I don’t know what to do about the internet anymore. It keeps reading my mind. I don’t even know if my thoughts are my own, or planted there by all of the websites, blogs, emails, and social media that I read. I tried to believe in the power of coincidence. But now this is bigger than coincidence. This is a full blown internet conspiracy. On Sunday, we had three over ripe bananas lingering in our fruit bowl, black spots turning darker and darker. I said to my husband, offhandedly, I think I’m going to my banana bread tomorrow.  The next day it was bananas everywhere! One blogger was looking for ideas besides bread for her old bananas. Another was discussing her drool-worthy banana French toast. What happened last week that none of us could get through all of our bananas?  

Monday night I made a last minute change to my banana resolution—I was in desperate need of dessert and dessert in a hurry means one thing for me: cookies. One bowl, no frosting, short cooking time, and you can eat them straight from the oven. I wasn’t looking to become the Mad Scientist, which is how my mother now refers to my cooking, so I quickly Googled “banana peanut butter cookies.” (Because peanut butter makes bananas even better, obviously.) I pulled up the first link and got to work.  

I have to admit, I was so hungry for these cookies that reading ahead was not an option. I already had a bowl of ingredients when I realized the recipe called for a slice of banana pressed into every cookie. While a great idea, that is not nearly enough banana for what I had in mind. I had THREE ROTTING BANANAS sitting on my counter, literally on top of 10 fresh bananas. One little slice per cookie was not going to cut it. I threw two of the three bananas (I had to exercise a small amount of propriety) into the Kitchen Aid and we were off. My one regret it that I had only about a third of a cup of peanut butter chips hanging out in my pantry. I would have loaded these suckers up with at least twice that amount if had I the means to do so.  

These cookies are definitely cakey rather than crispy or gooey, which is to say my husband found them lacking. For a man who never craves dessert and who considers a glass of chocolate milk to be a satisfying way to end his day, he can be a little annoying when it comes to my baking. I say that with love. And exasperation.  I once sent him to a bachelor party weekend with ridiculous Irish Car Bomb cupcakes and I suspect he would have been just as happy with a box of Entenmanns’. On the other hand,

Banana Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Adapted from Krissy’s Creations

Ingredients

1 stick butter

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 very ripe bananas

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup peanut butter chips, though I recommend more

Preheat oven to 350

Soften butter slightly in the microwave until it can be mixed easily. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a handheld electric mixer, combine butter and vanilla until fluffy. Add brown and white sugar and continue to mix until well combined. Add the egg and combine. Slice the banana into small segments and add to the bowl, continuing to mix until the banana is completely smooth.

In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Add the peanut butter chips and stir by hand with a spoon.

Scoop dough onto a cookie sheet—they’ll spread a little, but not too much. Bake for 15 minutes or until they start to turn a golden brown.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

When I was in school and in possession, though not ownership, of a car, I felt compelled to use it as often as possible, probably when I should have been home studying Spanish so Profesora wouldn’t suggest that perhaps I shouldn’t be in the Honors class… Anyway. After school my friends and I would find some way to waste the time before we were due back home. During one specific period of time, I can think of three distinct locations where we went over and over again: the coffee shop with the really cute waiter, the Taco Bell where we once held an Eat Off, or my friend’s kitchen where his mother would have the most forbidden of all forbidden fruits: Marshmallow Fluff. My mother wouldn’t buy cereal with a cartoon character on the front, forget about Fluff. But once a week, sometimes more, I could enjoy a post-school, pre-dinner Peanut Butter and Fluff sandwich. It was divine.

This is the story I meant to tell you on Monday to go along with the Peanut Butter and Fluff cupcakes, but I was still pumped about Girls’ Weekend and kind of forgot. I wish I had a misty-colored memories to go along with Peanut Butter and Jelly cupcakes, but I got nothing. What I DO have are delicious cupcakes. I loved the straight jelly in the middle, it gave the texture of the cake something extra. The frosting is creamy without being too thick and while the entire cupcake could have been too heavy, it’s actually fairly light and fluffy. I wish I could remember how many cupcakes this recipe made. I was fiddling around from the vanilla recipe I used for the fluff cupcakes and I know it was under a dozen. Maybe 8? Anyway, one of these days I’m going to give you a complete and user-friendly vanilla cupcake recipe. Any day now…

Oh, and also? Last week someone found my blog by Googling “phallic injector tool for cupcake.” This is what I love about the internet: bringing folks together, one obscene baking tool at a time.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

For the cake:

1 stick butter

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 cup sugar

1.5 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

2 eggs

1/3 cup milk

seedless jelly/preserves

Preheat oven to 350

Cream together the butter and vanilla until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to beat for another couple of minutes. In a small bowl, combine baking powder, salt, and flour with a whisk. Add flour bowl to the butter bowl and mix just until combined. Add the eggs and mix well. Then add the milk a little at a time.

Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake for 18-20 minutes or until your tester comes out clean.

When cupcakes are completely cool, fill with your seedless jelly of choice either with an injector tip or by cutting a small section from the middle.

For the frosting:

1 stick butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon milk

 Cream butter and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. Add peanut butter and mix until well combined. Add sugar and continue to mix. Add milk if frosting is too thick.

Peanut Butter Fluff Cupcakes

Gentlemen—I don’t know what it is exactly that you do when there are no women around, but there’s no way it’s as much fun as the quintessential Girls’ Weekend. I’ve decided that said Girls’ Weekend really boils down to three things:

Cheese: I consumed enough cheese on Saturday to feed a small country. Cheese dip, cream cheese, cream cheese in dip, cheese fries, risotto with cheese, the works. But cheese is versatile and pleases the masses and tastes soooo good when accompanied by…

Wine: My friends and I went through nine bottles. I blame the cheese and all of the…

Great conversation: What I love about my girls is that we’re all pretty different. None of us work in the same industry and we have a wide range of opinions of all matters of our lives. I’m fairly argumentative in general so it’s fantastic to be around strong-willed women who get into a screaming fight one minute and then dissolve into laughter the next. As a general rule, it’s important that you don’t take me too seriously and after thirteen years together these ladies know when I’m full of it.

If these three things don’t appeal to you, then I’m sure we can have fun at a football game or trying out a new restaurant, but you’re just not Girls’ Weekend material. Girls’ Weekend is a delicate balance of not talking with your mouth full while still getting a word in before the topic changes. I have two methods for this, the first being talking with my mouth full but my hand over my mouth which prevents everyone from viewing my food. The second is to try to remember all of the thoughts that are no longer relevant and to blurt them out all at once when there’s a lull in conversation (i.e. when everyone else is feeding their faces).

I decided to take Girls’ Weekend as an opportunity to try out two new cupcake flavor combos I’ve been rolling around in my head. I was sure not to even glimpse at Google because I wanted to take full credit for my idea and not have to be bitterly disappointed that someone else (or 1,000 someone else’s) already laid claim to it. The first (and less inventive) cupcake is Peanut Butter Fluff. I know that there are at least one hundred recipes out there for PBF cupcakes, but most involve peanut butter cake or frosting. I wanted to make it more sandwichy and went with a mild vanilla cupcake and fluff frosting with thin layer of peanut butter icing tucked in the middle. As for the second flavor? Come back Wednesday and we’ll discuss.

These treats were supposed to be desserts when we got home from dinner but between all that cheese, all that wine, and our very yummy dinner, we were stuffed. It’s fortunate that cupcakes make an excellent breakfast. What’s funny is that after talking non-stop all day and all night on Saturday, we managed to kill three or four more hours Sunday morning before it was time to leave my friend’s new house. Oh, that reminds me of a fourth contributor to a great weekend: friends with big houses!

Peanut Butter and Fluff Cupcakes–Makes 12 small cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

6 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 egg whites

1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, combine butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add sugar and mix until light and fluffy.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the butter mixture.

Add each of the egg whites, and beat well.

Add milk, 1/3 at a time, to the batter. Beat 1 to 2 minutes after each addition, until fluffy.

Fill your cupcake liners about halfway and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

For the Frosting:

1 stick butter

1 tablespoon Vanilla

1 7.5 oz jar of Marshmallow Fluff

1 cup powdered sugar

Cream butter and vanilla until smooth.

Add fluff and beat until combined.

Add powdered sugar and continue to beat.

For the Peanut Butter Icing:

¼ cup vanilla candy melts

¼ cup smooth peanut butter

Melt vanilla candy melts in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time until smooth.

Stir in peanut butter until combined.

Spread peanut butter mixture onto the tops of the cupcakes and put in the refrigerator for five minutes or until it starts to set. Then add the fluff frosting on top.

***If you don’t have the candy melts (I got mine at Michael’s) you can always melt ½ cup of peanut butter in the microwave or just use it straight from the jar.

Chocolate White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

I’m crazy about white chocolate. My mother, the “purist,” insists it shouldn’t be placed in the same category as chocolate, but I don’t really care what you call it—I love it. Love. My husband and I were in Florida over the long weekend visiting my Grandparents and we had lunch one day at the Cheesecake Factory. I’m well aware that we have no less than a million CCF’s in the Northeast, but I’m a fan.  We bought a few slices of cheesecake to bring home to Grandma and Grandpa for after the Giants’ game and I was given carte blanche on the flavors. Which meant one thing: white chocolate raspberry truffle. SO GOOD.  

I never knew this, but it’s so easy to make a batch of cookies in a short amount of time using whatever you happen to have around the kitchen. This is how I make dinner when it’s just me—frozen ravioli…bag of slightly wilted spinach…butter! We’ve got a meal! Of course, this is dependent on you actually having things like white chocolate chips around the kitchen.

 

I’ve appreciated in the past that I could make sugar cookies or peanut butter cookies without planning ahead, but I’ve never been the kind of person who had more involved ingredients (like chocolate chips) lying around. You know what I had around my kitchen when I came up with these chocolate white chocolate and peanut butter chip cookies? A glass container of previously melted chocolate chips which had hardened. A little less than half a bag of white chocolate chips. A little more than half a bag of peanut butter chips. Flour. Sugar. Vanilla—your usual baking staples. Super impressed with myself, I went into my cookie folder in my email and picked a chip-based cookie recipe to guide my proportions and twelve seventeen twenty-five an unknown amount of minutes later, they were done! (I might have had to reset the timer a few times…)

 

The problem, if you can even call it a problem, is that these came out super soft and until they cooled completely, they were so gooey you couldn’t pick them up. This didn’t stop us from having half a dozen before I decided to stick them back in the oven. And then we had a couple more.  Seriously, these are SO GOOD. You can taste both types of chips, including the smooth and rich white chocolate, as well as the chocolate in the foundation of the cookie. It’s like No Flavor Left Behind.

 

I originally had intentions of bringing these into work, but there are so few desserts that make my husband excited and he had stood in the kitchen with a glass of chocolate milk asking “are they done yet?” while I was trying to figure out if they were, in fact, done yet. So yeah, these are staying in the family. Which pretty much means I’ll end up eating most of them.

 

Chocolate White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chip Cookies, adapted from How Sweet It Is. Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoons baking soda

¼ baking powder

1 stick butter

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter morsels

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Melt butter and chocolate chips together in the microwave in 30 second intervals.

In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, white sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Add in the chocolate/butter mixture and mix well. 

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda and slowly add to the wet mixture, stirring until combined.

Add in white chocolate and peanut butter chips.

Place on a greased cookie sheet a few inches apart (they spread out) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, more if needed.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Oh man, we are in for a treat next week. I can’t even tell you how excited I am. Actually… I CAN tell you, and I will. I am SUPER excited that Sylvie Rosokoff has agreed to photograph my treats next week! (you can also access Sylvie at sylviethecamera.com) It started off with one item… and then I tried to think of how many things I can make this weekend to make the most of Sylvie’s kindness. Besides being my friend and colleague, Sylvie is a talented photographer with an admirable eye for the ordinary-made-extraordinary. I’m in love with Sylvie’s use of dimension, focus, and color. Needless to say, this will be huge for my little blog which has suffered from my terrible photographs. Like today’s. Which are all blurry.

I’m trying a few new things for the big ‘shoot. The main event I’d like to keep secret incase it’s a huge fail, but I’m going to be putting Lactaid ice cream head to head with coconut milk ice cream in preparation for Thanksgiving where we’ll need a non-dairy option to accompany my sister-in-law’s drool-worthy desserts. Whichever ice cream wins will be used for a Dairy Free Cinnamon ice cream experiment. I’m also going to attempt a more complicated David Lebovitz ice cream recipe so fingers crossed, but that will be too late for the photo shoot. My husband is a runner and found a recipe in Runner’s World for sweet potato muffins so I’m going to take a stab at them–shouldn’t be too hard (she says, most likely dooming the recipe to failure). Finally, a recipe for Caramel Apple Cider Cookies  was posted yesterday by The Girl Who Ate Everything and if you go look at the photos you’ll see why I want to make these asap!

So! Busy weekend. Good thing my only other plans are waiting for my new couch to be delivered, watching Jason Segal and Florence and the Machine on SNL, and having brunch with my favorite redhead. Don’t be jealous, this is my first free weekend in MONTHS and I’m going to enjoy the heck out of it.

Remember when I said I made a second batch of cupcakes for my trip down south last weekend? CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER. ‘Nuff said.

They were divine. The chocolate cake was as close as I could get to liking chocolate cake. (I’m sorry, but I’m a brownie/fudge/flourless chocolate girl. I need the rich, creamy texture. Chocolate cake will never be chocolatey enough for me.) But it was the peanut butter frosting that really made this worthy of repeat performances. It had a full flavor without being stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth peanut buttery. It was light and creamy.  If you like peanut butter, FIND A REASON TO MAKE THIS FROSTING.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Adapted from BrownEyed Baker

Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter

3/4 cup dark chocolate, broken up or in chip form

1/2 cup quality cocoa powder

3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

½ cup sour cream

1/4 cup freshly brewed coffee

Preheat oven to 350, line your cupcake pans

Melt butter and chocolate together in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until its glossy and smooth. Stir in cocoa powder

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.

In a mixer, combine eggs, sugar, vanilla. Add in cofee and chocolate and continue to mix. Slowly add in the dry ingredients just until combined, don’t over mix. Stir in sour cream until combined.

Fill your cupcakes about 2/3 of the way up the liner. Bake 20 minutes or until your tester comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Peanut Butter Frosting

From Brown Eyed Baker, originally from The Barefoot Contessa

Ingredients

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup peanut butter

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup heavy cream

Beat sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt together until creamy and well combined. Add the cream and continue to beat until the frosting is fluffy and delicious.