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Valentine’s Day Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the UK it always seems like we’re a bit cheated when it comes to fun baking ingredients. Whenever I make a trip back to Canada or the US I always go a bit mad by chucking every type of chocolate chip, different flavoured Oreo cookie, and seasonal candy in my shopping cart so I can bring them all back to the UK to restock my baking shelf.  


I’ve brought some pretty cool chocolate chips back from my overseas travels including milk & white chocolate swirls, green mint chips, mini Reese’s Pieces, lemon chips, etc.  You get the picture…. they have LOTS to choose from.  But there’s one chocolate chip I’ve never been able to find – PINK ones!  And to be honest, I hadn’t even thought of pink chocolate chips until a couple of years ago when I noticed that one of the top search terms that people used to get to my blog was “pink chocolate chips”.  So it was really all of you guys who gave me the idea for my next project.  


After scouring the internet for a mainstream brand of pink chocolate chips, I couldn’t find anything.  The only thing I could think of even remotely similar were the coloured candy melts I had sitting on my shelf.  But they were far too big to be used as chocolate chips in a cookie. I had two options – chop them up into little pieces, or melt them and make my own pink chocolate chips.

Obviously I choose to make my own!  And it was so easy!  Not only did I make my own pink chocolate chips, but I also made red ones as well as a few other colours which will be revealed in a future post. 

Making your own chocolate chips is so easy!  Follow my directions below, and you’ll soon be able to make chocolate chip cookies with chips in every shade of the rainbow!  

How to Make Your Own Coloured Chocolate Chips

Materials:


Candy Melts
Disposable Piping Bag
Silicone Baking Mat
Food Colouring, optional

Directions: 

1. Start off by melting some candy melts in your colour of choice over a double boiler.  If you don’t have the exact colour you want, then you can use some white melts and tint them whatever colour you choose using a gel / paste / powder colouring.   (I tinted some of mine this way, and they turned out perfectly fine). 

2.  Snip off the tip of a disposable piping bag (make sure not to snip too much off, otherwise you’re chips will be too big).  Transfer the melted candy melts into your piping bag.  

3.  Hold your piping bag at a 90 degree angle, and gently pipe a dollop of the melted candy melt onto your silicone baking mat.  To make a perfect little coloured chip you’ll need keep your piping bag pointed straight down towards the mat, and keep the pressure even until a blob starts to form.  Then gently pull up, and make a little flicking motion at the end to create the little “drip” top.  Repeat until you’ve finished piping all your coloured chips. Allow the chips to set for at least half an hour before removing them from the silicone mat.  I found that the easiest way to remove all my chips form the mat was to slide an offset spatula under them.


I used a combination of the pink and red chips that I made myself, along with some leftover white & milk chocolate chips I had from a previous trip to the states to make some extra special cookies for my Valentine.  

I made his favourite double chocolate chip cookies, but switched up the regular chocolate chips for my pretty homemade Valentine’s day ones.  


Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies    

Ingredients:  

1 Cup (227g) Butter, softened  
1 1/2 Cups (337g) Sugar 
2 Eggs 
2 tsp Vanilla Extract 
2 Cups (250g) Flour 
2/3 Cup (65g) Cocoa Powder 
3/4 tsp Baking Soda 
1/4 tsp Salt 
1/2 Cup Pink Chocolate Chips 
1/2 Cup Red Chocolate Chips 
1/2 Cup White Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips

Directions:  

1.  Pre-heat oven to 350ºF (175ºC).  Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, and set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.    

2.  Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined.  Add in all of the coloured and chocolate chips and stir until they’re combined throughout.  Drop the cookie dough by spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.

3.  Bake for 8-10 minutes depending on your oven.  The cookies should still be slightly soft in the middle, but not liquidy or undercooked.   Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for approximately 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  


These cookies have been, and likely always will be my favourite cookie.  I made this batch for my special Valentine who’s usually a health nut, but these are also his favourite cookie so he ended up eating 5 in one night!  They’re also the same cookie I used to make my Quadruple Chocolate Lindt Stuffed Cookies, which are even more decadent with the added chocolate pillow inside!

Gourmet S’mores

The weather here in the UK has been positively dismal.  Having just returned to soggy ol’ England from holiday in Toronto where the weather was 38°C (100°F) has only reinforced the fact that our summer so far has been absolutely crappy. 
It was so nice to get away and spend some time in a tropical climate – even if it was on the beaches and streets of Toronto, and not the Caribbean.  No visit back home to Canada is complete without some serious food (ingredient) shopping.  I always return to the UK with a suitcase full of North American treats that are hard to find in UK stores.  I made numerous visits to a fantastic bulk food shop where I stocked up on sprinkles and candy melts –  almost an entire carry on suitcase full!  I also visited Golda’s Kitchen – the most amazing cake supply store, thanks to a recommendation from Jodie Whitley via the Made With Pink Facebook page (I’ll be posting pictures of the cake shop and my holiday purchase on my facebook page shortly!)
A few days before I left on holiday I decided to perk myself up and get into the summer spirit by making some gourmet s’mores (sans campfire) using some of the ingredients I’d picked up from my previous holiday to the States. 
I’d had a few bags of speciality marshmallows and a couple boxes of graham crackers sitting on my baking shelf for the past few months,  I’d always intended to use them for gourmet s’mores, but I just never got around to it until now.  Plus I needed to make room for my new impending purchases!


I made four different s’more combinations:
Pina Colada:  Original graham crackers sandwiched together with white chocolate, pineapple & toasted coconut marshmallows, and a slice of freshly grilled pineapple. 
Chocolate Mint:  Chocolate graham crackers sandwiched together with mint chocolate marshmallows and dark mint chocolate.

Peanut Butter Cup:  Chocolate graham crackers sandwiched together with flat vanilla marshmallows and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.


Salted Caramel:  Chocolate graham crackers sandwiched together with caramel flavoured chocolate callets, flat vanilla marshmallows and a spoon full french salted butter caramel (not pictured).


Don’t think you can’t make these if you don’t live in the US, or don’t have the graham crackers or fancy marshmallows.  I’ve seen toasted coconut marshmallows in the UK before in several stores, and most recently I’ve been able to find them in the South African grocery stores near my home.  Regular marshmallows will work just as well in all of these s’mores, but my tip is to cut them in half so they lay flat instead of standing tall like they normally would.  All of the chocolate I used is from the UK, and is available in any major grocery store with the exception of the caramel callets which were a gift from my March Foodie Penpal who bought them in a local shop in Manchester.  If you don’t have the caramel callets or the salted butter caramel, then you can use the new flat Rolo chocolate bars that have just been launched for sale in the UK. 

As for the graham crackers, you can make your own at home by following the recipe here that I used to make my mini s’more pops a couple of years ago.
To make the s’mores you’ll need the above ingredients and an oven.  If the UK weather ever gets better then you can make them the way they were originally intended – with a camp fire.  But until then you’ll need to pre-heat your oven to 200°C (400°F).  


Assemble your s’mores together and wrap them in a square of aluminum foil (this will ensure your chocolate and marshmallow don’t melt and ooze out the sides of your graham crackers and into the oven.)  Place them in the hot oven for 3-5 minutes before removing.  Carefully unwrap each s’more and enjoy – just make sure you don’t burn yourself on the hot gooey marshmallow and chocolate!

I think that the salted caramel s’mores were my favourite out of the bunch.  They were so so soooo good, but also very rich.  I couldn’t have eaten more than one.  I also really liked the Pina Colada ones, they were so different from any other s’more I’d made.  I only got to try a small bite of the chocolate mint s’more before my husband gobbled it up.  As for the Reese’s s’more, while it was good, it wasn’t my favourite.  I’d still prefer to eat the Reese’s cup by it self.

What other unique flavours of s’mores have you made?  Do you have any other suggestions for me??

Ultimate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies


I have a confession to make.  I’m a hoarder.  No, not one of those crazy hoarders that you see on the show actual TV show Hoarders (no offence to anyone reading this who is!).  I’m a hoarder of baking stuff.  Mainly things like chocolate chips, M&M’s, Jello, Oreos, marshmallows, etc. Things that I see on my travels that I can’t get in the UK, so when I see them I kind of go into this panic buying mode as if I will never ever see them again.  So then I buy them.  And then they sit there.  On my baking shelf waiting to be used.  Sometimes for months and months.  


During a recent trip to the US a few weeks ago I found some super cute little mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – prefect for baking.  I had to have them!  Chocolate, peanut butter AND mini!  What’s not to love?  

When I got back home from my trip, I started unpacking my new purchases. I lined them up alongside the stuff I already had and started thinking about potential recipes.  I noticed a theme – mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, mini Reese’s pieces, peanut butter and chocolate chips, and a GIANT jar of peanut butter.  Cue light bulb moment!  I had been wanting to make some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for ages, but had never got around to it – until now.


I call these the Ultimate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookie.  They’re amazing.  I love them.  And I think you’ll love them too!  


UK residents!!! I realise that this recipe’s main ingredients are sourced from the US, but you can also get them here now in the UK at your local supermarket.  They won’t be the mini versions of the peanut butter cups and pieces, but YOU CAN BUY the regular and small sized versions of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and the regular sized Reese’s Pieces at Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda.  It’s fine to use regular sized peanut butter cups, just cut them into smaller chunks (approx 9 pieces).  If you’d prefer to use the mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that I used you can buy them here and you can also buy Reese’s peanut butter chips similar to the ones I used here.


Made With Pink’s Ultimate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 20 large cookies


Ingredients:  


2 1/2 Cups (310g) Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt

3/4 Cup (210g) Smooth Peanut Butter (not natural)
1/2 Cup (115g) Butter, softened
1 1/4 Cups (250g) Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup (55g) Castor Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Tbsp Milk
2 Tbsp Corn Syrup or Golden Syrup
2 tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Peanut Butter and/or Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
1/2 Cup Mini Reese’s Pieces


Instructions:  


1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).  In a small bow combine the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. 


2.  In a large bowl combine the peanut butter, butter, brown sugar and white sugar together.  Cream together with an electric mixer until smooth.  Beat in the eggs one by one.  Add in the milk, syrup and vanilla.  Stir the flour mixture from step 1 into the peanut butter mixture.  Fold in the peanut butter and chocolate chips, Reese’s Pieces and peanut butter cups.  Drop the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet by 1/4 cup fulls and flatten slightly.  


3.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are just slightly golden.  Leave the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes to firm up before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely. 


Go Ahead. I Dare You!

I think by now it’s pretty clear that I like to bake.  I’m always looking for new and interesting things to bake, and as I’ve mentioned before I’ve got a zillion things on my “To Bake”  list, so trying to decide on what to bake can be hard.  For those of you who enjoy reading food and baking blogs you may have come across something called the Daring Bakers Challenge.  I can’t quite remember when I first became aware of the Daring Bakers Challenges, but it was quite a while ago.  And for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the concept is simple.  Every participant has to bake the exact same thing using the exact same recipe that’s been supplied to them.  There is a bit of freedom on how you want your finished product to look, but you do have to follow the recipe exactly – unless otherwise stated.  I’d been wanting to participate in a Daring Bakers Challenge for quite a while, but never got around to registering.  You see, the Daring Bakers are like a secret society – you have to apply to become a challenge member, and new members are only accepted once a month.  To be a Daring Baker, you also have to be good at keeping secrets.  The Top Secret recipe is supplied to each baker at the beginning of the month.  Bakers are then required to make the recipe and put their own personal twist on it before posting it on their blogs on the 27th of each month.  But NOT any earlier, otherwise they’d ruin the surprise and the challenge for all the readers.   
So what day is today?  The 27th!  Umm, – ok it’s actually February 4th.  Once again, our computer hasn’t really been working much lately, and was holding my photos hostage until last night. 
This is my first Daring Bakers Challenge – well December was actually, but I was so busy with dinner parties and events that month that I just couldn’t fit in the required Daring Bakers Christmas Stollen that we were all challenged to make that month.  I had to pass, so January now becomes my first official Daring Bakers Challenge month. 
And what a challenge it was!  Don’t get me wrong, the actual dessert we were required to make wasn’t that challenging at all.  In fact, I was really surprised with how easy it was to bake such a beautifully impressive dessert.  I was thrilled with the selection of January’s challenge, and will definitely be making it again. 
The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog Accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert. 
A Biscuit Joconde Imprime is actually a thin long piece of patterned spongy cake that’s wrapped around a variety of fillings called “Entrements”. I’d seen cakes like this before (see the picture above) when I was in the pastry shops in Paris.  I always thought of them as more of a summer thing.  They were beautiful and had lovely mousse fillings and the top of the cake was often covered in delicious looking fruit.  Since it’s freezing cold here right now, I wanted something a little bit richer and more indulgent than a fruit filling.  I also had a whole whack load of things in my pantry I wanted to use up, so this was my perfect chance. 
I decided to make a red heart pattern in my Biscuit Joconde, and did this by making the batter according to the instructions and then tinting it red.  I used a #4 Wilton tip to pipe the heart pattern – which I very easily created in power point, printed off and then placed underneath my baking paper / silicone mat.  In order to ensure the pattern stays exactly as I piped it, I had to put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes.  During this time I created the rest of the Biscuit Joconde batter, and then poured it directly over top of the frozen heart pattern.  Pop it on the oven, and watch it carefully!  My sponge only took 7 minutes to bake – not the recommended 12 mins.  Unfortunately my first Biscuit Joconde stuck to the parchment paper I had used, so when I peeled the paper off, a very fine top layer of the cake was removed.  It was too bad, because I was really pleased with the way my first batch turned out – it was perfect!  I had plenty of red batter left so I piped the hearts again, but this time on a silicone baking mat which worked much better, but unfortunately it left my hearts with some little air bubbles in them.   
After my Biscuit Joconde was cooled I cut it to my desired height and length, and lined the edges of my pan with the patterned sponge.  Then I cut the remaining Biscuit Joconde into pieces so it would fit perfectly into the base of the pan, lining the bottom.  *I used a smaller round cake pan with a false bottom that allowed for my cake to come out of the pan very easily.  A spring form pan will also work. 
After I’d lined the pan it was time to fill it with the Entremets!  As I mentioned before, I had a ton of things in my pantry that I needed to use up including a few boxed mixes I brought home from my last trip to the States.  
For my bottom layer I decided on a peanut butter cup brownie chunk no bake cheese cake.  I had a boxed Duncan Hines Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Brownie mix I needed to use up, so I baked that and then chopped a few square of the brownies into little chunks and folded it into my no bake cheesecake mixture and then poured it in to the bottom of my Biscuit Joconde.  I put it in the fridge to firm up a bit while I made my next layer – a really simple chocolate mousse.  I totally cheated with this chocolate mousse – all it was was a 1/2 a package of Chocolate Fudge Jello Pudding, and about 3/4 of the liquid that was required for it.  I used whipping cream for 2/3 of the liquid, and chocolate milk for the other 1/3.  Not using the recommended amount of milk/liquid allowed my pudding mousse layer to be firm enough that I could cut it with a knife and not have it run once it had set.  I also brought the Jello pudding back from the States, because as far as I know, there is nothing remotely similar here.  The top layer was really simple, but really delicious.  It’s also something I’ve used for cake fillings in the past, and you can make it no matter what country your in.  It was an Oreo Cookie Chocolate Whipped Cream layer.  All that you need to do to make this is whip up some cream (I used double cream) together with 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, and once whipped fold in some crushed Oreo Cookies.  The Oreo cookies will absorb some of the moisture in the cream making it stiff enough that you can cut through it once set.   
After I’d made and poured in all of my layers I left my Biscuit Joconde in the fridge over night for everything to set.  The next day I ended up with one of the most delicious cakes I think I’d ever made!  The fillings were all amazing, and worked very well together. They were so light and fluffy – and easy to make too! 
Below are the full instructions for the Biscuit Joconde that all Daring Bakers were provided with (I’ve added a few notes in grey), followed by my own Entremet filling recipes. 
*I’d recommend making the Décor Paste first, and then making the Joconde Sponge batter, otherwise it will be sitting around for at least half an hour while you pipe and freeze your design. 
Equipment Required (suggested):  
• Silpat
• ½ baking sheets or a 13” x 18” jelly roll sheet (rimmed baking sheet)
• Mixer (optional)
• Bowls
• Knives
• Offset spatula
• Regular spatula
• Pastry comb (optional)
• Rulers
• Spring form pan
• Cling wrap
• Parchment paper
• Gel, paste or liquid food coloring (optional) 
Joconde Sponge

YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

Ingredients:

¾ cup/ 180 ml/ 3oz/ 85g Almond Flour/Meal – *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 150 ml/ 2? oz/ 75g Confectioners’ (Icing) Sugar
¼ cup/ 60 ml/ 1 oz/ 25g Cake Flour *See notes below
3 Large Eggs – about 5? oz/ 150g
3 Large Egg Whites – about 3 oz/ 90g
2½ teaspoons/ 12½ ml/ ? oz/ 10g White Granulated Sugar or Superfine (Caster) Sugar
2 tablespoons/ 30 ml/ 1oz / 30g Unsalted Butter (melted)

*Note: Instructions on how to make cake flour can be found here 
* Make 2 cups of the cake flour – you’ll need 1/4 cup for the Joconde Sponge & 1¾ cup for the Décor Paste. 
Directions: 
1. In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.
2. Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
3. On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )
4. Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
5. Fold in melted butter.
6. Reserve batter to be used later.
Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste
YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan 
Décor Paste
 
*I halved the recipe below, and still ended up with LOADS left over.  If you were doing a larger pattern, then you may need the full recipe. 
Ingredients:

14 tablespoons/ 210ml/ 7oz/ 200g Unsalted Butter (softened)
1½ cups plus1½ tablespoons/ 385ml/ 7oz/ 200g Confectioners’ (Icing) Sugar
7 Large Egg Whites – about 7 oz / 200g
1¾ cup/ 420ml/ 7¾ oz/ 220g Cake Flour
Food coloring gel, paste or liquid  
COCOA Décor Paste Variation: Reduce cake flour to 6 oz / 170g. Add 2 oz/ 60 g cocoa powder. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture. 
Directions:  
1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)
2. Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.
3. Fold in sifted flour.
4. Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation 
Preparing the Joconde- How to make the pattern:  
1. Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan.
2. Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one.
3. Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes
4. Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.
5. Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.
6. Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.
7. Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)

To prepare the mold for the Entremets I’d suggest using a piece of clear plastic such as an overhead transfer (I used a clear sheet of plastic from the scrap book store) and cut it so it’s higher than your pan.  Line your pan with the plastic, and then begin lining it with your Joconde Sponge (which you will have cut whatever height you choose – traditionally the Entremet layer rises higher than the sponge), and line the bottom of the pan with the remaining sponge as I described at the beginning of my post.  Set aside. 

Entremet Layers

Brownie Chunk No Bake Cheese Cake Filling

Brownies of your choice, cut into small chunks.  I used about 3/4 cup of brownie chunks, but use your own judgement. 
16oz (455g) Cream Cheese (don’t use light, as it won’t work the same)
1/3 cup (75g) Granulated / Castor Sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) Whipping Cream or Double Cream
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract 
1. Mix the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla using an electric mixer until nice and smooth.
2. Whip the cream, and then fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture so it’s fully combined.  Fold gently though – you don’t want to loose all the air in the cream!
3. Very gently fold in your brownie chunks. 
4. Pour the cheesecake mixture into your Joconde Sponge, and put into the fridge to set for about 30 minutes before moving onto the next filling.   
Cheaters Jello Chocolate Mousse 
1 package of Jello pudding (I used Chocolate Fudge, but any flavour will do!)
1cup (250ml) Whipping Cream or Double Cream
1/2 cup (125ml) Chocolate (or regular milk if your not using a chocolate pudding) 
1. Dump the pudding mixture into a bowl together with the whipping cream.  Mix together using an electric whisk or mixer for about 1 minute.  The mixture will be very thick.  Now add in your milk and mix together for an additional minute or two.  The pudding mixture should be fairly thick.
2. Pour the pudding layer into your Joconde Sponge, on top of the cheesecake layer.  Pop it back in the fridge to set for 15 minutes while you make the 3rd filling. 
Oreo Cookie Chocolate Cream Filling 
11oz (300ml) Whipping Cream or Double Cream
2-3 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
2 Tbsp Icing Sugar
1 cup Chopped Oreos  
1. Pour the cream, icing sugar & cocoa into a bowl, and whip using an electric whisk.  Once the cream is whipped fold the chopped Oreos in.  If you think you’d like to add more Oreos, then go ahead.  Pour the Oreo Cream mixture into the Joconde Sponge, and that will form the final layer. The Oreos will absorb the moisture in the cream, making it stiff enough to cut through. 
*The final layer should be higher than the Joconde Sponge, so it’s important to use the clear plastic sheets I mentioned previously to keep the final layer in place while it firms up.  
When it comes time to un-mold your Joconde Sponge, carefully remove it from the pan by either opening up the sides of the spring form pad and lifting the round part up leaving the cake & pan base on the table.  If you used a pan like the one I used where the bottom can be removed by pushing up on it, then set the base on a tall glass and slowly lower the sides down, so the base and your cake are left sitting on the glass.  Next, carefully remove the plastic sheet from around the cakes edge – you may want to run a sharp knife around the edge to make sure it removes easily. 
My fillings started were quite thick when I poured them into my Joconde Sponge, so it didn’t end up with nice flat and smooth layers.  I’ve seen plenty of others done using mousses and other Entremet Layers that looked gorgeous because they were perfectly flat & smooth so you could clearly see where the layers stopped and started. 
So there ya go – that’s pretty much it.  I know this post and the recipe instructions for this cake were really long, but I promise you it’s a lot easier than it looks! I’m really looking forward to this months challenge – it’s something I’ve made before (but never posted) and I can guarantee you it’s delicious!

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

I love peanut butter.  I really do.  In fact most North Americans love it, but the British – well let’s just say they’ve got mixed feelings about it.  I’ll eat anything with peanut butter in it. Granola bars, sandwiches, ice cream, cookies, soups, noodles, chicken satay, anything – I love it all.  For me, peanut butter and chocolate is the ultimate combination, but this isn’t the case for a lot of my friends in the UK.  Upon moving here I discovered that peanut butter is more commonly associated with savoury dishes such as Pad Thai, and not with sweet things like it is in North America.  About a year ago I remember trying to convince a friend to try one of my peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes, but they wouldn’t even try one because they found the flavour combination far to strange and repulsive.  Well – if anyone reading this finds peanut butter and chocolate a repulsive combination (and if you weren’t already turned off by my previous post) I’m warning you – STOP reading this right now. There. I’ve warned you.
To show you how crazy Americans are about peanut butter, I took the first picture below at a Target store in Texas.  The second picture is of the peanut butter selection in a UK Tesco store. In America it’s all about variety.  I’ve found that American companies don’t usually remove items from their product lines, instead they’ll just add to them.  In the UK they’re more likely to remove a product and replace it with another one.  Unless that product is tea. If it’s tea, they’ll just go ahead and add another 10 flavours to the product line. 

American peanut butter selection: Smooth, crunchy, extra crunchy, honey roasted, reduced fat, natural, organic, omega 3, peanut butter & jam swirl, peanut butter & white chocolate, peanut butter & dark chocolate and peanut butter & banana.

  

UK peanut butter selection:  Smooth & crunchy.  If your lucky you’ll find natural, and maybe even organic. The store pictured above is a big one, so it stocks all varieties.  Chocolate and hazelnut spreads are more popular here.

When I lived in Canada Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were my favourite chocolate bar (even though they’re not really a chocolate bar at all).  Every time I passed the candy section of a store here in the UK I’d be on the look out for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  My search went on for over a year without any luck, so I just figured they weren’t available.  I was pleased to discover that I was wrong, and that they did actually exist.  I was just looking in the wrong place.  Well – actually I think I was looking in the right place, but some strange person in charge of super market planning decided to put them in the wrong place!  For some reason Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are kept in the cookie (biscuit) aisle at the grocery store.  Why?  I have no idea! These are not cookies.  I mean really? Who thinks they’re cookies?  Thankfully, my mind is now at ease knowing that I am able to indulge in a peanut butter cup whenever I want, and I no longer have to wait until I go back home to stock up on them.  I’ve even found a local shop that stocks Reese’s Pieces.  I doubt I’ll ever find one of my favourite North American cereals here in the UK though – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cereal.  Yes, that’s right!  North Americans put their candy bars in cereal form.  There’s no better way to start the day!  Good thing I still have a box of Reese’s cereal from my last trip to the US.  And look at the top right corner, the box even says it’s good for you!  “Nutritional Highlights” – it’s got vitamins and everything!  Ha!  Yeah right…
 
I was so ecstatic about my recent peanut butter cup discovery that they inspired my next cupcake.  A Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cupcake!  A rich chocolate cupcake with fluffy whipped peanut butter frosting and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup tucked inside.  Delicious!  I had originally intended on making these cupcakes for July’s Iron Cupcake London competition, but it was cancelled.  Luckily one of my fellow Iron Cupcake bakers decided that it would be nice to have a cupcake get together anyway.  Due to some last minute cancellations it was a small gathering, but very enjoyable none the less.  Kelly made some delicious coconut cupcakes that were dipped in pink and milk chocolate, Gem made some really good snickers cupcakes topped with rocky road, and Tamara made some yummy lemon and lime cupcakes.   I had a really nice time chatting about cupcakes with the girls, and at the end of the night we all swapped cupcakes.  We each went home with a nice selection, and since I was on the verge of a cupcake overdose I brought them all into work with me the next day where they were quickly gobbled up with rave reviews.   

Below are my Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup cupcakes.  I topped them off with peanut butter frosting and a chocolate peanut butter crunch. These are probably one of my favourite cupcakes, and they’re so easy to make.  
 
 Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

1 1/8 cups (255g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (55g) Cocoa
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (100g) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) milk, plus2 tbs milk
1/4 cup warm water
2 tbs brewed coffee
1/2 cup (125ml) melted butter
12 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (not the mini ones)

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC)
2.  Line a cupcake pan with 12 paper liners, and place a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup in the bottom of each paper liner.
3. In one bowl sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, brown sugar, and white sugar. Then whisk in the milk, coffee, and melted butter.
5. Add in the dry ingredients until well mixed.
6.Divide the batter evenly among 12 cupcake molds. Fill about three-quarters full.
7. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean.

For the frosting simply whip in some smooth (not natural) peanut butter into your regular buttercream icing and pipe on top of your cooled cupcakes.  The result is a moist and delicious chocolate cupcake with a peanut butter surprise at the bottom and a nice creamy peanut butter frosting on top.