15 September 2008

Puppy chow cupcakes

I have never participated in an online baking event, but I am pretty obsessed with foodbeam and couldn't resist joining in! Plus, I actually have a journal now to post in (I only started this recently, so before I really had no motivation). At first I didn't even consider participating, but I couldn't stop thinking, "well, if i did it, what kind of cupcake would i make?" and so I kept thinking and thinking of various ideas of what would i make if I were to make a cupcake: strawberries (my favorite fruit), non edible cupcakes (clay, copper, paper), shapes (how can you change the shape of a cupcake so it is still a cupcake, but not a traditional cupcake?), etc. I was just thinking about the many directions one can go with a cupcake and toying with ideas in my head.

Then I thought, why, i love cereal! I'm addicted to eat it and must eat it every morning. So the if became an I will! I first liked the idea of using Honey Bunches of Oats, my favorite American cereal, but then I started to think of Halloween. Which is coming up in less than 2 months. And then I thought about a friend who makes puppy chow for her Halloween party every year. And so Honey Bunches of Oats was shelved aside temporarily for... Puppy Chow Cupcakes!

the puppy chow cupcakes

First, what exactly is puppy chow? I was shocked when I was buying my ingredients at Central Market:

Cashier: So, what are you making today?
Me: I'm attempting to make puppy chow cupcakes!
Cashier: What's that?
Me: Well, I'm just trying to put puppychow with some chocolate and peanut butter cupcakes because I think it would be a fun combination.
Cashier: No, what's puppy chow?
Me: What? You don't know? Puppy chow, it's, well, puppy chow!
Cashier: Never heard of it.
Me: Why, it's a classic snack at every kid's birthday party... it essentially looks like dog food and involves chex coated in chocolate and peanut butter, and dusted in powdered sugar. It's so good, but its definitely a kid food. You don't eat it once you get older... except for me.
Cashier: Never heard of it, but that sounds delicious. I love peanut butter and chocolate
Me: Look it up, you must try it once in your life!

Puppy chow!! It's a childhood staple! Though, since I am an ABC, my parents never made it for me. But I had it plenty of times at elementary school parties or birthday parties (and a certain Halloween party as well). And technically... I had never made it either, until today. I did not make my own puppy chow until I was 21 years old! Better late than never.

First, you must make the puppy chow.

The simple version of puppy chow cupcakes... literally! :)

I used this recipe, directly from Chex.com.

[9] cups Corn Chex®, Rice Chex®, Wheat Chex® or Chocolate Chex® cereal (or combination)
[1] cup semisweet chocolate chips
[1/2] cup peanut butter
[1/4] cup butter or margarine
[1] teaspoon vanilla
[1 1/2] cups powdered sugar

Microwave or double broiler
Large zip lock bag

Note: the amount of puppy chow this recipe calls for makes more than you need if you are making them for cupcakes only. Halve the recipe if you are making them for the cupcakes recipe, but go ahead and follow it if you want extra to much on!

Get your chex first. This box turned out to have only 7 cups of chex, but it worked fine.

Dump it into a bowl. Set aside.

Measure out your 1/2 cup of peanut butter...
good luck doing this and keeping your hands clean.

Pour out your 1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips

Your 1/4 cup of butter.

Throw it into your microwavable bowl.
Or your double broiler on your stove if you have one.

I zapped mine, stirring every 30 seconds,
because my double broiler is 3 hours away in Dallas.

Melted butter... can you feel your arteries clogging up?
Just pretend you never saw it, stir it and forget it!

Not very pretty.

Pour it over your bowl of chex and stir away!

Wait. Did you notice something missing?
How about... the vanilla extract?
Yep... i totally forgot to use it!
Oh well, moving on!

Throw that warm chocolate covered goodness into a ziplock bag.

Measure out your 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.

And shake it! Shake it like a Polaroid Picture, shake it, shake it,
shh you got to, shake it, shh shake it, shake it, got to shake it
[Sorry. I couldn't resist]

Stick it in the fridge and let it cool. And then eat later. Yum yum yum!

Are you ready to make the cupcakes now? I am!

However, I am an indecisive person and couldn't decide what to do. There are endless possibilities I could have done! Did I want to crush up the puppy chow and mix it in with a batter? Or do I want to add it once the cupcake is baked? Then, which batter? Vanilla? Chocolate? Peanut butter? Do I want frosting? Cream cheese? Buttercream? Mixed with the puppy chow? And which flavor? Do I want puppy chow on my cupcake? Do I want to bake a cake first, then crumble it up and mix it with frosting and puppy chow and mold it into the same of a cupcake? Did I even want to make a cupcake that was baked? You can see my thought process... a lot! This was also my first time not following a recipe or slightly modifying a recipe - I was making everything up myself!

In the ended I decided on peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes (I coudn't just pick one), sandwiched with a layer of puppy chow, then dusted with powdered sugar and one piece of puppy chow on top and no frosting.

The puppychow cupcake, with wrapper pulled down to see the layering.

[1] bag of puppy chow
[1] peanut butter cupcake batter
[1] chocolate cupcake batter
[some] powdered sugar for dusting

I decided to find two different batters and use them both. I did some keyword searching on tastespotting and ended up finding this chocolate cupcake recipe from Cupcake Bakeshop, and this peanut butter cupcake recipe from I Heart Cuppycakes which is actually from Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans. Feel free to use any cupcake recipe you find, I'm sure they will be super tasty as well! Just remember to adjust the quantities of both recipes to you get similar amount of batter. And yes, I realize I used a 350 degree recipe and a 375 degree recipe together, but it still worked fine for me.

softened butter
Both recipes I used called for room temperature/softened butter. I never remember to take my butter out early enough for it to soften. And many times I want to bake right away, not two hours into the future. So I always just take it out super cold when I need it, and slice it up into thin slices and then chop them into morsels and leave them out while I go work on a different part of the recipe/measure out stuff. Because they are smaller they warm up quickly, and are always soft when I am ready to use them! It also helps to leave them near somewhere warm, like that preheating oven... Option B, if I really really need it right then, I stick the butter in a zip lock bag and whack it with a rolling pin until it is all soft and mushy.

Adding the egg and vanilla extract to the peanut butter & butter combo.

[this is where I get lazy and stop taking pictures of the prep steps.]

Puppy chow on top of batter, waiting for the 2nd round of batter.

Be creative in how you construct your cupcakes! I tried to swirl one of mine.

First batch.
If you are using the chocolate cupcake recipe from the Cupcake Bakeshop website, make sure to read the note about how it is a "sinking" recipe. If you overfill, the chocolate part will sink down. (if you look closely in the photo, I also crushed some puppy chow to top the cupcake, another option to try.)

more cupcakes!
Because of the sinking chocolate, I decided to put the chocolate layer on the bottom and peanut butter layer on top. This is only for visuals, both ways taste delicious! I decided to not use frosting on these because... I just don't like frosting. And the peanut butter and chocolate was enough to satisfy my sweet tooth, frosting would have been overkill for me. I always end up scraping it off anyway, but if you like frosting, go ahead and make some yummy frosting to top your puppy chow cupcakes! I'm sure they will look much cuter than mine.

obligatory split in half photo
Look closely! You can see the puppy chow, but just barely... it's buried in there!

Conclusion: I am very happy that I decided to participate in Sugar High Friday because even though my ingredients were nothing spectactuar and my idea not so original, it pushed me to at least think about my cupcakes and plan them out instead of just following a recipe or slightly modifying a recipe. And it feels darn good! Plus, I have lots of ideas now for future cupcakes!


CB said...

How could anyone NOT know what puppy chow is? I love me some puppy chow. Your cupcakes look so yummy. Glad you liked the PB cupcakes!
Clara @ iheartcuppycakes

sarah j. gim said...

i actually had no idea what puppy chow was until only recently...now if only they would put THAT int bags like they did the original chex mix

serajwl said...

I was confused about the puppy chow... I had never heard of it either. It turns out that I have had them before, but we called them muddy buddies. Either way, they're delicious. Great job!

Maria said...

I love puppy chow but haven't had it in years! Thanks for the reminder and the cupcakes look amazing!

Laura said...

I've heard "Muddy Buddies" and "white trash" as terms for that, but never "puppy chow."

they look great though!

Lindsey said...

I had never heard it called puppy chow before...we used to call them muddy buddies.

fanny said...

(can't believe I've lived for twenty three years not knowing what puppy chows are!).
I guess that a side effect of living in France.

ps. I have those same plastic cups ;)

xx fanny

cakehouse said...

i had puppy chow for the first time this past christmas when my parents' neighbor brought it over---she called it reindeer feed or something like that. whatever you want to call it, i ate the whole jar. i cannot wait to try these cupcakes!

Rebecca said...

I actually had no idea what puppy chow was until a girl in my Spanish class brought in a huge bag to share. I was so confused when everyone was like, "Oh, puppy chow!!" Seeing these cupcakes totally reminded me of it and now I'm craving some.

csquad said...

i'm so glad you guys like them!
and i'm starting to realize that maybe "puppy chow" is a regional term... it'd be interesting to poll people of different areas to see what areas call it what. (Kind of like that whole soda/pop/coke survey a few years ago)

thank you for all the nice comments :)

Cupcake Aficionado said...

i have been looking for the name of this treat for years!! I had no idea it was called Puppy Chow!! Thank you... I can finally end my life's search.

Michelle said...

I am just wondering does the puppy chow int he middle of the cupcake get soggy or does it stay crisp?