these cupcakes a few weeks ago, I've been pondering all of the cupcake possibilities since then. There's been a huge trend in my area of cupcake shops popping up all over the place. I've visited a few. Some have been delicious and worth the two bucks. Some have been utterly disappointing - revoltingly thickly sweet and tasting heavily of cake mix chemicals. In my opinion, the ones that are best are the ones with surprises in the middle. Hence my enthusiasm over the peppermint and chocolate ones.
The center for these little guys is a mixture of chocolate and peanut butter. Today I also added in some butterscotch chips, but I think they detracted from the nutty flavor I was really looking for. I'm going to post it without the butterscotch. Since the frosting is made of cream cheese, they need to be stored in the fridge, but even at that, the center core remained soft. It's a delicious bit of heaven. To counteract the sweetness of the cupcake base and frosting, I sprinkled chopped dry roasted salted peanuts on top. That still wasn't quite enough saltiness for me, so I added a pinch of an amazing greek sea salt on top. The balance of textures and flavors is fantastic - reminiscent of a snicker's bar but with tasty cream cheese frosting in place of mysterious nougat.
I made some regular size and some minis. Have to say that the minis are my favorites. The proportion of cake to yummy filling is much better. Plus, the whole bite size thing helps me not feel so guilty for eating quite possibly more than I should and they're fun to give away. Tiny cakes make people smile.
Decadent Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bliss Cupcakes
1/2 cup shortening
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/3 cups water
2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
In a medium mixing bowl, cream the shortening and sugar together. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, cocoa powder, soda and salt. Add half the water and beat well, then half the flour and beat again. Add the remaining water and beat and the remaining flour and beat. Scrape the batter into a gallon ziplock bag and snip the corner off. Squeeze the batter into cupcake pans prepared with paper liners, either 48 mini cupcakes or 24 regular cupcakes, filling each paper 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes for minis and 14-18 minutes for regulars, until the cake springs back lightly when touched. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the chocolate peanut butter filling by melting 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips in the microwave in a small bowl. Microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate is smooth. Stir in 1 cup smooth peanut butter until well combined.
Poke a hole in each cupcake with the handle of a wooden spoon, pushing all the way down. Pour the filling into a quart ziplock bag and snip the corner off. Squirt filling into each hole, then drizzle a bit extra around the top of each cupcake.
1 8 ounce brick cream cheese
1/2 cup real butter
1/4 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
3 T. caramel syrup (optional)
2 T. milk
4 cups powdered sugar
Beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Beat in the salt, vanilla, optional caramel syrup, and half the powdered sugar. Beat in the milk, then remaining powdered sugar and whip until fluffy. Scrape into a frosting bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe a swirl on top of each cupcake.
Garnish each cupcake with chopped salted peanuts and an additional sprinkling of sea salt if desired. Store uneaten cupcakes in the fridge.