March is tomorrow, perhaps my least favorite month. You think the winter is over, but oh no. It seems to go on, and on, and on. I am ready to put my boots away, yet I am fooling myself, I will most likely be pulling them out in April. I wanted the snow in January, yet it was no where to be found, it was waiting for March. I tend to do a lot of baking in the ho-hum days of March, and these chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting will brighten any gray March day. I am a fan of any chocolate+peanut butter dessert, and these cupcakes are moist and chocolate-y with a rich and creamy peanut butter frosting that would be great spread on brownies or a layer cake – or enjoyed with a spoon from a bowl (mmmmmm).
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes (adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten)
For the cupcakes:
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, allowed to sit at rom temp for 15 minutes, then shaken vigorously)
1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons brewed coffee (or buttermilk or substitute if you don;t have coffee)
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the frosting:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup half and half
Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, yogurt, and coffee (or additional buttermilk). In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended – do not over mix. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended. Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (1 rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount). Bake in the middle of the oven for 18 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.
Make the frosting: Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the half and half and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth. Frost cupcakes. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temp.