Chocolate Cheer Holiday desserts Strange and Yummy

Woooooo Social anxiety is scaaaaary! It's a Halloween cupcake post.

HI! Have we all calmed down from that Star Wars trailer yet guys? No? I know. It’s ok. This is a safe place.

Speaking of safe places, I got some cool feedback on my last post in which I explained a little bit of the Sad in Sad Shibow. That’s heartening: I learned about things like anxiety clubs (brings me anxiety just to think about, but I learned!) and got some very sweet support from some old friends, one of whom I’m hoping to work with on an exciting project soon! Stay tuned…

Are you intrigued? Curious? Slightly spooked by my constant sads and disturbing obsession with The Force? Well, now’s the perfect time to join the fun then, because All Hallow’s Eve is creeping up on us. What are your thoughts on Halloween? Halloween’s like New Year’s Eve for some people, and I admit that in the past I have been “some people.” There is crazy dumb pressure to have a rad time, especially in the age of The Facebook: A Place For Friends/People You Meet On Buses (maybe that’s just me?) and Instagram: A Place To Make Your New Pics Look Ancient But In That Hip[stery] Way. I’m trying not to let too much of that get to me this year, mostly because my last Halloween was all kinds of lame (the heavens rained down upon my homemade “We Can Do It!” headband sign thing and smeared all of the ink and my makeup until I looked like Zombie Rosie the Riveter. I’m sure I could have made it work if I were not freezing and cranky). This year, I’m going to pay more attention to the inside of the plastic Jack-o-lantern we have filled to its brim with Halloween candy (despite the fact that we have never, ever had a trick or treater anywhere near our doorstep. JUST IN CASE, guys!!). No-pressure holidays are the best kinds of holidays. Also holidays where your head is buried in candy like an ostrich in the Sahara are the best kinds of holidays. But before you ask, yes, yes I do have a homemade Princess Leia costume at the ready in case plans do arise and I also decide to arise for these plans. No, it is not the one from the scene where she’s chained to Jabba the Hutt. #feminism

That year Jimmy and I, dressed up as, respectively, the movie The Grey and a flapper. Total couples' costume win, I know. 
That year Jimmy and I, dressed up as, respectively, the movie The Grey and a flapper. Total couples’ costume win, I know. 

I also often think about some of the heartbreaking costumes of yesteryear. The time when I was in preschool and my dad threw one of my poofy dresses at me, applied lipstick to my cheeks to mimic blush, and took me around our ‘hood to collect candy as a “princess,” (bless his heart, I still love everything about this story and will die on this hill telling it). The time I dressed up as the Pink Panther because it was the last costume at Walgreens. Or when I was the Pink Power Ranger (yeah, I recognize the pattern, I guess I was really into Pepto Bismol-colored characters from popular culture for a while there) and tripped over a Snickers bar and almost down some subway stairs as a ten year old. The Snickers bar was full-size, btw, which pains me now–what a waste! And, my favorite, the time I tried to be a Queen by using a wrap skirt as a cape because I was too cheap to buy one. Shockingly, this did not work. Someone asked if I was “dressed like a hurricane,” to which I now realize I should have simply answered, “yes, and thank you for noticing.” 

What about you guys? Best/worst costumes of all time? Talk to me folks. In return, you’ll get candy-stuffed cupcakes. No tricks here, only treats.

Halloween Skull Cupcakes (makes 10 cupcakes)

For the cupcakes

1/2 cup plus one tablespoon of butter, softened

1/2 cup of sugar

2 eggs

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons of milk

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

10 fun-sized chocolates of your choice

For the topping

1 8-oz block of cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup of powdered sugar

Chocolate-covered raisins

Mini marshmallows

Oreos, separated

Mini peanut butter cups

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin with liners. Place a fun-size chocolate in the middle of each cup. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar using a hand mixer on high. When light and creamy, beat in eggs, one at a time. In a smaller bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder and baking powder until mixed, then add into wet mixture. Stir in milk until batter forms, then divide evenly between cups, over chocolates. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cupcakes have risen and the tops have set. 

That's a Mounds bar sticking out. Mmmmm.
That’s a Mounds bar sticking out. Mmmmm.

Let cool completely. While cooling, make your cream cheese icing. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together cream cheese and sugar using a hand mixer on high until smooth. Spread on cupcakes, then get to decorating.

As you can see, we got creative. Mine, on the left, had mini marshmallow teeth, chocolate chip nose holes (technical term), chocolate raisin eyes, and peanut butter cup hats with Oreo brims. Jimmy’s had marshmallow eyeballs, chocolate chip irises, and Oreo mouths with crooked chocolate chunk teeth.

So, thoughts? I enjoyed these, though I will warn you that the cake portion tastes more like a muffin, so it’s not terribly rich. I kind of think that’s perfect, though, given that these were stuffed with either Snickers Peanut Butter squares or Mounds bars, so very chocolatey. They’re also SUPER cute and would be perfect for any Halloween party.

But oh, back to the “pressure” part, because as adamant as I am about pressure-free Halloween, I felt sort of sorry for myself over how messy these turned out, and had a bit of a pity party [inside the plastic jack-o-lantern full of candy] before Jimmy made me pull myself together. Baking’s hard guys. Sometimes I don’t know what’s harder: sharing all of my personal nonsense with you, or sharing all of the desserts I’ve made, both pretty and pretty darned messy. But I’m trying to realize that messy = real, and I will take real. 

So, from my real– and really kooky looking– brood of cupcakes to you, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! Maybe swing by for some handfuls of candy and a cupcake (or three). I’ll be here 🙂

Brownies Cakes Cheesecakes Chocolate Cheer Cookies Fancy Pantsy

He Who Shall Not Be Named Ruins A Day That I Don’t Feel Like Talking About (I Made Cake)

But not birthday cake. Apparently that would be sad. And I am not one to be sad

This isn’t sad. Neither is this. Nope.


Yeah, so… it’s early October, which can only mean two things: the Fall TV season has started, and my birthday is nigh (as in, today. bleh). And that first thing also apparently means another thing. Ugh:

THE HELL? Who let you back in to ruin my life? I knew it. I felt it. The air was heavy with the scent of apples and terror; there was to be some (*shudder*) Stamos in my doomed future. Just the name, the name alone is upsetting. Jimmy is now well-trained enough to change the channel as soon as he hears either “John Sta-” (changed) or “Uncle Je”-(switched). But seriously, things have been lame lately. I, like many humans, have a tendency to want to cry uncontrollably around my birthday and I sort of don’t know why. It’s not really so much because I feel old– as I drunkenly found out last Saturday night, I can still climb a chain-link fence like a boss (though I also went to bed around 9:30 that night. “Bed” being the F train, but still, I would have been out cold if I had not been roused at my actual stop by my trusted companion). It’s more because I find the passage of time and all that comes with it to be almost too much to handle. So much is different this year, so much that I always thought would be the same– people I thought I’d know forever that I had to let go of, ideas about myself that I’ve had to change, velvet scrunchies becoming popular again. These things can do irreversible damage to one’s psyche. Permission to sleep this year off and come back for the little 3-0? Granted? Yes?

While you ponder, let’s talk about cake. Or, more accurately, Things That Are Greater Than Or Equal To Cake But Are Shaped Like Cake. Guys I didn’t know what to call this monstrosity. WTF Cake seemed like it was probably taken, I’m So So Sad Cake seems too on-the-nose, and Chocolate Chip Cookie/Peanut Butter Cheesecake/Dark Chocolate Brownie Cake with Peanut Butter Ganache seemed… lengthy. So bear with the title.

Not Birthday Cake, Because Apparently Baking Your Own Is Sad

For the Chocolate Chip Cookie layer

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup of butter (I recommend browning it first: set in a saucepan over medium heat, allow to melt and then brown until you start to see little buttery bits and it smells nutty)

1 cup of brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

1/2 cup of chocolate chips or chunks

Coarse sea salt for sprinkling, optional

For the Peanut Butter Cheesecake layer

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter

6 tablespoons of half-and-half

3 to 4 mini peanut butter cups, chopped (yeaaahhhh)

For the Brownie Layer (adapted from Smitten Kitchen, also first post on this blog!)

3/4 cup of cocoa powder

1 cup of white sugar

10 tablespoons of butter, softened 

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup of flour

Yeah. This is a lot. Shibow never said this would be easy, just that it would be worth it, and NOT SAD AT ALL. Let’s WORK. 

For the cookie layer, preheat oven to 350°F and generously butter an 8×8 round cake pan. Combine all ingredients except coarse salt until batter forms. Gently fold in chocolate chips until distributed evenly. Spread batter in pan, evening out the top with a rubber spatula, then bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is set and the sides have browned. Sprinkle sea salt on top if using, then let cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. 


Let’s work on our brownie layer next, since the oven is already on and we’re the kind of people who want our cake, want it now, and are slightly, disturbingly obsessive about the goals we make when the goals we make are cake-related. Preheat the oven to 325°F this time, and wash out that large bowl you used for the cookie layer, because you’re gonna need it again (fancy rich folks, sure, use another large bowl, whatever, not even bitter at all about it, kudos for making all those good life choices). Cover the bottom and sides of an 8×8 round cake pan with foil. Combine cocoa powder, butter, sugar and salt in bowl and sift together until lightly mixed. Heat in microwave for up to a couple of minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to stir everything together (alternatively, you can set this over a simmering pot of water as long as you’re not accident prone, which is to say, as long as you’re not me). You can stop when it’s warm but not hot and appears grainy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, with a wooden spoon, until mixture takes on a nice sheen. Stir in flour and beat vigorously until you’ve got yourself a gorgeous batter. Send into the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is set and a cake tester comes out with just a few delectable crumbs on it (that you will not immediately lick, for you have manners and know the dangers of Licking Hot Things. It’s late guys. I’m well aware of how accidentally dirty this whole post is, and IDC). Let cool completely before removing from foil and pan.

If you’re not totally done with me yet, let’s work on our cheesecake middle (also what I call my torso, waka-waka?). Beat cream cheese with electric mixer on high until fluffy, then gradually add in sugar until combined. Mix in peanut butter, then slowly add in half-and-half until the mixture is creamy and totally smooth. Gently fold in chopped peanut butter cups and spread into a generously buttered, foil-lined 8×8 cake pan (yes, of course I recommend using the same pan over again thrice. Not the same foil though. We’re not animals). Freeze until completely solid, at least an hour. Remove and sandwich between your giant cookie and giant brownie. Refrigerate while making your ganache. 

Just some previews. idk. The paper towel? I knew this was going to be messy and I wanted napkins nearby, but I figured it would just make sense to have them under the cake, so I could just rip some paper towels off the actual cake to save time. I'm joking. No I'm not. I am. (I'm not)
Just some previews. idk. The paper towel? I knew this was going to be messy and I wanted napkins nearby, but I figured it would just make sense to have them under the cake, so I could just rip some paper towels off the actual cake to save time. I’m joking. No I’m not. I am. (I’m not)

Peanut Butter Ganache

2/3 cup of heavy cream

6 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter

Set chocolate aside in a heatproof bowl. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan until simmering but not boiling. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for one minute before stirring. Continue to stir until chocolate has melted and mixture is shiny. Stir in peanut butter until melted, then immediately pour this glorious nectar over your cake, letting it spill over the sides like the beautiful disaster it is. Refrigerate until ganache has set.

Top with more peanut butter cups if you like (you like). 
Top with more peanut butter cups if you like (you like). 

Uhhhh…. I know. I’m crazy. This is madness. It’s pure madness. But I needed it, dammit. I needed that glorious, messy, indulgent, unbelievably unhealthy madness.

Pretty much my view for the past couple days, because I love this cake and I am a shut-in.
Pretty much my view for the past couple days, because I love this cake and I am a shut-in.

Oh and other people had this cake and were able to confirm that it was completely not sad but, instead, positively OMG. 

So? Well. Currently I am sippin’ on some serious Courvosier, eating some Not Birthday (and Not Sad) Cake, and listening to Biggie, throwing my hands in the air, because I’mz a true player. Only two of those things are true, and it’s the thing about eating cake and listening to Biggie, because BIGGIE, and also because I have often spoken about how broke I am due to circumstance, the economy and some Star Wars-related purchases I recently made. I guess there are worse ways to spend one’s… regular old Tuesday. Baby. BABAYYYYY.   


Chocolate Cheer Fancy Pantsy Grown Up People Desserts Holiday desserts Pies

Today, I Will Not Be Salty. Today, I Will Leave That To My Pie.

So, I’m going to try to use today’s post to express some positivity, which is going to be hell quite difficult for me because I am super cranky right now. Below, in brackets, is a small taste of where this post was originally going:


I am in such a crap mood these days. Is sugar a depressant? How can it be, when it’s an essential part of any this grown late-twenties Indian woman’s daily diet?! HAVE SOME HUMANITY, SYBIL’S INNER WORKINGS!]

It got wayyyyy darker than that. So yeah… scrapped. Let’s talk happy stuff?

BUT I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT HAPPY SH…. see? Even I can’t stop me. Whew. Ok. Let’s start over. Hey! Let’s make a list!

In the spirit of the holiday, here's a picture of Hoover, my favorite Christmas ornament from our tree. (I purposely left out the "whole tree" pic. I like to keep it tasteful around here. ;))
In the spirit of the holiday, here’s a picture of Hoover, my favorite Christmas ornament from our tree. (I purposely left out the “whole tree” pic. I like to keep it tasteful around here.)

1. The holidays are approaching. For me, this used to mean grumbling about the lines at Macy’s and over-salting eggnog with my bulbous, lonely tears. Now, it means shopping online and not salting my eggnog at all, because I finally realized I hate eggnog! Also, I like people again.

2. To repeat, the holidays are approaching. I have amassed a booklet of recipes to try– cookies, brownies, eclairs (!), something involving turning things that shouldn’t be fudge into fudge, and on and on. Who knows how many of these I will actually complete, but damnit, I am determined. F*&$%ing positivity, guys!!!

3. The holidays…they are upon us. This means Sylvapotamus and I are doing our damndest to get ourselves invited to the fanciest winter soiree this side of De Stuteville Drive (I Googled “fancy place names” and that popped up). This adventure is proving, so far, to be an utter failure…. but IT’S SO MUCH FUN.

4. Oh, and since you casually mentioned the holidays– that was you, right?– I went to the Holiday Train Show this weekend at the Botanical Garden. It was super overpriced and the ticket takers are monsters  gorgeous. Really, really breathtaking, and despite some early hiccups (see: crossed out part of the previous sentence), we all had a lovely time. Even my dad had a ton of fun, and he’s just as surly as I am!

2014-12-14 19.07.16
Photo credit: Sylvapotamus, The Wonderful.


Being a completely ridiculous human being at the Train Show.
Being a completely ridiculous human being. Photo credit: The Incredible Sylvapotamus

Those all sound pretty great, right? Writing that out is certainly giving me perspective on what truly matters: sugar. Wait… sugar AND loved ones.  In no particular order. Actually, no, those two things are in the right order. Sugar rules all.

Speaking of sugar, let’s talk pie. Speaking of pie, let’s talk chocolate pie. Speaking… ok. We’ll just get to it then.

Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart (makes one 9-inch round tart)

pie crust from Canal House & filling from Saveur


3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of salt

12 tablespoons of very cold, unsalted butter,  grated (Yes! Grated! It’s genius!)

1 egg, beaten, mixed with enough cold water to produce 1/2 cup

Pie weights (I usually use uncooked rice, but dried beans or actual pie weights work too)


For the caramel

1 1/2 cups of sugar

3 tablespoons of light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon of salt

6 tablespoons of butter (note: I used salted because it’s what I had; if you’re in the same boat, omit the above salt)

6 tablespoons of heavy cream

For the ganache

1/2 cup of heavy cream

4 ounces of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Sea salt for garnish

Ok, before we start, I kind of think I’ve finally found a pie crust recipe that doesn’t make me want to throw in the tea towel in defeat. I found it very easy to work with, which I’ve never, ever been able to say. I’d love to hear what others think of it.

Butter and lightly flour a 9-inch pie tin; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add in the butter, then blend in using either a pastry blender or a fork. Using your fingers, rub the mixture together just until it feels like wet sand. Stir in the egg mixture with a fork until it begins to come together into a dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface, kneading just until it holds together. Divide the dough in half, shape each half into flat discs, then cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to three days (you can freeze it for up to three months). When ready to use, remove dough from fridge and let it come to room temperature.

On a large, floured flat surface, roll dough out to 14-inch round (and if yours actually stays round, I envy you, magic baker). Gently roll the dough onto a rolling pin, then lay into pie plate. Trim off any excess, leaving 1/2 inch or so of overhang, then curl overhang under lid and crimp decoratively if you have the skills for this. Alas, I do not. Prick the dough all over with a fork, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

It's a pie crust that LOOKS LIKE A PIE CRUST!
It’s a pie crust that LOOKS LIKE A PIE CRUST!

To blind bake the shell, preheat your oven to 400ºF. Line shell with parchment paper or foil, then place weights evenly along the bottom of the shell. Bake for about ten minutes, then remove weights and parchment/foil. At this point, I like to cover the edges of the pie with a ring of foil to prevent them from burning. Send back into the oven for 5 to 8 minutes, until the shell is golden brown. Let cool before filling.

Now let’s work on the most amazing caramel. In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together sugar, corn syrup, salt and 6 tablespoons of water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Continue to cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer inserted into the pan reads 340ºF. Ok, full disclosure: I kind of let this go to 350ºF because I was curious as to what would happen/not paying attention, and I actually really liked the nutty, deep taste the extra time gave the caramel. Remove the pan from heat, then whisk in butter and cream (the mixture will bubble up considerably). Whisk until smooth, then pour evenly into pie shell. Refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours, until caramel is firm.

Almost there, folks. Almost.
Almost there, folks. Almost.

I know, I know this is like a days-long pie recipe, but you will thank me dude. We’re on the last step, the ganache. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Place chocolate in a medium-sized heatproof bowl, then pour in the boiled cream. Let the mixture sit for one minute, then gently stir together with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour ganache evenly over the tart and chill in refrigerator for at least 5 hours. Sprinkle sea salt evenly over the top before serving.

Heaven's surface is sea salty and chocolatey.
Heaven’s surface is sea salty and chocolatey.

So? So. No– no it’s not so-so. It’s anything BUT so-so. It’s like the fanciest, most wonderful candy bar your mouth has ever had the pleasure of receiving. I know there’s been a bit of a backlash against salty desserts, but my brain does not have time to comprehend this. If you have the time– and, truth be told, from start to finish, it’s entirely possible this pie will take days of prep work– please, please make this for yourself and the people closest to you.

*Definitely* make sure this pie is chilled before you slice it if you're looking to photograph it. I simply could not wait any longer.
*Definitely* make sure this pie is chilled before you slice it if you’re looking to photograph it. I simply could not wait any longer.
How it looked after a couple of days. Am I a bad blogger because I did this to this tart, or a good blogger for being honest with you?
How it looked after a couple of days. Am I a bad blogger because I did this to this tart, or a good blogger for being honest with you?
Cakes Chocolate Cheer Fancy Pantsy

Twenty Eight And Still Miraculously Kicking. And Screaming. And Baking.

Lots of older people shake their heads wistfully, smile and gently say, “Well, it’s all downhill from here!” once I tell them that I’ve just turned twenty eight. I know it’s a joke, but I’ve heard it enough times in the past two weeks to be suspicious. Really, ya’ll? It can’t be that bad. Look at George Clooney! Hell, look at Flavor Flav! Flavor Flav has the best life ever.

Truthfully, there have been some sad times recently– too many sad times, to be honest– but, fortunately, also some very, very happy times. I’ve spent the past month or so struggling to weigh the great stuff against the horrible, and I realized that I have always had a serious negative bias. Are you shocked? That’s shocking, right? I’m trying as hard as I can to get rid of it, or, at least, shrink it to the point where you’re all giving me the shady side-eye and wondering what I’m on.

One of those great things…

So that’s what I plan to do with this new year: be a little bit more positive. If you know me, you are laughing hysterically, given that I seem to have the unfortunate ability to turn even the greatest news (only when it comes to me, of course) into a complete nightmare. I assure you, I am changing. Slowly, very slowly, but I am trying. Even the negative events of late have put things into perspective, which is very necessary, given my tendency to sweat/cry/shake/cry/cry the small stuff. Here’s what I’ve realized: there isn’t time. There isn’t time to worry about my frizzy hair, or the almond milk I forgot to pick up, or the completely fixable minor work mistake I made. There isn’t time. And yes, I’ll still beat myself up over ridiculous situations from time to time, but now I’m also going to try to take as much time as possible to just be thankful.

First thing I’m thankful for? The invention of cake. Specifically, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. Yeeee-up.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake (makes one 3 layer 8-inch cake)

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the cake

2 cups of all-purpose flour

2 cups of sugar

3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons of baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of vegetable or canola oil

1 cup of sour cream

1 1/2 cups of water

2 tablespoons of white vinegar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or coffee liquer (I used the latter…awesome)

2 large eggs

For the peanut butter frosting

10 ounces of cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, softened

2 tablespoons of butter

3 cups of powdered sugar

2/3 cup of smooth peanut butter

For the peanut butter chocolate glaze

8 ounces of semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons of light corn syrup

1/2 cup of heavy cream

So, as you can see from the above, this cake is a little bit of work. But, as you can also see… it’s a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting AND freaking peanut butter chocolate ganache. So, you know, worth the couple of hours of fun.

To start, preheat your oven to 350ºF and butter and flour (confession: I use cocoa powder instead of flour because I’m wild like that) three eight-inch round cake pans. You can also line the bottoms with parchment paper, but since I didn’t have any I was able to get away with a generous buttering/powder dusting. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt until totally combined. Stir in sour cream and vegetable oil and whisk until fully mixed. Stir in water, then blend in vinegar and vanilla. Lastly, beat in your two eggs until completely mixed in and batter is formed. Yes folks, one bowl. Be still my lazy heart. Divide batter among your pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a cake tester comes out with just a few stray crumbs on it. Let cool in pans for 15-20 minutes, then invert onto cake racks. I’m going to second Deb from Smitten Kitchen in saying that these cakes are very, very soft. If you plan on frosting them (and don’t think twice about it, you plan on frosting them), it’s a good idea to wrap these cakes tightly in plastic wrap and freeze them for at least half an hour. It will firm them up and make them much easier to work with.

To make your frosting, beat cream cheese and butter together in a large bowl, with a hand mixer or stand mixer on high speed, until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula from time to time. Beat until completely combined, 2 to 3 minutes, then add in peanut butter and mix until smooth.


To frost, unwrap a cake layer and place on a cake stand/paper plate (I’m poor, guys). Top with a generous amount of frosting, then place another layer on top and repeat. Top with third layer, then frost top and sides. It’s easiest to frost the sides by doing a light “crumb coating,” where a thin layer of frosting is spread along the sides and top of the cake as a base. Then you can continue with more frosting layered on top of this base.


Lastly, we’re going to work on our chocolate peanut butter ganache. In a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine your chocolate, peanut butter and corn syrup. Heat while stirring often, until the mixture is smooth.


Remove from heat, then whisk in heavy cream. Beat until smooth, then pour evenly over cake, like so:


Make sure to cover the entire top of the cake, then basically just wait for the goodness to drip down the sides. You can smooth the top with a rubber spatula, if you’d like, but I chose to keep things pretty rustic, because, um, I’m rustic and this was my birthday cake?

Refrigerate the cake, uncovered, until the ganache is firm.


Ohhhhh. Yeah.



So this cake was terrible. I mean it obviously was, right? After all of that work, and those weird ingredients no one ever puts together, how could this have been anything but a disaster?

Guys, I’ve eaten my weight in this cake. I should be embarrassed. “Should be” are the key words there, folks. Everyone who has had a piece of this cake has expressed nothing but wonder. It certainly rivals last year’s S’mores Cake and WILL be making repeat appearances in my life.

(One more for good measure)
(One more for good measure)


Bars Chocolate Cheer Classic Favorites Cookies Fancy Pantsy

Homemade Mallobars. (East Coast… Can Ya’ll Really Feel Me?)

*Today’s post is going to be focused on the dessert and will contain little to no complaining on my part, just to see what being a primarily baked good-centered blog feels like.*

So, how do you all feel about Mallomars?

I have no idea if those of you not in the Northeast are privy to the awesome power of the Mallomar. Last I heard, it was an East Coast thang.

I am unsure of my feelings on them.

So unsure that I had to go through several boxes of the seasonal treat this past winter to determine my feelings on them.

So unsure that I attempted to store three boxes away in my freezer so that I could continue to test them during the off-season. (Note: the aforementioned boxes have since mysteriously disappeared)

So unsure that when I realized my reserve boxes had gone missing (Ed note: contents of box were later determined to have been consumed by one James Hilger. Mr. Hilger resides with the author, and will pay dearly for his mistake) I furiously hunted down a homemade recipe for the treat, and vowed to make them as a summertime treat. In your sugar-coated face, archaic Nabisco rules!

If you want the truth, I actually respect Nabisco for attempting to limit my intake of this marshmallowy, chocolate-covered delight on a graham cracker platform. It’s a pretty good marketing strategy, considering the number of salivating Mallomar-devotees lurking outside of my– let’s face it, everyone’s– local Key Food come wintertime. But I just can’t live without ’em. I… I can’t. And so I attempted to make my own. Let’s do this, friends.

Homemade Mallobars (they’re bars because I cut them into bars, because I did. These made about 40 for me)

From the James Beard Foundation

For the Graham Crackers

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour (also called graham flour)

Pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

6 tablespoons of softened butter

2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of white sugar

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

5 teaspoons of honey

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the Marshmallow

1/3 cup of water, plus extra for cooking

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 envelopes of plain gelatin

1 cup of white sugar

1/2 cup of light corn syrup

For the chocolate coating

1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate, chopped

We begin with our graham crackers. Now, if I were you, I’d start making these at least a day in advance of when you’d like to enjoy them, mostly because the graham crackers require a fair amount of chilling before being baked. Trust me, these will be well worth the wait.

In a large bowl, whisk together your flours, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar until combined, then add in honey. Mix in the egg and vanilla until fully incorporated. Combine with dry ingredients and mix just until batter forms. Cover bowl and chill dough for at least two hours.

Remove dough from bowl and place between two large sheets of parchment paper. Roll out into a 1/8 inch thick sheet. Transfer flattened dough to a baking sheet and refrigerate again for at least an hour, or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325ºF. Carefully remove parchment sheet on top of dough. From here, you can either cut rectangles/squares of dough or bake as an uncut sheet, which is what I did. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 14 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let crackers cool completely.

These are what my rando-shaped graham crackers look like. They look so weird, I know. The taste, however, will make you want to slap the makers of Honey Maid in the face for ever deceiving you.
These are what my rando-shaped graham crackers look like. They look so weird, I know. The taste, however, will make you want to slap the makers of Honey Maid in the face for ever deceiving you.

So…. I decided to taste-test these before continuing on in my mission, mostly because I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten a homemade graham cracker. And I am now sorry that I have spent so much of my life on the store-bought stuff. The homemade ones were soft, sweet and had a deep, almost nutty flavor to them. I hope I never again let my laziness get the better of me by going with the pre-made stuff.

And now, on to the marshmallows. We’ve made marshmallows here before, and this won’t really be any different, but I’ll take you through the steps again so you won’t have to click back and forth.

To make your marshmallows, combine water and vanilla in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over water and set aside for at least 10 minutes. In a separate saucepan, mix together sugar and corn syrup. Pour in just enough water to make the mixture resemble wet sand. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to medium. Cook until the mixture reaches 260ºF (note: if you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can cook until the mixture reaches “soft ball stage.” Place a tiny amount of mixture in a bowl of cold water– if it becomes a soft ball, the mixture is ready to be taken off the heat), then remove from heat. Carefully stir water/gelatin mixture in, and stir until dissolved.

Transfer mixture to a stand mixer and whisk on high speed, taking care that mixture doesn’t splatter. Mix until thickened as much as possible, about 7 minutes. Next, you can either fill a pastry bag with marshmallow mixture or use a rubber spatula to spread mixture directly onto graham crackers. Gently smooth the top of mixture with wet fingers. Let firm and cool completely. At this point, if you haven’t already, you may cut into squares/something that vaguely resembles squares/amoebas/anything you want.


When cooled, melt your chocolate (either in microwave or in a double-boiler), then pour chocolate over. Let chocolate harden, and serve.


Words of warning: you will probably not be able to wait until these things are even close to not-still-hot before reaching for them. If you are, kudos, but if not, you were warned, genius. My fingers are still medium-rare from that mistake. Seriously, let these cool…

… Because once you do you will be left with magic. To be honest, they tasted more like s’mores than Mallomars, but I didn’t really care, because they were ridiculous. Also, I discovered that they are somehow even more amazing once frozen. O.M.G. DO THIS. With Independence Day approaching, I cannot think of a better way to salute ‘Murica than this magic.