Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcake

The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is pure harmony.  I surprised my husband Erik with these for his birthday a few weeks ago.  I may work on the recipe a bit more but overall they were delicious.  I found the peanut butter filling broke down while cooking quite a bit. It ended up working out though because I inserted some of the frosting into the center to fill the space.  It created a great combination of textures because the filling was like a peanut butter cup and the frosting was light and fluffy.  On second hand, maybe I won’t change a thing. 🙂


Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes


1/2 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup reduced fat creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake:
3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg

Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup reduced fat creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

12 mini peanut butter cups
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
4 tablespoons heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line a 12 slot muffin tin with foil cupcake liners.

Prepare the filling:  In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter and vanilla extract in a bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined.  Roll the mixture into twelve, 1-inch balls and set aside.  These can be made in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Prepare the cake batter:  in a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; whisk together and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the sour cream, milk and vanilla extract. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar, and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg, scraping down as needed.  Turn the mixer to low and alternately add the dry ingredients and the sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Do not overmix.

Scoop a tablespoon or two of batter into the bottom of each cupcake liner.  Place a ball of the peanut butter filling in each cupcake well and top with the remaining batter so that all the cups are filled.  Be sure the peanut butter balls are completely covered.


Give the pan a good smack on the counter to remove any air bubbles and level the batter.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Carefully remove each cupcake from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Prepare the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and peanut butter until smooth.  Add the vanilla extract and beat well to combine.  Turn the mixer to low, add the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, mixing well until each addition is completely incorporated, scarping the bowl down each time.  Continue to beat on high until light and fluffy.

Transfer the frosting to a frosting bag.  Start by pressing the frosting tip into the center of the cupcake and squeeze some frosting in.  The peanut butter ball will create a bit of a well in the center of the cupcake as it cooks.  This becomes the perfect spot for an added layer of peanut butter.  Continue topping each cupcake with the frosting.

Finishing touch: Top each cupcake with a mini peanut butter cup.

Add the chocolate and cream to a double boiler and bring the water to a simmer.  Stir the chocolate until blended and melted.  Using a spoon, drizzle a bit of chocolate over the top of each cupcake.




Apple Flaxseed Pancakes

This is one of my favorite healthy breakfast recipes.  It’s packed with protein, vitamins and fiber.  This is so satisfying after an early morning workout.  Serve this with a couple of tablespoons of natural, unsweetened applesauce and it’s completely guilt free.


Apple Flaxseed Pancakes

  • 1 small/medium Granny Smith Apple
  • 1 egg, light beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon Stevia
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Mix the egg and vanilla together in a medium bowl.  Shred the apple and add to the bowl.  If there is a lot of juice you will want to press some out so the mixture isn’t too wet.


Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine.  Heat a skillet on medium heat.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Divide the mixture in half and add each portion to the pan pressing and forming the portions into two pancakes.  Cook for approximately 4-5 minutes until the underside begins to brown.  Carefully flip and cook on the other side for another 4 minutes.  Serve with a couple of tablespoon of all natural, unsweetened apple sauce.




Roasted Vegetable, Chicken and Mozzarella Pasta

The recipe came up because I was craving a cheesy pasta dish with sun-dried tomatoes.  Well I didn’t have ricotta cheese which is what I was really in the mood for and I didn’t have any sun-dried tomatoes so we improvised and made a similar, yet completely different dish LOL.  It was the closest thing I could come to without going to the market and it came out pretty good.  I used fresh herbs and wine which I keep handy in the freezer and pulled a few ingredients together which I usually have on hand. The recipe made about 4 servings which was perfect since it saved me a night of cooking.  We will call it…

Roasted Vegetable, Chicken and Mozzarella Pasta


  • 5-6 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, diced
  • 1 Shallot, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons plus more for drizzling, extra-virgin olive oil
  • Himalayan Pink Salt And Black Pepper
  • 1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1/2 cup jarred roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 lb Spaghetti


Preheat oven to 450.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the chopped tomatoes, diced garlic and shallot.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Toss to coat.


Roast for about 20-25 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened.


While the tomatoes are roasting, wash the chicken and pat dry.  Remove any fat.  Place the chicken on a cutting board.  Sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper and dried basil.  Place a piece of waxed paper on top of the chicken.  Using a kitchen mallet pound the chicken until it’s about 1/2 inch thick.  I like to add the seasoning first so the mallet will help it to penetrate the meat.


This is a good time to start the water for the pasta so it is ready when you need it.  Cook according to package directions.  Before straining the pasta reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and set aside.  We use Dreamfields brand pasta in an effort to cut back on carbs.  You would never know it wasn’t any other store bought brand, it’s delicious and cooks just the same.  It doesn’t compare to homemade pasta but it really is good.  I can’t warm up to whole wheat pasta so much.  I just wish they would make shells and lasagna noodles to we could use it for all of our pasta feasts.

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Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Cook the chicken for about 4 minutes on each side until cooked through, a total of 8-10 minutes.


Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside to rest.  Cover to keep warm.

Add the wine to de-glaze the pan.

To the pan add the artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and roasted tomatoes and shallots and toss carefully.  Add the pasta and reserved cooking water and simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Add the chopped basil and parsley.  Carefully fold in the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Taste to see if salt and pepper are needed.

Now that the chicken has rested, slice it for serving.

Plate the pasta and top with chicken.  Sprinkle with a bit more freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


Leftover Wine?


So here’s a cool trick (no pun intended 🙂 )…

If you have leftover wine pour it into a tartlet pan and put it in the freezer.  Once frozen, use a plastic spoon to scoop the “tartlets” out, place them in a Tupperware container and return to the freezer.  This step needs to be done pretty quickly.

These wine disks can be used when you need just a bit of wine for a recipe.  Since we are not big wine drinkers these come in handy…Chicken Piccata, Pasta Sauce, Fra Diavolo.

Since the wine does not freeze completely solid it will soften pretty fast.  I recommend keeping these in the coldest section of your freezer and don’t let it sit out.

Bonus Tip: Ever tried wine slush?  Pour some wine into a cupcake tin and do the same think.  Put into a glass when ready and enjoy with a spoon.  It’s like an adult Slurpee…:)

Romantic Dinner for Two

My husband and I enjoy going out for dinner quite often.  Although since moving to MA it’s been a little less frequent.  It’s probably a combination of there being fewer restaurants really close by and having a kitchen now that we can really spread out in.  It makes it so easier to cook.  Going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day really isn’t our idea of romance though – the crowds, the wait, the need to make reservations a month in advance, fixed menus…no thanks.  So while Erik was busy at work I decided to bring the restaurant to us.  I moved a table into our family room next the fireplace, added some candles, music and spent the day cooking a delicious meal.  A warm, cozy, quiet night at home with my love while the snow fell outside – utter perfection…until morning when it was time to shovel.

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Baby spinach topped with thinly sliced apples, pomegranate arils, a touch of cranberry and pecans.  The salad is drizzled with a fresh balsamic vinaigrette dressing.


Perfectly seared Filet Mignon served atop a slightly sweet port wine reduction and topped with a creamy Gorgonzola sauce.  Accompanied by Potato Stacks baked to perfection with a touch of Parmesan and fresh rosemary.


A delicate interior surrounded by a crisp crust with a hint of Parmesan.


The meal is finished with a layered trifle of perfection.  Gooey chocolate brownie nestled between homemade chocolate and Bailey’s Irish Cream puddings.  A touch of crunch with sliced almonds and topped with fresh whipped cream.

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Recipes and Instructions 

Recipe adapted from Neiman Marcus Cookbook
Makes 6

  • 1 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat the oven to 450°F

Place the milk in a bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until warm to the touch.

Add the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk until combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer add the eggs and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until foamy and pale in color. Turn down the mixer to low, add the warm milk. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Fold in the cheese. Let the batter rest for 1 hour at room temperature.

Spray a popover pan with nonstick spray. Fill the cups almost to the top. Place the popover pan on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn down the oven down to 375°F and bake for 30 to 35 minutes longer, until the popovers are a deep golden brown on the outside and airy on the inside.


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This is a super easy salad and was inspired by variety of salads that I love.  It was a last minute decision so I pulled it together with ingredients that I always have on hand.  The dressing is my go to.  I am pushing further and further way from store bought dressing, except for Ranch, that is something I will leave to the pro’s.


  • 1 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 Braeburn or Gala Apple, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup pecan, chopped
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate arils
  • 2 Tablespoons dried cranberries
  • Fresh, Shaved Parmesan cheese


  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey
  • pinch of salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

To make the vinaigrette, add all of the dressing ingredients, except the oil, to a blender.  Blend until combined.  While the blender is running carefully remove the cap from the lid.  Slowly drizzle the olive oil and continue to blend for 1-2 minutes.  The mustard will help to pull the vinegar and oil together so the dressing will become emulsified.  There is far more dressing here than needed but the great thing is that since its’ emulsified it will stay together in the fridge and wont separate.  You can keep this in the fridge and enjoy it for up to a week.

To serve, place spinach on a plate, top with apple, pecans, pomegranate arils, cranberries.  Drizzle with dressing and shave fresh Parmesan cheese over it. Serve immediately.


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  • 2 – 1 inch thick filet, trimmed of fat
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons tablespoon Old Bay
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt, plus more for sprinkling

To prepare the filet:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sprinkle the meat with salt, pepper and Old Bay Seasoning. Allow the meat to come to room temperature at least 30 minutes.

Heat an oven safe sauté pan over high heat until the pan is very hot, about 2 minutes.

While the pan is heating Combine the horseradish, black pepper, garlic, and salt in a small mixing bowl and set it aside.

Sear the meat until evenly browned on all sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from the heat.

Rub all sides of the meat with the mustard.

Using the back of a spoon, or your hands press the horseradish mixture over the mustard on the top and sides of the filet.  At this point I inserted the probe of my instant thermometer into the center of one of the filets.

Transfer the sauté pan to the oven and roast the filet until it reaches desired doneness – rare (120 to 125 degrees F on an instant meat thermometer) and about 35 minutes for medium-rare (130 to 140 degrees F on an instant meat thermometer).

Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes


  • 1/4 cup(s) chopped shallots
  • 1 medium chopped carrot
  • 1 dried bay leaves
  • 1 cup port wine
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup mixed herbs, parsley, rosemary, thyme

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Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Simmer on medium to medium high for about 30 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to about half of the amount.  At this point you will have far more vegetables than broth.  Strain the broth into a bowl through a metal sieve or cheesecloth. Set aside, this can be served at room temperature.


This can be prepared while the meat is resting…

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons cream or half and half
  • 1/3 cup Gorgonzola cheese, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add the milk and cream to a small saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly until it has reduced to half of the amount, about 5-7 minutes.  Whisk in the cheese and add salt and pepper to taste.

To plate: Drizzle a bit of the port reduction on a plate, top with steak and drizzle some cream sauce on top.


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  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped, plus extra for garnish
  • Himalayan pink salt and pepper
  • About 10 ounces (in weight) baby red potatoes, thinly sliced


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 4 large muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl whisk together butter, oil, Parmesan, chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper.

Add potatoes and toss to coat.

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Layer the potatoes slices in a spiral pattern so they hold their form.  Fill them to the top since they will shrink.  Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until the edges and tops are browned and center is tender.

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Remove from the oven and use a spoon to carefully remove them from the pan.  Transfer directly to the plate and enjoy right away.

Note: These would be just as delicious with Yukon Gold and your favorite variety of potato.

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Serves 4 (in 8-10 oz glasses)


  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent)

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In a medium bowl add butter, vanilla, and chocolate and set aside.

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In a medium saucepan add sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt. Add egg yolk and whisk until combined, it will have a crumbly texture. Slowly whisk in the milk and mix until combined.

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Place the saucepan over medium heat whisking constantly to prevent it from burning. Cook until bubbles form around the edge.  Continue to whisk over the heat for another 1-2 minutes. Immediately pour the pudding mixture over the butter and chocolate.  Whisk until combined and cooled slightly. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate 3 hours.


  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cups skim milk
  • 1 nib (50 mil) or 1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (optional)
  • Pinch of salt

In a medium bowl add butter, vanilla, vanilla bean paste if using and Baileys.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch.  Add the egg yolks and continue whisking into a paste.  Slowly add the milk and whisk to combine.   Gently stir over medium heat until bubbling.  Once the mixture starts bubbling, continue to cook and whisk for 2-3 more minutes, whisking constantly.   Pour over the butter & vanilla mixture and whisk until combined.  Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate 3 hours.

Just for the record, I could eat the entire bowl of this pudding!  Seriously, it is that good! The vanilla bean paste puts it over the edge and that Bailey’s – my, oh my! I didn’t want to buy an entire bottle of Bailey’s because it would, well, it should, take us forever to go through.  I wanted the creamy flavor though.  I figured it was safer to buy a nib, a term I recently learned.  It was the perfect amount.  I found Vanilla-Cinnamon Bailey’s, it was delicious! Any of the flavors would be just as yummy.

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So for the brownie layer there is really only one cup of brownie crumbs needed.  Since I already had all of the ingredients I decided to make a full batch of one of my favorite brownie recipes. I trust they won’t go to waste.  The link for the recipe is below.  The site includes some great tips and thoughts on the preparation.  I use dark chocolate versus milk chocolate but other than that I followed the directions fully.

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  • 1 cup dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent)
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch or 7×11 inch baking pan with parchment paper allowing the paper to hang over the sides.  Spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Add a couple of inches of water to a pan and place a heat safe glass bowl over the pan to create a double boiler.  Be sure the water is not high enough to reach the bottom of the bowl.  Add the chocolate, butter and unsweetened chocolate to the bowl and bring the water to a simmer.  Stir occasionally, until melted and combined well.  Remove from heat and allow it to cool a bit.

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In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed until light and thick, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract. Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula. Add the flour and salt, folding gently until combined.

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Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake until a tester comes out with moist crumbs still attached, 35 to 40. Do not overbake. Let cool in the pan for about 30 minutes.  Carefully remove by lifting the edges of the parchment paper and transfer the brownies (parchment still attached) to a cooking rack.  Cool completely

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Tip:  To “chop” the unsweetened chocolate I actually put it in a heavy duty ziplock bag and I used a kitchen mallet to break it into small pieces.  I find this so much easier than trying to cut it with a knife, less cleanup too.  Don’t close the bag all of the way.  Simply place your hand over the opening of the bag, allowing the air to escape as you pound away. Use caution depending on the type of counter top you have.  I use this trick a lot for chopped nuts too.  There could be some sharp edges on the chocolate that could tear the bag.  Keep this in mind when picking it up so you can avoid a mess.  Yup, I learned this the hard way.

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Brownie and Almond Layer:

  • 1 cup of crushed brownie crumb
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds


  1. Add both chocolate and vanilla pudding to separate pastry bags or large ziplock bags.
  2. Snip the corner of each bag.
  3. Pipe a chocolate layer onto bottom of glass
  4. Sprinkle crushed brownie and sliced roasted almonds on top of chocolate layer
  5. Pipe vanilla pudding on top
  6. Continue layering by repeating steps 3-5
  7. Top with whipped cream and a few brownie crumbs

This is a decadent yet light dessert, the perfect ending to a perfect meal for two.  This could be served in a high ball or wine glass for a fancy presentation.  The pudding recipes make enough for four servings.  Prepare all now or leave the extra pudding aside to enjoy on its own tomorrow.

A match made in heaven

What better way to start Valentine’s Day than with some chocolate and love?  I attempted to make hearts for the girls at my husbands office, they didn’t really come out as pretty as I planned but they were pretty tasty and a nice treat to start the morning.

We have big plans for tonight’s romantic dinner for two.  I better get to work – Filet Mignon topped with Gorgonzola sauce served atop a port wine reduction with Parmesan potato stacks and spinach salad served on the side.  Dinner will be finished with a small decadent dessert.  Time to get the pudding and brownies made for our Salted Caramel, Brownie and Mudslide trifle shots… 🙂

Mixed Berry and Dark Chocolate Coffee Cake





  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, chopped
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds


  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 cup fat free buttermilk (homemade used in this recipe)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (60 or 70 %)
  • 12 ounce bag, frozen mixed berries (strawberries chopped if whole)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 8 or 9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

If making homemade buttermilk add 4 tablespoons of lemon juice to a measuring cup and add enough milk to make one cup.  Stir and set aside for approximately 15 minutes.

Make the streusel: In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar, butter and oats, mix with a fork or pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly. Add the almonds. Set aside.

Make the cake: Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until creamy, about 3 minutes.  Add the vanilla and egg and combine well, scraping the sides of the bowl down.  Add half of the flour mixture and mix to combine, add half of the buttermilk, scarping the bowl down and repeat with the remaining flour and milk.  Fold in 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Spread half of the batter into the prepared baking pan. Layer with half of the streusel, most of the berries and about a 1/4 or more of the chocolate chips. Repeat with the rest of the batter.  Top with the remaining streusel, berries and chocolate chips.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a inserted toothpick comes out clean.

I actually baked this in three small heart shaped Bundt pans for 45 minutes.  There was some remaining batter so I just spread among a prepared tart pan to make mini muffins.  The muffins baked for about 20-25 minutes.