Sunday, February 24, 2013

One Bowl Chocolate Cupcake with Dreamy Peanut Butter Frosting

Difficulty: Easy
Time Consuming: The cake doesn't take very long to whip up, then I baked four 6-cupcake trays at once for 24 minutes.

I don't know why, but I don't have a great go-to chocolate cupcake recipe.  I have a great chocolate cake recipe, but converting the cooking time to cupcakes wasn't something I felt like doing.  I stumbled across Martha Stewart's one bowl chocolate cupcake recipe and it seemed legit.  And I'm not gonna snub my nose at any recipe that dirties less dishes than required for actually eating it.

I was so happy when I took these out of the oven and saw they all puffed up beautifully.  Well, except one, and I can't even begin to explain that.

Waiting for them to cool was killer, but I dove in as soon as it was safe for my mouth.  I've recently been trying to curl my hair with a styling wand and have more burns on my left hand than I can count.  I did not need to add a burned tongue or palate to that list.  But I digress.  These cupcakes were dense in a perfect way.  I know dense usually means bad, but I wouldn't describe these as "light and cakey", but rather "rich, moist, dense, heaven-in-my-mouth." I had to show some serious will power and only go half-sies on one cupcake with my husband.  And all this emotion before we even get to the frosting.

If you love peanut butter, then this is the butter cream for you, baby.  It has a distinct peanut butter flavor that becomes so silky and smooth against the foundation of cream cheese and butter.  And on top of these chocolate cupcakes......oh man.  The chocolate-peanut butter combination hits you and everything around you falls away while you savor the party in your mouth.  When you fall back to reality, I hope you have the strength to save a cupcake or two, you know, for your kids, husband, best friend, neighbor.  I know I definitely went back for more ;)

I altered the ingredients in the cupcakes ever so slightly by adding instant espresso powder, since coffee just deepens and enhances chocolate flavor.  You could also use equal amounts brewed coffee.  I also changed the baking time and temperature based on a picture I saw on Pinterest about baking cupcakes....I know, a legit and credible source, but what can I say, it worked for me.

The Recipe
yields 18 or so cupcakes (Martha says you can get 18-24, I got 19)

Chocolate Cupcake
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder dissolved in 3/4 cup warm water; or 3/4 cup brewed coffee; or 3/4 cup water
3/4 cup buttermilk; or 2 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar mixed with scant 3/4 cup milk (let sit for a few minutes so that the mixture curdles - this is a cheater buttermilk that I use all the time)
3 tablespoons canola oil (or vegetable or safflower)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. 

Peanut Butter Frosting
2 sticks butter, room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese (I prefer Neufchatel), room temperature
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup all creamy peanut butter
2-3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream (optional)

Chocolate Cupcake

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners, set aside.

2.  In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, sift/whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

3.  Add eggs, water/coffee/espresso, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.  Mix with a hand mixer low-medium low or stand mixer (Kitchen Aid speed 2-4) for about 3 minutes, until the batter is well mixed.  You made need to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl during mixing.

4.  Divide the batter evenly into the baking cups, filling about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full.  Put pans in the oven, decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees, and bake for 23-25 minutes.  The cupcakes are done when the tops spring back when touched.  If you need to rotate your pans during baking, I would not do so until16-18 minutes - if you rotate too early, you may end up with caved in cupcakes.

5.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Peanut Butter Frosting

1.  In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until white and fluffy.  Add the cream cheese, vanilla, and salt, beating until well incorporated.

2.  With the mixer on low speed, add 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat until well incorporated.  Repeat with the remaining 3 cups of powdered sugar.  If the mixtures appears to be too thick, add milk 1 tablespoon at a time and mixing until you reach the desired consistency.  After all the sugar has been add, beat on high for 2 minutes.

3.  Add the peanut butter and mix until fully incorporated.  Spread on top of cupcakes.

And if by all odds you have extra frosting, it's great sandwiched between chocolate icebox cookies.

Cupcake from Life in a Peanut Shell

The recipe from Martha herself.

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