Chocoholic: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
No matter what the confection, combine chocolate with peanut butter and you've got me sold. In fact, one of my guiltiest pleasures is to wolf down a package (or two) of Drake's Cakes Funny Bones. Yes, those little chocolate cakes filled with peanut butter have tons of ingredients I can't pronounce, are cloyingly sweet, and have a waxy chocolate coating that'll peel from the cake in one piece—but I still love 'em.
I've been tossing around the idea of making a more upscale version (you know, with real ingredients), but the idea of squeezing filling into a cake and then dipping the whole thing in chocolate seemed like a very messy job.
Then came serendipity. As I was flipping though my chocolate-smudged cookbooks I came across a picture of Chocolate-Covered Hi-Hat Cupcakes in the cookbook by Elinor Klivans, entitled Cupcakes!. These cupcakes were piled with a tall twirl of marshmallow cream and then dipped in chocolate so that they resembled Dairy Queen ice cream cone. I was inspired. With a rich chocolate cake, creamy peanut butter topping in place of the marshmallow, and a melt-in-your-mouth chocolate coating, these cupcakes would taste like Funny Bones, elevated.
Like a little black dress, every pastry chef has a favorite "go-to" chocolate cake recipe to fit the occasion. This time, I wanted the cake to be good and quick, so I pulled out my trusty (and very smudged) easy chocolate cake recipe. After some culinary arithmetic to make the volume of batter fit in a cupcake tin, I whipped it up and produced 10 chocolaty and perfectly moist cupcakes to build upon.
For the topping, I picked a light and creamy Swiss buttercream that was satiny smooth and had killer peanut butter flavor with a touch of salt. To get the lofty dramatic peaks, I tucked the pudgy pastry bag under my arm and swirled away, soft-serve style.
But how do you get these soft serve mounds enrobed in chocolate without washing away? A full-out chill in the fridge solidly sets the cream before dipping. Though it may seem intimidating, dunking the tops in the liquid chocolate is the best (and most fun!) part. And if you can resist the urge to slurp it up, you'll get to watch the glossy coating set over the softly rounded curves of buttercream. Just like Magic Shell—but without the wax. No bones about it, these cupcakes do the chocolate-peanut butter combo proud.
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About the Author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Easy Artisan Bread. You can also watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. She presently lives in Singapore and is currently at work constructing her new blog, "ShopHouseCook".