Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

The desire to try this recipe came from, of course, the classic peanut butter and chocolate combination, Reese's peanut butter cups. I actually hadn't had one in a long time until my dad bought a Valentine's box of mini Reese's on sale after Valentine's Day. While I like Reese's, I have this weird thing about peanut butter where I only eat it when I truly desire to eat it. I know that sounds totally weird and confusing, but it's kind of like this: for example, I could eat chocolate all the time. I adore it, and can eat it over and over without ever getting sick of it. But with peanut butter, if I eat too much of it in a short amount of time, I get tired of it and lose interest. So many of the minis disappeared without me eating a single one. It wasn't until there were only a couple left that I had one and suddenly realized how I had forgotten about how good they were. So I had to try the combo in cupcake form!

I planned to make them as chocolate cupcakes with a peanut butter frosting, and in particular, was eyeing this recipe of Ina's. But it had a couple of things in the recipe that I usually don't keep on hand and I also finally decided that I wanted a predominantly peanut butter taste than chocolate. I felt that if I made chocolate cupcakes, the chocolate flavor would be stronger than the peanut butter, and I really wanted the peanut butter to shine. So I found this recipe on Allrecipes. One thing that really stood out to me was that the recipe had cream of tartar in it. I've never in my life seen a cupcake recipe or any cake recipe besides Angel Food that had cream of tartar in it. I also read some of the reviews and decided to use oil in place of shortening. And my lord, the resulting cupcake was INCREDIBLY soft and fluffy! I honestly don't think I've ever made cupcakes as soft as these, and I have to think that it was the cream of tartar that did it. It definitely got me thinking about finding other recipes that used tartar in it or even coming up with my own that has it in the recipe. In the end, the cupcake was delicious and definitely great for the first peanut butter cupcake recipe I tried. I paired it with my old standby chocolate buttercream and it had a nice, Reese's flavor. I eventually would like to try the reverse, chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting, but for now, these were great.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes (adapted from Allrecipes)
I halved the recipe twice and had enough batter for 7 cupcakes. A read a lot of reviews that said they were able to get about 30 cupcakes, so assume that this full recipe will make about 28-30.

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • a pinch of salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners or grease and flour cups.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together brown sugar, oil, and peanut butter and beat until thoroughly combined. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in a medium bowl; stir into the batter alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Spoon into the prepared cups.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the top of the cupcakes spring back when light pressed (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don't be fooled by the cupcakes like I was. I thought 15 minutes was too little as almost all cupcakes take at least 18 minutes to bake. The tops to me still looked a little wet and so I didn't even test them at 15 minutes. 2 minutes later they were starting to brown, although still looking a little wet on top, but I checked them anyway. Sure enough, they were done, so don't be fooled!) Cool in the pan about 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Creamy Chocolate Frosting (from Allrecipes)
This recipe makes enough to thinly frost about 24 cupcakes, so if you're making the full cupcake recipe, you may want to times the recipe by 1.5.

  • 2 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter (I always use salted. If you only have unsalted, add a good pinch of salt)
  • 5 tablespoons evaporated milk (I always use regular 2% milk since I almost never have evaporated milk on hand. But if you have it, definitely use it)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a medium bowl, sift together confectioner's sugar and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth, then gradually beat in sugar mixture alternately with the milk. Blend in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. If necessary, adjust consistency with more milk or sugar (or cocoa powder). Use to frost cupcakes.
By the way, I totally meant to pipe a different kind of pattern on these cupcakes since I all too often just go back to the classic swirl. But there's just something about the swirl that captivates me and so I just did it by instinct! I think what I'm getting tired of is the fact that I actually only have one star tip, a Wilton #32 open star that I've used for all of the cupcakes I've posted so far. (The only other tips I have are two petal tips, a leaf tip, and a very small round tip that I actually haven't even used yet...I find trying to make buttercream flowers intimidating!) I've been dying to get a 1M tip that seems to be the standard for the classic swirl but just haven't dragged myself up to Michael's to get it. But luckily, tomorrow I have to head up there anyway to get some stretcher strips for a new painting of mine, so as long as I remember, I'm definitely getting it then!

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