Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cupcakes

Happy Valentine's Day! I have a delicious dessert recipe and some thoughts/advice to share.

As mentioned in my last post, I'm newly single for the first time in forever so obviously Valentine's Day isn't the most fun this year. No flowers or chocolate or cards or dinner dates. Ok, so I've had some chocolate. That I gifted to myself.

Last night I was talking to my mom about being in sort of a weird spot in my life. I chose to go to grad school right after undergrad in order to get it out of the way and up my chances of finding a full-time teaching job asap. This has resulted in me living in a overpriced apartment by myself in a town where I don't know anyone while working close to full-time as a substitute teacher and taking 18 credits this semester. Sounds like a blast, right? Not always, but I try to make the best of it by keeping up with the blog and staying busy. Needless to say, it gets a little lonely sometimes. As for the breakup, it's left me feeling pretty exhausted, insecure, lost, bitter, and all kinds of angry. So as I was explaining this to my mom, she gave me some advice - all of it is great, some is warm and fuzzy, and some is just straight up tough love.

#1 - "Quit recycling ex-boyfriends. You broke up with them for a reason and you're not going to change them. Let it go and move on already. Until you stop making the same mistakes over and over, I'm not going to feel bad for you." I have a bad habit of doing this. I go back to what I know and expect that it will be better the second, third, or twentieth time. It never is. I also have a problem letting go. I over-analyze every single second of the relationship and try to figure out where things went wrong and what I should have done different. Life is not a math problem so I should probably stop treating it like one. And, as my mother so delicately pointed out, the analysis isn't working because I keep doing the same things over and over and over and over and expecting them to turn out differently. According to Einstein, that's the definition of insanity so I should probably change that. Starting today :)

#2 - "You can't expect a man to appreciate how hard you work toward your goals if they themselves are unmotivated." This might be the best advice that I have ever been given and I don't know why I didn't think of it myself. You can't expect someone to appreciate a quality that you have if they don't value that quality, in general. I've always wanted a guy that recognizes and appreciates how hard I work to obtain the things that I want. But if I keep choosing guys without a similar drive, they aren't going to care about how hard I work because they don't understand the situation. I don't want to have to request appreciation from someone. I have too much pride for that mess.
#3 - "The people who matter and love you think you're wonderful so who cares what anyone else thinks?" Typical mom advice but it's true. My family and close friends are very supportive and proud of my accomplishments. And that means the world to me.

#4 - "Stop complaining and do something about it. No one is going to approach you if you're mean and angry. You're too young to be this bitter." Tough love. Honestly, if I were a guy, I would not come within 100 yards of me. I'm super angry and I have a habit of taking that anger out on anyone that is of the male gender. I guess I can't expect to receive good things with a bad attitude. One of my New Year's resolutions was to be more positive and I've been doing a pretty good job in terms of work, school, and daily life but I'm having a hard time transferring it over to my love life. I'll work on it. No one wants to be friends with, and definitely not date, an angry biotch.

#5 - "The fact that you're letting a man determine your self-worth is stupid." Blunt and to the point. Especially considering the fact that it's a person that is no long a part of my life. So eff that, I'm awesome. You have to believe that yourself before anyone else can see it.

So there's my two cents for the day. Now you know you know everything that's running through my head right this very second.  Except....

CUPCAKES! Now I can share these!  They were absolutely wonderful. As you know, chocolate and peanut butter is, hands down, my favorite flavor combination. And this is a chocolate cupcake stuffed with a peanut butter filling and topped with a peanut butter frosting.  Heaven.

I chose to use boxed chocolate cake. I scooped the majority of the cupcake out in order to make room for the filling anyway so who cares? Not I. I try not to make life harder for myself. The filling is very rich and makes the cupcakes feel like they weigh a pound. I love the crunch that the pretzels add to the filling. Next time I might even use chunky peanut butter for more texture.

The frosting is a fluffy peanut butter frosting. It's light and has a very subtle peanut butter flavor so it's not overwhelming with everything else that's going on in this dessert. I dyed the frosting pink in anticipation of using this recipe as a Valentine's Day post :)

I topped the cupcake with a super cute and easy chocolate peanut butter pretzel garnish.  You just lay some pretzels on a baking sheet and put a Hershey's hug/kiss on each one. Pop them in the oven at 350 for about a minute (I left mine in for about two minutes which is why they look a little melty-er than they should). Then take them out and put an M&M in the middle of the melty chocolate. For this I used, traditional pretzels, Hershey's hugs, and Valentine's Day peanut Butter M&Ms. I put one on each cupcake and put the rest in a container for people to snack on.  These, in and of themselves, are a great sweet treat and can be thrown together really quickly but still have a very nice presentation.

You should make these. Make them for the people you love. Whether that's your boyfriend, your family, your friends, or just yourself.  Or bake them to show your exes that, in addition to all of your other endearing qualities that make you a total catch, you're a whiz in the kitchen. And they can have fun eating the Little Debbie snacks that their mommies buy them :)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cupcakes (makes 18 cupcakes)
For the cupcakes
·         your favorite chocolate cake mix
For the filling
·         1 cup peanut butter
·         1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
·         1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         2 cups confectioner’s sugar
·         2 large chocolate covered pretzels, crushed, enough for a 1/2 cup of crushed pretzel
For the frosting
·         1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons milk, or as needed
  • 1 ½ - 2 cups confectioners' sugar
For the pretzel garnish
·         18 pretzels
·         18 Hersey’s hugs
·         18 peanut butter M&Ms (I used about 36… one for the pretzels, one for my mouth…)

  1. Bake the cupcakes as directed on the box.  Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.
  2. As the cupcakes are cooling, make the filling.  Melt the peanut butter and butter in a sausage pan, stirring constantly. Remove the peanut butter mixture from heat and mix in the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract. Add the pretzels and mix together until it becomes an even mixture.
  3. When the cupcakes are completely cooled, use a knife to hollow out the middle of the cupcakes (I cut a pretty big hole because the recipe makes a lot of filling and I looooooooove peanut butter). Save the cake in a separate bowl.
  4. Fill the cupcakes with the peanut butter pretzel filling. Cover the top of the filling with a small amount of the reserved cake.
  5. For the frosting: Place the butter and peanut butter into a medium bowl, and beat with an electric mixer. Gradually mix in the sugar, and when it starts to get thick, incorporate milk one tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is mixed in and the frosting is thick and spreadable. Beat for at least 3 minutes for it to get good and fluffy.
  6. Frost the cupcakes (generously!).
  7. For the garnish: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay out 18 pretzels on a baking sheet. Place one unwrapped Hershey’s hug on each pretzel. Put in the oven for about 1 minute (or until starting to melt). Take out of the oven and immediately put one peanut butter M&M in the center of each Hershey’s hug.
  8. Place one pretzel garnish on each cupcake. 

best. frosting. ever.

finished product :)

I made my mom's boyfriend stop eating mid-cupcake to take a picture of the filling.

My beautiful little sister. Eating her second cupcake. She's the best. 

Oh and this is me. Making myself a personal Valentine's Day treat. SANGRIA!

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