I don't bake cupcakes very often; I'm not really sure why. Probably because I only have one muffin pan and I'm too lazy to bake them in batches. I also don't see what the big deal is about Sprinkles Cupcakes. Sure, they have a lot of flavor combinations, but they don't taste that good. Plus I've seen much better cupcakes created by all the wonderful bakers who participate in Cupcake Hero every month.
I came across this recipe when I was craving something sweet, made with peanut butter. It's a peanut butter cupcake filled with chocolate, then topped off with a peanut-penuche icing. Penuche is a fudge-like candy made by boiling brown sugar, milk, and butter. My free sample of "chocolately" TCHO chocolate (courtesty of Blake Makes) was perfect in this recipe.
My only problem was that I misread the recipe instructions and thought I was supposed to place the chocolate in the middle of the batter. Turns out you're supposed to fill the muffin pan half way, add the chocolate, then fill it three-quarters of the way to the top (placing the chocolate in the top third of the batter). This mistake caused my chocolate to be pretty close to the bottom of the cupcakes by the time they were finished baking, instead of closer to the middle.
This recipe is supposed to yield twelve "Texas-size" cupcakes. I'm not sure how big a "Texas-size" muffin pan is supposed to be, but I used my molten cake pan for these and got six super big cupcakes and then four "regular" sized ones with the remaining batter. (Next time I'll just make the regular sized ones - the others ones were huge.)
Sometimes I'll bake something, turn around, and find that it's almost all gone, consumed by my husband before even I realize what has happened! One of the perks of making baked goods with peanut butter is that my husband hates peanut butter in anything except for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So I learned early on in the relationship that if I wanted to keep him out of my sweets, all I had to do was bake with peanut butter :)
Well, I failed miserably this time. I gave him one bite of my cupcake and he immediately came back, claiming the rest of mine! Now if that doesn't say anything about how good these are, I don't know what does!
The cake itself is incredibly moist, but it's the icing that makes these special. It's a sweet, fudgey, peanut buttery icing. I iced my cupcakes while the icing was still a bit warm, so instead of sitting nicely atop the cupcakes, it oozed over the edges. Still totally edible and incredibly delicious, but a little messy - so if you want cupcakes that don't require a fork for consumption, I'd recommend letting the icing cool for a few minutes first.
If you like peanut butter, you have to try these. (Even if you don't, you might still like them - look at my husband). I even had one coworker ask me if I would make these again for her birthday. I happily agreed, then asked her when her birthday is. She replied, "March." I laughed. They must be good if I'm getting a request over six months in advance :)
This is also my submission to the September Tasty Tools event, featuring bakeware.
Peanut Buttercups with Peanut-Penuche Icing
from The Pastry Queen, by Rebecca Rather
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/4 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky (I used smooth)
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3.5 ounce bar bittersweet chocolate, cut into 12 squares (I used TCHO "chocolatey" chocolate; you can also substitute chocolate chips if needed)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky (I used smooth)
1/4 cup milk (I used skim)
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
To Make the Cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly coat 6 Texas-size muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray or Baker's Joy. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed for about 30 seconds. (Don't worry if there are a few sugar lumps.) Add the butter, peanut butter, milk, and vanilla. Mix for 1 minute on medium-low speed. Add the eggs and beat for 1-1/2 minutes on medium-high speed. Fill the prepared muffin cups with batter halfway to the top. Place 2 squares of chocolate in the middle of the batter and add more batter to fill the muffin cups three-quarters of the way to the top.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (mine were ready at 28 minutes), until the tops of the muffins are light brown and a toothpick stuck into the middle comes out with no crumbs clinging to it. (A bit of melted chocolate from the center may show, but that doesn't count.)
Cool the muffins for 10 minutes before removing them from the pan. Let them cool on racks at least 5 minutes longer before frosting.
To Make the Icing:
Combine the butter, peanut butter, milk, brown sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a low boil and cook for 1-1/2 minutes without stirring. Take the pan off the burnder and cool about 30 minutes (do not let it sit longer than 30 minutes or the icing will not mix smoothly). Add the vanilla and powdered sugar. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until the icing is creamy and of spreading consistency, about 1 minutes. Ice the cooled cupcakes immediately. (If you let it cool for a bit first, it's less runny and easier to spread across the top.)
Tightly wrapped, the cupcakes will keep for 2 days at room temperature and up to 3 weeks frozen.
Tip: Dealing with peanut butter or other sticky ingredients such as honey or corn syrup can be a royal pain, especially when moving them from measuring cup to batter. A light coating of cooking spray on the inside of the measuring cup will allow peanut butter or any other sticky ingredient to slide out much more easily.
Yield: 12 Cupcakes