If you live within a few houses of me, you will know that sometimes I just get in the mood to bake. And living with just my husband and I, we can NEVER eat all that I bake. I will bake bread (thanks to my mother for my 4 mini bread pan that is perfect for giving loaves away!), cookies, brownies….pretty much whatever i feel like giving a try. And if you live within a stone’s throw, you get your share as well.
But, this Easter I was headed to my friends Tim and Julie’s house, along with others – so it was the perfect time to bake something yummy for the crowd. Although I had my two nephews with me other the weekend, I thought I would use it to my advantage instead of against me, and enlist a little helper. There would be lots of kids at the party, so I thought making something kid-friendly would be ideal. I found this recipe in Food Network Magazine (on an article talking about cupcakes that taste like candy bars) and was immediately drawn to the fact it was supposed to taste like a Reeses. Not only is that perhaps my favorite candy, but I knew my nephew, Nicholas, was a fan of chocolate and peanut butter as well.
A few tips on these – yes, you can make them with kids! Nicholas, being 6 years old, lasted through the making of the peanut butter topping before finding cartoons more entertaining. These cupcakes aren’t your average cake recipe plus icing – it is more involved. But lots of steps can be made with kids’ help – stirring of the mixture, putting the mixture in the pans, etc.
Also, don’t overbake these. I find them to be cooked before the 20 minutes suggested – if you overbake they will become a bit dry. I might even trade the cake recipe for another next time. But, the brilliance of these is in the peanut butter topping and glaze. You might want to double the peanut butter recipe (mine ran a bit shy on the last few). Another great thing about this recipe is the mini muffin pan you use – you get more cupcakes and they are the perfect size for kids (or myself who is trying to lay off the sweets!).
MINI PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES
For the Cupcakes:
12 tablespoons unsalted butter,
cut into pieces
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt1/3 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Topping:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 10-ounce bag peanut butter chips
For the Glaze:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
Make the cupcakes: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F using the convection setting, if available. Line a 24-cup mini muffin pan with paper liners. Combine the butter, cocoa powder and 1/4 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave until the butter melts, about 2 minutes. Whisk to combine, then whisk in the brown sugar.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the warm cocoa mixture. In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg and vanilla; stir into the batter until just combined but don’t overmix.
Divide the batter among the prepared cups, filling each three-quarters of the way. Bake until the cupcakes spring back when touched, about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Make the topping: Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan, then pour over the peanut butter chips in a bowl and let stand until the chips melt, about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Refrigerate until the topping is set, about 10 minutes, then beat with a mixer until fluffy. Transfer to a pastry bag with a 1-inch round tip and pipe peaks onto each cupcake. Place in the freezer while you make the glaze.
Make the glaze: Put the butter, chocolate and 3 tablespoons hot water in a small, deep microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on 50 percent power until the chocolate melts, about 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Dip the frozen peaks of each cupcake into the glaze, letting the excess drip off. Refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes.