chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing

It’s been hard adjusting to life back in Houston after spending such a wonderful week with our families in Alabama.  I always try to pump myself up for coming back to Houston thinking of all the things I want to do (aka things I want to cook) and how nice it will be to get back into our routine.  Sometimes I can almost convince myself.  But really I just want to be back in Alabama having dinner with family and driving familiar roads and, heaven forbid, seeing some stars in the sky.

So on the list of things to be excited about upon our return, I added baking some cupcakes for the occasion of going to the apartment of some friends for a little cook-out.  Really I wanted to make cupcakes a few weeks back, I think mostly because I wanted to break out my cake decorating bags for experimentation.  It was one of those afternoons when I really wasn’t sure what I was doing with myself and baking cupcakes seemed like a perfectly good solution.  But I hadn’t thought ahead, and I didn’t have any room temperature butter.  And then, oh yeah, there is a pile of laundry sitting on the floor in the closet and errands to run.

Generally I’m not a huge fan of cupcakes, making it more surprising that I had the sudden urge to bake some.  But I’ve had this recipe on my to-try list for awhile, and how can I resist the temptation of peanut butter icing?  The cake part of these cupcakes good (it stays quite moist because of the buttermilk and sour cream), although I felt they could have had a bit more flavor.  That might be my fault though because I didn’t add the coffee that the original recipe called for.  Ina Garten is a big advocate of adding coffee to make chocolate taste better, but I’ve made a few of her chocolate-coffee combination recipes before and honestly I could taste the coffee apart from the chocolate which I was not particularly a fan of.  So I decided not to risk it with this recipe.  Also, I wasn’t going to brew coffee just so I could use two tablespoons.

But really the star of this cupcake is the peanut butter icing.  If you want to make cupcakes from a cake mix I completely understand, but please make this icing.  It takes five minutes and I promise you will not regret it.  It is sweet and addictive and when I was done frosting the cupcakes I had about a half a cup left that I couldn’t bear to throw away, so it is now in the freezer awaiting another use.  Chocolate wafer sandwich cookies perhaps?

 

Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from Ina Garten

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes

Makes 22-24 standard size cupcakes

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup sour cream
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.  Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on high speed until light and fluffy (about five minutes).
4. With mixer on medium speed, add eggs, one at a time.  Add vanilla, mixing well.
5.  In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk and sour cream.  Set aside.
6.  In a third bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
7. On low speed, add buttermilk and flour mixtures alternately in three additions, beginning with buttermilk and ending with flour.  Mix only until all ingredients are incorporated.  Stir lightly with rubber spatula to be sure that it is completely blended.
8.  Divide batter evenly among cupcake pans (one ice cream scoop per liner is about the right amount).
9.  Bake cupcakes for about 20 to 25 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
10. Allow cupcakes to cool in pans for about 10 minutes, then remove from pans and let them cool completely before frosting.

 

Peanut Butter Icing
adapted from Ina Garten

Prep Time: 5 minutes

1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream

1. In a medium sized bowl, combine sugar, peanut butter, butter, salt, and vanilla.  Mix on medium speed until creamy.
2. Add cream and beat at high speed until icing is light and smooth.

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