Sunday, May 28, 2017

Just Add Jif

When I really like something, I tend to go a bit overboard with it. For instance, if I find a cute top that fits me perfectly, I have to go back and buy it in every color available. There was also the time I figured out I liked avocado and decided it had to be put in every meal I ate for a solid month. Oh, and there's my collection of hedgehog-related merchandise ranging from socks to hedgie salt and pepper shakers. I guess what I'm trying to say is that when I make the decision to fall in love with something, I believe only in whole-assing it; there's no half-assing allowed. I'm a woman of few feelings, so when I commit to actually experiencing a modicum of pure joy, I tend to zero in on my poor unsuspecting subject with a laser-like intensity best described as "shark at a feeding frenzy." It's been no secret to many that I'm simply nuts about peanut butter (see what I did there?), and I am still relatively new to mixing peanut butter and chocolate, so it has been my go-to dessert flavoring in recent months. I'm nothing if not efficient in making up for lost time. So when a friend of ours who is even more obsessed with PB&C than I am had a birthday party, it was pretty much a given that I'd be bringing some form of chocolate-peanut-buttery goodness with us. Enter the chocolate fudge peanut butter cake...
I'll take this time to also mention it is topped with both Reese's Minis and Reese's Peanut Butter Chips. Like I said, feeding frenzy.
There is both a layer of fudge and a layer of peanut butter cream cheese resting comfortably between the dark chocolate cake and Cool Whip topping layered in more fudge and what some people might consider enough peanut butter toppings to incite a peanut allergy simply by looking at it. And yet, still under 300 calories a slice. I'm a really efficient glutton. I knew I was going to want room in my food log for both appetizers and dessert, so I opted to make this as low in sugar as humanly possible. Funny thing about that sugar--the stuff is just loaded with calories; so by lowering the sugar in the recipe, I was able to take this from over 600 calories a slice (even for 20 slices!) to 276 calories a slice (for 20 slices total). You know, so you can have your seven-layer dip, enough tortilla chips to hate yourself, a main course, and a slice of cake without having to run a 5k before eating to your heart and/or stomach's content. I won't lie to you--my favorite part of the day is anytime I'm eating.
Needless to say, Betty is my homegirl.
 I'm still sticking with the diet soda/cake recipe that I've found to be tried and true, and most importantly, delicious. Now, your cake won't have a bakery-level of density to it this way, but like I said, I want to be able to have my ten pounds of Tostitos and enjoy some dessert, too, so having a chocolate cake that isn't as hefty as an actual brick is helpful in that regard. I save those dense chocolate (and possibly booze-filled) cake days for rough times when I want to eat something as heavy as my soul feels, like NFL Sundays when my team goes from a 35-point lead to somehow losing in the last two minutes. As a Vikings fan, this happens with a little too much frequency. I make the cake, all you need is:
  • 10 ounces of diet soda (Coke, root beer, creme soda, something non-citrus)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 box of Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix of your choice. I like the pudding in the mix cakes because they are quite moist (even if I hate the word moist).
Grease a 9x13 cake pan and preheat the oven to 350. Mix all ingredients in a stand mixer for 2 minutes and turn into the pan. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Baking with the soda always speeds up whatever the cook time on the box is by 5-10 minutes, so keep that in mind. While baking, lay out the rest of your ingredients...
I accidentally ate a few of these Reese's Minis. I had literally no control over what was happening. They just somehow ended up in my mouth.
You'll also need:
  • 12 ounces of Cool Whip Free, divided
  • 12 ounces of sugar free hot fudge sauce
  • 8 ounces of reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup of creamy JIF (there are literally no substitutes. Get your life together and just add Jif.)
  •  Reese's Minis, chopped (I used 8)
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Chips (a small sprinkling)
  • 1 tablespoon of Hershey's lite chocolate syrup
Things got stabby.
Let the cake cool completely and then poke some holes into it with a fork. Nuke your hot fudge for 45 seconds, stir like crazy, and dump the whole bottle over the cake, spreading it out so it fills in the holes. Technically this makes this a poke cake, but adding another word to an already really long cake name felt unnecessary and cruel, like having to share a Reese's Mini.
I would've eaten it as is, but there were two more layers to go.
 Take your cake and put it in the freezer to let the fudge set while you make your peanut butter cream cheese. In your stand mixer, blend the softened cream cheese with the peanut butter until totally incorporated. Then add in 8 ounces of Cool Whip Free and mix well. At this point, I'm surprised the good people at Cool Whip haven't contacted me about a sponsorship opportunity because I use this stuff almost as much as I use toothpaste. Yes, that means multiple times a day, every day. Whole-assing, people...
Dump your peanut butter cream cheese on top of your set fudge layer (I froze my cake for 15 minutes).
Spread evenly over the cake; be sure to wait to lick the spatula clean until after this has been taken care of.
 Place your cake back into the freezer for an hour to let the peanut butter layer firm up. I used this time to hop online and try to find more peanut butter Halo Top. It's my all-time favorite ice cream now, so naturally it's become my White Whale, and I can't find it in stock anywhere. I assuaged my sadness with another Reese's Mini. I get the feeling you all understand how hopelessly obsessed I am with peanut butter by now. I'd like to thank my dogs for constantly needing walks, my elliptical, and Jillian Michaels for making my fat kid eating habits possible.
And to the good people at Cool Whip...
 Once firmed up, spread the remaining Cool Whip Free on top of your cake. I promise you, this is the final layer. So if you're looking at the depth of your pan and wondering if this cake is going to have a muffin top situation, rest easy. You'll be able to mostly close the lid on your pan. Mostly.
Worth it.
Pictured top left: what the desk looks like at my home office when I have a grant to write.
 Set your cake aside and chop up 8 Reese's minis. I was intending on using 10, so I unwrapped 10, but then I realized I didn't need that many and made the ultimate sacrifice and ate 2 more Reese's Minis. They were unwrapped...what was I gonna do? Throw them away? Share them with my husband? I'm only human.
Drizzle the chocolate syrup on top of the Cool Whip layer. No rhyme or reason to my pattern here. I call it, "Chocolate sauce meets left-hander."

Then sprinkle the chopped up Mini's.
And finish with a smattering of the PB Chips.
 End result: a beautiful mess of Cool Whip, chocolate syrup, and several varieties of Reese's:
And it took my breath away. Well, there was some wheezing and a little drooling.
 This did not disappoint. While the cake and Cool Whip are light and airy, it is definitely needed thanks to the indulgence that is not one, but two layers of extra chocolate and peanut butter amazingness. Each forkful was met with the perfect ratio of Reese's toppings, peanut butter cream cheese, and insanely gooey fudge. I was seriously busy this week, so I didn't have a lot of time to spend on baking (which is both good and bad...good: I don't get to pig out; bad: I don't get to pig out). This cake comes together with total ease and not a ton of time constraints. Baking is quick, decorating simple, and the end result is worthy of anyone who appreciates peanut butter. Thanks to the folks at Reese's for coming up with a ridiculous amount of peanut butter and chocolate dessert offerings, I'm already wondering if it's possible to make a pie crust out of mostly peanut butter cups. Clearly, I'm gonna have to find out. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
Peanut butter and delicious.

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