Monday, October 29, 2012

Creamy Peanut Butter Squares

One of my old, favorite recipes.

Reading about the last time I made these, I forgot I like to use natural chunky peanut butter for these! I used creamy JIF this time.

I love when you get alittle piece of graham cracker that wasn't fully crushed. Yummy. You can recreate that by just using chunky peanut butter. 

You may want to sift the powdered sugar if you are making these for guests. I normally don't, but then you might see little clumps of sugar. Still tastes good, but your guests might be like, "what the heck is that!"

I've made variations to these over the years. Natural peanut butter or JIF, chunky or smooth peanut butter, one cup less powdered sugar, or one cup less graham cracker crumbs, dark, bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips : it doesn't matter. It all tastes good.

You can put these in the freezer for 30 minutes after making so they are ready sooner. Otherwise, keep in the refrigerator.

Also, you can melt the peanut butter and butter in the 8x8 glass dish and save a clean bowl.

Peanut Butter Squares

1/2 cup butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter 
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening

Place butter and peanut butter in a 2-quart glass bowl. Cover with a paper towel, and microwave at HIGH 1 ½ minutes. Stir in graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar.

Press into an 11 x 7 x 1 ½ inch OR an 8 x 8 inch baking dish.

Place chocolate and shortening in a 1-cup or 2-cup glass measuring cup. Microwave at medium (50% power) for 2 minutes. Stir well- the chocolate will melt. Spread over peanut butter mixture. Cover and chill until firm, about 45-60 minutes. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

A year ago, I thought I made these look really good. Looking back at it, I hope these look better. Hoping to see I can improve, even when I'm in a big hurry to get back to work. 

I made these again this year for UTSA MSA's bake sale. I saw some pictures and a video of their Islam Awareness week, awesome job!

I got these cupcake liners from Michael's. I thought they were perfect for fall.

Last year I made them about a teaspoon size. This year, I accidentally made them a tablespoon size. I was wondering why I made less whoopie pies.  

Trick to making super soft whoopie pies: chill the batter at least 8 hours, and then bake them the night before. Store in a container with a lid, and the next day they come out very moist. 

I lightly dusted them with powdered sugar, but they were so moist that the sugar disappeared in a minute.

Cream cheese icing is the best filling for pumpkin whoopie pies. I'm off to buy some more pumpkin puree. I'm making these again for Naseem's this Friday. :)

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Adapted from Martha Stewart

4 cups confectioners' sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons whipping cream

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled (or allow batter to chill overnight)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan. If possible, allow cookies to rest overnight in a plastic container with a lid to become moist.

Make the filling: Sift confectioner' sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. Gradually beat in cream. (Filling can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate; let stand at room temperature to soften before using.)

Assemble the whoopie pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cheesecake Factory Banana Cream Cheesecake

Hah! I have nailed the Cheesecake Factory Banana Cream Cheesecake. It's just as creamy as their's and the flavor is perfectly balanced with both banana and cream.

I have tried to replicate it before, but I ended up with a denser cheesecake. Still very good, but different.

It mostly has to do with the ratio of cream cheese to sweetened condensed milk, but it also helps to use Wilton bake even strips, which prevents the outer edges from over baking. I forgot to buy golden oreos for the crust, so I made my own, which paired with the banana and cream flavors wonderfully. 

By the way, I am now an Aunt Nora as of today. My nephew was born at 12:01 AM and holding him was alot more fun than making this cheesecake. <3    

Cheesecake Factory Banana Cream Cheesecake

2 tablespoons sugar1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs
3/4 cup mashed bananas (about 2 bananas, mashed in blender)
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a bowl, cream together the sugar, vanilla, and butter, until smooth and fluffy. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is like a cookie. Press evenly into bottom of a springform pan and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool.

Beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas, whipping cream, and vanilla. 

Wet the bake-even strips and wrap around springform pan; secure with a metal pin. Place pan on a cookie sheet and pour cream cheese mixture into prepared crust.  Bake 45-50  minutes, until cheesecake is set up in center. It will still jiggle in center but should not appear wet.
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