Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

What do you get when you combine Flour bakery and the Barefoot Contessa? Chocolate and peanut butter? Sinfully delicious chocolate peanut butter cupcakes!

I originally found a recipe for chocolate peanut butter cupcakes on another food blog which used Ina Garten’s peanut butter frosting recipe. I loved the frosting but was not a fan of the cupcake which was too dense and dry (the actual chocolate cupcake recipe was not Ina Garten’s). So for take #2 of these cupcakes I decided to rely on my old favorite chocolate cupcake recipe (also featured in my St. Patty’s Day cupcakes): Joanne Chang’s chocolate cupcake from the Flour bakery cookbook.

The new combination was a success resulting in a softer/moist (sorry for people who hate that word) cupcake that was a much better complement to the fluffy peanut butter frosting. These have probably become one of my most requested cupcakes!

Recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes (From Joanne Chang’s Flour bakery cookbook)
Yield: 12 standard size cupcakes

2 oz (56 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (30 gram) Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
1/2 cup (one stick/114 grams) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (80 gram) water
1/2 cup (120 gram) milk
1 egg
1 yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (140 grams) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Line your muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.

In a large heatproof bowl, combine chocolate and cocoa powder. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the sugar, butter, and water, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves (3 to 4 minutes). Pour the butter mixture over the chocolate and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly and whisk the milk, egg, extra yolk, and vanilla into the chocolate mixture until combined.

In a bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until blended. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Let the batter sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour to thicken. Or, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling until at least 3/4 full. Bake for 30 minutes or until the tops spring back when pressed lightly with a fingertip and they pass a toothpick check. I usually start checking after 20-25 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Cupcakes can also be made in “mini” form. Makes 36 mini cupcakes. Fill mini cupcake tin with about 1 Tbs batter per cupcake. Bake for 13-15 minutes.

Peanut Butter Frosting (from Barefoot Contessa)

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
7.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 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.

Assembly

Spread or pipe peanut butter frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Enjoy!

“I got to thinking about relationships and partipbcupal lobotomies. Two seemingly different ideas that might just be perfect together- like chocolate and peanut butter.”

~Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

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A spoonful (or a cup) of Nutella: Chocolate Cake with Nutella Chocolate Ganache and Nutella Buttercream

Chocolate and peanut butter, peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and fluff…classic, time tested flavor combinations that will never fall out of favor. However, none of these come close to the creamy chocolate-hazelnut combination of Nutella. This genius (in my opinion) concoction was invented in the 1940s by Pietro Ferrero in Italy when he was forced to stretch the rationed supply of chocolate with chopped hazelnuts. (This is reminiscent of how red velvet cake came to be- bakers would add beet juice to cake to give it a darker color when chocolate supplies were scarce.) It was initially called “Pasta Gianduja” and then renamed “Nutella” in 1964. Since then, it has gained mass popularity in the US and around the world. There is even a “National Nutella Day” on February 5th! And Nutella was recently in the news when thieves in Germany stole 5 tons of it earlier this month.

My introduction to Nutella was in the form of crepes, filled with nutella and bananas or strawberries. However, in the past several years I have experimented with Nutella ice cream, Nutella quesadillas (2 flour tortillas with nutella and marshmallows in between, heated in a skillet until tortillas are lightly browned on both sides and marshmallows are melted), and more recently Nutella cupcakes (pictured below, recipe at www.baked-in.com).

My mom recently got me over 3 pounds of Nutella (not quite 5 tons but still a large amount) at Costco, so I needed a recipe to use it up (to deter me from just eating it by the spoonful from the jar). I’ve made a lot of cupcakes recently so I decided, instead, to make a cake. This is a chocolate cake flavored with hazelnut liquor, filled with a Nutella chocolate ganache, and covered in a Nutella swiss meringue buttercream (from the Nutella cupcakes pictured above). Before I continue on with the recipe, let me leave you with two disclaimers:

Disclaimer #1: This frosting recipe makes more than what is needed for the cake and I cannot be responsible for what is done with the leftovers (there might be a Nutella frosting food coma involved)!

Disclaimer #2: Despite some recent commercials touting Nutella as the key to a nutritious and healthy breakfast, Nutella unfortunately, is not a healthy chocolate spread. Apparently there’s actually a lawsuit surrounding this issue…but seriously, chocolate, hazelnut, palm oil- did someone really think this could be good for you?

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Easter Sunday

Just like a good little Jewish girl, I was really excited for Easter (did I mention that Easter this year fell during Passover?). I think the last time I had been this excited for Easter was when my Catholic ex-bf from college staged a real Easter egg hunt for me- my very first ever. This year, my enthusiasm was because I had come up with a brilliant idea for a cupcake (and who can pass up an opportunity to drink at 1PM at Easter brunch?). My vision was this: A yellow cupcake with a mini Cadbury cream egg hidden inside (that’s the Easter egg hunt part- get it?), topped with a “nest” of chocolate ganache frosting and filled with pastel colored chocolate eggs. Overall, it was a pretty good cupcake but I’m still searching for the perfect yellow cupcake recipe. Most I have tried are too dry and I’d hate to resort to a boxed yellow cake mix (although I do admit they can be pretty tasty)…any suggestions?

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