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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes Recipe & Video

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I love cupcakes. They look so pretty and they are the perfect size. These Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes start with a moist and dense chocolate buttermilk cake. Once the cupcakes cool, we then pipe pretty swirls of a satiny smooth peanut butter frosting on top. For garnish, use chocolate curls and/or shavings. The flavor of these cupcakes may remind you of a peanut butter cup.

This is such an easy Chocolate Cake to make. The chocolate flavor comes from unsweetened cocoa powder, and you can use Dutch-processed (alkalized) or natural. Just remember that both the type and brand of unsweetened cocoa powder will affect both the taste and color of your chocolate cake. One of the reasons for the cake's soft and tender texture is that the fat is in liquid form (flavorless oil). The added benefit of using oil, instead of butter, is that it keeps the cakes soft even when refrigerated. As far as the type of oil to use, good choices are vegetable, canola, corn, or a safflower oil. Buttermilk is also used in this cupcake. It has a nice thick creamy texture with a rich tangy buttery taste that makes baked goods tender. You can buy it or make a good substitute. Stir 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice into 1 cup (240 ml/grams) of whole or reduced fat milk. Let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes before using. Another option is to use buttermilk powder which can be found in some grocery stores or in specialty food stores.

I just love this peanut butter frosting. It has a nice peanut flavor which is enhanced by adding a little molasses to the frosting. Peanut butter is a smooth paste made from roasted peanuts. The peanuts are ground, and then salt, a sweetener, and sometimes a stabilizer (to keep the oil from separating) are added. There are two types of peanut butter, and the one that is labeled "Old-Fashioned" or "Natural" does not contain a stabilizer. For this recipe I prefer to use the type of peanut butter that contains a stabilizer. If you use the natural peanut butter you may find your frosting is a little soft. If that happens you need to either add more butter or sugar to the frosting to make it thick enough to pipe.

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Chocolate Cupcakes: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. You can either line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners or lightly butter or spray each muffin cup with a non stick vegetable spray. 

In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, (or with a hand mixer) beat the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined.

In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract. On medium low speed, add 1/3 of the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat until the mixture is a thick smooth paste. Add another 1/3 of the wet ingredients and mix, on medium low speed, until the batter is nice and smooth. Scape down the sides and bottom of your bowl. Finally, add the rest of the wet ingredients and beat until incorporated and you have a smooth batter.

Pour or scoop the batter evenly into the muffin cups, about 3/4 full, and bake for about 18 - 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  

Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Peanut Butter Frosting: In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese and butter, on medium speed, until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and beat, on medium speed, until light and fluffy. (The frosting can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days or frozen for about three months.)

Fit a piping bag with a star tip (I used an Ateco 846) and pipe swirls on the top of each cupcake. You can garnish the cupcakes with chocolate curls, grated chocolate, chocolate sprinkles or chopped peanuts. The frosted cupcakes can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for about three days or frozen for about one month. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Bring the cupcakes to room temperature before serving.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

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Chocolate Cupcakes:

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar

1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (50 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed), sifted

3/4 teaspoon (3 grams) baking powder

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking soda

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) kosher salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup (240 ml/grams) buttermilk, at room temperature

1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (90 ml/grams) flavorless oil (corn, vegetable, safflower or canola oil)

1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract

Peanut Butter Frosting:

1/3 cup (80 ml/grams) full fat cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup (225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup (90 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup (180 ml/grams) smooth peanut butter

2 teaspoons (10 grams) molasses (optional)

1/8 teaspoon salt

Garnish: (optional)

Chocolate Curls, Grated Chocolate, Chocolate Sprinkles, or chopped peanuts

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