Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing

To me, chocolate cake isn't usually all that great- especially if it's store bought. Sure, it has the right color, but there's no chocolate flavor. Homemade chocolate cakes are much better.
I have to concede that chocolate icing can be a whole different story...

When making chocolate baked goods, if a little coffee is added it can help enhance the depth of the chocolate flavor. It could be pretty much any type of everyone's favorite morning jolt- a little coffee, a shot of espresso, some instant coffee or espresso granules.

Chocolate without coffee is a little liked baked goods without salt (ok, maybe not quite so dire, maybe a little bit of a stretch here, but it's a similie that's trying very hard to make a point).

When you can smell chocolate when something chocolatey is baking that means it's done- or about to be done.
You're smelling the chocolate flavor as it essentially evaporates and is baked out of the cake. Tasteless chocolate cake can't be good.

The original recipe says it makes 14-15 cupcakes and should be baked 20-25 mintues.
For me, it makes 18 and only took 15-20 minutes, so that's what I've written for here.
If you're having a birthday party, or there are many people around who can eat these go ahead and make the full recipe. A half recipe is probably enough in most cases though.

The chocolate cake recipe is the Barefoot Contessa's, but (per the Barefoot Contessa) the peanut butter icing comes from Kathleen King of Tate's Bake Shop in Southampton, New York.
It comes from The Barefoot Contessa at Home, but can be found online here.

Chocolate Cupcakes
makes 18

12 T unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 c granulated sugar
2/3 c light brown sugar, packed
2 extra large eggs, room temperature
2 t vanilla extract
1 c buttermilk, shaken and at room temperature
1/2 c sour cream at room temperature
2 T brewed coffee
1 3/4 c flour
1 c good cocoa powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 F and line cupcake tins with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower speed to medium, add eggs one at a time, then the vanilla and mix well.
In a separate bowl whisk together buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee.
In another bowl sift or whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. On low speed add the buttermilk mixture and flour mixture alternately in thirds into the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk and ending with the flour. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it's completely blended.
Divide the batter among the cupcake pans. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Kathleen's Peanut Butter Icing

1 c confectioner's sugar
1 c creamy peanut butter
5 T unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 t vanilla extract
1/4 t kosher salt
1/3 c heavy cream

Place confectioner's sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

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