Saturday, September 3, 2011

Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

My apologies for neglecting my blog – my excuses include preparing for an over-hyped hurricane, recovering from a bout of food poisoning, and completing an over-due recipe project that has

consumed much of my time for the past two months. Sometimes life just gets in the way. But I’m back this week with some home-style cupcakes that combine two of my favorite flavors, chocolate

and peanut butter. The base is a simple devil’s food cupcake, the same recipe I used for my Brooklyn Blackout Cupcakes, which I filled with a creamy chocolate ganache and topped with a sweet peanut 

butter frosting. I use some of the cupcake crumbs for garnish, along with toasted cocktail peanuts. I know bake sales are quickly going out of fashion (and anything made with peanut butter is

considered virtual poison at many schools), but in the old days these little gems would have been a guaranteed best-seller.

 Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Makes 22 cupcakes

Deep Dark Chocolate Cupcakes:
1 3/4 cups (7.5 oz/212 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons/5.5 oz/156 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (10.5 oz/300 g) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (2.1 oz/61 g) Dutch-processed (alkalized) cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups (320 ml) warm water

Creamy Chocolate Ganache Filling:
3 ounces (85 gr) dark chocolate (60 to 64%), chopped
3 ounces (85 gr) high quality milk chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream, warmed in the microwave
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Peanut Butter Frosting:
3/4 cup (7 oz/200 g) creamy peanut butter (not sugar-free or natural)
4 tablespoons (2 oz/57 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups (12 oz/345 g) confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) whole milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the cupcakes:
1. Position 2 racks near the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk the dry ingredients until well blended and set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed for 1 minute, until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat at high speed for 3 minutes, until mixture is pale and well blended. Add cocoa powder and beat at medium speed for 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Beat in the egg(s), one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. At low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating it with the warm water in two additions. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix at low speed for 30 seconds. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pans and smooth the tops. 
4. Bake the cupcakes minutes for t 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the center cupacakes comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pan, set on a wire rack, for 15 minutes. 
5. Remove the cupcakes from the pans onto the rack and cool completely.

Make the ganache filling:
6. Melt the chocolates in a bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Remove the bowl from over the pot and let the chocolate cool for 2 minutes. Using a spatula, stir in the warm cream. Gently whisk in the very soft butter just until combined. Stir in the vanilla. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

Make the frosting:
7. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the peanut butter and butter at medium speed until well blended. Add the vanilla extract and mix until blended and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. At low speed, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar in three additions, alternating it with the milk in two additions. Mix in the vanilla extract. Beat at low speed until creamy, about 1 minute.

Assemble the cupcakes:
8. Using a paring knife, cut a cone-shaped piece from the center of each remaining cupcake and remove it. Save the cupcakes pieces. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip (such as Ateco #4) with the ganache. Pipe some ganache into the center of each cupcake, and then replace its top.
9. Spread the top of each cupcake with a generous amount of the frosting (you can pipe it on if you prefer). Sprinkle with toasted peanuts, if you like. Place the reserved cupcake pieces in a food processor and process until fine crumbs form. Sprinkle some crumbs on top of each cupcake. 

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