Banana Cake with Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting

Banana Cake with PB Frosting

When my mom begins an email with, “gotta share these two new and fabulous recipes with you!”, I know I’m in for a treat.

The summer humidity where my mom lives makes bananas ripen quicker than they get eaten. After making multiple loaves of banana bread, she went searching for a different recipe to utilize her browning nanners and a spare cake mix. What she found was a simple and versatile (you could use any flavor cake mix) recipe that yields a moist, tender cake with a mild, but distinct, banana flavor.

My mom and I share an affinity for banana bread and peanut butter sandwiches. With that in mind she found a fluffy peanut butter frosting to adorn the banana cake and mimic the taste of those tasty sandwiches we so love.

The result of these two new recipes is indeed fabulous!

Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Banana Cake {source}

  • yellow cake mix
  • eggs, oil, and water (ingredients listed on the box to make cake)
  • 2 overripe bananas
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Create cake batter according the package instructions. In a separate bowl, mash the two bananas. Mix the baking soda into the bananas until thoroughly mixed – it will look lighter and slightly foamy. Add banana mixture to the cake batter and stir until combined.

Pour banana batter into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake according to package directions. Let cool completely and frost with Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting (below).

Banana cake with PB Frosting

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting {adapted from All Recipes}

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

Beat butter and peanut butter together until well combined. Beat in the powdered sugar. Frosting will be very dense and thick.  Add heavy cream and beat until fluffy and spreadable. Spread on cooled Banana Cake.

 

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Shauna Niequist’s Blueberry Crisp

Shauna's Blueberry CrispI am a huge fan of Shauna Niequist and her writing. Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet were fantastic books that I will read over and over, so when I found out she was writing her third book and it was about food and community (two things I’m passionate about), I was super excited.

Even though I wasn’t together enough to get my post about Bread and Wine out early, I received an advance copy of the book a couple months ago. My friend Sarah had also gotten an early copy of Bread and Wine so when she came to visit in March, I thought it would be fun to make some of Shauna’s recipes together (more on that soon!).

Some new friends of ours came over and we feasted on Annettes Enchiladas, Esquites, and Blueberry Crisp. Everything turned out wonderfully, but I couldn’t get enough of that blueberry crisp.

Blueberry Crisp unbakedBlueberry Crisps

Tim and I got some treasured Purple Gold as a welcome gift when we first moved to Coeur d’Alene and I’ve used it sparingly. Shauna mentions that the crisp is easily adaptable for many fruits, so I decided to use the last of those treasured berries to make a huckleberry version.

Mmm, wow! Five of us polished off the entire 8×8 pan with ease. I made another batch with blueberries later that week. Both were fabulous.

Two Blueberry CrispsIndividual Blueberry Crisp

The topping is a mixture of almond meal, oats, oil, maple syrup and chopped nuts. I about croaked at the price of a little bag of almond meal so I made my own – just grind almonds in a food processor until they look like sand. Be careful not to make almond butter, though.

Layer the topping over a few cups of fruit and bake until bubbly. All the while your house will smell divine. The fruit combined with maple syrup from the crisp topping creates the perfect just sweet enough dessert (or breakfast). We served ours warm with vanilla ice cream at dinner and I ate mine straight from the fridge at breakfast.

I will absolutely be making this again and again.

Shauna Niequist Blueberry Crisp

Shauna Niequist’s Blueberry Crisp
Author: Emily C. Gardner
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 4-6
The recipe could easily be doubled and baked in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Find this and other delicious recipes in Bread and Wine.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups blueberries (or almost any fruit), frozen okay
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup nuts, chopped (walnuts and pecans work great)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together oats, nuts, almond meal, syrup, and salt with a fork.
  3. Pour berries into an 8 x 8 pan, and then layer the crispy topping over it.
  4. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or up to 10 minutes longer if topping and fruit are frozen, until fruit is bubbling and topping is crisp and golden.

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Cream-Filled Chocolate Sandwiches

Cream Filled Chocolate Sandwiches

I have two go-to cookbooks when I’m in the mood to bake cookies: Great Cookies by Carole Walter and Martha Stewart’s Cookies: The Very Best Treats To Bake And Share by Martha Stewart. Both are fantastic compendiums of tried and true cookie recipes.

Cream-Filled Chocolate Sandwiches come from Martha Stewart’s Cookies. I absolutely love the table of contents in this book! It’s organized by type of cookie (light and delicate, soft and chewy…) and has a photo of each cookie. When you’re in the cookie baking mood, it’s so fun to flip through the first couple pages and let a photo jump out at you.

That’s what happened a couple weeks ago when I was looking for a dessert to bring  for a dinner gathering with new friends. Cookies

DSC_0590These sandwiches are the perfect balance between chocolate and vanilla, cookie and cream. Despite they layers, they are low maintenance to throw together. They taste like a more complex Oreo cookie: a smooth, vanilla infused cream sandwiched between thick, chewy chocolate cookie.

A sugar coating gives the baked chocolate cookies great textural interest and a little extra sweetness (not that these cookies need help in that department…).

Frosted CookiesThe cream filling is pure, decadent, and creamy – no slippery aftertaste. Just butter, shortening, vanilla, and powdered sugar whipped together. When you bite into one of these cookies, some of the filling will squish out and its just glorious.

DSC_0615DSC_0617

 

I would absolutely eat the chocolate cookie as is, but they positively ask for a filling. The cream is a traditional compliment, but I imagine they’d be delicious with a peanut butter cream or your favorite preserves in the middle.

DSC_0621

Cream-Filled Chocolate Sandwich Cookies from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

To vary the flavor, roll the sides of filled cookies in crushed candy cane, sprinkles, or mini chocolate chips. The dough can be made ahead and chilled in the fridge for up to one week or in the freezer for one month. Thaw completely before proceeding with recipe.

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen

DSC_0627

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus more for flattening cookies
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • Vanilla Cream Filling – recipe follows

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add egg; beat to combine.  With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture, continue beating until dough is well combined.

Using a 1 1/4 inch scoop, drop dough onto parchment lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Dip bottom of a glass in sugar; press to flatten cookies to about 1/8 inch thick. (You may need to carefully remove dough from glass with a thin metal spatula.)

Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are firm, 10-12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks to cool completely.

Place cream filling in a pastry bag fitted with a coupler, and pipe about 1 tablespoon filling onto the flat side of half the cookies. (I did this with an off-set spatula.) Place remaining cookies on top, and gently press on each to squeeze filling to edges. Filled cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.

Vanilla Cream Filling – makes about 1 cup

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

With an electric mixer, cream butter and shortening until well combined. On low speed, gradually add confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to combine. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

Chocolate Cookies

 

 

 

Rosemary Lemon Sugar Cookies

Rosemary Lemon CookiesOh my heavens.  I love rosemary.  It has quickly become one of my favorite herbs.  Luckily, my husband loves it just as much as I do.  After making some rosemary candied bacon, I was dreaming of all the other ways I could infuse rosemary into foods we enjoy.

I originally thought about adding rosemary to my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe (which I will probably still try), but I decided sugar cookies would be the perfect vehicle for some herb infusion.

Unless we were decorating cut out sugar cookies, my mom always made World’s Best Sugar Cookies.  I’m not sure where the recipe came from, but these soft, chewy pillows of sugary goodness definitely live up to the name.  I updated this classic recipe to include rosemary and lemon.

Rosemary Lemon SugarDSC_0336As I was dreaming of this cookie, I was reminded of a lemon cream scone recipe that further influenced the flavors. The scone is topped with a mixture of lemon zest and sugar, which I thought would be easy to replicate in the sugar cookie’s outer layer.  I rolled my sugar cookie dough in a mixture of sugar, lemon zest, and minced fresh rosemary.

Rosemary LemonMinced fresh rosemary goes into the cookie dough as well as the sugar coating.  A hint of lemon zest complements the earthy spice of rosemary. These are just perfect.

I must admit, they taste delicious straight from the freezer too.  Tim and I have topped warmed up cookies with vanilla ice cream and we’ve also enjoyed them with buttercream sandwiched in the middle.

Rosemary LemonRosemary Lemon Sugar Cookies

This recipe does require chilling.  You can make the dough ahead of time and chill overnight.  Cookies freeze really well.

Cookie Dough

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

Cookie Coating

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

zest of 1/2 lemon, approx 1/2-1 teaspoon

1/4 cup granulated sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter, powdered sugar, and granulated sugar. Add egg and beat until smooth.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, 1 teaspoon minced rosemary, baking soda, and cream of tartar.

Add half the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Beat until just combined and add the oil and vanilla. Mix in the remaining flour mixture.

Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill at least two hours for easy handling.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

When the dough is chilled, use a large cookie scoop to form 24 dough balls.

Stir rosemary, lemon zest, and sugar together using a fork to make sure the zest is evenly distributed.

Roll cookie balls in sugar mixture.

Bake 10-12 minutes. Let cool on pan for a couple minutes than transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Yield: 2 dozen

Lemon Rosemary

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Dear Browned Butter {31 Days of Letters}

Today, I’m sharing a letter AND a recipe.  Mondays aren’t always the best, so I hope these words inspire you to start the week by browning some butter and making a batch of these delicious shortbread cookies.

Dear Browned Butter,

If I could bottle a food smell and make it a perfume, you’d be a top contender.

Your aroma is intoxicating.  One whiff and I’m instantly transported to a land where my dog stays in permanent puppy stage, chocolate has no calories, and Thomas Hammer hands out free chai lattes.

In other words, your smell is nearly perfect.

Born from a steady, gentle heat, you emerge in simple glory.  You aren’t a cold stick of butter anymore;  you are a substance completely transformed.

Warmth.  Nuttiness.  You have it all!

You can go sweet or savory.

You can be a leading lady or a supporting actress.

There aren’t enough words for just how scrumptious you are.

Sincerely,

Emily

A couple years back, I had the privilege of working for Traci and Christa Hozie – the sibling masterminds behind the Brown Butter Cookie Company.  They take simple, fresh ingredients and turn them into melt-in-your-mouth confections.  The original Brown Butter Sea Salt flavor is addictive. It’s nearly impossible to just eat one.

Once I moved away from Cayucos (a gem of a beach town on the Central Coast of California), and didn’t have access to those delicious cookies, I trolled the internet for similar recipe concepts.

Though nothing could beat a BBCC original, warm from the pan, I’ve developed a great substitute.  I adapted a recipe from Gourmet Magazine to create these shortbread cookies.

Swapping brown sugar for regular granulated sugar adds caramel and molasses undertones to the cookie base.  Taking the extra time to brown the butter is what sets these shortbread bites apart from the rest.  A sprinkle of salt to finish the top brings all the flavors into perfect harmony.

Browning butter is easy, but requires a watchful eye.  Brown can turn to black all too quickly. Simple Recipes has a great tutorial on how to brown butter properly.

Without further ado, I give you…

Brown Butter Buttons

adapted from Gourmet Magazine

1 cup unsalted butter 

2/3 cup brown sugar (5 oz) 

2 1/3 cup flour (9 ¼ oz) 

1 teaspoon baking powder

Sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brown the butter until it becomes a light golden color.  Let it cool down a bit while you mix together the dry ingredients.

Whisk brown sugar, flour, and baking powder together in the bowl of an electric mixer.

Pour butter into flour mixture, making sure to scrape all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan (those create lovely speckles and contain a ton of flavor).  Mix until well combined.

NOTE: It’s important to measure your dry ingredients very accurately or the dough will be dry and crumbly, making the rolling process difficult.  If this happens, brown more butter and add it to the dough 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is maleable.

Using a small cookie scoop, measure out the dough and roll into balls.  Slightly flatten the balls before baking with the palm of your hand.

Bake at 325°for 18-20 minutes. Edges will be just starting to brown.  There may be cracks appearing – that’s okay!

Cool on wire racks.  Store in airtight containers (after cooling completely) for up to three weeks.  Freeze well.

Yield: 45 buttons 

* sprinkle a bit of sea salt on the top of each cookie when it comes out of the oven for a spark of salty/sweet flavor.

You can find all my letters here.

For more information about the 31 Day Challenge, visit The Nester.