There’s a reason Reese’s Peanut Butter cups are so damn popular; chocolate and peanut butter go together like…well, like chocolate and peanut butter.
I know, I know – most would jump to the more popular maxim of “going together like peanut butter and jelly”, but I don’t find the phrase to be all that accurate. I don’t have anything against peanut butter and jelly. It’s fine. But for my money, it’s nothing to write home about.
Peanut butter and chocolate is another story all together. Now there’s a paring that’s just about as good as it gets. You don’t see Reese’s PB&J cups stocking the shelves, after all.
Cupcakes are not only delicious, as anyone who’s ever eaten one (or several) can attest to, but they’re very simple and quick. They make for a perfect bite-sized dessert, and offer a near-endless range of flavors and fillings. When you make your own, that is of course. Anyone can dump a box of pre-ready cake mix into a bowl and say “Look, I made cupcakes”. But where’s the fun in that? It’s no different in essence than a frozen TV dinner; sure you “cooked” it, but you didn’t make it. It’s not your meal, not your creation. Cooking and baking with pre-made mixes and boxed, frozen bricks of microwave-ready garbage is sadly nothing more than the culinary equivalent of a paint-by-numbers kit.
And that’s why we’re here, isn’t it?
That’s right. You’re here to make your own dessert, dammit!
Your only limit is your own imagination. Now that doesn’t mean you can make cupcakes with just anything (Yes, while sardine-patté-and-blue-cheese-stuffed cupcakes are technically possible, I can’t say I’d recommend such a desecration) but with the proper pantry staples at your disposal, your sweet tooth will never go hungry again.
I got the inspiration for these cupcakes out of necessity, as is so often the case.
I was in charge of bringing dessert for my girlfriend’s birthday. Neither of us being huge fans of traditional cake (blasphemy, I know), I still had to bring something to celebrate, and so I wracked my brain for ideas.
Knowing that peanut butter, chocolate, and cupcakes are all individually three of her favorite things, it seemed only natural to combine them all into a celebratory treat. So, off to the kitchen I went. A few minutes later searching, and I had everything I needed.
I drew inspiration from the buckeye brownies I had grown up enjoying at my parents’ house, utilizing my mom’s same recipe for the peanut butter-based buttercream frosting to top off my own chocolate cakes. It’s a very, very different texture from brownies, but nothing was lost in terms of flavor.
These have now in recent months become a regular appearance from me at family functions and parties, and they never last long once they’re out on the table.
Grab your mixing bowl and apron, and I’ll show you why.
I’d be willing to bet you have most, if not all, of the following somewhere in your own kitchen cupboards:
- Flour – 1 1/3 cup
- Baking soda – ¼ teaspoon
- Baking powder – 2 teaspoons
- Cocoa powder – ¾ cup
- Salt – 1/8 teaspoon
- Butter (s0ftened) – 3 tablespoons
- Sugar – 1 ½ cups
- Eggs – 2
- Vanilla extract – ¾ teaspoon
- Milk – 1 cup
Once you’ve got everything gathered, it’s a simple matter of preheating the oven to 355 F, fixing the paddle attachment to your trusty stand mixer, and bringing everything together into a delicious, chocolaty batter. A number or recipes will tell you to combine the ingredients in stages, but honestly I’ve never understood why. It’s all ending up mixed up together in the same gooey mess after all, isn’t it?
For my money, I personally recommend the Dump-Everything-Together-And-Blend-Like-Hell approach. As long as you keep it at a low, steady speed, you can avoid any mess from a splash-back. It’s never done anything but right by me.
That being said, once you’ve got a smooth, finished batter, pour in equal portions in a 12-piece muffin tray and place in the oven for the next 15 minutes.
Now, that takes care of the cupcakes. But we’re still missing something, aren’t we?
- Peanut butter – 1 cup
- Powdered sugar – 2 cups
- Butter (softened) – ½ cup
While you’ve got the chocolate in the oven, switch out your stand mixer’s paddle attachment for the whisk and grab your peanut butter, powdered sugar, and softened butter. We’re going to once again use the patented Dump-Everything-Together-And-Blend-Like-Hell method. Mix on a slow setting, obviously, unless you want to be left scrubbing dried peanut butter and sugar off your walls. I’ve seen it happen, and it ain’t pretty. So slow speed, please, I beg you.
By now, the cupcakes should be out and cooling on a wire rack on your countertop.
Scoop out your frosting into a pastry bag (I like to make my own out of a gallon-size freezer bag, snipping off a corner with scissors) and top with as much of the peanut buttery goodness as you like.
Bring a platter of these treats with you to your next party, family get-together, birthday; whatever it is you’re celebrating, you’re sure to make a few new friends once the crowd gets a taste of these – just so long as they’re not allergic to nuts, of course.
But I’d hope you already knew that going into this.