Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cupcakes

Some days, brushing your teeth or getting to the office on time feels like you’re climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. You know those days?

Those are the days that you pray you have some left-overs in your freezer and that there’s something good on TV that night.

I’ve been having quite a few of “those days” lately. By the time I get both ponytails dropped off at daycare and make my way downtown on the subway (which never seems to be running on time), I’ve feel like I need to grab a stiff drink instead of just a coffee. I’m even more tired at the end of the day, so I’ve been sticking to the meals that I know are fast and easy– and I haven’t been trying many new dishes.

I did manage to find the energy to make Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cupcakes for my husband’s birthday. Peanut butter cups are his favourite and I’ve been looking for ways to incorporate them into my desserts (like the Moose Tracks Ice Cream Pie). This recipe was fun to make with the girls because they could peel the peanut butter cups from the wrappers and drop them into the batter at the right time. I think they were worth the effort. Isn’t is always worth the effort to make things for your family?

I also made my own frosting this time and I was glad that I gave this a try. I must tell you that I never have the meringue powder usually required to make buttercream frosting and I don’t like to use egg whites when kids will be eating them. That’s why I’ve always just used icing from a tin. So, when I found a buttercream recipe that didn’t require either ingredient, I just had to try it. You can make this without the peanut butter for an all around buttercream frosting.

Chocolate Cupcakes With PB Cups

(Makes 18) Adapted from allrecipes; by Ladan

  • 1 bag peanut butter cups miniatures (320 grams/12 oz)
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the oil and sugar until well incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition; add the vanilla. Alternate adding the flour mixture milk; beat well.
  3. Add one scoop of batter to each paper liner, then add one peanut butter cup and top with one more scoop of batter. Liner should be just under ¾ full. Repeat until batter all used.
  4. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker’s Easy Vanilla Bean Buttercream

  • 2½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2½ – 3 ½ cups icing sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 6 tbsp peanut butter

In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about a minute. Add 2½ cups icing sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully incorporated, about 30 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Add remaining one cup of icing sugar (if using) and beat until incorporated.  Then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice. Add peanut butter and beat on medium-high for one minute until well incorporated.

Frost the cupcakes when cool.

Top each cupcake with a piece of pb cup (Cut each pb cup in half; cut each half in thirds)

NOTES:

  • I used an Atecco 843 decorating tip (closed star). I bought it at Placewares in St. Lawrence Market.
  • I found that this buttercream frosting recipe was just enough for 18 cupcakes when piping the icing. It would make more than enough for icing by hand.
  • Be sure to peel the paper liners off the cupcakes carefully, as the pb cup may stick to the bottom on the odd cupcake if you don’t peel carefully.
  • Given that there are so many nut allergies out there, I wouldn’t recommend making these cupcakes with peanut butter for a kids party. However, you could easily omit the peanut butter cups in the cupcakes and the peanut butter in the frosting.
  • I like the consistency of the buttercream with the extra cup of icing sugar added (35 cups in total).

The Banana Bread Switch Up

You are in desperate need of a coffee. You head to the cupboard to grab some filters—but they are not there. You can feel the panic rising as you look in another cupboard, then another. Finally, success…there they are right next to the Cheese Whiz. That’s funny, you didn’t put them there. You breathe a sigh of relief as the coffee brews. Now, just grab a mug and…what the hell, where are the mugs?

I’m sure that this is the scenario (or one very similar) that played out many years ago for my mom. I had just started my first full-time professional job (the one where I met Eva of Kitchen Inspirations) and I had moved in with mom so that I could get my financial feet on the ground. First thing I did was completely rearrange her kitchen.

Need I point out that she wasn’t impressed? Mom was particularly upset when she discovered that several of the items she needed hadn’t just been “relocated”—they’d been thrown in the garbage. I’d like to blame it on my youth—the verve of my adventurous twenties—but I can’t.

I’m just that way. I like to switch things up. You know, make them my own. I know that I’m destined to get what’s coming to me one day soon, as I have two very spirited and strong-willed ponytails.

But until then, I continue to switch things up—particularly with my mom’s recipes. This time, it’s her much-loved banana bread recipe. (It has quite a following with the after-church social crowd at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.) Although, this time I don’t think she will be mad at me—I didn’t throw anything out.

Mom’s Original Banana Bread

  • 1-½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Mix dry ingredients (flour, salt and baking soda) in small bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix wet ingredients (bananas, sugar, egg, butter and vanilla) in large bowl. Add dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. Pour batter into greased loaf pan.
  4. Bake at 350° for 45 – 50 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

#1 Switch Up: Whole Wheat Butterscotch Banana Bread

  1. Replace 1-½  cups all purpose flour with ¾ cup of all purpose flour and ¾ whole wheat flour.
  2. Add ½ cup butterscotch chips after completing step 2 in directions for Mom’s Original Banana Bread and mix well.
  3. Follow steps 3 and 4 of same directions.

#2 Switch Up: Marbled Chocolate and Peanut Butter Banana Bread

  1. Prepare Mom’s Original Banana Bread batter.
  2. Divide batter in half, placing second half in a new bowl.
  3. Add 2 tbsps of peanut butter to first half of batter and mix well.
  4. Add  2-½  tbsps cocoa powder to second half of batter and mix well
  5. Pour chocolate batter in half of greased loaf pan.
  6. Then, pour peanut butter batter in other half of greased pan.
  7. Using a knife or skewer, pull and swirl chocolate batter through peanut butter batter until you are happy with the marbled effect.
  8. Bake at 350° for 45 – 50 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.