Can I let you in on a little secret? Baking brings out the perfectionist in me. I have very high standards for how things look, especially if it’s going to end up on my blog. And it was especially important to me that this cake look perfect. Why? Because this is one of my favorite cakes, right up there with the chocolate raspberry cake.
The first time I made this cake, way before I started blogging, it looked perfect. Just gorgeous. And then when I made it for the blog last week, well, it was ok, but it wasn’t up to my standards. I let the chocolate ganache topping cool too much (what can I say, our apartment is sadly a refrigerator in the winter) before pouring it on the cake and ended up having to spread it rather than letting it drip down the sides. Did it change how the cake tasted? No, not at all. But it mattered to me. I wanted the cake to look perfect. I need everything I can to get you to get into your kitchen to start making this because I’m convinced the world would be a much happier place if everyone could just get a slice or two of this cake. It is that good.
Another peanut butter and chocolate recipe? Yup, that’s because the next birthday was Joseph’s. Now, one of the very first things I learned about Joseph was his love of chocolate and raspberries together, so the obvious choice would have been the most amazing chocolate raspberry cake ever, but that is one mondo cake and I didn’t want anything that delicious and that big sitting in the kitchen tempting me. Also, his birthday was on a Tuesday and since we’d been busy the weekend before hanging out with my sister and brother-in-law, I hadn’t had any time to get anything ready ahead of time. I needed something that I could come home from work and whip up quickly so we could go out to dinner and enjoy ourselves.
And I know that the traditional thing to do is to bake a cake, but for some reason, ice cream just felt right. Very close behind chocolate and raspberry, Joseph’s next favorite dessert flavor combo is chocolate and peanut butter and when I found this recipe from Recipe Girl (yes, two chocolate peanut butter recipes in a row and they are both from Recipe Girl – totally coincidental!), I knew I had found the perfect recipe.
Unlike most of the ice creams that I usually make, this ice cream is not custard-based (the French style), meaning it doesn’t have eggs. Which means you don’t have to stand over a stove stirring eggs and waiting for the perfect consistency and then cooling the mixture and getting on with making your ice cream. No. All you have to do for this recipe is mix up some milk, cream, sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla, throw it in the ice cream maker, toss in some chopped peanut butter cups, let it harden a little in the freezer, and you’re good to go. It is so EASY.
So I came home from work, whipped up the base, churned the ice cream cream while I cleaned up and wrapped Joseph’s present, finished it off with the peanut butter cups, and I was done and we were off for a lovely dinner out (sushi!). When we got home, the ice cream was waiting in the freezer, so all I had to do was scoop some out and stick a candle in his bowl.
Ok, so Pixelated Crumb is way overdue for a recipe and I promised you some yummy birthday celebration desserts and I’m here to deliver! August and September are busy months for Joseph and me because they’re full of birthdays of friends and family (including my own!). First up is Mark, my brother-in-law. When I think of Mark and food there are two things that I always think of: pork belly and peanut butter with chocolate. We were visiting them outside Philly right after his birthday, and I knew I had to make him something good for his birthday. Not only is he a really cool guy with an awesome sense of humor, but he was immensely kind and helpful with all his web skills when I moved Pixelated Crumb to a self hosted site a few months ago. I owe him big time and this cake was my chance to begin to show my gratitude for all he’s done.
And since Mark loves chocolate and peanut butter, the flavor profile of his birthday treat was easy to decide on (pork belly cake just didn’t seem quite right somehow) and this cake from Recipe Girl seemed just about perfect. The cake itself really reminded me of a chewy peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, which I really loved. It’s big and dense and super delicious. I was really tempted to swap out the peanut butter glaze with a chocolate ganache glaze (that’s me, always trying to add more chocolate), but Joseph really pulled for the peanut butter glaze. I’m sure it would be fantastic with ganache, but I have to say, it the peanut butter glaze turned out to be quite a hit (there may or may not have been some fighting over who got to clean the plate off)! Continue reading
Like the rest of the food blogging community, I was shocked and horrified by the news that Jennifer Perillo’s husband, Mikey, passed away quite unexpectedly of a heart attack last Sunday. My jaw dropped and tears streamed down my face when I read Jennifer’s twitter feed that day, which went from counting down the days to their vacation to “He’s gone. And my heart is shattered in a million pieces.”
I can’t begin to imagine the pain of losing your spouse so suddenly like that. It’s my biggest fear. To lose Joseph would be to lose my heart and my soul. I don’t know how I would breath.