An Icing Tasting Party

This weekend is all about the run-up to Bea’s 9th Birthday. Last year, we hosted the big craft-heavy birthday pARTy for Bea and her girlfriends [see our pARTy archives for all of the details]. On the kids’ odd-numbered birthdays, however, we host family-only affairs. Since Bea’s big day falls at the end of a long weekend [the kids had a PA day today], there are going to be a lot of activities leading up to the celebration itself. This year, she wants a birthday cake in the shape of the face of one of her favourite animals: the red panda. And, she wanted to experiment with new cake and icing flavours for her big O-Nine. So, after a great day of perusing the Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum [This is by far the best temporary exhibit we’ve seen at the ROM, and, frankly, the best dino exhibit we’ve ever visited!], we came home and whipped up a few micro batches of Peanut Butter icing for the cake.

Peanut Butter Icing Recipes appear to be divided into two camps: the ones with and the ones without cream cheese. So, we made micro batches of two peanut butter icing recipes from the web. And, thinking that we might want an even richer frosting for the layers or for a future cake, we made a chocolate version of each of these favourites to test as well. Since our aim is to ice some sort of rich chocolate cake (perhaps a chocolate peanut butter cake!!!), we dropped small teaspoons of the icing on bits of Presidents Choice Brownie Little Penguins soft cookies.


Tasting Batches 1&2
(Top Left and Right)

Cream Cheese Based Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting
This is 1/4 of the Recipe for Peanut Butter Frosting from Smitten Kitchen’s Recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake [adapted, in turn, from Alisa Huntsmans’ Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes], with this quarter-batch further divided in half, with cocoa or chocolate added to one of these halves.

2.5 ounces light cream cheese
2 tbs butter
1.25 c icing sugar
1/6 c smooth peanut butter (we used no-name with 25% less-sugar)
1 tbs cocoa powder or .5-1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled.

In a mixer, blend cream cheese and butter.
Slowly add the icing sugar until well combined.
Add the peanut butter and combine until fluffy.
Divide the icing in half.
To one half, add cocoa powder or cooled melted chocolate and blend.

Tasting Batches 3&4
(Lower Left and Right)
Traditional Peanut Butter and Chocolate Peanut Butter Icing
About 1/4 of the Peanut Butter Frosting Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction Blog, divided in half, with Cocoa Powder or Melted Unsweetened Chocolate added to one half of this micro batch.

1/4 c creamy peanut butter (we used no-name 25% less sugar)
1/4 c icing sugar
1 tbs and 1 tsp butter
.5 tsp vanilla
.8 tsp salt
.166 c table cream
1 tbs cocoa powder or .5-1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled.

In a mixer set to low, blend all ingredients except the cream [and cocoa or chocolate].
Slowly add the cream and beat on high until light and fluffy.
Divide icing in half.
To one half, add the cocoa or cooled melted chocolate and stir.

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Peanut Butter Icings, Suitable for Gel Colouring: Batch One, With Reservations
Above, the kids are pointing to the cream cheese option (Batch One, our micro-batch of the Smitten Kitchen recipe), but with reservations. They loved the tanginess of the icing, but they didn’t think it was quite peanut-buttery enough. And, later, after we did our official polling, Tobes seemed to lean slightly more towards the non-cream-cheese option as his fave. My husband liked the mild flavour of Batch One, but I had to agree with the kids as to the batch’s being a bit too mild. This recipe was designed to frost a rich, multi-layer cake, however, so I can see how such reserve makes sense. If we were to make no changes or alterations to the recipes, above, I would use the stiffer, less peanutty cream-cheese based option for frosting cakes and the creamier, peanuttier non-cream cheese option for frosting moist and delicious cupcakes, for which purpose that recipe was created.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Icings: Batch Four
The winner for the chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting recipe went entirely the other way. The kids thought the non-cream cheese based option, our cocoa-powder-added version of the Peanut Butter Frosting Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction Blog was much tastier. We all agreed on this one. To be used as a possible icing for the interior layers of Bea’s birthday cake, this icing would be perfect. And, we’d slather it all over the outside of a dark chocolate celebration cake or cupcakes ANY TIME, too! That being said….I think our choice of cocoa-powder as opposed to melted chocolate here put the cream-cheese option at a distinct disadvantage. The cream cheese based icing was a bit sandy or crumbly, proving quite the contrast to its cocoa-free sister. Had we added melted chocolate to the cream-cheese option, we might have had a bigger battle on our hands. Although, I think we’d likely need to add more peanut butter [subtracting an equal amount of cream cheese] to the cream-cheese option to really balance out the chocolate flavour there.

Our tasting party over, we haven’t quite yet arrived….
For our red panda cake, we’re leaning towards a peanut-butterier version of our Batch 1 recipe.
As we’re leaning towards having fewer layers of cake with our red panda cake, we’ll keep the non-cream cheese chocolate peanut butter option, Batch 3, in our recipe box for a future celebration! It’s a sure-fire winner!

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2 Responses to An Icing Tasting Party

  1. Sally November 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    This is such a fun post! I love recipe testing in the kitchen! And the chocolate version of my frosting sounds incredible!!

    • Roseanne Carrara December 1, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

      The chocolAte version of your frosting was amaaazing!!! Can’t wait to make cupcakes with it!!!!