I am a self- proclaimed cupcake connoisseur. In order for a cupcake to pass my stringent test of excellence, it must meet the following criteria: First and foremost, the cupcake must be beautiful— visual appeal is the primary factor in determining whether or not I’ll want to eat it. Bonus points are awarded for creativity. Once the cupcake passes the cuteness test, it also needs to taste as good as it looks. The cake should be moist and the frosting should complement the cake flavor and texture. Here I present to you one of my all- time favorite cupcakes. They’re topped off with two different frostings: a rich, de cadent ganache and a salty- sweet peanut butter cookie frosting. The chocolate– peanut butter combination is to die for, rightfully earning this cupcake five stars in my book.
Makes 18 cupcakes
1 cup strong hot brewed coffee
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all- purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Peanut Butter Cookie Frosting
1 cup creamy peanut
butter (I use Skippy natural Creamy)
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 1 or 2 muffin tins with 18 paper liners.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the coffee and cocoa powder together until the mixture resembles a smooth chocolate sauce; set aside to cool.
3. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the vanilla extract. Slowly add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Add the chocolate- coffee mixture, and mix the batter for 1 minute more. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl, and mix on medium- high speed for 2 minutes, or until the batter is smooth.
4. Fill each muffin cup about two- thirds full. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the center of a cupcake springs back when touched.
5. While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the ganache glaze and the peanut butter cookie frosting. To make the ganache, heat the heavy cream in a small pot over medium- high heat. As soon as the cream begins to boil, remove the pot from the heat and add the chocolate chips. Stir together with a whisk until smooth. Pour the ganache into a medium bowl and cool it in the refrigerator while the cupcakes are baking.
6. To make the peanut butter cookie frosting, cream the peanut butter and butter together for 1 minute on medium speed. Turn off the mixer and add the confectioners’ sugar. Beat the frosting on low speed until all the sugar has been absorbed. Then increase the speed to medium and mix the frosting for
2 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
7. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and let them cool completely.
8. When the cupcakes are completely cooled, spoon 1 tablespoon of the ganache glaze on top of each cupcake. Using the back of a spoon, spread the ganache evenly over the entire surface. Allow the ganache to set for 30 minutes.
9. While the ganache is setting, use clean, dry hands to form eighteen 1- tablespoon balls of the peanut butter frosting, rolling each ball between your palms until the surface is smooth. (Each ball should be slightly smaller than a Ping- Pong ball. The frosting ball should easily keep its shape without sticking to anything.) With both hands, gently squish each frosting ball to form a ?- inch- thick patty. Using the tines of a fork, indent the top of the patty in a crisscross pattern so that it resembles a peanut butter cookie.
10. Place a frosting “cookie” on top of each cupcake.This recipe is excerpted from Savory Sweet Life by Alice Currah. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022.