Tag Archives: chocolate

Crunchy Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

Cupcakes for Breakfast: crunchy peanut butter chocolate cake

I’m just going to give you the moral of this story up front: baking for boys can be all sorts of fun, but baking for your friends is better. That’s kind of the moral of my life though.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: crunchy peanut butter chocolate cake

So, here’s what I propose. Make a really good chocolate cake. I’m still a huge fan of Martha Stewart’s one bowl chocolate cake, but I know we can’t all be Martha, so if you must use your favorite Duncan Hines box I promise I won’t tell and I promise no one will care. Put on a pot of coffee and while it brews, make this crunchy peanut butter frosting. Slab it all over the cake – if it’s messy, so what? You’re just going to start eating it now anyway. Lick the extra frosting off your fingers. Invite a good friend over. Gossip about the boys. Bite of rich, moist, crunchy cake. Laugh. Sip of coffee. Inappropriate joke. Repeat. Pack up pieces of cake for your friends to eat for lunch the next day. Extend the cake love.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: crunchy peanut butter chocolate cake

Crunchy Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

For any kind of chocolate cake – but I like Martha’s best.


  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  1. Beat the cream cheese and the butter together.
  2. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and continue to mix well.
  3. Slowly add the sugar (sift it if you’re not lazy like me) and beat until incorporated.

crunchy peanut butter frosting and coffee

Sweet Tarts

Fruute sweet tarts

Start your week off with something sweet, like this adorable little tarts from Fruute. They’re just so beautiful – and I love that some of them even have a little macaron on top! If you’re in LA, I guess you could actually order these minis for a party, but for those of us who aren’t, I’m just going to pretend I have a tray of these to get me through a rough Monday.

In the Kitchen with Friends

The first friendship I formed in college was a result of bonding over pink bedding from Pottery Barn Kids. That didn’t last too long though. One of our other roommates, Emma was pretty annoyed that I decorated my corner of the room with all things pink. It bothered me that she would sing while we studied. I don’t think either of us were convinced that we’d end up being friends.

But Emma and I found common ground in the kitchen. Our very very small (two people in there was a crunch) dorm room kitchen. In that kitchen where we realized we enjoyed each others company and our bold personalities could actually work together. Our friendship really began by making messes in the kitchen. We invented wafflefluff. We attempted to flambé bananas with Malibu Rum. We became friends over the stove. This was the first time I really realized that friends and food go together.

I’ve said often that the one thing they don’t teach you when you graduate college is that after, you have to learn how to make friends all over again. Sure you’re always going to have girlfriends from high school and college, but they don’t always live close. And when you’re out of school, you’re out of situations where you naturally make friends…so you have to work at it. I went on a lot of girl dates my first year or two out of college. I still do now. And it seems weird, but if you meet a girl that you think you might get along with you have to put yourself out there and just be like, “hi I’m Nikki, want to be friends?” It’s so strange. It’s like playing in the sandbox all over again. But that little bit of courage to pick up friends pays off – that’s how I met so many of my good friends today.

making Julia Child's chocolate souflee with friends

Some of my favorite moments of last year involved not only eating with good friends, but cooking with them too. We made pasta, funnel cake, cookies, chili, lovely cheese plates, sangria, pizza, fig chutney, guacamole, a patriotic fruit tart, and Julia Child’s chocolate soufflé.

The soufflé night was one of my favorites. Over two years ago I met Emily and Rachel at a bar. I don’t remember much about that evening except that it was sweltering hot, and as we tried to chat in front of a fan I thought they were sweet and fun. I held out my hand and introduced myself. Many brunches, books, boy stories, cheese, real marathons, figurative marathons, and glasses of wine later and we have a real girl-grown friendship. How cool is that?

Emily left yesterday and is off on what will absolutely be a life-changing adventure. But before she left we all made chocolate soufflé together. One girl stirs the melting chocolate, another beats the egg whites, another butters the ramekins. It’s not an easy recipe, but it’s much easier when you’re not alone. While we wait and the room fills with sweet chocolate smells, we go back to the wine, the boy stories, the new adventures. Oh, and then we eat. It’s simple, it’s chocolate, it’s friendship.

baking chocolate soufflé with friends

Not sure I can say completely why the kitchen is better with friends in it. Mostly it’s a big bowl of sappy feelings. But also, it’s creating something and sharing it together. It’s not materialistic or judgmental. It’s turning a brick of chocolate into a rich fluffy cloud. It’s celebrating how far we’ve come from that first bar or dorm room and how far we’ll go next.

I can only hope 2013 holds more moments in the kitchen with friends like this. We may even talk about pink monogrammed bedding (because seriously, it’s not like I’ve moved on from that!), but it will be over piled-high dishes, flour spills, “more wine?”s, and food that tastes like memories.

“Remember, no one’s more important than people. In other words, friendship is the most important thing–not career or housework, or one’s fatigue–and it needs to be tended and nurtured.”

-Julia Child, My Life in France

Chocolate Decadence

chocolate cake mousse ganache raspberries

So I’ve blogged this quote from Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life, a while back. But really it’s all I can think about all day. So let’s start there.

“It’s going to sound silly, I know, but I think that what it all comes down to is winning hearts and minds. Underneath everything else, all the plans and goals and hopes, that’s why we get up in the morning, why we believe, why we try, why we bake chocolate cakes. That’s the best we can ever hope to do: to win hearts and minds, to love and be loved.”

chocolate cake mousse ganache raspberries

I’m on a layer cake kick. My new office has more people than my previous one, which is the perfect excuse to bake something a little bigger, without worrying about leftovers. These cakes get devoured in just a few hours. I’ll tell you a secret…I thrive on that feeling. It brings me so much joy. So, besides the fact that this chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling, chocolate ganache and raspberries is just pure chocolate decadence, once it was all assembled, I realized it’s also a pure “winning hearts and minds” cake too.

It’s a little about fitting in. It’s a little about declaring who I am. Both take perfect shape in the form of chocolate cake.

So I threw this thing together. While it seems over the top, it was really quite simple for me. And I think that’s why I love it. Baking. Chocolate. Feeding people. It means so much. It’s not complicated. It just makes sense.

chocolate cake mousse ganache raspberries

You can really put these components together in any form…layered cake, cupcakes, a trifle. I spread the mousse between the two cake layers, frosted the top with the rich chocolate ganache and garnished it with fresh raspberries. Make it your own and share it with people around you. I promise it will stir up something to talk about.

chocolate cake mousse ganache raspberries

Martha Stewart’s One Bowl Chocolate Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pans
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter round or square cake pans, and line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment, and dust with cocoa.
  2. Into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, stir in eggs, 1 1/2 cups warm water, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla until smooth, about 3 minutes.
  3. Divide batter among prepared pans. Bake, rotating once, until tester inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes for 8-inch layers, depending on amount of batter.
  4. Let cakes cool in pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely, right side up on rack.

chocolate cake mousse ganache raspberries

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 ounces finely chopped chocolate
  1. In a small heavy saucepan, combine sugar and cocoa powder.
  2. Gradually add just enough milk to make a paste, then stir in the rest.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spatula (make sure you’re getting the corners of the pan) until mixture comes to a boil. Boil gently, and stir for about 2 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  5. Let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in chocolate until melted and smooth.
  6. Cover the surface of the frosting with wax paper and let cool until spreadable.

chocolate cake mousse ganache raspberries

 Chocolate Mousse Filling

  • 2 1/2 cups cold, heavy cream, plus an additional 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. In a small heavy saucepan, combine the confectioners’ sugar and 1/2 cup heavy cream. Add the chocolate chips, stirring until they melt and mixture becomes well blended.
  2. Remove chocolate mix from heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside
  3. Using the whisk attachment in stand mixer, beat the remaining heavy cream on medium speed. Gradually add the granulated sugar. Once incorporated, beat the mixture on high until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the chocolate mixture with the whipped cream. (You might not use all of the chocolate.) Don’t over mix. Refrigerate for at least one hour before using.

chocolate cake mousse ganache raspberrie