"…K-I-S-S-I-N-G/First comes Love/Then Comes Marriage …" well, you know how the rest of the rhyme goes.
When I think of food marriages, I think of warm bread slathered with soft butter, a freshly-baked chocolate chip cookie and a cold glass of milk, golden fried potatoes and a sprinkling of sea salt … I could go on!
The idea of chocolate and peanut butter joined in marital bliss came to me last week. I was at work, stressed out and ready to attack a poor, defenceless bar of Lindt milk chocolate when I suddenly developed a massive craving for chocolate and peanut butter. The little light in the refrigerator in my head went on. I remembered an issue of Food & Wine magazine that had the most tantalizing recipe: Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Filling.
Once home, I headed straight for the overburdened bookshelf where I keep copies of food magazines. For once I felt glad that I’m a magazine pack rat. There it was … bottom shelf … third magazine holder … the April 2004 issue of Food & Wine!
Excitedly I headed up to the kitchen and began pulling out ingredients. Cocoa powder. Check. Buttermilk. Check. Butter (like I would ever be caught without butter). Check. Peanut Butter. Check. Heavy cream (like I would ever be caught without heavy cream). Check. Ingredients at the ready, I set about making my (mini) dream of consuming a perfect dose of chocolate and peanut butter come true.
The recipe was very easy to follow, although I did make a few changes. I used about a 1/4 cup less sugar than the recipe called for. I wanted the chocolate flavour to really stand out. I also added a tablespoon of instant espresso powder. As Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) always says, coffee does enhance the flavour of chocolate. As for the peanut butter, I used my favourite commercial brand: Skippy. When making peanut butter sandwiches, I’ve converted to natural peanut butters which I love. But for baking, I just can’t help but fall back on the reliable flavour and texture of store-bought peanut butter. Skippy is my favourite because the peanut butter has a slight smoky, roasted quality to it.
The Food & Wine recipe also recommended double-dipping the cupcakes in the frosting after they’re baked. I only dipped them once. I found that double-dipping the cupcakes resulted in a bit too much frosting (yes it is possible to have too much frosting). The cupcakes looked like some frosting had just been caked on haphazardly. Instead, I dipped them once and developed a very successful "dip n’ twirl" technique where I dipped the cupcake and gently twirled. After the frosting set, I piped on a lovely peanut butter rosette with a pastry bag.
The following morning I packed up the happy couples and took them to work. While I can’t say the cupcakes enjoyed the experience as they were gobbled up very quickly, I savoured the honeymoon immensely.
And we all lived happily ever after …
Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Filling
Adapted from the April 2004 issue of Food & Wine.
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup of boiling water (you may need extra water)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 sticks plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar (the original recipe calls for 1-1/2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup peanut butter (smooth)
- 2/3 cup icing sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (I used mini chips — the original recipe calls for chopped semisweet chocolate)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners. If you don’t have liners, be sure to butter your muffin tin(s) well.
- Put the cocoa powder in a bowl and add the boiling water. Mix until a smooth paste forms. You may have to add more than 1/2 a cup of boiling water to form a paste.
- Once the paste is formed, whisk in the buttermilk.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- In a large bowl, begin creaming 1-1/2 sticks of butter with the sugar. Cream until light and fluffy (3 to 4 minutes).
- Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well combined (be sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl).
- Add half the dry ingredients to the butter/egg mixture. Mix well.
- Add half of the cocoa mixture. Mix well.
- Add the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix well and then add the remaining cocoa mixture and mix well.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin(s).
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when touched lightly. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.
- In a bowl, beat the peanut butter with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Sift in the icing sugar and beat for about 2 minutes. The mixture should be light and fluffy. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch star tip.
- Pick up a cupcake and press the tip of the pastry bag into the cupcake (not more than an inch into the cupcake). Gently squeeze in some filling and pull the tip out. You will feel the cupcake expand as you inject the filling. Fill all the cupcakes.
- In a saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Let it stand for 5 minutes and then whisk until you have a smooth chocolate icing (try not to eat it all with a spoon!). Let the icing stand for about 15 minutes; it will thicken a bit.
- Gently dip the tops of the cupcakes into the icing using my "dip n’ twirl" technique. Just lower the cupcake top into the icing and twirl gently. While the original recipe recommends dipping once, waiting 5 minutes and then dipping again, I only dipped once.
- Let the cupcakes sit for about 1/2 an hour and then pipe rosettes onto the cupcakes using the remaining peanut butter filling.
Note: This recipe yields 24 cupcakes. The original recipe in the Food & Wine issue is inspired by Peggy Cullen of Lucky Star Sweets.