First things first!
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Two years ago, I started developing a recipe for peanut butter cupcakes. Not using an essence or anything like that, but just as a sort of challenge. The inspiration was some Reeses Pieces cookies that I saw – it made me wonder whether I could replicate that flavour in a cupcake.
I got the recipe to a point where I was fairly happy with it. The cupcakes tasted peanut-buttery and held up well to whatever filling or frosting that you wanted to use on them. And yet…
They still weren’t perfect. They developed an incredibly hard crust which could only be softened with copious amounts of sugar syrup, and while moist on the day that they were made, would become hard and stale very quickly. While I still blogged the recipe, to me they were still a work in progress.
So I told myself that I would continue to work on the recipe, tweaking it to the point where it would be where I wanted it to be.
You see, in my opinion a cupcake should be light, fluffy and resemble a sponge in terms of texture. They should be sweet little bites of fluffy goodness, so anything less than that just doesn’t meet my expectations.
And then a week rolled by. A month. Half a year. A whole year. And another.
Then last month, I received an email from the RSPCA reminding me that RSPCA Cupcake Day was just around the corner! So what better reason to whip out the apron* and get down to business reworking the damn recipe till it was finally up to scratch?
So I looked at my other cupcake recipes, did a little research and tried making a few changes then tested it.
Then I took notes, made a few more tweaks and tested the recipe again.
* I don’t actually wear an apron. Ever. The most I ever work with is a clean dishcloth slung over my shoulder to wipe my hands on whenever needed.
And when the first batch of cupcakes from this third attempt at the recipe came out of the oven, I could feel the kiss of the cupcake angels who had deigned to gift me with the inspiration for this recipe as I could see that it had finally come together.
After two years, a little over a kilo each of flour, butter and sugar, all I could think was that professional recipe testers must have a helluva task on their hands! But nonetheless, I finally present you with my own personal recipe for perfect peanut butter cupcakes!
Next on the list? I’m going to start working on a caramel sponge recipe so wish me luck!
Perfect Peanut Butter Cupcakes w/ Dark Chocolate Glaze
150g smooth peanut butter
2 cups plain / all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 tsp bicarb / baking soda
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g brown sugar
200g caster sugar
Peanut Butter Buttercream Ingredients
400g unsalted butter
250g smooth peanut butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4-6 tbsp milk
6-8 cups icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar
Optional: Dark Chocolate Ganache filling
200g good quality dark chocolate
1 cup pure cream (min 35% fat)
Optional: Dark Chocolate Ganache glaze (for the drizzle)
50g good quality dark chocolate
1/2 cup pure cream (min 35% fat)
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Beat the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar and caster sugar together till creamy, then add your eggs and vanilla and beat again till light and fluffy (about 5 minutes on high speed).
2. Sift the bicarb/baking soda into the flour and set aside, then beat the buttermilk into the creamed butter mixture till smooth.
3. Beat the flour into the mixture at high speed for about 2 minutes to ensure that it’s well-combined, then spoon into your lined cupcake tray. This mixture will double in size, so if you fill it 1/3 full then it will become 2/3 full, and filling them half full will have them rise close to the top.
4. Bake the cupcakes for 10-15 minutes or till a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. DO NOT allow these to brown on top as this will result in a dry, tougher cupcake. In my oven, they reach perfection at exactly 14 minutes!
Once baked, I recommend that you brush the tops of the cupcakes while still warm with a sugar syrup (1:1 sugar to water, boiled till the sugar dissolves and then for another minute), then fill with dark chocolate ganache and top with peanut butter buttercream. If you want to get fancy, they look fantastic with a little dark chocolate glaze drizzled across the top!
TO MAKE THE PEANUT BUTTER BUTTERCREAM:
Beat the butter, peanut butter, milk and vanilla together for about 5 minutes at high speed till it has become very light and fluffy.
Then add 2 cups of the icing sugar / confectioners sugar and beat at high speed till incorporated (about another 5 minutes). Add the remaining icing sugar, 1 cup at a time, making sure to beat for 4-5 minutes after each addition – stopping once the icing has bulked up but is still soft enough to be piped with ease.
If you’ve added too much icing sugar and the buttercream is too stiff, rescue it by adding 1 tbsp milk and beating for 3-4 minutes. Don’t add too much milk as doing so will make the mixture curdle – which you can again rescue by adding more peanut butter 😛
TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE:
Place the chocolate and cream in a large non-reactive bowl, then place over a smaller bowl of boiling water. Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes, then slowly stir to bring the mixture together. Allow to cool completely before using it to fill the cupcakes.
TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
Place the chocolate and cream in a large non-reactive bowl, then place over a smaller bowl of boiling water. Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes, then slowly stir to bring the mixture together.
Dip a fork into the chocolate mixture and slowly drizzle backwards and fowards across the top of the iced cupcakes.