Welcome I have been a “water baby” my whole life. From the time I was barely big enough to stand up and my parents dipped my toes in the ocean, I haven’t been able to get enough of the natural beauty of water. I love the ocean and beautiful lakes and even a good swimming pool, but I am particularly drawn to the movement of water. I can watch a river or tumbling creek for hours. For me, there is no better magic than a powerful, yet calming waterfall. I find it so interesting that a single occurrence in nature can be both things…powerful, dangerous, and tumultuous, yet still serene, peaceful, and calming. It’s pretty symbolic of life, right? Today, I’m going to share a recent lesson I learned about trying to chase waterfalls and then I’ll share a recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake.
Food For Thought I developed a love for hiking when I was in high school and college. I had seen a handful of waterfalls in Missouri and Arkansas by this point, but I just liked being outdoors. Fast-forward to my engagement and my now-husband planning for our honeymoon. He knew I had a love for the outdoors and hiking, so he wanted our special trip to revolve around these types of activities. He’s such a great man, always thinking about the things that bring me joy! He booked a cabin for a week in the Smokey Mountains and we spent the week exploring the National Park and it’s many amazing waterfalls. We’ve been hooked ever since. Ever since that honeymoon almost 14 years ago, we have tried to take at least one trip a year where we spend the week hiking and viewing waterfalls. I get a chance to embrace the serenity of nature and he gets to practice his wicked photography skills. Some of our trips have been almost beyond-words wonderful, like last year’s trip to North Carolina. It will be hard to top that trip, for so many reasons! Other trips have left us scrambling to adjust our plans and make the best of the circumstances we’ve been dealt, like this year’s spring break trip.
It would have been vey easy to have described this year’s trip as disappointing or a waste, if we were going to judge it solely on the destination, or the waterfalls we had hoped to view. Our thought process was, with all of this rain southern Missouri and northern Arkansas has been getting, the waterfalls are going to be FULL. They will be EPIC! My husband and I know that spring rains bring the optimum waterfall viewing in this part of the country and we were so excited to finally take our daughter on one of these adventures so she could see why we love waterfalls so much. We knew the forecast was calling for more rain and thunderstorms the week of our trip, but we said, “So what, a little rain never stopped us!” For the first time ever, yes, a “little” rain stopped us! On our 7-day trip we actually only saw waterfalls on 2 days, which is always our primary “destination” on these types of trips. Very different from last year’s trip, when my husband and I were seeing an average of 5 falls per day! So, yeah, if I’m going to focus on the destination aspect of the trip, it was a bust. But is it just about the destination? (Side note–these are pictures from my phone, as my husband’s camera battery was dead)
We’ve all heard that famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” This certainly makes a good application for our spring break trip, as we had many adventures on the journey, that had absolutely nothing to do with any particular destination. We have some crazy stories about the water and rain. We saw things we never would have seen had our destination not changed so many times. We spent more time with extended family than we normally would have. We found beauty in features that were not waterfalls, such as canyons, collapsed cave systems, springs, sinkholes, and wildlife. There was no shortage of giggles and silliness and adventure, and we have no shortage of memories, just because our destinations weren’t what we anticipated they would be. The spring break trip was good because of the journey, not just because of some end points marked on a map, gravel road, or trail.
I’ve been processing this quote and trip realization a lot this week. I have been trying to make my life about the destination, and not the journey. For me, the destination was supposed to be “success.” Well, success, at least as I have envisioned it, may be like those “epic waterfalls” we had hoped to see over spring break. I know it’s there, somewhere, but I just can’t get to it, right now. I may have to take some detours or alter my plans for now, to do what’s best for me and my family. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the journey. Along the way, I’m going to get to see some amazing new things, things I may not have even anticipated or expected, but wonderful nonetheless. The journey is going to teach me some new things. I’m going to learn about priorities and limits and gratitude, all very valuable lessons. I’m so thankful that my husband helped talk me through any disappointments I might have had on our trip this year, so that I could see the good in our situation. I’m also thankful for the people I have talked to this week that have helped me remember once again that I may have planned for a certain destination in my life, but I can enjoy the journey I’m on, no matter where it takes me.
Today’s Recipe It’s pretty well known by now that I love cake, maybe not as much as chasing waterfalls, but still satisfying in a different way. It could be said that I need to increase my hike to cake ratio right now, but that’s a story for another day. So do you like cake, too? Do you like peanut butter? Do you like the chocolate and PB combo you get from those candy “cups”? You said “yes,” right? Well, here’s a layered cake dessert to bring you the best of ALL those worlds! Rich and dark Devil’s Food cake. A candy peanut butter fudge-type filling like that in your favorite cups. An indulgent chocolate ganache coating. Chopped peanut butter cup candies. Oh, yeah!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake
- 3 cups cake flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 TBS vanilla
- 1 cup hot brewed coffee
For Peanut Butter Filling
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup milk
For Chocolate Ganache and Topping
- 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels (about half a bag)
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 tsp corn syrup
- 10-12 mini peanut butter cups, chopped
Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour 4 8-inch round cake pans. In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and soda, and salt. Add in eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla and beat on low for 30 seconds, then medium for two minutes. Add coffee, beating on low again until well-blended. Batter will be thinner than regular cake batter. Divide batter evenly among four pans. Keep in mind each layer won’t be very thick, but the finished cake will have plenty of height. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Remove pans to cooling racks and let rest for 15 minutes. Remove cake layers from pans to finish cooling completely on the wire racks, about 2 hours.
Place butter, peanut butter, vanilla, and salt in large mixing bowl and mix until well blended. Add powdered sugar and milk, mixing until you get a consistency like that used for filling peanut butter cup candies. This filling will resemble peanut butter fudge more than peanut butter frosting.
For ganache, place chocolate morsels, cream, and corn syrup in medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until chocolate has completely melted and cream is stirred in throughout. It will appear shiny.
To assemble cake, place first layer of cake on cake plate. Divide peanut butter filling into fourths. Take one fourth of the filling and using your hands to mold it, fit it around the top of the first layer of cake. Repeat this process for the next three layers of cake.
Once all four layers have been stacked and topped with peanut butter filling, it’s time to add the ganache. Place about a third of the ganache on the top center of the cake. Using an off-set spatula, spread out the ganache slowly, allowing it to drip down the sides. Don’t worry about the middle of the cake getting thin, we’ll fill that in with more ganache. Place another third of the ganache in the center of the cake, repeating the same process, allowing the drips to “layer.” Add as much of the remaining ganache as you desire to fill in any gaps or thin spaces until you achieve the desired look for your cake. Place chopped peanut butter cup candies in the top center of the cake in an “organized chaos” appearance. 😉