So this is a few weeks late, but I have to mention my lovely birthday cake and updates to my lovely go-to chocolate cake recipe. Earlier this year, I posted about a chocolate cake recipe I found from a Barefoot Contessa cookbook, and any time I want chocolate cake this is what I use and trust. So for my birthday, I volunteered to bake my own cake (because I do what I want on my birthday!) and decided chocolate cake was the obvious answer. I browsed some new frosting recipes, let my brain daydream about flavor combinations, and eventually got the idea to do a two-layer chocolate cake, WITH peanut buter cream cheese filling, AND chocolate ganache frosting. Oh yes. I was so excited in that moment that I sketched the whole thing out so I wouldn’t forget such a brilliant combination. Peanut butter frosting is always delicious, and so is cream cheese frosting, and I have absolutely no idea why it took me this long to combine the two. And this is the first time I’ve made chocolate ganache. I knew of it, but I was always intimidated because it just sounded fancy. Well, it looks it, but it’s really, really easy. So yeah, I may start celebrating my half-birthday, and quarter-birthday just so I can have an excuse to eat this again.
Find my chocolate cake recipe here.
- 8 ounces cream cheese (1 brick), at room temperature
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (add a little more or less to taste)
- 2/3 c. smooth peanut butter
Beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Continue to beat until light and fluffy and smooth. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips (I used these)
Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Scald the heavy cream in a saucepan. I learned that “scalding” is when you heat the cream (or milk and such) and tiny bubbles start to form around the edges (but it’s NOT boiling). Make sure to stir the cream while it heats to prevent scorching. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for 30 seconds. Then slowly whisk together the chocolate and cream until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature. It can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, but make sure to bring to room temperature before using . I made mine the night before I baked the cake, and then took it out to set on the counter about 4 hours before I needed to use it. When researching how to make chocolate ganache, I came across this site which shows three different variations on using ganache. It’s pretty interesting!
So I was invited to a fun dinner party with my friends, and I offered to bring a dessert. I like opportunities like this because it’s an excuse to try a new recipe without having to eat all of the results myself. A few months ago I came across some really pretty photographs of blueberry cupcakes with a gorgeous purple frosting and have been waiting to experiment with blueberries. I also really like the idea of putting blueberries in cupcakes. Normally I only think of using them in muffins when it comes to hand held treats, but the idea of adding them to cupcakes (especially with the addition of something lemony) seems particularly happy and summery.
slightly updated from this recipe
makes about 15 cupcakes
- ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour, divided
- ¾ cup cake flour
- 1½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 8 tbsp. unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
- ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon (divide in half and use other half in frosting)
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1 cup fresh or frozen (unthawed) blueberries
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Zest of ½ lemon (use same lemon from above)
- Additional fresh blueberries, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the ¾ cup all-purpose flour, the cake flour, baking powder and salt; whisk together and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar and lemon zest. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes with hand mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice. With the mixer on low speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Blend in the buttermilk. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated. In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Using a spatula, gently fold the berries into the cake batter. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about ¾ full. Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from pan immediately and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. You can also beat this with a spoon by hand. Mix in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. You can experiment with different types of frosting bag tips or just simply frost them with a knife. I experimented by making flower shapes with a flat, basketweave tip and they came out very pretty I think. Garnish with fresh blueberries.