Chocolate Peanut Butter Spice Cake


Spice cake is one of my favorite desserts to whip up when I’m in the mood for something tasty, mildly sweet and just all around delicious. I knew I had all the ingredients I needed to whip something together, so I made my way into the kitchen and let the creativity flow.
The cake itself always comes out super moist and delicious. I add a pinch of baking soda to my cake mixes that don’t use water/oil/eggs because it helps make the dessert just slightly fluffier. The chocolate peanut butter chips definitely added a peanut buttery chocolaty goodness to the cake that made it decadent. I shared it with family and friends who came by and everyone was equally pleased with it. The next day, after the cake was fully cooled I found it was perfect to warm it in the microwave for a few seconds and top it with a smidgen of butter. Perfect combination and it made it a great snack/dessert.
You could totally make these into muffins if you prefer them portioned out that way … but I personally made it into a Bundt pan because it was faster and it looks pretty.
Serves 12. 4 Points Plus Values.
Ingredients:
  • Betty Crocker Spice Cake Mix
  • 15 oz canned pumpkin
  • 3 tbsp egg whites
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 26 gm, Nestle Toll House Peanut Butter & Milk Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven per box directions.
In a medium bowl mix together spice cake mix, canned pumpkin, egg whites, baking soda and water. Blend until smooth. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
Spray a bundt pan or muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray, spoon cake batter into the mild.
Gently tap cake against a flat surface to eliminate any air bubbles.
Bake in an oven per box directions. Cake is done when a toothpick can be inserted into the center and comes out clean.

Spiced Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins

Last week I whipped up a batch of Pumpkin Chocolate Walnut Muffins and they were such a hit they were gone in a couple days.  So being in the baking mood I decided to make a similar batch but using spice cake mix.  Spice cake is one of my favorite types of homemade cakes, but since I don’t always get to have it homemade, boxed is second best.  I used a very similar recipe to what I did with the pumpkin muffins, although with this batch I increased the amounts of some ingredients.
These came out perfect – they’re moist, delicious, and again another crowd pleaser. These were even given the stamp of approval from my 4 year old niece. I’d call that a success in my book.
4 Points Plus. Serves 16.
Ingredients:
  • 1 box Betty Cocker Super Moist Spice Cake Mix
  • 15 oz can Libby’s Pure Pumpkin
  • 3 tbsp egg whites
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)
  • 3 tbsp chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with cupcake papers, each paper spritzed with non-stick cooking/baking spray.
In a large bowl mix together cake mix, pumpkin, egg whites, baking soda and water until blended and smooth.
Evenly distribute batter to each cupcake paper. I found large heaping tablespoons helped distribute the batter evenly, with the remainder being distributed throughout the cups.
In a small bowl mix together chocolate chips and walnuts, then evenly sprinkle over the top of each muffin. I used a ½ teaspoon to distribute.
Bake per box directions.  Cupcakes are done when a knife is inserted and comes out clean – roughly 15-18 minutes.

Pumpkin Chocolate Walnut Muffins

With the temperature dropping to freezing cold, what better way to warm up the house, other than baking goodies? So with that, I decided to make some muffins to not only get some warmth throughout the lower level of the house – but also to have some goodies since I haven’t baked since Halloween.
I had a few boxes of pumpkin cake mix, so I decided to put one box to good use.  This recipe is truly SO incredibly easy to throw together. The most tedious part is putting the batter into the muffin tins in the pan. They puffed up marvelously and are delightfully delicious and not guilty whatsoever!
 
Serves 12. 4 Points Plus Values.
Ingredients:
  • 1 box, Pillsbury Perfectly Pumpkin Cake Mix
  • 15 oz can Libby’s Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 tbsp Egg whites
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 5 tbsp Water
  • 2 tbsp Milk chocolate chips (or semi-sweet)
  • 1 ¾ tbsp chopped walnuts
Line a muffin pan with 12 liners, spraying each tin with non-stick cooking spray.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl mix together cake mix, baking soda, pumpkin, egg whites and water until well blended and mixture is fully combined.  Evenly distribute mix to each muffin tin.
In a small bowl toss together chocolate chips and walnuts. Evenly sprinkle mixture over the top of each muffin.
Place muffins into oven and bake per box directions, adjust time based on how fast/slow your oven cooks. My oven is on the faster side and these were done in 16 minutes.  Cupcakes are done when a knife is inserted and it comes out clean.

Lightened Up – Magic Apple Pie

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Growing up my grandmother’s Magic Apple Pie (recipe here) was a staple a few times during the year. I admit, that recipe is delicious while also near-and-dear to my heart … but sometimes the sheer sweetness of it gets me. So with trying to lighten it up I conjured up the following recipe. I had recreated this recipe last year using Splenda instead of sugar and I truthfully wasn’t a huge fan of it. So I opted to recreate it using regular ingredients, just less of them while swapping a few things out.
This pie is good and tasty – but it’s not very sweet. The recipe could be adjusted to incorporate more sugar into it – but I found it to be pleasing on the palette as is. Since I used McIntosh apples they provided a nice sweetness so it wasn’t tart. But if you use something like a granny smith I’d suggest tweaking the sugar to subdue the tart.
Serves 8. 5 Points Plus Values.
  • 1 lb peeled sliced apples (I use McIntosh or Cortland)
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup fat free egg substitute
  • 4 tbsp margarine, melted
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp water
Toss peeled, sliced apples with roughly 3 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon. Toss to coat then pile apples into a pie or cake pan.
Add flour in with leftover sugar/cinnamon mixture from tossed apples and add in remaining sugar, brown sugar, margarine, water and egg substitute and mix until well combined and blended together. The batter will be very, very thick.
Fold in walnuts until well combined, then pour mixture over the apples.
Bake for 1 to 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Pie is done when top is golden brown and the crust has hardened a bit. The pie is done when the apples aren’t watery (you should be able to tell, it’ll bubble up a bit around the crust).

Magic Apple Pie

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This is my grandmother’s Magic Apple Pie recipe. Growing up my grandma would make this during the fall season and my mother continued on with that tradition.  A few years ago I started with the tradition of making the pies – and I have even froze a few pies in the past and defrosted and baked off for 20 or so minutes for a Christmas Eve celebration.
This truly is a delicious pie – but I will admit it’s very sweet.  I make the traditional recipe for family and friends and I have lightened up the recipe for myself so I can enjoy a classic wit a twist.  The crust is more along the lines of a pancake batter and blends with the apples and cooks up to a nice crunchy top with a nice soft cinnamon/sugar apple beneath it. It’s perfect … especially warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside it.  The pie is also along the lines of an apple crumble where it doesn’t have a bottom crust.
I do want to point out crust (usually around the center) can get a little wet after a few days because it’s more of a pancake type crust. If that happens, you can always put a slice in the toaster oven, or even return the pie back to the oven in 5 minute intervals until the top crisps up again.
Keep in mind this is the original recipe so it will be higher in fat, calories and points plus values.  I have created a lighter version, which gives a similar effect but the crust is totally different. So … onto the recipe!
Serves 8. 9 Points Plus Values.
  • 1 pound peeled sliced apples (I use McIntosh or Cortland)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ sticks margarine, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Toss peeled, sliced apples with roughly ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon. Toss to coat, then pile apples into a pie or cake pan.
Add flour in with leftover sugar from tossed apples and add in remaining sugar, margarine, egg and mix until well combined and blended together. The batter will resemble a runny pancake batter.
Fold in walnuts until well combined, then pour mixture over the apples.
Bake for 1 to 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Pie is done when top is golden brown and slightly hardened.  Test the center of the pie with a fork – if the batter looks undercooked (it will be gooey), return to the oven in 5 minute intervals.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Ganache

I was struck with inspiration when thinking about what I wanted to do for my boyfriend’s birthday. Should I buy a cake or make a cake?  Buying a cake is an easy way out, even though it is a nice gesture, but premade cakes at bakeries can get pricey. Whereas making a cake shows you’ve put work in. I think it means a lot more and it’s a lot cheaper to make your own cake than to buy one.  With the back and fourth in my head, I finally decided on making a cake.  The only golden rule I went by was the cake base had to be chocolate because that’s my boyfriend’s favorite.  The rest was up to me to get creative with … and I ran with that creativity.
Lately we’ve both been on a peanut butter kick. So I thought, why not bring two delicious worlds together? Peanut butter and chocolate? I decided on making a peanut butter cream cheese frosting … but that in itself wasn’t enough, so I decided to make a chocolate ganache for the top of the cake to help draw together the whole cake and to cut on the sweetness of the frosting.
The end result was a delicious, perfect harmony. The cake was moist and delicious, the frosting was spectacular and the chocolate ganache truly held it all together and kept it from being sickeningly sweet.  We had family and friends over for dinner and all were equally impressed with the cake and I even got a few “you made that?!”
If you’re a peanut butter and chocolate fan … I highly suggest you give this a try. It’s quite simple to pull together!
8 Points Plus Values. Serves 12.
Ingredients:
  • 1 box, Betty Crocker Super Moist Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
  • 12 oz can Diet Coke (or Diet Pepsi or any diet clear colored soda of your choice)
  • 8 oz. 1/3 Less Fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 9 TBSP PB2 (Powdered Peanut Butter)
  • 1 1/3 cup powder sugar
  • ¼ cup fat free skim milk & 1 TBSP
  • 3 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Non-stick cooking spray
Allow cream cheese to warm to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or per box directions based on your cooking pan coloring).
In a large bowl combine cake mix and can of diet coke. Mix well until all combined.
Spray two cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Distribute combined batter to each cake pan as evenly as possible.  Place pans into oven and bake per box directions.  When cakes are done allow them to cool completely.
In a large bowl combine cream cheese, powder sugar, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk. With an electric mixer blend until smooth. Frosting will be very thick so begin to add the 1/3 cup of water 1 tablespoon at a time. The frosting should be thick, but smooth and not runny.
Transfer frosting to a bowl, cover with a lid and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to “harden” up a bit.
When cakes are cool, smear roughly 1 tsp of frosting to the bottom of a cake dish to hold the bottom layer cake. Place cake cooked side up face down and smear top of cake with roughly ¼ of the frosting.
Remove additional cake from pan and invert. Place bottom of cake to the frosted cake – then frost top and sides with remaining frosting.
In a medium bowl add in semi sweet chocolate chips and ¼ cup milk and place into the microwave for 20 seconds. Remove from microwave, blend chocolate and milk together and return to the microwave in 20 second increments until the mixture is smooth.
Allow the chocolate mixture to cool for roughly 2 minutes, until almost luke warm then begin to smooth onto the cake. Start at the center and gently blend outward. Don’t go all the way to the edge of the cake. Continue gently smoothing until all chocolate is spread to the top of the cake.
Cover the cake and allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (I left mine in the fridge almost 24-hrs) before serving.
Cut into 12 equal pieces and enjoy!

Bakers’ Corner Pumpkin Bread



I will truly try anything pumpkin as long as the nutrition information is worth it to me (and trust me, there are pumpkin items that just are not worth it to me).  One of the items that was worth it was this Bakers’ Corner Quick Bread & Muffin Mix – Pumpkin.  I had picked this box mix up at my local Aldi store and stuck it into the cabinet. Yesterday, I was in the mood to bake something since we didn’t have any baked goods in the house.
Deciding to skip the eggs and oil the boxed mix called for I opted to experiment with a handy dandy can of Diet Fresca. Diet soda works wonders in cake mix, so I thought why wouldn’t it work wonders in a pumpkin bread mix?  I added in almost the whole can of soda (minus, what would probably be 2 sips) and stirred it all up.  I added the contents to a Pam sprayed loaf pan and baked it off for 50 minutes.
The cake came out perfect. Moist and delicious – although I will say this is more spiced pumpkin than regular pumpkin.  You can definitely taste the spiciness in it because it’s right up there in the forefront. It’s not as spicy as other pumpkin desserts can be (such as spiced pumpkin pie) but it’s definitely noticeable.
Since I made the bread with soda, a slice (1/12th) was only 130 calories or 3 points plus values.
QUESTION:
Do you like experimenting with baking?

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix

I’m a sucker for pumpkin desserts (I mean, what else is new) and because I had tried the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix last year and was quite a fan. I like this mix because it’s one of the most versatile mixes because it’s advertised as a bread or muffin … but I tend to enjoy making this as a cake.
The mix calls for eggs, oil and water to be added to it – but when baking I typically try to cut corners and make it healthier.  So, with this particular mix I make my pumpkin cake with sugar free apple sauce and water. I simply add 1 cup water and ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce mix it up until incorporated and add it to a Pam spritzed cake pan. They come out perfect every time! Moist and delicious.  The apple sauce doesn’t give it an apple flavor; it’s truly not noticeable when added in, but the cake does have a unique moistness to it.  I cooked this up on a whim after wanting dessert that night and no one had any idea I made it with apple sauce and water. When I finally let the cat out of the bag, everyone was surprised and shocked.
¼ cup of mix is 150 calories, or 4 points plus.  With the apple sauce and water each slice remains at 4 points plus.  Whereas if the oil, eggs and water were added the nutrition info and points plus would need to be recalculated.
QUESTION:
What is your favorite pumpkin flavored baking item?

Blueberry Banana Bread


I had an abundance of blueberries in the refrigerator this weekend so I decided I needed to put them to good use.  Since I also had a few ripe bananas I figured I’d make banana bread … with blueberries in it!  I had never had blueberry banana bread before, but I figured it would be an experiment and it couldn’t necessarily turn out to be a bad thing.
I tried a piece when it came out of the oven after it had cooled for about an hour, and I found the blueberries were tarter while warm. But when I had a piece the next day and it had cooled down completely, the blueberries were not nearly as tart and the banana flavor had become more pronounced.  Definitely far more tasty the next day after it had cooled.
Serves 13. 2 Points Plus Values/serving.

Ingredients:
          1 ¼ cup flour
          1 tsp vanilla extract
          ¾ tsp baking soda
          1/8 tsp Salt
          1/3 cup brown sugar
          2 egg whites
          3 ripe bananas, mashed
          ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
          ½ cup blueberries
          Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.
In a mixing bowl add ripe bananas and mash.  Add in apple sauce, vanilla, egg whites and brown sugar. Mix to combine.
Spoon 1 tablespoon of flour over the blueberries and mix around so the blueberries are lightly coated with flour.
Add salt, baking soda and remaining flour to mixture and mix until well combined. Be sure to not over mix.
Gently fold in blueberries until blended into the batter.
Pour batter into the loaf pan.  Tap the pan against a hard surface a few times to even out, then place into the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes (depending on your oven). The bread is done when a knife of toothpick can be inserted into the bread and it comes out clean.
Allow the bread to cool on a cooling rack before serving.

Betty Crocker Cornbread Muffins

Ahh … cornbread! I developed a deep love for cornbread as a youngster. My dad would make hands down THE best cornbread.  He’d add real corn into it and sometimes he’d jazz it up with some jalapeno for a little spice. So, good!  And I admit, not so healthy in the quantities I’d eat it in.
These days, I don’t have cornbread very often – but when I saw this Betty Crocker cornbread muffin mix, I had to pick it up.  I calculated out the points for just the mix alone and figured instead of adding all the “fatty” stuff it called for, I’d try to jazz it up and make it points plus friendly.  Turns out my experimental baking was perfect because the cornbread muffins turned out absolutely perfect.  I was even asked as I served them up “You really made these with apple sauce? They’re so good!”
I emptied the cornbread packet into a bowl, added in ½ cup of natural unsweetened apple sauce and ¼ cup of water. I mixed it until everything was well combined – then transferred equal parts of the batter into muffin tins. I made 6 muffins and they came out perfect after being baked in the oven.  I did eat one as they were nice and warm and it was delicious. It was moist with a slight hint of apple lingering in the background.  A few spritz of spray butter on the top and I certainly did not miss the full-fat homemade version.
The greatest part was that each cornbread muffin was only 3 points plus values! Quite a steal when compared to any other cornbread muffin or cornbread loaf.
QUESTION:
How do you make your cornbread?