Did you catch my blog post last week about whipping up flowery lemon cupcakes for my friend Charlotte’s birthday?
Today I’m discussing those brown and beige cupcakes in the background: Bobbette & Belle’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes. For whatever reason, the Bobbette & Belle cookbook doesn’t provide a photo of this recipe (nor does it for the Caffe Latte Cupcakes on the opposing page – review coming to you in 46 weeks, probably).
I knew right away that I wanted to bake lemon cupcakes for selfish reasons (i.e., they are my favourite). I know that not everybody loves lemon cupcakes (weird), so I wanted to pick something that was sort of the antithesis of lemon. Chocolate peanut butter seemed to be a good solution – and best of all, the recipe called for a NON Swiss meringue buttercream. (I’ve discussed my drama with the Swiss meringue buttercream in my lemon cupcake post and my macaron post).
The peanut butter chocolate cupcake was easy peasy. The only challenge is that it called for half a cup of brewed coffee. I don’t drink coffee. Cedric does, but he wasn’t home. Here is where I admit that I have NO IDEA how to brew coffee. I used our hand grinder to grind what seemed to be an appropriate amount of beans, then I loaded the Keurig, pushed a few buttons, and hoped for the best. A coffee-scented liquid emerged, but it was notably lighter in colour than it should have been. Even though it was very weak, I hoped it was do the trick.
As I was mixing and whisking my way through the recipe, I noted a small aside box in the bottom corner:
Tip: to take the peanut butter factor to the next level, garnish with mini peanut butter cups, or hide one in the centre of each cupcake before baking.
Garnish OR hide? How about garnish AND hide!
I turned off the oven (that was in the process of preheating) and made an emergency run to Craig’s. I purchased some mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, though if I had a do-over, I’d pick up the PC brand ones which are larger and, in my opinion, tastier.
Before long, the cupcakes were cooling on a wire rack and it was time to tackle the peanut butter frosting. The recipe intro blurb states, “You could use an all-natural peanut butter in this recipe, but we prefer classic Kraft brand because of its silky smooth texture”. Personally, I steer clear from the Kraft brand because one of its main ingredients is icing sugar and that really weirds me out. In this one instance – where I was actually making icing – the presence of icing sugar would appear to make sense. Still, I couldn’t justify buying a jar of Kraft, so I opted to use my own homemade peanut butter. This is how I make peanut butter:
- Put peanuts in the food processor.
That’s it, that’s all.
Now, the assembly. Without a photo to guide me, I had free reign over how to decorate these suckers. I decided to go with a smooth, clean look inspired by the cupcakes at Sprinkles in LA (note: I’ve never actually tried one of these cupcakes, nor have I ever been to LA).
There seemed to be an awful lot of icing for only 12 cupcakes. To be fair, the icing recipe says it makes enough to frost 12 to 15 cupcakes. I decided to really go for it – I scooped a heaping mound onto each cake, then I did my best to spread it into a smooth dome.
I garnished each cake with a mini peanut butter cup and called it a day.
When it came time to test the final product, I cut the cupcake down the middle – one half for me, one half for Cedric. In splitting the cake, I came to realize that the thickness of the icing was approximately equal to the thickness of the cake. Cedric and I wiped off two thirds of the icing to create a more balanced ratio.
Lying in bed that night, on the eve of the party, I contemplated whether I should scoop off the excess icing before serving the cupcakes. I eventually decided against it, though I’m still not sure if that was the right call.
Now, let’s talk taste.
I thought these cupcakes tasted just right. I’ve made peanut butter chocolate cupcakes once before (not from this recipe) and I found them to be very – possibly too – decadent. It’s rare for me to complain that something is sickly sweet, but these were pretty close. The Bobbette & Belle recipe seemed much more restrained. You could actually eat a whole cupcake and not feel like your teeth were rotting out – assuming, of course, that you didn’t eat all the icing.
Personally, I preferred the lemon cupcakes to these ones, but my friend Heather told me she liked the peanut butter chocolate ones better. Now that I think about it, I should have done a poll at the party. Because nothing screams “Happy Birthday!!!” like cupcake data.