Baking is something I do to meditate and when I really got into baking this past winter, I was surprised that I found it so relaxing, and here’s why: I have never been one to measure ingredients while cooking meals. This is because for the longest time, I just tried to get a feel for the ingredients, and modified the recipe until it tasted right to me. Yes, I went through a lot of teaspoons per cooking session, tasting sauces and such, but it was worth it to get the flavor balance just right! I certainly looked off of recipes, but I eyeballed almost everything. This went on until many of my friends and family started asking me for recipes of something that I made for them, because they wanted to re-create them at home. And of course, for my readers here :).
So like I said, I was surprised when I realized how relaxing baking can be, because I measure EVERYTHING in baked goods. This is because I’m terrified that my cupcakes will turn out too dense, or flat, or that my cookies will taste like raw flour. It’s a science after all, right? OK so the cat’s out of the bag – I am by no means an expert baker. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a good baker :-p
So that said, this recipe for the most moist, melt in your mouth chocolate cupcakes was inspired by several recipes. First I tried making this Martha Stewart Recipe that uses sour cream (since I had some leftover from something else I made). However, the cake turned out a little dense and not sweet enough. So with some substitutions, I came up with a recipe that uses buttermilk, and I don’t think I’ll go back to using anything other than that for the dairy part of the cake (i.e. heavy cream, milk, sour cream). Buttermilk is the way to go.
I decided to get a little creative and I filled this cupcake with peanut butter, because let’s face it, chocolate and peanut butter is the best combination in the world. I thickened the peanut butter with a little cream cheese so that it would not leak out of the cupcake (the filling should be slightly more dense than the cake). The pinch of salt in the peanut butter filling is just the icing on the cake. Oh wait, no, this is the icing on the cake: a fluffy yet rich old fashioned buttercream frosting recipe. I have had this recipe lying around in my notes for centuries. I think it came from my sister, once upon a time. Remember, the one who inspired my Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms?
So here it is, peanut butter goodness with the classic chocolate cupcake. A side note, you might be left with some extra peanut butter filling, but you should have just enough frosting to frost the 20 or so cupcakes this recipe will make. You know what you can do with that extra peanut butter filling? Spread it on some toast for breakfast or freeze it and then eat it like cookie dough (now you know what I’ve been dreaming about). Seriously, do whatever you want with it, except throw it out…there are no rules when it comes to peanut butter! I hope you enjoy this recipe!
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup baking cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup water
- ½ cup peanut butter
- 4 tablespoons cream cheese
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or ½ pound), softened (but not melted!)
- 3½ cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
- ½ cup baking cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 4 tablespoons half and half
- Preheat oven to 375°. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners and spray or butter.
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
- In a separate bowl or cup, combine buttermilk and water.
- Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk/water mixture, beating well after each addition.
- Fill paper-lined muffin cups 1/3 full.
- Add the peanut butter filling with a melon baller (about 2 teaspoons in each cupcake).
- Fill the rest of the shell with batter until 2/3 full.
- Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl with a spatula until smooth and evenly combined.
- Do this before making the cake batter and set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy.
- In a separate bowl, sift together sugar, cocoa, and salt.
- Beat in vanilla and half and half to butter.
- Slowly add dry ingredients to butter mixture and beat until fluffy.