Monday, April 28, 2014

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

As I mentioned not long ago, this little corner of cyberspace turned 5 years old this month. As a celebratory gesture, I thought I’d make the first cupcakes ever to appear on The Messy Apron. I can’t remember ever making cupcakes, even reaching back beyond 5 years, but everybody else seems to be having fun making cupcakes, so why not me?

I’ll answer that question in a moment, but, first, let me tell you that these cupcakes are really, really good. They have a nice chocolaty flavor and are very soft and moist. The peanut butter frosting is divine! It’s super creamy and loaded with delicious, sweet peanut buttery flavor, and it accompanies the soft cake extremely well. Eating these cupcakes is a wonderful experience and I think you should do it with your loved ones and friends as often as you can.

Okay, now, about having fun making cupcakes…I may have discovered why I haven’t done it before. I may not be cut out for such delicacy. I was thinking, hey, I make cakes every once in a while. Good cakes, too. Cupcakes are just little cakes. What’s the big deal?

Somehow, several bowls, utensils, and messes on the floor later, I came to the conclusion that cupcakes are a big deal. The batter for these cupcakes is very wet and needs to be poured rather than scooped like I do with the thicker, stiffer muffin batters I make. This resulted in one of the messes I wasn’t really prepared for. Most of the others involved my own clumsiness and impatience. Don’t blame the cupcakes.

Of course, then I got the bright idea to pipe the frosting onto the cakes so it would be prettier. My decorating equipment, which I think I had never used, required a climb up into a closet to acquire. Then, as it turns out, I’m really bad at getting frosting into a piping bag: another mess. Finally, as I was icing the 6th (out of 16) cupcake, the bag split open and, blub, there was frosting everywhere but on the cupcake. Luckily, the offset spatula was game for a last-minute substitution.

I shared these cupcakes with friends, along with this story, and they were declared “amazing” and, “worth the mess.” I have to agree, so, again, don’t blame the cupcakes. Blame this messy cook. And when you see beautiful cupcakes in internet photos (probably not here!), recognize the skill of those cupcake creators. They certainly have more coordination, patience, and fortitude than me!
But, seriously. Make and eat these cupcakes.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
Recipes adapted from Bon Appetit

For the cupcakes:
1 cup cake flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup cocoa powder
2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
½ cup boiling water
½ cup buttermilk
2/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup canola or other neutral-tasting oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 16 cups in muffin/cupcake tins with paper cupcake liners. Set aside.

2. In a medium size bowl, combine the cake flour, baking soda and salt. Whisk or sift to combine well. Set aside.

3. In another medium size bowl, combine the cocoa and chopped chocolate. Pour in the boiling water. Whisk together until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in another large bowl if you’re using a hand-held mixer), combine the dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, and oil. Beat on medium speed until very creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.

5. Add half the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the chocolate mixture and beat until smooth. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until smooth.

6. Evenly distribute the cake batter among the cupcake papers. (The batter will be very wet and probably easier to pour than to scoop.) Bake at 350 F for about 18 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

7. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely before frosting.

Makes 16 cupcakes

For the frosting:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
¾ cup powdered sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate sprinkles for garnish (optional)

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a medium size bowl if you’re using a hand-held mixer) combine the peanut butter and butter and beat together at medium speed until smooth. Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue beating until light in color and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Spread or pipe onto the top of cooled cupcakes. Decorate with chocolate sprinkles if desired.

Generously frosts 16 cupcakes.

Other recipes like this one: Mulled Wine Chocolate Cake, Simple Vanilla Yogurt Cake, Cocoa Chocolate Chip Brownies (try these with the peanut butter frosting above), Peanut Butter and Chocolate Revel Bars

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