I’m not sure this one quite counts as “weekend food prep,” but I made cupcakes for my brother-in-law’s birthday, and they were so wonderful and luscious, I had to share.
First things first, I did not create the chocolate cake recipe myself. I followed the directions from this video on youtube from America’s Test Kitchen for chocolate sheet cake. They have some of the most wonderful recipes for baked goods I have found over the years.
Chocolate Sheet Cake Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup milk
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
I made the recipe as described, other than baking it into 24 standard cupcakes instead of a sheet cake. Their advice to slightly under-bake is spot on, and for my cupcakes, that meant 21-23 minutes in the 325oF oven.
Once you have some lovely chocolate cupcakes and they have cooled completely, you can make the frosting. The key to the rich flavor of this frosting is the use of some cream cheese. To me, it doesn’t read as a cream cheese frosting, just rich and a bit tangy. It’s a lovely balance to the sweet powdered-sugar based icing.
Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
one. Whip together with the paddle attachment of the mixing bowl until fully combined:
¾ cup creamy peanut butter (I used shelf-stable natural peanut butter for this so it wouldn’t separate)
¼ cup butter (softened, I use salted butter, you might want to add a dash of salt if you use unsalted butter)
4 oz (½ block) cold cream cheese
two. Slowly drizzle in, while the mixer is running: ½ cup heavy whipping cream and 2 tsp vanilla extract.
Whip until fluffy, a few minutes.
three. Add ½ cup at a time up to 5 cups powdered sugar until the frosting holds its shape but isn’t too stiff.
four. After frosting the cupcakes, place them in the refrigerator until set.
one. Melt together in a microwave-safe bowl:
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 Tbs shortening
two. When the melted chocolate has cooled a bit, dip the frosted cupcakes into the chocolate until covered. Sprinkle with birthday sprinkles, if desired.
These need to be stored in the fridge, since there’s so much cream cheese and whipping cream in the frosting. I recommend letting them come to temperature before enjoying, but they’re still pretty great when cold. If you’ve been following me for a while, you KNOW I have the leftovers sitting in my freezer (right next to the shortcake), so when I decide it’s time for a cupcake, they are available for me.
If you struggle with having rich desserts around, there are lots of ways to include them in your life without overeating and making yourself sick to your stomach and while still working towards your goals. I’m no expert, but for me, what has worked has been genuinely and truly being ok with (or at least neutral about and shame-free) eating these kinds of foods sometimes. I like to make them when I know I will be able to share with lots of other people, so there won’t be an entire recipe available. And I do store the leftovers in the freezer, as it creates a small barrier to mindlessly eating them, so I only eat one when I’m making a choice to do so, not just because it’s there. I did not get to this mindset just by deciding I wanted to be there. It required learning a lot about myself, trial and error, and going through some periods of eating with abandon, to remove the feeling of restriction associated with eating desserts. I’m proud to say that now I feel like I’m in a really good place, and delicious desserts are a part of my life in a balanced and healthy way. I hope you can find a balance that works for you, too!
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