Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting (again)

These are some rich cupcakes.  They are a bit much for me, so I don't usually eat them; I just bake them for others.  Although, now that I think about it, I bet they go really well with a strong cup of black coffee. 

The cupcake recipe makes two dozen cupcakes, while the frosting makes about three cups.  I always forget that it's not quite enough frosting to do just one batch!  Or maybe I'm just heavy-handed with the frosting?  I can't help it,  it's good stuff!

Enjoy the recipe, it's an easy one, and I think the frosting is the best part!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes 
from America's Test Kitchen

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
  •  Microwave the butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder together, whisking often, until melted and smooth, about one to three minutes.  Let cool until just warm to the touch.
  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.
  • Whisk the eggs and vanilla together in a large bowl.  Slowly whisk the sugar until combined.  Whisk in the chocolate mixture.
  • Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture over the batter, then whisk.  Whisk in the sour cream.  Sift the remaining flour mixture over the batter and whisk completely.  The batter will be thick!
  • fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full.  Bake about 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs attached.  Rotate the pans halfway through baking.
  • Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for five minutes.  Remove from the pans and let cool completely before frosting.

Peanut Butter Frosting
from America's Test Kitchen

2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned or natural peanut butter)

Stir the cream, vanilla, and salt together until the salt dissolves.  Beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium-high until smooth, about 30 to 60 seconds.  Reduce the speed to medium-low, slowly add the confectioner's sugar and beat until smooth, about two to five minutes.  Beat in the cream mixture.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about four to eight minutes.  Beat one cup creamy peanut butter and sugar mixture.

To Finish Cupcakes
Frost cupcakes.  Cut Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures in half and top frosted cupcakes.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

In April I finally broiled something correctly, so I took a picture and posted it on Facebook.  The dish happened to be Real Simple's Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells recipe, and I guess it looked good because some of my friend's wanted the recipe.  I add prosciutto to mine because I am such the meatatarian, but this is supposed to be a vegetarian dish.  Of course this means I always have way too much stuffing leftover, but I just make a bigger dish and have more cheesy-prosciutto goodness.

My only caution to anyone making this is to be careful with the broiler.  Usually I am so scared to burn things I don't get the nice browning effect, but this time I just kept watching through the oven door.  Plus, this oven can broil on different temperatures (I don't think all ovens do this, but I'm not sure), so I had it on a lower temperature.

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
adapted from Real Simple 

20 jumbo pasta shells 
1 24-ounce jar marinara sauce
2 15-ounce containers ricotta
2 cups baby spinach, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 cup grated mozzarella
4 ounces prosciutto (optional)

  • Set an oven rack to the highest position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cook the pasta according to the package, drain and run under cold water.
  • Spread the marinara sauce in the bottom of a large broilerproof baking dish.
  • In a bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (and prosciutto if you're going my route).  Spoon the mixture into the shells and place them on top of the sauce.  Sprinkle with the mozzarella and bake until the shells are heated through, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Increase the heat to broil.  Broil the shells until the cheese begins to brown, 2 to 5 minutes.