Nothing perks up someone’s day better than a baked good. Something about these sugary treats makes everyone smile, and I tend to bake for my friends whenever I can, which in turn works out nicely for my close friends who love to devour anything sugary and chocolatey. They can always count on me to bring the good stuff over whenever we all get together over bottles of champagne.
This weekend was spent helping out my best friend paint her room. It was tedious and tiring but we had a good time catching up over splatters of paint. I knew that when I went over to her house to help that I’d bring some kind of tasty treat to rejuvenate us between painting bouts, and when your best friend is a fellow lover of anything peanut butter and chocolate, you know exactly what to bring.
Honestly, back in the day, J and I would come home after school, sit and watch fashion television while eating peanut butter spread on wheat thins topped with semi-sweet chocolate chips. Yah, we were crazy but damn those sandwiches were tasty. So I knew that my chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting would be a big hit.The cupcake was light and fluffy with a nice cocoa taste to it. I have a hard time with chocolate cupcakes because most of the time their either turn out too dry or too dense. I can’t ever find a nice balance but I think that this is the best I’ve tried yet. Unlike Ina’s recipe, I used lowfat sour cream and reduced fat buttermilk because I don’t mind the lighter fare but I can imagine other people staying away from the lower fat substitutions. The reduced amount of fat might’ve taken away from the cupcake so next time I’d use the full fat version. Don’t frown, this is Ina’s recipe we are talking about. You either have to go all out or go home :)
Now let’s get the most important part of this recipe: the frosting. I can’t explain in words how amazing this frosting is. So creamy and light, this frosting blends the flavor of peanut butter but maintains a nice whipped consistency due to the heavy cream. It really packs a punch with the cocoa cupcakes.
The recipe said that it’d make about 15 to 16 cupcakes but it yielded about 24 normal sized cupcakes and about 12 mini cupcakes. Also, I had a ton of leftover frosting, probably because I didn’t frost my mini versions. I even overfrosted some cupcakes, if that’s even possible, and I thought I might run out. But I did have a ton of frosting left that is sitting in my fridge, beckoning me to attack it with a spoon.
Not only do I come to do manual labor, but I also come bearing gifts! These are the kind of perks you get when you are my friend.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
From The Barefoot Contessa
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup good cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Kathleen’s Peanut Butter Icing, recipe follows
Chopped salted peanuts, to decorate, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended.
Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (1 rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount). Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.
Frost each cupcake with Peanut Butter Icing and sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if desired.
Kathleen’s Peanut Butter Icing:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.