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  – 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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Tired of Thin Layer Cakes – Here’s a Trick to Fix That! Yellow Layer Cake with Mini Chocolate Chips and English Toffee Bits

I don’t know about other parts of the world, but the cake mixes in the States have been getting smaller and smaller – which is so wrong.  I’d rather pay a bit more and have a nice, fat layer cake..  We have no control over what the stupid cake mix companies do, but luckily there’s a few things you can add to be sure your layer cakes come out bigger.  (You may decide it’s just easier to make a cake from scratch – and that works too!)

BREAKING DEVELOPMENT  – –  I broke my ankle last night… Not a bad break, luckily, but still inconvenient.  And – get this – I’m having a party today because one of my twin sons and his family will be visiting from the Philadelphia area.

I’ve been cooking, and cleaning, for the last few days. Yesterday my other son and I put out all the outdoor furniture… and dragged out all the cushions and lanterns etc.  I was so pleased when I finished washing the final table and chairs… But cruel fate intervened… As I stepped down from our deck (to dump out the bucket of water) my foot caught on a huge, thick stepping stone… Over I went, like Jill of Jack & Jill fame, bucket, gloves and sponges flying all over.

And I heard my ankle break.  I crawled to where I thought I’d left my phone…. then remembered I’d brought it to the porch… so I crawled some more.  In any event, my brother-in-law and a neighbor got in me the car… but not until I directed them to find my comb, get my make-up kit and bring me clean clothes.  Being men… they started getting impatient – but I was married for almost 40 years… so I’m used to it!

Luckily, the cake (which is for my granddaughter’s birthday) was baked before I fell – so I got up early this morning so I could frost it and post the recipe.   ; o )

UPDATE — My Granddaughter was very happy with her birthday cake.  And the party was a great success as well !!

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Directions for a ‘Bigger and Better’ Layer Cake with Mini Chocolate Chips and English Toffee Bits  

Oven at 350F        Bake for 30 – 35 minutes      Two greased 9” round cake pans

Dry Ingredients for ‘Add-In’ Batter

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar or granulated sugar   ++  I used brown
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 pinches salt

In a medium bowl mix together flour, sugar baking powder and salt with a fork

Liquid Ingredients for ‘Add-In’ Batter

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 egg

Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients. Beat with mixer for about 30 seconds until well blended.  Set bowl aside.

  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup English Toffee Bits  ++  I used ‘Heath’ Brand 
  • 1 Tbs. all purpose flour

Mix 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, 1/2 cup English Toffee Bits and 1 Tbs. flour in a small bowl.  Set aside.

  • 1 yellow cake mix, prepared according to package directions    ++  I used Duncan Hines Butter Yellow – ‘Classic’

Once cake mix is prepared, pour in ‘Add-On’ batter.  Beat with mixer for about 30 seconds until well blended.  Gently mix in mini chocolate chips, English Toffee Pieces and flour mixture.

Divide batter equally between two greased 9” round cake pans.  Bake at 350F for 30 – 35 minutes – or until toothpick or sharp knife inserted in center comes out clean.   ++  Because of the ‘Add-In’ batter, your layers may take 3 – 5 minutes more time than usual.  

Cool cakes on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove cake from pans and cool completely before frosting.

Due to my broken ankle – and the fact that I have no crutches because the ER ran out of ‘short people crutches’, I frosted my cake with purchased frosting BUT soon I’ll post my recipe for a really delicious homemade chocolate frosting ‘to die for’.   Enjoy!!

P.S.  My son who lives locally is arriving in a few minutes with some crutches – HURRAH!! And I am not cancelling the party …however, I won’t be the one bringing out trays of food.. not for several weeks.

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Add-In Batter – Ready to Go

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Add-In Batter & Cake Mix Batter Mixed – Chocolate Chips and English Toffee Added
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Divide Batter Equally Between 2 Greased 9″ Pans
Morgan's birthday cake - My Yellow Farmhouse
I Like to Level the Layers Using a Sharp Knife

Tired of Thin Layer Cakes - Here's a Trick to Fix That!  Yellow Layer Cake with Mini Chocolate Chips and English Toffee - My Yellow 

 

Butter Brickle Cake Frosted with Whipped Cream & Topped with Crushed Milk Chocolate Toffee

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‘Butter Brickle Cake Frosted with Whipped Cream & Topped with Crushed Milk Chocolate Toffee’ was chosen by ‘Bernideen’s Tea Time’ as a special feature!!!

http://blog.bernideens.com/2016/02/special-features-from-bttcg-blog-party_20.html

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Butter Brickle Cake Frosted with Whipped Cream & Topped with Crushed Milk Chocolate Toffee starts with a yellow cake mix to which melted butter, milk, eggs, butter brickle baking bits and vanilla are added.  After baking, the two layers are cut in half to form four, and each layer is frosted with whipped cream and sprinkled with crushed milk chocolate toffee.  Yummy!!!

I love the idea that such a delicious – and rather impressive looking dessert – starts with a ‘jazzed up’ cake mix!!

Ingredients

CAKE

  • 1 box yellow cake mix   ++  I used Betty Crocker
  • 1 cup WHOLE milk  ++ You can use 1% or 2%, the cake just won’t be as rich.
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter  ++  Butter replaces the oil in the recipe.
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 cup butter brickle baking bits  ++   I used to ‘Heath’ toffee baking bits

WHIPPED CREAM FROSTING

  • 2 cups COLD whipping cream  (1 pint)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup confectionery (icing) sugar  ++  I used 1/2 cup  conf. sugar but think I will use 1/3 cup next time.  It all depends how sweet you like your whipped cream. 
  • 1-4 – 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. almond extract.  ++ Start out with 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract and 1/4 tsp. almond extract, then if you wish, add a bit more.  It’s all a matter of personal taste.
  • about 2 cups crushed milk chocolate covered toffee candy – such as SKOR or HEATH bars – about 4 – 5 candy bars.  ++  I used 5.

Method      

 2 (9″) greased and floured (nonstick) round cake pans   Bake at 350F for 25 – 30 mins.

Place 1 box yellow cake mix, 1 cup WHOLE milk, 1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter, 3 eggs and 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. almond extract in a medium bowl.  Blend the ingredients first, then beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.  Stir in butter brickle bits.

Divide batter equally between two greased and floured 9″ round pans.  Smooth tops with a spatula.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes.  Allow pans to cool for 10 minutes on a cake rack before removing and allow layers to cool throughly before frosting with whipped cream.

PREPARING WHIPPED CREAM

With mixer set at medium speed, beat 2 cups whipping cream and 1/2 cup confectionery (icing) sugar until  thickened.  Add 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. almond extract and continue beating until cream is thick enough to hold its shape. ++  When you pull the beaters out, the cream should stand in stiff peaks

PUTTING CAKE TOGETHER

Here’s a trick I learned when I took a cake decorating course A LONG TIME AGO – place a blob of whipped cream in the middle of your serving platter. Place the first layer on top of the cream.  The whipped cream (or, in other cases, frosting, helps keep the cake from sliding.

You’ll be frosting 4 layers, so imagine that you’d divided the whipped cream into quarters so you’ll have enough for the whole cake.  You’ll also be sprinkling on 1/4 of the crushed toffee candy for each of the 4 layers.

Spread a layer of whipped cream on top of the first layer.  Sprinkle on a 1/4 of of the crushed toffee candy bars.

++  Here’s another tip from that cake decorating course.  1. Start frosting by placing a good-sized amount of whipped cream in the center of the layer.  2. Make the whipped cream layer a little thicker when you come to the edge of the cake – almost like a rim.

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Place your 2nd layer on top of first.  Repeat – spreading on a layer of whipped cream and sprinkling 1/4  of the crushed candy bar for each remaining layer.

I love how this cake looks pretty darn impressive, yet is so easy to make.  And it tastes as good as it looks.  Enjoy!!

++  Recipe adapted from Taste of Home.

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