If there’s someone in your life who loves the (irresistible?) combination of peanut butter and chocolate, might I suggest you forgo the traditional Valentines’s Day wine and box of chocolates and make these for your beloved instead?
The chocolate cake recipe is a “KAF Gauranteed” from King Arthur Flour. It offers a balanced chocolate flavor — strong enough to compliment, but not overwhelm the peanut butter — and has a wonderful mouthfeel, with a tight, moist crumb.
The frosting is my own concoction. It’s sweet, fluffy and peanut buttery, with a kiss of vanilla. I dare you to not lick the bowl when you’re finishing frosting your cupcakes (or, for that matter, during!)
Chocolate cake (source)
2 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used dutch-processed, but regular cocoa is fine)
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk (warmed in the microwave for a minute)
1/2 cup coffee or water
4 large eggs
24 miniature peanut butter cups, unwrapped
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Line two muffin tins with papers, and spray the insides of the papers.
Place a strainer over a large mixing bowl. Measure in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and sugar, and shake the dry ingredients through the strainer into the bowl to eliminate lumps.
Add the butter and mix at low speed for 1 minutes. With the mixer running, add the oil and continue mixing. The mixture will look sandy. Add vanilla, milk and coffee or water, and mix for a minute on low. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then mix for another 30 seconds.
Add the eggs in, one at a time, beating at medium-high after each addition. Scrape down the bowl, and beat for another minute.
Use a 1/4 dry measuring cup to scoop the batter into each individual tin. Add about half of the batter to a tin, drop in a peanut butter cup, and top with the remaining batter.
Bake cupcakes for 21 to 23 minutes, rotating from top to bottom and back to front halfway through baking time. The cupcakes are done when the edges just begin to pull away from the edge of the pan, and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean (a few crumbs clinging is fine).
Cool cupcakes on a rack completely before frosting.
Yield: 24 cupcakes (alternatively: two 9-inch cake layers or one 13×9 single layer cake)
Peanut Butter Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla
milk or water, if needed
In a large bowl, beat butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy, scraping down sides as necessary. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, beat in until nice and fluffy, adding water or milk if needed for a good spreading consistency.
Yield: enough to frost 24 cupcakes (alternatively: two 9-inch cake layers or one 13×9 single layer cake)