Drive by Incubus
Several years ago I was on a long drive with my second son, K. We had recently moved a couple states away, leaving our older children behind while they attended college. There were plenty of trips back and forth and I was accompanying K on this particular one. He was lead driver which gave him the right to choose the music. Luckily, we liked much the same music, including Incubus. I distinctly remember the moment Drive came on and K sang right along with mighty gusto. I hadn't realized before what a nice voice he had and I really enjoyed listening to him sing along with Brandon Boyd. As he sang the words, "Whatever tomorrow brings I'll be there, with open arms and open eyes," I thought how well this sentiment suited my son. He is truly an embracer of life. Well, it's K's birthday tomorrow. He'll be 28. He likes Incubus and loves Muddy Buddies . . . and I love him. Happy birthday, K-bear . . .
K is my second son and third child. He gives magnificent hugs - always has. He is the funniest person I know - although I think all of my kids have magnificent wit - what's a mama to do but be honest, right? Even at six months old he had a flair for comedy. He had literally rolled himself up into a newspaper. I couldn't find him anywhere! Then I noticed the wiggling roll of papers in the corner of the living room. I carefully unrolled him and he stared up at me with the biggest smile on his face and started the most infectious belly laugh! He KNEW he'd done a funny thing!
Along with being funny, though, K is super sensitive and was always very intuitive about my feelings. He could usually sense if I was sad or upset and, as a little guy, would come take my hand and give me a smile and a hug. All you moms out there can appreciate that quality. He is a very loyal friend and I think it's fitting that his favorite snack is Muddy "Buddies."
You know what Muddy Buddies are, right? That "Chex cereal mixed with melted chocolate chips and peanut butter and coated in powdered sugar" concoction. It's so easy to make I wasn't sure I could make an entire post about it alone. So, of course, I got my thinking cap on and tried to think about a snazzy way to use the Muddy Buddies. It didn't take too long before I realized - cupcakes!!!
That was the easy part. The hard part was how to make a cupcake with the peanut butter and chocolate flavor combo different from any other Reese's cupcake out there. How do you capture that delicate crunch you get from the cereal? My first attempt had me folding the prepared Muddy Buddy pieces right into the batter. Wrong! They became this nasty entity that was neither crunchy nor chewy - more rubbery. Not a winner.
Think! Think! Think!
Ta-da! A brilliant idea! I thought of one of my favorites - the S'mores cupcake. It has a delicious graham cracker crust on the bottom of the cake part! I would do the same but create a crust using the Muddy Buddies! I ran a test batch and these were the outcome! Very much winners!
You start out by making a batch of the Muddy Buddies.
9 c. Rice or Corn Chex cereal
1 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. butter
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
Put the cereal in a very large bowl with lots of room for stirring.
Place the chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter in a microwave-safe dish and melt in 30 second intervals, stirring after each until melted.
Add the vanilla and stir to combine.
You can also do this on the stovetop, if you prefer.
Pour the melted mixture over the cereal and stir until well-coated.
Sift the sugar over the top in three rounds, stirring after each to evenly distribute.
Now, for the cupcakes!!
It'll make 24 of them so you'll need that many cupcake liners.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Take 3 cups of the Muddy Buddies and place in a food processor. Pulse until they become crumbs. Add 2 T. melted butter and pulse until it comes together and you can pinch the mixture between your thumb and finger and it stays formed.
Place about 2 T. of this crumb mixture in the bottom of cupcake liners and tamp down until flat like this:
I tried several implements to try to make the tamping easier but the one that worked the best was that little wooden tool in the picture below. To keep the crumbs from sticking I dipped it in powdered sugar.
Par bake the crumb crust for 5 minutes.
From here on out I'll give you the methodology and let you be free to use your own chocolate cake and chocolate frosting recipes if you'd like. But for those who want to know the finer details of how I made mine, I'll include my recipes at the bottom of the post. OK? OK! Let's go!
Prepare your chocolate cake batter and pour it over the par baked Muddy Buddy crusts until they are about 3/4 full ~
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes. They should spring back when you touch them lightly on the top and a toothpick will come out clean.
Stir 1/2 cup of peanut butter into your favorite chocolate frosting recipe and frost each cupcake in your favorite manner.
Take 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and gently sift across the top of the cupcakes.
Decorate the top with two little Buddies.
Embrace tomorrow "with open arms and open eyes," but, today, sit back and ENJOY!!
It looks like somebody with really big teeth enjoyed this one!!
makes 24 cupcakes
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
1 1/2 c. AP flour
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. baking soda
3/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. buttermilk
3 T. vegetable oil
1 1/2 t. vanilla
3/4 c. warm water
1/4 c. sour cream
Sift together the dry ingredients - flour through salt - in a mixer bowl. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla, and warm water. Add to the dry ingredients and mix just to combine. Add the sour cream and stir to mix until smooth. Don't forget to scrape the sides of that bowl!
Use as needed!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting
makes about 4 cups of frosting
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
1/4 c. plus 2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 oz. hot water
1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 lb. chocolate chips, your choice, semi-sweet or milk
1/2 c. peanut butter
Combine the cocoa powder and hot water and set aside. In a mixer bowl, thoroughly cream the butter and the powdered sugar and salt until pale and fluffy, scraping down the sides often. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring after each interval. Add the peanut butter to the warm chips and stir until combined. With the mixer on low, add the chocolate/peanut butter mixture to the sugar/butter mixture. Add the cocoa mixture and blend well. Frost away!!