As I sit here thinking about what to write about these cupcakes — they’re dark chocolate cakes with peanut butter frosting — all I can do is smile. They are just make-my-day, grin-ear-to-ear delicious! Rather than writing a long story about them, I think I’ll just say this: MAKE them. You won’t be sorry! They’d be a perfect surprise for any chocolate & peanut butter lover in your life.
This is an Ina recipe (oh, how I love the Barefoot Contessa!) You know, I don’t think I’ve ever made a recipe of hers that hasn’t turned out well; I love her cooking style — classy, fresh, high quality natural ingredients, presented beautifully. These are no exception; the cake is deep, intensely dark chocolate, and not too sweet. I sometimes find I have to decrease the amount of sugar in her recipes a bit for my taste, but these are spot on. And — bonus! — I used whole wheat pastry flour in these; the dark chocolate cake can take it, I think. So, the “whole grain” aspect of the cupcakes balances out the mountains of icing on top (in my mind. Logical, right?)
And speaking of that icing…
Can you tell by the swirly high hats on these cupcakes that I had some serious love for this peanut butter icing?
Ina went a little easier on the icing, and topped hers with chopped salted peanuts — which would be great. I decided to shower my cupcakes with some mini chocolate chips, and I will say, they were pretty great too.
If I had any doubt as to how good these were (I didn’t), when B spotted them in the fridge and “volunteered to test the recipe,” he scarfed two down in the blink of an eye. Winner? We think so!
Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing
A few notes:
Though the original recipe states that it will make 14-15 cupcakes, I halved the recipe and got 10 cupcakes. Judging from reviewer’s comments, this seemed to be the case all around — one batch of cupcake batter will probably make about 20 cupcakes.
Since I knew I’d be using a lot of icing, I made the original amount of icing for this half batch of cupcakes. If you’re just going to ice the cupcakes with a knife like Ina does, the original amount of icing would be fine with the original amount of cupcake batter. If you want to pipe it and use more as I did, I would double the icing for the original amount of cupcake batter.
For the cupcakes:
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons strongly brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour [note: I used whole-grain pastry flour with good results]
1 cup good cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Peanut Butter Icing, recipe follows
Chopped salted peanuts or mini chocolate chips for decoration (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin pan 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 and add the eggs, one at a time. Now add the vanilla, and mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
Now, with the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the buttermilk mixture with the flour mixture (add the buttermilk mixture in 2 additions and the flour mixture in 3.) Mix only until blended. Give the batter a few gentle stirs with a rubber spatula just to make sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
Use a standard ice cream scoop (or two spoons) to fill the muffin tins; they should be about 3/4 full.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops spring back when gently pressed or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Don’t overbake — better to err on the side of caution and check them a little early.
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 or mini chocolate chips, if desired.
Peanut Butter Icing:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter [I used creamy all-natural 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
In the bowl of a mixer, mix together the confectioner’s sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt on medium-low speed with the paddle attachment. When well blended, add the heavy cream and continue mixing on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.