Chocolate peanut butter energy bites

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Oh please don’t be surprised! I did mention in yesterday’s post that I made the energy bites a couple of times. This was a variation of the recipe I tried. But don’t worry, this is the only variation for now. 

For this recipe, I kept the quantity of the base items – oats, peanut butter and honey -the same as yesterday. The rest is just whatever I had in my pantry that day!

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I had some dates that needed to be used up, so those were chopped and soaked in hot water for sometime. After draining and squeezing out the water, it came to about 1/4 cup. To avoid the water content, I would just chop them up or pulse them in a blender and add the next time. These didn’t last for a long time, so I needn’t have worried about the moisture from the dates. 

To make it a chocolate version, I added a little unsweetened cocoa to the mix. The raw taste of cocoa felt a little strange initially. I did get used to it, but maybe I will add Nutella or hot chocolate for the chocolate flavor the next time. 

Read on for the recipe. 
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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter*
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dates, soaked in hot water (about 8 dates)
  • 2 Tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2-3 tablespoons desiccated coconut, optional 

*You can start with 1/2 cup and then add a couple more tablespoons extra if needed.

Method:

  1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl. Mix with a silicon spatula until everything is combined well.
  2. Using your hands take a small portion of the mix and roll into a ball. If the dough is sticky, refrigerate for a few minutes. Once you are done with all the dough, roll them over a thin layer of desiccated coconut to coat it. Refrigerate the balls to set firm. 
  3. I got about 20 balls with this set of ingredients.

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Oats Peanut butter energy balls

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Recipes don’t have to be elaborate. They can be as simple as mixing ingredients in a bowl and shaping them. That’s what this recipe is about. And it gets better, not only is this a less than five minute recipe, you can adjust the ingredients based on what you have in your pantry. I have already made this couple of times and I am falling in love more with each time.

The recipe is a pretty basic one with oats and peanut butter. Everything else is an addition. The original recipe mentioned about 1 cup oats and 2/3 cup peanut butter along with 1/2 cup flax seed powder. I didn’t have flax seeds, so I replaced that with 1/4 cup each of wheat bran and chia seeds. Desiccated coconut, wheat germ, nuts, chopped dates, protein powder would all be good substitutes here. Or you can just have peanut butter and oats with maybe some raisins. You have to cut down the peanut butter a little or add a little more oats to stop the dough being sticky or too dry. I don’t remember the original source from where I tried this recipe,  but this one from allrecipes is very close.

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Once you add everything to the bowl, its a good idea to mix with a spoon or a silicon spatula. Because of the peanut butter, the mixture might be somewhat sticky. If you are not able to roll into balls, refrigerate it for a few minutes for the mix to rest. That should help with rolling. I didn’t have to do that, though. Else add a little more oatmeal or wheat bran to even out the stickiness from peanut butter. Or you can start with 1/2 cup peanut butter and then add a couple more tablespoons if needed.

I left the energy bites in the fridge itself to set. But most of it got devoured before it made it to the safety corner in the refrigerator.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter*
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons honey

*You can start with 1/2 cup and then add a couple more tablespoons extra if needed.

Method:

  1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl. Mix with a silicon spatula until everything is combined well.
  2. Using your hands take a small portion of the mix and roll into a ball. If the dough is sticky, refrigerate for a few minutes. Once you are done with all the dough, refrigerate for the balls to set firm. Eat as you wish!
  3. This recipe made about 20 one inch energy balls for me. That number would depend on the size of the bites.

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Mango Crumb cake

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BM # 77: Week 1, Day 3
Theme : Vegan Sweets
Recipe:  Mango crumb cake

I am mostly a recipe follower. I hardly venture into recipe creation or even something as simple as substitution. But this week, for a change, I decided to play with a basic cake recipe. Priya Srinivasan’s whole wheat buttermilk cake. , which I made Vegan by substituting the buttermilk with pureed orange yesterday, went through another change today. The buttermilk was replaced with mango puree for a different flavor. I also swapped the whole wheat for plain flour and added a thin layer of strawberry jam in between the cake layers. I decided to go with a crumb topping and substituted butter with oil to make it vegan.

If I have to do it again, I would skip the strawberry layer and the crumb topping. I felt the cake by itself tasted good and these two weren’t adding much to the cake. The jam leaked to the sides and got burnt a little which added a nice biscuit like texture to the cake. The burnt part didn’t ruin the cake in anyway, but it taught me that the jam layer should never reach the edges of the pan.

So read on for the simple recipe and step wise pictures.

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk pureed mango
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Optional items:

  • 1/4 cup strawberry jam
  • 4 tablespoons flour for the crumb topping
  • 3 tablespoons sugar for the topping
  • oil as needed for the topping, about 1.5 to 2 tablespoons

Method:

The recipe makes an eight inch cake. I have made one six inch cake plus two cupcakes with the remaining batter.

Whisk 1.5 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, a pinch of salt, 1 cup sugar in a mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of pureed mango ( I used one big mango for this) and half cup of oil.

Using a spatula, fold the ingredients to get a smooth batter.

Fill half the batter onto a greased and lined 8″ cake pan. I added 1/4 cup strawberry jam, which I wouldn’t do it the next time. Add the rest of the batter on top of the jam. Try not to get the jam to the edges as it burns because of the high temperature inside the oven.

For the crumb topping, mix 1/4 cup flour and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Add oil, one teaspoon at a time and mix until you get the topping to your preference. I would have used about 1.5 tablespoons of oil. Put the topping on top of the cake batter and bake in a preheated oven at 350 F/ 180C for about 55 minutes or until a skewer comes out free of crumbs when inserted in the middle of the cake. Let the cake cool inside the pan, run a butter knife through the sides of the cake and carefully take it out of the pan. Slice and serve!

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Whole wheat egg less Orange Cake

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BM # 77: Week 1, Day 2
Theme : Vegan Sweets
Recipe:  Whole wheat egg less Orange cake

Ever since I read the recipe for the Spanish Orange cake at Vaishali’s space, I have been planning to bake one. Her recipe calls for cooking a whole orange and then pureeing it before adding it to the cake. I saw another recipe from Mary Berry in the same lines, her Orange Spiced cake also called for cooked and pureed oranges. The cooking and pureeing part was what I wanted to try. But unfortunately both the recipes call for dairy products.

So I decided to try a recipe I had already tried with good results, Priya Srinivasan’s whole wheat cake. The recipe calls for buttermilk which I substituted with cooked orange puree. The substitution makes the recipe vegan.

The cake was full of orange flavor. Its been ages since I served a cake on its own without frosting, so I was feeling a little lost with just a basic cake. I usually soak the cake layers with a simple sugar syrup before serving or frosting the cake. Since the cake is vegan and I don’t have any vegan butter now, I decided to go for a simple mix of icing sugar and water.

Read on for step wise pictures and the recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup sugar (1 cup if the orange is not sweet)
  • 1 cup buttermilk pureed orange
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil*
  • 1-2 tablespoons water, if needed

* Increase this to 1/2 cup to avoid adding the water the next time.

Method:

The recipe makes an 8″ cake.

Cook one big orange until its completely soft. I used the Instant Pot here and cooked in manual mode for 20 minutes. I used only one orange for the cake though I cooked two oranges.

Let it cool. Cut through the orange, take out the pips and chop it roughly, skin and all.

In a food processor, pulse it couple of times (including the skin) so that its roughly pureed. It measured out to exactly one cup when I measured it.

Sift 1.5 cups of wheat flour a couple of times. Whisk it with 3/4 cup sugar (1 cup if the orange is not sweet), 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in a bowl. Once its all combined well, add the orange puree and 1/3 cup oil.

The batter was a little thick, so I ended up adding 1-2 tablespoon of water to loosen it a bit. I would increase the oil to 1/2 cup the next time I am doing it. Pour the batter into a greased and lined 8″ pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C/ 350 F for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes free of crumbs when inserted in the middle of the cake. Let the cake cool completely in the pan. I have mixed 1/4 cup icing sugar with a little water (less than a teaspoon) until it reaches a thick consistency and piped it over the cake.

Here I have baked a 6″ cake and two cupcakes with the leftover batter.

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Mango Popsicle

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BM # 77: Week 1, Day 1
Theme : Vegan Sweets
Recipe:  Mango popsicle

My well filled draft folder contains a tons of bakes, but unfortunately not even a single vegan bake that I could use for this week’s Blogging Marathon theme. So, just like last month, I had to do some last minute cooking.

The recipe here actually has no cooking involved, but its an extremely delicious one and satisfies your sweet buds. Mangoes and summer has a beautiful relation, one that my family really enjoys. Unfortunately, except for a few days here and there, the weather here is still on the chilly side. But with the knowledge that good weather is just around the corner definitely makes everything  better.

Along with the mangoes, I used homemade strawberry jam for the popsicle. I do’t know whether that was a good move. The strawberry jam consists only the fruit and sugar, so that’s vegan too. But the jam took a lot more time to freeze than the mangoes and started melting a lot before too. We were able to enjoy the popsicle without a melt down, but the next time I am using jam, I would blend it along with the fruit than use it as a stand alone layer.

So enjoy this wonderful vegan summer treat. Check out the simple, but delicious recipe below.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 big mango
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • strawberry jam, optional
  • water

Method:

  1. Blend mango with sugar to get a smooth puree. Add water if needed to get a smooth consistency.
  2. Fill a use and throw plastic/paper cup or a popsicle mold with the puree, adding strawberry jam in between to provide an additional flavor and color.
  3. Freeze overnight. Done!

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Butterscotch Pudding

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The past few recipes I have tried for the blog are all from books. This is a little surprising for me since I depend more on the internet than on books for ideas. But now, I am beginning to pay a little extra attention to the books that I already own or the ones I bring in from the library. I feel like I should look first at my collections and try to cover a little more of it before I look for recipes from the net. Not sure how long the feeling is going to last, but I am determined to enjoy it while it lasts.

So, here I am, with a recipe from a very favorite book of mine. Another pudding recipe from Clio Goodman’s book, Puddin’. I have been making way too many puddings and though I am a big fan of the book, it might be taking the back seat for a little while.

This recipe covers three bases for me. Its perfect for this week’s Blogging Marathon where the chosen theme is Kid’s Delight – Family favorites. It also fits the bill for Cooking from Cookbook Challenge  event. Enjoy the dessert and read on for the recipe.

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Ingredients:

Butterscotch sauce: 

  • 100 gms butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pudding:

  • 2.5 cups milk
  • 2.5 cups heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour)
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Butterscotch pudding from above

Method:

  1. Make sauce: Melt butter in a thick bottom pan until its golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add cream, sugar and salt. Bring it to a boil, stirring till the sugar is dissolved and the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and stir the vanilla in. Set aside.
  2. Make Pudding: In a thick pan, whisk everything except vanilla extract and the butterscotch sauce, until no dry lumps remain. Cook, whisking all the time for about 8-10 minutes, until the pudding starts to thicken or when the whisk leaves a shadow when you lift it from the surface). Take off the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and the warm butterscotch sauce in 2-3 batches. Cool for 10 minutes and chill for at least 2-3 hours before serving.
  3. The recipe serves about 10 people.

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This post is a part of the Kid’s Delight – Family Recipes, guest hosted by Sandhya this month.
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Chocolate Mousse

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I like chocolate cakes. And chocolate cookies. And chocolate bars. And of course, chocolate chips. Chocolate pleases me. In all forms. But it pleases me the most when its in the silky, creamy form of mousse or puddings. That luscious, airy, light and smooth feeling is something that need to be experienced and not explained.

I was looking for a chocolate mousse cake recipe and came across this one in All recipes. Not only did I try this recipe for the chocolate checker board cake, but I started preparing the mousse by itself as a dessert. How can you go wrong with a combination of condensed milk, chocolate and whipped cream?! This recipe uses instant chocolate pudding mix with half cup of water, but I have a feeling this can be skipped as such. But its a version I haven’t tried yet.

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The mousse feels light in your mouth, but calorie wise, its not. But lets not dwell on calories when we are talking about dessert, because its dessert and not a meal in itself. The recipe below serves to fill and frost a 9 inch layer cake. I used it for a 6 inch four layer cake.

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Ingredients:

Melt the chocolate chips using microwave (short 10 second bursts) or over double boiler. Add the condensed milk to the melted chocolate and mix well.

Now add the chocolate pudding mix and the cold water to it. Mix well to incorporate everything and refrigerate for at least half an hour. After half an hour, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

Carefully fold the chocolate mix to the whipped cream until no streaks remain. Refrigerate again for at least an hour before using. You can use this to fill and frost a 9″ layer cake or serve as a dessert to about 10 people.

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This post is a part of the Kid’s Delight – Family Recipes, guest hosted by Sandhya this month.
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Cabbage payasam

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Sometimes we explore the resources we already have only in times of need. That’s how I stumbled on this recipe. A friend of mine asked me an idea for an innovative or fusion payasam for a small cooking contest she was participating in. I immediately turned to my Blogging Marathon friends and the suggestions poured in. They suggested boondi kheer, chocolate payasam, cake payasam, gnocchi payasam (potato dumplings), gulab jamun payasam, cauliflower payasam, paneer payasam and many more. These ideas are really worth exploring if you are innovative enough.

I browsed through my reliable Vasantha Moorthy’s Vegetarian Menu Book. and found this recipe for Cabbage rabdi there. So along with my friends suggestions, I mentioned the Cabbage payasam as well to my friend. A bit of online search told me that this recipe was already tried by Aparna from My Diverse Kitchen. So with two sources to fall on, my friend zeroed in on the cabbage payasam. We did a trial run and our families loved it…..until we told them that there was cabbage in it (rolling my eyes here!). There was exclamations and facial expression changes when we mentioned the cabbage part :D.

But the thing is, her payasam won the contest !! My friend had mentioned the presence of cabbage to only one of the judges to rule out any allergies, but otherwise kept it low key. So everyone tried it with an open mind I guess. The judges were very impressed and surprised when they learnt about the cabbage factor :-).

The only beast about this recipe is cleaning the vessel in which milk was cooking for such a long time. It needs a lot of soaking and scrubbing, but hey, I am not complaining. We got a winner here, you see :-).

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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups milk (1 litre)
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • handful of skinned and chopped almonds
  • handful of chopped cashew nuts
  • 1/2 cup cream, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • a few chopped pistachios for garnishing

Method:

  1. This serves 4 people. Use fresh cabbage for this payasam. Boil the milk in a thick pan and add the cabbage. Cook over a slow flame stirring in between until the mixture reduces to 2/3rd the original quantity and thickens well.
  2. Add the chopped almonds and cashews along with sugar. Continue to cook until the mixture is very thick and creamy. The process took more than an hour for me.
  3. Take off the heat and add ground cardamom. Once its cool, you can add the cream, if desired. Garnish with pistachios for some bright color. This tastes best when chilled and served.

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This goes to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge Group.
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Boston Cream Pudding

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Puddings have become the standard desserts at my place when we have guests coming over . After making multiple puddings, I can feel the need to switch to the other kinds of desserts. But you cannot beat the ease of making this, especially when cooking for a crowd. So until I actually make the move to other desserts, you guys are going to be bombarded with pudding recipes.

The Boston cream pudding is adapted from Clio Goodman’s book, Puddin’. I felt it was a little short on sweetness. So if I am making it again, I would increase the sugar a little bit. Its a very simple mix of milk and cream cooked with corn starch, sugar and egg yolks until it begins to thicken a bit. The cooking time is somewhere around 10 minutes. Refrigeration time is needed, so its a perfect make ahead recipe. If you are using this as a cake filling, it can be stabilized with gelatin.

Read on for the recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar*
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 egg yolks
  • a good pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla essence

*I would increase it to 1 cup the next time. I felt this was a little less sweet than it should have been.

Method:

  1. Add all everything except the vanilla extract to a thick saucepan and using a whisk, combine well until no dry lumps remain.
  2. Cook this over medium heat, whisking all the time until the mixture begins to thicken, about 8 minutes. When you raise the whisk from the pudding, it should leave a faint shadow, that’s when the pudding is done. It will thicken further on refrigeration, so its okay even if it looks runny at this stage.
  3. Take off the heat, whisk in the vanilla. Pass through a sieve and transfer it to the serving container and let it cool for 5-10 minutes. Press a film of cling wrap on the surface to prevent the ‘skin’. Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours before serving.

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Brownie cake

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Thanks to my overstocked drafts folder, there is a post ready for almost any occasion. All I have to do is to pick and publish the post. The cake here has a good story to tell. Even without a story, its a cool cake – it has two layers of brownies filled with peanut butter pudding between them and frosted all around with a wonderful chocolate buttercream. On second thoughts, I would skip the pudding and the frosting the next time. Because the brownie underneath really doesn’t need anything to enhance it. Its the Hershey’s Best Brownies and it really is the best brownies I have ever had till now.

Coming back to the cake, it was made to celebrate one dozen years of our marriage in November. I never got around publishing the recipe on time. I also never got around making a cake for my blog’s sixth birthday/anniversary which was on March 31st. So my wedding anniversary cake is going to celebrate my blog anniversary as well. I  started the blog as a one year project and I can’t believe I am still actively doing it :-).

My family loves Peanut butter & Nutella sandwiches :D, so my thought for the cake was to fuse those flavors. But I could see that peanut butter in a cake is not everyone’s cup of tea. So I wouldn’t suggest this combination if you are not a fan of it.

The pudding is excellent in taste, but it is extremely rich. So if you are serving it directly as a dessert, I would suggest serving in small quantities. Maybe about 1/4 cup per person. You can always serve a second helping later. The quantity here will have some leftovers after filling the cake.

The recipe for the filling, frosting and the cake is all from cookbooks. The brownie is from one of the Hershey’s cookbooks I have. The frosting is from Joy the Baker’s cookbook (I got it from the library). And the peanut butter pudding is from Clio Goodman’s book, Puddin’. It is the perfect candidate for Cooking from Cookbook Challenge :-). Read on for the recipe.

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Cake : Best Brownies

Decoration on top – The roses are made with ready made fondant using a silicon mold. I used melted chocolate as a glue for the roses. 

Best Buttercream recipe : Joy the Baker I got the recipe from her cookbook, not the site. But it seems to be the same, so I thought of linking it anyway.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup or 1.5 sticks (about 150 gms) butter
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • a good pinch of salt
  • 2.5 to 3 cups of confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • about 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup chocolate ovaltine

Method:

  1. Cream butter, sifted cocoa powder and salt in a big bowl for a few minutes using a stand or hand mixer.
  2. Add the sugar (2.5 cups first and then if needed, the rest half cup can be added) and mix it in using a rubber spatula. Beat it on low speed using the mixer. Add the milk and vanilla extract. Beat it in high speed until smooth. Stop the mixer in between to scrape the sides of the bowl for even distribution.
  3. Milk cream and ovaltine in a small cup. Pour this into the frosting and beat it again until it reaches creamy consistency.  Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until the time of use. Bring it to room temperature before using. You might have to beat again using the mixer to get a spreadable consistency. Once the cake is filled with the pudding, frost it using the buttercream. 

Peanut Butter Pudding

  • Whisk together in a thick saucepan – 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 1/2 cups milk, 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter, 2 tablespoons corn starch and 6 tablespoons of sugar until everything is combined well.
  • Cook this over medium heat whisking all the time until the mixture starts to thicken – about 8-10 minutes or so. When you raise the whisk from the pudding and it leaves a shadow on the pudding, it is done. Let the pudding cool for 10 minutes. Press a layer of cling wrap on top of the pudding and refrigerate for at least two hours. To stabilize this as a filling for a cake, you can use gelatin if you wish. But I found this to be stable enough to be used as such.

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