So this was the cupcake I promised after the s'mores cupcakes. It was suggested by a dear friend, and I wonder now if he knew what he was asking for when he thought about this combination? Not that I objected, nor did anyone else with whom I discussed the idea, but...! It is good, but oh, my foes and oh, my friends, this is rich stuff. As in half a cupcake was, shall I say, a gracious plenty.
What we have here is a chocolate cupcake base. I veered away from my preferred chocolate cupcake recipe, because that batter is thin and I wanted to fold in the peanut butter chips (with a thin batter, they would all just sink to the bottom, which might be interesting but was not at all what I was after). So this is your traditional cream-method chocolate cake - and there is not a thing in the world wrong with that. It's not too sweet, and it plays well with others, and there are some big players in this recipe.
For the filling, I wanted a peanut buttercream but one that wasn't too sweet, so I added the cream cheese for a depth of flavor and a bit of tang. Even with the addition, however, the filling was very dry (more like a buckeye filling, which, if you're not familiar with those, wait until Christmas and then you'll see). Hence, the cream. Even so, the frosting is still not smooth like a buttercream would be, and with the peanut butter filling (because I had to fill the cupcake, you know), there needed to be something different for the top. Which ended up being...ganache! Easiest frosting in the world. And all you need to do is dip the cupcake in and there! Frosted! Or at least, mostly frosted.
Because then of course, I wanted to let people know what kind of cupcake they were getting into, so I topped it with more peanut butter filling and a peanut butter cup (and if anyone has advice on peeling the dang wrapper off without leaving half the chocolate coating behind, I am all ears) and then I set the cupcakes up for the final picture and was ready to sit down to enjoy the fruits of my labor.
...and could only eat half. These are delightful, and I know more than one person who will love them. But, I think that this cupcake and I will need some time apart before I can eat it as it was meant to be eaten. As of this moment...I tremble.
And here's how I did it:
(Notice these cupcakes domed nicely, which mine haven't been doing lately. Hence, the "poufy". Also, I love saying "poufy".)
Poufy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Chip Cupcakes
(this made 21 cupcakes)
1/2 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup peanut butter chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with baking liners, or grease and flour to prevent sticking.
Cream together the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy. Add in the vanilla, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, flour, and milk and mix on low until combined. Add in the eggs and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy. Fold in peanut butter chips.
Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 of the way full with the batter. Bake, one tray at a time (unless you have more than one rack in your oven; if so, reverse the pan positions in the middle of baking) for 15 - 18 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in a sample cupcake comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then cool completely on a wire rack.
Peanut Butter filling/topping
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cream (or milk would be fine, but why skimp now?)
In an electric mixer, cream together butter, cream cheese, and peanut butter. Add in powdered sugar and salt; mix well. Add in the cream gradually, checking the consistency (you're looking more for a creamy frosting here rather than a peanut butter cup filling...although you could go that route and just leave the dollop off on top of the cupcake. You would have a drier, more candy-like ball of peanutty goodness in the middle).
To fill the cupcakes: using a sharp knife, cut out a cone-shaped portion from the top of each cupcake (almost like cutting the top of a pumpkin for carving). Using a teaspoon, fill the hollow in the cake with the peanut butter filling about a tablespoon per cupcake). Cut the pointy bit off the cone portion you removed, then replace the lid (still like that jack o'lantern, see?) Don't worry about lining the edges up perfectly. This is going to be covered in ganache and frosting and goodness-knows-what-all. Transfer the remaining filling to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip; reserve at room temperature (unless you're taking an extended break. In that case, refrigerate until ready to use, but let it come up to room temperature before attempting to pipe it).
Easy as one-two-three, eh?
Chill the filled cupcakes before topping with ganache.
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
On the stovetop, bring cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Off the heat, stir in chocolate and mix well until fully incorporated and shiny. Let cool for about 15 minutes before using (this will also let your cupcakes chill).
Ready for the home stretch? This is easy now...
Carefully dip the top of each cupcake into the cooled ganache, swirling to make sure the cake is covered. Turn upright and place on a baking sheet. When all the cupcakes are dipped, chill for about 10 minutes to make sure the ganache is set. Don't worry about seeing the little bump on top; that is going to be covered in more peanut filling.
Sorry, I forgot to turn the flash off on this one. It's just a leetle bump.
Once ganache iis set, pipe a rosette on the top of each cupcake using the peanut butter filling and a large star tip. Top each cupcake with an (unwrapped) peanut butter cup. Store in the refrigerator, but serve at room temperature (with milk!)
Aaaaand, you're done!