Friday, November 7, 2014

The Book: Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light; The Bite: Easy Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Swirl 'Chip' Cupcakes

The Book!
I decided to highlight the following award winning book in honor of National Chocolate and Peanut Day, which is today. The book, "Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light" (2006) was written by author Mort Rosenblum (he is also author of the award winning book Olives), and published by North Point Press; an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light: "A delectable journey into the world of chocolate--from manufacturing to marketing, French boutiques to American multinationals--by the award-winning author of Olives.

Science, over recent years, has confirmed what chocolate lovers have always known: the stuff is actually good for you. It's the Valentine's Day drug of choice, has more antioxidants than red wine, and triggers the same brain responses as falling in love. Nothing, in the end, can stand up to chocolate as a basic fundament to human life. 

In this scintillating narrative, acclaimed foodie Mort Rosenblum delves into the complex world of chocolate. From the mole poblano--chile-laced chicken with chocolate--of ancient Mexico to the contemporary French chocolatiers who produce the palets d'or--bite-sized, gold-flecked bricks of dark chocolate--to the vast empires of Hershey, Godiva, and Valrhona, Rosenblum follows the chocolate trail the world over. He visits cacao plantations, meets with growers, buyers, makers, and tasters, and investigates the dark side of the chocolate trade as well as the enduring appeal of its product. 

Engaging, entertaining, and revealing, Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light is a fascinating foray into this "food of the gods.""

Book Stats:
Genre - Adult, Non-Fiction
Page Count - 305
Target Age Group - Crossover
Theme(s) - Food, Historical

The Bite
Easy Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Swirl 'Chip' Cupcakes
Today is National Chocolate and Peanut Day, so I decided to bake these easy to make cupcakes with a chocolate and peanut butter theme frosting. I am the first one to admit that I am not a huge fan of icing. I am that typical person that you see at parties scraping the stuff off and just eating the cake. So when I set out to frost the cupcakes, I wanted a frosting that was more like a dessert in and of itself. Although I used a store bought brand for the milk chocolate part of the frosting, I made my own peanut butter frosting and then swirled them together to create a delicious topping for the cupcakes; similar in taste to a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Yes, I ate every bit of that swirled frosting along with my daughter who is not a particular fan of frosting either. So if you love the peanut butter and chocolate combination, you will love these simple to make cupcakes.  Here is a pictorial step by step guide to making your own. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Cupcakes:
Any "Moist" or "Super Moist" cake mix (I interchange between Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines)
Eggs (as many as box mix indicates); usually 3
Milk (if box mix requires water, substitute milk for water); usually 1 cup milk needed
Butter (if box mix requires oil, substitute DOUBLE the butter for oil); usually 1 cup butter needed

Ingredients for Peanut Butter Frosting:
1 cup Peanut Butter
1/2 cup Butter
Approx. 2 cups Powdered Sugar
3 to 4 Tbsp Milk

Also needed:
1/4 to 1/3 cup Milk Chocolate Chips (or semi-sweet chocolate chips)
Milk Chocolate Frosting 
(although I could make the milk chocolate frosting from scratch, I opted not to in order to save time. I used Duncan Hines Creamy Milk Chocolate Frosting)

Mix cake mix as indicated on box, making the suggested substitutions as listed above in the ingredients.

Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips, or as many as desired. I used both milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Spoon in cupcake holders about 3/4 full.

Follow the baking times as indicated on the box mix. In this instance, at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Cupcakes are done when toothpick is inserted and comes out clean. 

Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.

To make the peanut butter frosting;
combine the peanut butter and butter and mix well in blender.
Then gradually add the powdered sugar, and blend well.

Thin frosting using milk until desired whipped consistency.

The frosting should look like the above image when finished.

To make the frosting swirl, spoon half the peanut butter frosting into a frosting applicator. if you don't have one on hand, you can also use a ziplock bag and cut a tiny hole in the bottom corner of the bag to squeeze out frosting. 

Then spoon the milk chocolate frosting into other half of cupcake applicator (or ziplock bag).

The applicator (or ziplock bag) should show half peanut butter and half milk chocolate frosting.

Squeeze desired amount of frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Start near the edge of the cupcake making a circular motion until you reach the top.


If you desire, add a chocolate chip on top of each cupcake for decoration.

Easy Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Swirl 'Chip' Cupcakes!

Easy Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Swirl 'Chip' Cupcakes!
Easy Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Swirl 'Chip' Cupcakes!
Easy Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Swirl 'Chip' Cupcakes!
Easy Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Swirl 'Chip' Cupcakes!
Easy Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Swirl 'Chip' Cupcakes!
Easy Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Swirl 'Chip' Cupcakes!

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