Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing

Not so long ago, that wonderfully discreet young man with an amazing voice and even more amazing words, John Mayer, made some headlines when he said that Jessica Simpson was "sexual napalm". Poor Jessica was so upset by his comment that she had to grab some couch time...with Oprah. Question; can someone please explain to me why it is so horribly upsetting to be called sexual napalm? If John Mayer or anyone else described me in such a manner, I would rip that article out and have it framed. Ok, granted I can be pretty tasteless about this sort of thing but going on Oprah to cry about something like that seems like a pathetic ploy to give her flailing career a jump start.

Anyway, I digress. My point in my little diatribe above is to say that if Jessica Simpson is sexual napalm, these cupcakes are chocolate and peanut butter napalm. Yes my darlings, they are that good. They are also rich, very, very rich so consider yourself warned. I went through many recipes to put these cupcakes together and modified them ever so slightly to produce deep chocolate flavor mixed with creamy peanut butter, cream cheese, sour cream, cocoa and espresso.

If you choose to make these please be sure to use Dutch process cocoa powder as anything less will produce a cupcake that is not as heartily robust as this one. Also, please watch the baking times. I have received a few comments that other cupcakes from this site were not as moist as the ones they tasted from me. Whenever I hear that I always ask if the person has a gas oven and 9.9 times out of 10, the answer is yes. Please remember that I have an electric oven which tends to cook slower than a gas oven. If you have a gas oven, check the cupcakes with a toothpick after 15 minutes to see how they are coming along. When the toothpick comes out clean, take them out immediately. Enjoy!

Chocolate cupcake recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home, by Ina Garten. Filling recipe adapted from Annie's Eats.

For the filling:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream

To make the filling, combine the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, sour cream and vanilla extract in a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls (at least 24) and set aside on a baking sheet.

For the cupcakes:

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 Dutch process cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Peanut Butter Icing, recipe follows
Peanut butter cups or peanut M&M's, 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.

Spoon a tablespoon or two of batter into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Place a ball of the peanut butter filling in each cupcake well and top with the remaining batter so that all the cups are filled. 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.

For the frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and add the heavy whipping cream and whip until stiff peaks form. Add in the vanilla extract and mix until blended. Switch to a paddle attachment and add the cream cheese, sour cream, butter and peanut butter and whip until smooth and shiny. Slowly mix in the confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth and well blended.

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