When we moved here so that my partner could take up a job in the APS, his workplace gave him a little graduate booklet about what to expect. There were profiles of all the current graduates – and they were certainly an impressive bunch of people. They had double degrees, interned in various exotic places and spoke multiple complicated languages. I can’t even name all the Stans, what on earth was I going to talk to them about?
So I decided to make cupcakes. I am not averse to a little bribery to make people like me. And that way I could talk about things I knew about – like cupcake flavours. In the first few weeks, all manner of cupcakes were baked – sticky date, carrot, banana chocolate, green velvet (St Patrick’s day). I knew my plan was a resounding success when I walked in to Nick’s colleague’s house the weekend after a house party, and his housemate said ‘Hey, it’s Cupcake Girl!’
That’s not a terrible name for a superhero, if I do say so myself. But I digress. Back to cupcakes – I’ve been hooked on peanut butter M&Ms since Sam brought back giant packs of them from the US. I even hid them from Nick. And when I had rescue royalty visit me today (who specifically asked for chocolate on chocolate cupcakes) I thought I’d try a new recipe.
This is one of my favourite chocolate cupcake recipes. It makes a fluffy cupcake with a brownie-like crust. It uses a cocoa mixture for chocolate flavour – I really don’t like wasting premium chocolate to mix into a batter – I often find you can’t taste it, and it’s better utilised as frosting.
I really dislike buttercream frosting. So much so, that even now, I don’t eat icing. I just scrape it off cakes because I don’t like the dominant sugary flavour and oily buttercream aftertaste. If you are, like me, part of the rare anti-icing movement – don’t use a recipe that has more than 1 cup of icing sugar per batch of 12 cupcake frosting. And here’s a recipe for peanut butter and chocolate frosting that is good enough to spread on toast.
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cupcakes
makes 20 cupcakes
cupcake recipe from Annie’s Eats
⅓ cup cocoa powder
⅓ cup hot water
1½ cups flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 ts. baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream, buttermilk or plain yoghurt
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Line standard cupcake pans with paper liners.
- Whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl, making sure to get rid of any lumps.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- Cream butter and sugar in a mixer with a paddle attachment until thoroughly combined.
- Add eggs, vanilla and cocoa mixture, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- When the cocoa mixture has been throughly incorporated the batter is a uniform colour, add the dry ingredients and sour cream and mix until just combined.
- Divide batter between prepared cupcake liners, filling them just over halfway. Too much mixture and these cupcakes will rise over the top of the liner and make a huge mess.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool before icing.
for the peanut butter frosting
90g (⅓ cup) peanut butter
60g (6 tbsp) icing sugar
3 tbsp cream (optional, depending on the consistency of your peanut butter)
for the chocolate frosting
170g cream cheese
120g chocolate (I prefer dark chocolate)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
60g (6 tbsp) icing sugar
Packet of peanut butter M&Ms, to top
- Using the paddle attachment of your mixer, mix the peanut butter until creamy. Add the icing sugar all at once and mix on low until combined, then mix on high speed for two minutes. If the mixture is not quite coming together add cream as needed to obtain a smooth consistency - the all natural brands of peanut butter don’t have added stabilisers and this can affect the consistency. Scrape out the peanut butter frosting and set aside.
- Melt the chocolate in a microwave or double boiler.
- Using the same bowl and paddle (don’t bother rinsing it out), beat the cream cheese until soft. Add melted chocolate, cocoa and icing sugar all at once and mix until creamy. You can add more sugar if you like sweet frosting.
- Fit a piping bag with a star tip and fill the bottom half of the bag with the chocolate frosting. Fill the top half of the bag with peanut butter frosting, and smoosh the bag around a little to combine – this is because I like separate areas of peanut butter and chocolate frosting, but also some mixed peanut butter and chocolate.
- Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and top with a peanut butter M&M.