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Peanut Butter-Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes

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Yields about 20 cupcakes

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 128

These dark, rich cupcakes topped with creamy, peanut buttery frosting will wow kids and grown-ups alike. The Italian meringue-based buttercream is soft and fluffy but holds up like a dream. You’ll need a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature of the sugar syrup used for the meringue.

For the cupcakes
  • 5-1/2 oz. (1-1/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1-1/2 oz. (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 Tbs. mild unsulfured molasses
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 oz. (10 Tbs.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3-1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
For the buttercream
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. mild unsulfured molasses
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped, salted peanuts (optional)
  • 3/4 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 3 Tbs; optional)
Make the cupcakes

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line 20 standard-size muffin cups with paper liners.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

In another medium bowl, whisk the cocoa powder, water, and molasses until smooth. Let the mixture cool until just warm, and then whisk in the sour cream and vanilla.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl using a hand-held electric mixer), beat the sugar and butter on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition.

Alternately mix in the flour and cocoa mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour in three additions. By hand, stir in the chopped chocolate.

Divide the batter among the cupcake liners (about 1/4 cup each). Bake until the tops spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the buttercream

Put the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or put them in a large bowl and have ready a handheld electric mixer).

In a 1-quart, heavy-duty saucepan, stir the sugar and 1/2 cup water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture begins to boil. Cover the pan and boil for 1 minute to allow the condensation to wash any sugar crystals off the sides of the pan. Remove the lid and place a candy thermometer in the syrup.

When the syrup reaches 215°F, begin beating the whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. At this point, the sugar syrup should reach 234°F. If so, with the mixer running, carefully pour the boiling sugar syrup down the side of the bowl. (If not, turn the mixer off until the syrup reaches temperature and turn it on before adding the syrup.) With the mixer running, add the vanilla, molasses, and salt. Continue beating until glossy, stiff peaks form and the mixture cools to just warm, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium low. Beat the butter into the meringue a few pieces at a time (you don’t have to wait until fully incorporated before adding more), until all the butter is incorporated; don’t worry if the buttercream looks curdled at this point. Add the peanut butter and beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.

Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream, and garnish with the peanuts and chocolate, if using.

Make Ahead Tips

You can bake the cupcakes a day before frosting them; keep covered at room temperature.

The frosted, garnished cupcakes can be stored, covered, at cool room temperature, for up to 2 days.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 350; Fat (g): fat g 23; Fat Calories (kcal): 210; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 13; Protein (g): protein g 5; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 34; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 240; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 70; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;

Photo: Scott Phillips

These cupcakes are lot of work but worth the effort. The first try and the buttercream did not come out smooth. Bringing the sugar water to the right temp helped. Both times we ended up with chucks of butter. We are wondering if the butter should be taken out of the refrigerator prior to creaming.

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