Salted Peanut Butter Cupcakes

  Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes | Image: Laura Messersmith

Birthdays come but once a year and in my book they’re an opportunity to show the people we love what they mean to us. Literally a celebration of their existence in our lives. This year is a big one for both Mike and I – the benefits of being just 12 days apart in age – as we both hit one of those milestones divisible by 5. Oh, fine I’ll just tell you – it’s 35.

It seems like 35 doesn’t have quite the same dramatic meaning in our current culture as it once did, but even so I have noticed the passage of time. Despite my attentive viewership of Keeping up with the Kardashians, I’ve still only barely registered some of the recent pop culture moments and 11 pm on a school night is staying up 'late' these days. Accepting our fate, Mike and I have decided that even if we’re no longer cool (assuming we ever were) we can still be fun.

You know what’s fun? A glow in the dark ping-pong birthday party with your New York friend-family; complete with tiny lobster rolls and miniature cheeseburger sliders. You know what says, “I love you”? Making cupcakes in guest of honor’s favorite flavor combo: peanut butter + chocolate given an extra dose of awesome with a sprinkle of salt.

  Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes | Image: Laura Messersmith

Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes (yield 24 cupcakes)

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee powder (ie. Maxwell House)

Cake Instructions:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt until evenly combined.

Next add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract and beat together on medium speed using a hand-held mixer for 2 minutes.

Heat the water to boiling and stir together with the instant coffee powder to dissolve. Add the hot coffee mixture into the batter and stir carefully with a spatula until incorporated. The batter will be very thin and pourable.

Line muffin tins with paper cupcake wrappers and fill to about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. For best results bake one pan at a time, rotating about halfway through the total cooking time to ensure even baking. A tooth pick should come out clean.

Cool completely before frosting (recipe below) and finish with a sprinkle of coarse sea or kosher salt.

Variations:
Single Cake: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees F. Cool completely. Frost.

Two Layer Cake: Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees F. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

Three Layer Cake: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees F. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

Bundt Cake: Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes at 350 degrees F. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

Re-written and very slightly adapted from Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake.

Peanut Butter Frosting (yield: frosting for 25 cupcakes)

Frosting Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar (aka 10x)
2 cups creamy peanut butter
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Frosting Instructions:
Measure the powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla extract, and salt into a medium mixing bowl and beat together using an electric mixer. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work.

Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth. Ice each cupcake with 1-2 tablespoons of frosting either by piping or with an offset spatula.

Finish each cupcake with a sprinkle of kosher salt or coarse sea salt.

Note: the frosting will set-up a little, but stays on the softer side.

Rewritten and slightly adapted from Kathleen’s Peanut Butter Icing via Ina Garten.

  Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Totally. I used one medium mixing bowl, a hand-held electric mixer, a rubber spatula, liquid and dry measuring cups/spoons, 2 standard size muffin tins, and a small offset spatula. Paper muffin liners will help keep the cake moist and minimized pan clean-up.

The Verdict:
This cake plus the frosting is re-donkulous. The cake is moist and light, the frosting is creamy and decadent, and the light sprinkling of salt keeps it from being too much of a good thing. If you make these cupcakes the scent of chocolate, peanut butter, and sugar will waft through the entire house guaranteeing that you will find it very difficult to save any for your guests. But try, because they will make you a hero with your friends. Just what the doctor ordered for a special celebration, or you know because it just tastes good and making cupcakes is fun.

  Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes | Image: Laura Messersmith