Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking

February 1, 2012

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Layered Cupcakes

Filed under: cupcakes, dessert, peanut butter — Tags: , , — Emily @ 3:04 pm

Awhile back we had some friends over for an impromptu dinner. We all pooled groceries that we had lying around the house and attempted to make something delicious at the last minute WITHOUT having to go to the store. It was really fun—and the end results were delicious. For dinner we made some rigatoni pasta with artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, chicken and a Parmesan/mozzarella cream sauce. We also had toasted bread with garlic-infused olive oil and Parmesan cheese on top. Delicious. For dessert, I found a box of chocolate cake mix and we improvised this recipe from a recipe found on They were quite possibly the best cupcakes I have ever had–so I definitely wanted to record the recipe!

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Layered Cupcakes

1 box chocolate cake mix, plus ingredients necessary to make the mix (eggs, oil and water)

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup peanut butter chips

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place paper baking cups into regular-size muffin cups.

2. Mix cake mix according to package instructions.

3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add powdered sugar; beat until creamy.

4. Spoon 1 level tablespoon chocolate batter into each cup; evenly spread 1 level tablespoon peanut butter filling on top. Repeat layers. Sprinkle with peanut butter chips and chocolate chips.

5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool in pan 15 minutes. Remove from pan to cooling rack; cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or cool.

Source: Improvised from recipe found on


November 20, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Filed under: bars, dessert — Emily @ 3:52 pm

These pumpkin pie bars are amazing! If you like pumpkin at all, you need to make this recipe. It hasn’t really felt like pumpkin-season here in Southern California (it’s still mainly t-shirt weather), but seeing as it is almost Thanksgiving, I decided to just go ahead and make something with pumpkin! I definitely chose a great recipe to make!

Pumpkin Pie Bars

1-1/3 cups flour

3/4 cup  granulated sugar, divided

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup  (1-1/2 sticks) cold butter
1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats, uncooked
1/2 cup  chopped walnuts
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
3   eggs
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 Tbsp.  pumpkin pie spice**
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons bourbon (optional)
a handful of butterscotch or chocolate chips for sprinkling on top (optional)
Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 13×9-inch pan with foil–make sure ends of foil extend over sides. Grease the foil with butter.
Mix flour, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbles.  Stir in oats and nuts.  Reserve 1 cup of oat mixture. Press remaining onto bottom of prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes.
Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar, eggs, vanilla, bourbon, pumpkin and spice with mixer until well blended. Pour over crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture and a handful of butterscotch or chocolate chips (if desired).
Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Use foil to transfer from pan to wire rack and cool completely.

**Substitution for pumpkin pie spice: 1 tsp. each of ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and allspice

Source: Joy the Baker

November 17, 2009

Pumpkin Dip

Filed under: dessert, make ahead — Emily @ 3:44 pm

I’ve seen this recipe for pumpkin dip for many years now, but for some reason I’ve always put off making it. It just didn’t sound like it would be very good. Boy was I wrong! I’m kicking myself for not making this years ago. It is SO good—and incredibly easy. It has become my go to recipe for the Fall.

Pumpkin Dip

12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin (canned)
4 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Beat together cream cheese and brown sugar until well blended. Add pumpkin, syrup and cinnamon; beat until smooth.  Keep refrigerated and serve with apples, gingersnaps, vanilla wafers, and graham crackers.

Source: Pennies on a Platter

September 14, 2009

Mel’s Peanut Butter Layered Dessert

Filed under: dessert, peanut butter — Emily @ 8:13 am

I had this dessert a few weeks ago at a reunion for our team that went to the Dominican Republic in July. My friend and co-worker Melissa made this dessert and it was so delicious! And incredibly easy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t photograph well, but you get the idea. I’ve made desserts similar to this before, but never exactly the same combo. It definitely works. I served this at a picnic recently and there were probably 20 different dessert choices—this was the only one that was gone at the end of the night.

Mel’s Peanut Butter Layered Dessert

1st layer:

1 package oreo cookies (crushed)–I used the food processor

3/4 stick butter (melted)

Mix together and press into a 9×13 inch pan

2nd layer:

3/4 cup peanut butter

1 cup powdered sugar

8 oz. cream cheese

8 oz. cool whip

Mix all these ingredients together (I used a stand mixer and made sure they were all softened) and put on top of the oreo crust.

3rd layer:

1 large package instant chocolate pudding mix

2 cups milk

Mix together and let sit for a minute to harden. Put this layer on top of the last one.

4th layer:

8 oz. cool whip

Top with this and then add crushed candy bars. I used Butterfingers in this recipe but you can also use Reese’s, Snickers, Heath bars—anything that sounds good to you!

Source: my friend Melissa

September 9, 2009

Moist Banana Cake

Filed under: cake, dessert — Emily @ 8:15 am

My parents have a lake house in Michigan (about 2 hours from Chicago, where they live). There are only 22 homes in the gated community, so everyone is very close. My mom has a little 8-year-old boy, J.P, and his little brothers who just adore her. They actually cook together frequently. Once he and his little brother were invited to have dinner and a movie at my mom’s house. They showed up with collared shirts, slicked back hair and flowers for her. How cute is that? This cake is a recipe from their grandmother. The only modification that I made was to add cream cheese to the frosting–which was definitely a delicious addition! Excuse the picture–I had to take it in a hurry before the hoards descended on it!

Moist Banana Cake

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup banana pulp

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups cake flour (or 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour)

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter. Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs one at a time. Add banana pulp and mix until combined. Dissolve baking soda in water and add to sour cream. Sift baking powder with flour and add alternatively with sour cream mixture.

Bake in a 9×13-inch pan for 35 minutes or until dark.


1 cup milk

1/4 cup flour

1 stick butter

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 ounces cream cheese

Combine milk and flour and cook until it boils. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool.

Cream butter with sifted powdered sugar. Add vanilla and mix until combined. Finally, add cooked milk mixture with the cream cheese and beat until smooth.

Source: a family friend

Mom and 4-year-old Kellen

August 19, 2009

Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Filed under: cookies, dessert — Emily @ 2:25 am

I got this recipe from one of my best friends, Elise, who lives in Nashville. I think it is originally from Martha Stewart. They are excellent–and very easy. The ingredients consist of things that most people would have in their pantry. An extra special treat—make sandwiches with two cookies and a scoop of premium ice cream….yum!

Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened, high quality Dutch)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (unsalted, soft)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter—yep, another one

1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

Put 1 stick of butter and sugar into a mixing bowl with paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high until pale and fluffy. Mix in the second stick of butter. Add egg and vanilla and mix until creamy. Reduce speed to low. Add flour and mix until just combined.

Use 2 1/2-inch ice cream or cookie scoop and drop batter onto cookie sheet.

Bake 18-20 minutes.

August 17, 2009

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Filed under: cupcakes, dessert, Uncategorized — Emily @ 2:20 am

This is a recipe that my mom always used to make for us as kids for after school snacks. I have such fond memories of these cupcakes—they are so delicious! And very easy to make. I use cupcake mix to make it a little quicker, but you could certainly do everything from scratch.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

1 box chocolate cake mix–plus whatever ingredients necessary to make cupcakes from box (eggs, oil, water, etc…)

8 oz. cream cheese

1/3 cup sugar

dash of salt

1 egg

1 cup chocolate chips

Mix cupcakes as directed on box until time to fill cups.

Mix together cream cheese, sugar, salt, egg, and chocolate chips.

Fill cupcake tins half full. Add 1 spoonful of cream cheese mix into cups.

Bake as directed on box.

August 15, 2009

Brownie Trifle

Filed under: dessert — Emily @ 8:43 pm

This is a really easy dessert. It is delicious and looks festive to bring to a party. And kids will love it too!

Brownie Trifle

1 package fudge brownie mix

6 toffee bars, crushed

2 cartons (8 oz. each) frozen whipped topping

1 small box chocolate instant pudding

1 cup pecans, toasted

Prepare and bake the brownie mix according to package. Prepare chocolate pudding mix; cool and mix with 8 ounces whipped topping. Crumbled brownies, divide into 3 portions and place one portion on bottom of trifle bowl (or another large bowl). Then add 1/3 of chocolate mix, 1/3 of whipped topping, 2 crushed toffee bars, and 1/3 cup toasted pecans. Repeat layers two more times. Cover and chill for several hours before serving.

Source: a family friend

October 23, 2008

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

Filed under: breakfast, dessert — Emily @ 2:23 am

Another recipe from Annie’s blog that I have loved!! These were delicious—and very easy to whip up with things I already had in the pantry. These make a great breakfast….yum! And can you ask for a better combo—peanut butter and chocolate chips? I think not. Make sure you have plenty of milk on hand.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins


2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

2/3 cup brown sugar

6 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled

½ cup peanut butter

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

¾ cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375°. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, peanut butter, eggs and milk until smooth. Add in the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter evenly between prepared muffin tins, filling each to the top.

Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Annie’s Eats

October 2, 2008

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Filed under: dessert — Emily @ 2:18 am

Another one of my friend Nikki‘s recipe. I remember her telling me last Fall how much her husband, Ben, loves these pumpkin bars. My pumpkin experience had been limited to pie and bread, so I decided to try this. It was definitely a hit! My husband also loves it—the cake part is really moist and fluffy, and the cream cheese frosting is heavenly! You must eat these warm—so nuke it for a second when eating leftovers. I did not have the pan listed in this recipe, so I used a 9×9 brownie pan and it worked just fine.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, beaten
1- 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 cup cooking oil
1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
5 3/4 to 6 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
In a large bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the eggs, pumpkin, and oil until combined. Spread in an ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking pan (or 9×9 pan).

Bake in a 350 oven for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 2 hours on a wire rack.

For the frosting:

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Gradually beat in additional powdered sugar to reach spreading consistency. This frosts tops and sides of two 8- or 9-inch layers. (Halve the recipes to frost a 13x9x2-inch cake.) Cover and store frosted cake in the refrigerator.

**Can also substitute one 15-oz jar of applesauce for the pumpkin if wanting to make Applesauce Bars. (Have not tried this yet)

Source: Pennies on a Platter

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