Peanut Butter Mousse

This recipe certainly does not adhere to a New Year’s resolution diet but it is a family favorite and I made it over the holidays and wanted to post it. This is easy, creamy, delicious and decadent.

There are many ways to use this mousse. The below picture shows it piped into chocolate cups (which I bought at Word Market). The original recipe suggests pouring this into a graham cracker crust. I like to chop up mini Snickers bars and fold them into the mousse and make it into a pie or use as a cake filling. I made my friend Gretchen’s wedding cake which was chocolate cake filled with peanut butter snicker mousse.

It’s impossible to have just one bite of this fluffy, creamy goodness. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Mousse

Mise en place
8 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
6 oz. sugar (3/4 c.)
7 oz. creamy peanut butter (3/4 c.)
9.5 oz. Cool Whip (probably get away with using 1 -8oz. container)
Chocolate dipped peanuts or crushed peanuts for garnish. 

  • Whip together the peanut butter and cream cheese
  • slowly add the sugar and whip until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl at least once.
  • Gently fold in the cool whip.
  • This will make enough to fill a 8″ or 9″ graham cracker crust.

Carrot Cake & the 6″ round

Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting

I consider the 6″ round cake the golden section of baking…(work with me here). It is the perfect size, feeds a large group, easy to make, and visually appealing. I studied Architecture and can’t help but make comparisons between baking and design/construction.

Baby Shower Carrot Cake

The most important ingredient of any get-together is the people. I think this cake did a nice job of capturing the spirit of a sophisticated group of ladies who gathered together on a cold Saturday to celebrate the arrival of a delicate new baby girl.

Baby Shower Carrot Cake - cut

Carrot Cake
pre-heat the oven to 350 F, and prepare pans
5 eggs
8 oz (1 c.)canola oil
17 oz. sugar (by weight)
3/4 t. salt
11-1/4 oz bread flour (by weight)
1-3/4 T. cinnamon
1/2 t. all spice
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
1 lbs. peeled & grated carrots (or zucchini)

  • Whip the eggs until light
  • slowly add the sugar
  • Gradually add the oil
  • Sift (or dump in a bowl and whisk) the dry ingredients together in a bowl
  • Grate the carrots (if you have a Cuisinart this is your best bet)
  • Fold the dry ingredients into the wet and then add the carrots.
  • Bake in one 10″ round pan or 2 – 6″ rounds (you’ll have extra, simply bake the rest in a loaf pan and freeze for your next brunch).
  • 

Cream Cheese Frosting
12 oz., softened cream cheese (1-1/2 blocks at room temp.)
4 oz. unsalted butter, room temp (1 stick)
1 t. vanilla or 1/2 of a vanilla bean
2 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt 

  • Cream the cream cheese and butter
  • Add powdered sugar and whip
  • Add extract and whip until fluffy.

Easy Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I saw these pretzels on a tray of catered food and thought they were the perfect little sweet treat or snack. I love the idea of using Rold Gold Honey Wheat Pretzels because they are the perfect size and add interesting flavor to this classic snack. I made these to bring to a Halloween party and plan to make more around Thanksgiving and Christmas as hostess gifts. Get creative and use white chocolate and other fun toppings such as crushed candy canes. Enjoy!

Chocolate Covered Pretzels - Prep
Chocolate Covered Pretzels - PrepChocolate Covered Pretzels
Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Mise en place
1 bag of Rold Gold Honey Wheat Pretzels
1 bag of chocolate chips (milk, white, butterscotch, peanutbutter)
Festive sprinkles or other fun toppings (crushed peanuts, candy canes, anything goes!)

  • Place the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl and melt on top of a pan of low simmering water*.
  • Line a sheet pan with waxed paper.
  • Prepare your toppings
  • Dip the pretzels in chocolate shaking off the excess.
  • Sprinkle on the toppings and place on the sheet pan
  • Continue until all of the pretzels are used.
  • Put the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes to help set the chocolate.
  • Remove from the freezer and let sit at room temp for 1 hour before wrapping or storing.

*Chocolate has a very low melting temperature and should never be heated over a direct flame. If chocolate is scorched it will seize up and form clumps and there is no fixing it. Use a pan of very low simmering water to create steam which will gently melt the chocolate. White chocolate and milk chocolate are even more sensitive than dark chocolate. For white/milk chocolate bring the water to a boil and then remove it from the heat. The residual steam will be enough to melt the chocolate.

Mexican Chocolate Pudding & Cinnamon Crisps

We had some friends over for dinner last night and served braised pork tacos and this for dessert. I don’t suspect this is a traditional Mexican dessert but I like it because it is different, has great flavor depth and is very easy to make.

I originally found this recipe in Gourmet Magazine and like to serve the cinnamon crisps with it to dip into the creamy chocolate and fluffy whipped cream.

Mexican Chocolate Pudding

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (use the best you can find)
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Accompaniments: lightly sweetened whipped cream; toasted slivered almonds


  • Whisk together brown sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a heavy medium saucepan, then whisk in almond milk.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking often, then boil, whisking, 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla.
  • Chill in a bowl, surface covered with a piece of plastic wrap, until cold, at least 1 1/2 hours.

Cinnamon Crisps
canola oil
flour tortillas
1 c. of sugar
2 T. cinnamon

  • Heat about 1 inch of oil in a heavy pan
  • Mix to taste the cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl. Check for flavor and adjust as needed.
  • Cut the tortillas into small triangles
  • The oil is ready when the end of a wooden spoon is placed in the pan and bubbles form around the edge.
  • Fry 5-6 triangles at a time turning over when brown.
  • Using a tongs remove the chips, shaking off the excess oil, and place directly into the bowl of cinnamon sugar.
  • Shake the chips in the sugar to coat. Let them cool on a large pan before transferring to a serving dish.
  • Repeat until all of the chips are fried.

Farmhouse Banana Bread

I had two ripe bananas on the counter and with the cool weather we’ve been having I decided to turn the oven on and make banana bread. This recipe is from one of my mother’s many Iowa farm cook books and unfortunately I don’t have the originators name. I changed the mixing method a little bit to help lighten the texture and also added a tiny amount of vanilla. I love this bread because it is simple and you are not overwhelmed by any one ingredient. The butter is balanced with the banana and sweetness of the sugar to make a tender bread that reminds me of home. Enjoy!

Mise en place
2 c. flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ c. butter (1 stick)
1 c. sugar
2 – 3 bananas
2 eggs
½ c. butter milk*
1 t. vanilla

*You can make a quick buttermilk by combining 1 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar into a measuring cup and fill with milk to the 1/2 c. line with milk to make 1/2 cup of buttermilk. Let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes allowing the vinegar to work its magic.

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Wipe the a loaf pan with the butter wrapper or spray with canola oil. Dust with flour if you are not using a non-stick pan.
  • Combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a small bowl and stir with a whisk to incorporate.
  • Combine the eggs and buttermilk in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
  • In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, cream the butter. Add the sugar and cream until fluffy. Add the bananas and mix until well combined
  • Next add the dry and wet ingredients. Use a rubber spatula and begin with the flour mix, add 1/2 c. and mix until barely combined. Next add some wet and mix until just combined. Keep going until all of the wet and dry are combined.
  • Pan and bake for 50 minutes or until the center of the loaf is barely firm.
Banana Bread
Banana Bread

Lemon or Lime Curd

The possibilities are endless with this recipe and it is quick, easy, and inexpensive to make.  Fill tart shells or a cake with it for dessert; serve it with scones at brunch; fold in some whipped cream to make a mousse and use as a dip for fruit or coconut crust.  You can even replace the lemons with lime to make lime curd.  Have fun!

Prep
4 whole eggs (beaten)
1 c. Sugar
1/2 c. Lemon or Lime juice (pulp & seeds are okay, it all gets strained in the end)
1 Tablespoon grated lemon or lime zest (only the yellow of the lemon, no white)
Pinch of salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Cook

  • Place the eggs, juice, zest, sugar and salt into a sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. 
  • Cook until the sauce thickens and coats the back of the spoon.  You should be able to run your finger across the back of the spoon and the curd should not run back together.  Do not boil the curd
  • Pour the curd through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.  Immediately add the butter and stir until melted.
  • Place plastic wrap directly on top of the curd and press out any air bubbles and chill.