as i began my baking process this morning i realized something– if i were to end up settling down with a guy who is allergic to peanut butter, we are going to need separate kitchens. i just don’t think i could get by without eating nor baking with it. this morning i prepared the insides for peanut butter chocolate cookies i will be making later, and got started on the fluffernutter cupcakes. then, around 11, i headed off for something that has had me an odd shade of excited.
as a kid i had a lazy eye; i wore glasses at the ripe ol’ age of one and used to do eye tracking exercises with my daddy to correct the problem rather than surgery. i learned to make the lazy eye my dominant eye so that the muscles are always engaged, which keeps it from drifting. today, i only wear glasses when i am really tired and most people have no idea that i have a problem at all…instead of poor depth perception they think i am just even clumsier than i actually am (don’t get me wrong, i *am* a major klutz). i remember in the 90s when those ‘magic eye’ books were all the rage and i felt left out, and now it seems most of the hit movies are in 3-D. in college i studied cognition, and one of the classes dealt with the plasticity of neural pathways in adults– it was previously thought that these were concrete after childhood, but it has been discovered that even adults brains can be re-taught how to process visual input. i figured enough was enough…i studied it, i know it works, and it might be kinda nice to experience all the technology that is coming out geared towards those with binocular vision.
my fear though was that i would not like it and i wouldn’t be able to undo it; the world would be stuck being a very scary place (and not in the usual war/violence way). i read some articles about folks who have gone through the visual therapy programs and they seemed to be quite pleased, so i made an appointment with the only local doctor who turned up in the search results. i arrived this morning, not knowing what to expect. he did some simple tracking exercises that seemed similar to what i did as a kid, and then he switched off the lights, put 3-D glasses on me and lit up this device of some sort. i couldn’t figure it out; i saw both sets of lights but i wasn’t sure if i was seeing them both at the same time (which would be new for me) or if i was just switching back and forth really fast….what i do know is that it started to really freak me out, i got nauseous, and cut the session short. i am thinking maybe i am happier in my 2-D world.
in any case, i recently saw fluffernutter cupcakes on one ordinary day, which sparked conversation at work (since apparently one of my friends has never heard of the fluff & pb combo)…and of course an even stronger desire to bake them. it was erica’s birthday a couple days ago, and since she is one of my best friends and loves all things peanut butter i decided to go this route. the original recipe says to melt some chocolate over the fresh from the oven cupcakes, however since i was not planning on serving them immediately i went with chocolate buttercream frosting instead….and even filled the cupcakes with a little extra chocolate! although they seemed to come out pretty good, i do have a few issues: the tops of the cupcakes browned long before the toothpick came out clean, resulting in the tops being slightly dry (i tried moving the rack but this did not help- thankfully the body of the cupcakes were still moist), and there isn’t enough fluff involved. if i make these again i will be filling them with fluff. in fact, i had considered making this is cake form instead and using a fluff icing as the filling. as much as these are called fluffernutter cupcakes and have fluff in the icing, i am pretty sure they are more so just peanut butter chocolate cupcakes, which is fine by me.
*the reviews are in: erica and her mother said they were the best cupcakes they had ever eaten and demanded that i start selling these immediately. in fact, her mother called her to tell her this instead of just waiting to tell her. erica is a big fan of the fluffernutter icing, and said although she still dreams about the pb krispie bars i made her, she could eat these all day long [o:
Recipe (from one ordinary day):
(slightly adapted from cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans)
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. smooth peanut butter
1 c. packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. milk, any fat content
milk chocolate chips or milk chocolate candy bar
fluffernutter frosting – recipe follows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
In bowl of mixer, on medium speed, beat the butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar until smoothly blended and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Scrape down bowl and add egg and vanilla. Beat for 1 minute until batter is smooth. On low speed, alternately add flour mixture in 3 additions and milk in 2 additions, starting and ending with flour. Mix until flour is incorporated and batter is smooth.
Fill each paper liner with a generous 1/4 c. of batter. Bake until the tops feel firm and are lightly browned, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes. There may be a few small cracks on top.
Remove cupcakes from oven and place a piece of a candy bar or several chocolate chips on top of each. Allow chocolate to soften enough to spread. Spread to cover top of cupcakes and allow to cool completely. Frost with fluffernutter frosting. These cupcakes are at their very tastiest when eaten fresh while the chocolate is slightly soft.
Recipe: Fluffernutter Frosting
(adapted from The Recipe Link)
1 c. marshmallow fluff
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1/3 c. butter, softened
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/3 c. powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp. milk
In mixer bowl, on low speed, combine fluff, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt until blended. Scrape down bowl, and add powdered sugar. Beat until blended. Add just enough milk to make frosting the desired consistency.
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