Mini Chocolate Cupcakes with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Centers – “Autumn/Halloween Version”

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These ‘surprise in the center’ cupcakes are extra chocolaty and delicious – frosting is always optional.

I like to call these types of recipes A Little Help From My Friends because I used a purchased cake mix and canned decorating cake icing. I know most people don’t have a lot of extra time, so A Little Help From My Friends always helps.

I think you’re gonna find these cupcakes a bit addictive.  Once you pop one in your mouth, you just can’t stop!  Extra cocoa, brown sugar and a bit of vanilla are added to a dark chocolate cake mix, giving these mini cupcakes an extra BAM of chocolate flavor.  And the goodness of mini Reese’s peanut butter cups really puts these little treasures over the top in the taste department.

The trick to making these is placing a mini peanut butter cup in each lined cupcake section before adding the batter.  ++ In this particular instance, mini cupcake tins were used, but these special cupcakes can also be prepared using regular sized cupcake tins.

I prepared these Autumn/Halloween cupcakes last weekend when my twin brother and his family came for dinner. We cooked chicken breasts and thighs on a grate suspended over my fire pit. (I’d been wanting to grill chicken this way for a long, long time.)  The chicken turned out really tender and the smoky flavor reminded me of when my dad used to cook hamburgers over an open fire.  The flavor of those hamburgs has stayed with me entire life. Let me tell you, grilling with today’s charcoal briquettes, which now often contain bits of charcoal PLUS coal, starch, sawdust, and sodium nitrate, can’t even come close to the taste of grilling over a wood fire.

After the meal, these mini Autumn/Halloween cupcakes .. and  S’Mores .. were enjoyed by all. (None of the adults had any of the S’mores but they couldn’t stop eating these cupcakes…) After my guests departed, I wrapped up a few baking potatoes in several layers of aluminum foil and nestled them in the fire. The next morning those potatoes made the BEST home fries.  Oh yeah – the best things in life are free!

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++  Yield – 50 or so mini cupcakes

++  Heat oven to 350F

++  Bake mini cupcakes 12 minutes   (Bake average sized cupcakes according to package directions.)

Ingredients

++ I highly recommend using cupcake liners

  • 1 box Dark Chocolate cake mix – prepared according to the package directions
  • 1  Tbs. cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbs.  brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  Here’s what I used to decorate my Autumn/Halloween cupcakes

  • 2 cans green Decorating Cake Icing   ++ I used Betty Crocker brand
  • 1 (1 lb.) bag candy pumpkins  ++  You’ll have some leftover to nibble on!!

Method

Line cupcake tins.  Unwrap mini Reese’s peanut butter cups and place one in each section.

Prepare cake mix according to the package directions. Add  1 Tbs. cocoa powder, 1 Tbs. brown sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. Beat for another 30 seconds or so.  Using a tablespoon, fill each section 2/3s full of cake batter. Using a small spoon, spread batter so peanut butter cups are fully covered.

Bake for about 12 minutes. Cupcakes will be slightly rounded and, when tapped with a finger, should not dent in.  Remove cupcakes and cool on a rack. Repeat until all batter is used up.  It’ll take a little while to make so many cupcakes but it’s easy and fun   ; o )

When cupcakes are fully cooled, frost with canned decorating icing.  ++  Use the star tip which is included with the icing.  Lightly press a candy pumpkin on the top of each cupcake. Enjoy!

TIP — While one batch of cupcakes is baking, remove wrapping from additional peanut butter cups.  Children love to help with this… but be prepared to lose several candies in the process!   

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‘Quick ‘n Easy’ White Chocolate Peppermint Bark with Pecans

      This is a great recipe for those times when you want to share a homemade treat but have very little time to prepare something!

Candy Canes - clipartbest.com

You may know I call myself “Organized/Disorganized”…  Example – I have a folder in a closet full of Christmas ideas/recipes and another folder for Thanksgiving, which is the ‘organized’ part of my personality.  But because my kitchen is my office, my workstation and basically where I spend much of my time, it’s usually a mess.  Which is the shows the ‘disorganized’ part of my personality.

I couldn’t sleep last night, so I reorganized my Christmas folder and found my recipe for White Chocolate Peppermint Bark with Pecans – which I had totally forgotten about.  Making candy doesn’t get much easier than this – just a few ingredients, a bit of time cooking in the microwave, a bit of stirring et voila –  CANDY!

++  For a delicious change-of-pace, use two (12 oz.) bags of semi-sweet choc.! Candy Canes - clipartbest.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups white chocolate morsels – divided      ++  Two (12 0z.) bags of morsels
  • 2 Tbs. shortening – divided
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped salted pecans
  • 1/3 cup “smashed up” candy canes or peppermint candies

++  To break up candy canes, place several in a plastic zip lock bag and smack with a hammer, a can or a rolling pin.  (Of course, if you have a high-powered food processor you can chop them up in that… I think!)

++  Leftover candy canes can – like any type of hard peppermint candy – be saved for later use.  

'Quick 'n Easy' White Chocolate Peppermint Bark with Pecans1 - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

METHODCandy Canes - clipartbest.com

1.  Place 2 cups (1 bag) white chocolate morsels in a medium-size microwavable bowl.  Add 1 Tbs. shortening.

2.  Microwave – on high – for 2 minutes.     ++ This is only half of the white chocolate morsels – 2 cups (one bag) at a time are melted in 2 batches.  This ensures the chocolate doesn’t seize, meaning it won’t thicken or harden during melting

3.  Remove chocolate from microwave and mix well with a large spoon.

4.  Return to microwave for 30 – 40 seconds. Remove and stir well – ‘smooshing’ any chocolate morsels which may remain a bit unmelted. 

5. Spoon melted chocolate into another bowl & repeat the process of melting 2 cups of white chocolate morsels with 1 Tbs. Crisco.

6.  Stir in 1/3 cup “smashed up” candy canes or peppermint pieces and 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans.

'Quick 'n Easy' White Chocolate Peppermint Bark with Pecans 2 - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

7.  Drop by large tablespoons onto a cookie sheet which has been lined with waxed paper, parchment paper or plastic wrap.

'Quick 'n Easy' White Chocolate Peppermint Bark with Pecans 3 - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

8.  When candies are cooled and hardened, which won’t take long, they’re ready.  Enjoy !

‘Quick ‘n Easy’ White Chocolate Peppermint Bark with Pecans - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

Homemade Chocolate Truffles

++ Recipe adapted from Family Circle magazine, Feb. 2013

I recently returned from spending a week at our home in the Pocono mountains. While there I was determined to prepare a few things for my blog as I hadn’t posted anything in several weeks.

                      We had a bit of snow – not too much.  But it sure was c.o.l.d. !!

pocono house - jan 2014

++ UPDATE – These Homemade Chocolate Truffles were a big hit.  A limit had to be set on the amount of truffles eaten at one time so the children wouldn’t eat them all !

Cooking, when you don’t have all your usual ‘stuff’, can be a real challenge.  The original recipe for these truffles calls for a food processor – which we don’t happen have at the Pocono house. So, I decided, seeing as I was ‘sans food processor’, to use a hammer and a zip lock bag to ‘bust up’ the chocolate – and I made the truffles in a large saucepan. Luckily, my efforts resulted in some creamy and delicious truffles!!

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To make these truffles WITHOUT a food processor, scroll farther down…

 

ORIGINAL DIRECTIONS – USES A FOOD PROCESSOR  

  Truffles - myyellowfarmhouse.com

Truffles - My Yellow Farmhouse
On left, 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate.  On right, 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8″ square pan, lined with foil
  • large cookie sheet, lined with waxed paper (Or a large tray.)
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate   (I use Baker’s, which comes in 4 oz. boxes. You can find it in the baking aisle.  Buy 2 boxes but you’ll only need half of the 2nd one.)
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (You’ll need 2 full boxes.)
  • 2/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream   (Full Cream)
  • 2 Tbs. coffee liqueur
  • 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar  (Icing Sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • FOR ROLLING THE FINISHED TRUFFLES IN:
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder – mixed with 1 Tbs. confectioner’s sugar    ++ You do NOT have to add the confectioner’s sugar. I just don’t like truffles rolled in plain cocoa powder, although that’s how truffles are usually sold. 
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar   ++ Another option to roll the truffles in.

METHOD

++ Line a 8″ square pan with aluminum foil.

++ Line a cookie sheet or a tray with waxed paper.

Add 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar and 1/4 tsp. salt to food processor. Whirl 1 – 2 minutes until ground. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan using medium heat, warm 2/3 cup heavy cream and 2 Tbs. coffee liqueur just to a simmer.

Truffles - myyellowfarmhouse.com

With food processor running, add cream mixture in a steady stream. Process until smooth.

Scrape into pan. Chill for 1 1/2 hours.

truffles - myyellowfarmhouse.com

Lift chocolate from pan using aluminum foil. Cut into 36 pieces.

truffles - myyellowfarmhouse.com

Shape into balls. ++  Allow chocolate to warm up a bit – makes it easier to roll.  Place chocolate balls on a wax-paper lined sheet or tray.

Truffles - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

Roll truffles in 1/3 cup cocoa powder mixed with 1 Tbs. confectioner’s sugar OR plain cocoa powder OR just plain confectioner’s sugar.

Truffles - myyellowfarmhouse.com

Truffles can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month, not that these will last that long.  Enjoy !

Truffles - My Yellow Farmhouse

= = = = =

Directions for making these truffles WITHOUT a food processor.

Truffles - myyellowfarmhouse.com

Truffles - My Yellow Farmhouse
On left, 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate.  On right, 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate.

On left, 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate.  On right, 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate.

  • 8″ square pan, lined with foil
  • large cookie sheet, lined with waxed paper (Or a large tray.)
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate   (I use Baker’s, which comes in 4 oz. boxes. You can find it in the baking aisle.  Buy 2 boxes but you’ll only need half of the 2nd one.)
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (You’ll need 2 full boxes.)
  • 2/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream   (Full Cream)
  • 2 Tbs. coffee liqueur
  • 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar  (Icing Sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • FOR ROLLING THE FINISHED TRUFFLES IN:
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder – mixed with 1 Tbs. confectioner’s sugar    ++ You do NOT have to add the confectioner’s sugar. I just don’t like truffles rolled in plain cocoa powder, although that’s how truffles are usually sold. 
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar   ++ Another option to roll the truffles in.

++ Line a 8″ square pan with aluminum foil.

++ Line a cookie sheet or a tray with waxed paper.

Method

Break the 6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate and the 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate into pieces. Place the broken up chocolate in a zip lock bag and break up the chocolate further by using a meat tenderizer, a can, a hammer or anything else you can think of, like a rolling pin. Set aside.  ++ I got the chocolate into smaller pieces by using the NutriBullet I use to make smoothies. However, it’s not necessary to have the chocolate pieces this small because they’ll melt when added to the warm cream/liqueur mixture.

Truffles - myyellowfarmhouse.com

In a large saucepan, over medium heat, warm 2/3 cup heavy cream and 2 Tbs. coffee liqueur – just until it comes to a simmer.

Truffles - myyellowfarmhouse.com

Raise heat slightly. Add chocolate pieces, 1/4 tsp. salt and 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar. Stir slowly until chocolate is melted and mixture comes to a boil.

Truffles - myyellowfarmhouse.com

Remove pan from heat and allow mixture to cool for about 5 minutes. Then, using a large mixing spoon, beat the chocolate pretty hard for about 30 seconds.

Scrape into an 8′ pan which has been lined with foil. Refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours.

truffles - myyellowfarmhouse.com

Lift chocolate from pan using the aluminum foil. Cut into 36 pieces. (Another adaption – we only had a round cake pan, so my pieces were uneven. But I worked it out!)

truffles - myyellowfarmhouse.com

Shape chocolate into small balls about 1″ across.  ++  Allow chocolate to warm up a bit – makes it easier to roll.  Place chocolate balls on a wax-paper lined sheet or tray.

Truffles - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

Roll truffles in 1/3 cup cocoa powder mixed with 1 Tbs. confectioner’s sugar OR plain cocoa powder OR just plain confectioner’s sugar.

Truffles - myyellowfarmhouse.com

Truffles can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month, not that they’ll last that long. Enjoy!                     Truffles - My Yellow Farmhouse