Weirdly, today’s recipe was inspired by a little packet of snack mix that I saw when I was wondering around the aisles of Walmart, on our trip to Florida last month (which it turns out you can buy in the UK too). Reese’s Snack Mix has pretzel bites, peanuts, Reese’s Pieces candy, and little peanut butter cups in it, and to the baking blogger in me that just sounded like the perfect cupcake creation.
Yup, we’re talking about the BEST chocolate cupcake (seriously, these are my #1 bake ever) topped with soft peanut butter buttercream, and decorated with all sorts of crunchy bits. Drizzle some melted chocolate on top and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Cupcake goals or what?
Let’s rewind back a minute and talk about the chocolate cupcakes. Because sky-high peanut butter frosting and candy can only go so far – you really need something incredible underneath to back it up. And these babies are the chocolate cupcakes of your dreams. They’re made with melted dark chocolate AND cocoa powder – no bland tasting chocolate tinted cupcakes on my blog thank you very much. And the addition of some vanilla yogurt to the batter really helps to keep them moist and to die for.
They are genuinely so good that you can definitely eat them without any frosting what-so-ever. But why would you do that when you can make them look like this?
The icing is a super simple buttercream, with a bit less actual butter and a whole heap of peanut butter. The peanut butter can be a bit gloopy, so be sure to add some milk in there to keep things light. And don’t skimp on the mixing. The key to perfectly light and fluffy buttercream is to use an electric whisk (or fit your stand mixer with the balloon attachment) and give it a good few minutes on high. That will take your buttercream from dense and cloying, to fluffy and soft.
To pipe blobs of buttercream, just snip the end of a disposable piping bag off to leave a large hole. Hold the piping bag vertically, so that it is perpendicular to the counter-top, and pipe. The super soft buttercream will spread out into a mound, and you can press any little peaks you end up back down into the buttercream with a damp finger. Doesn’t look perfect? Cover any imperfections with candy, peanuts, and pretzels, and no one will be any the wiser!
The Reese’s Pieces snack mix that inspired these peanut butter cupcakes includes peanut butter cups too, as well as the pretzel bits, peanuts, and pieces, but I didn’t want to overcrowd the top of the cupcakes, so I left these out. You could definitely cut a little hollow in the top of the un-frosted cupcake and pop a mini peanut butter cup in there before you pipe on the buttercream if you like though. Totally your call.
What’s definitely not optional is the melted chocolate drizzle on top. There’s something magical about drizzling some chocolate onto anything that takes it from an 8 to a 10. If you’re ever not really happy with something, or you think it needs a little extra wow-factor, then melt some chocolate in the microwave and pipe it on. Case in point – my Mars Bar Cakes, or my Creme Egg Cheesecake.
I’ve got some news – we’re buying a house! There’s still a long way to go, and a lot of legal and financial hurdles to get over, but the offer’s been accepted and the mortgage application is in. Our potential new home has a MUCH bigger kitchen than the current box-room in our flat, and we’ve already been making moodboards and planning which walls need knocking down.
This might well be a baking blog, but it’s also my little slice of the internet, so I’m very keen to document and share our home improvement process from the old fashioned peach walls to something that Bobby from Queer Eye would be proud of (hopefully). I’m not sure if this will take the form of another blog, or more likely, a little sub-blog here on WCB. We’re absolute novices when it comes to DIY (and being adults) so expect many disasters and steep learning curves along the way. We’re already planning some pretty intense paint colours – navy anyone? – so hopefully it won’t be a complete eyesore.
I’ll definitely keep you posted.
I’m going to go and munch down another three of these peanut butter cupcakes, and then maybe actually try and do the washing up. I’ve got a host of spring recipes in the works for you over the next couple of weeks – there’s Easter and St Patrick’s Day to fit in, and that’s before I’ve surprised my Mum with a Mother’s Day lunch, complete with my very own Key Lime Pie. It’s got a ginger biscuit crust and everything. She’s gonna love it!
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with today’s recipe. Peace out.
- 150g (5.3oz) good quality dark or bittersweet chocolate
- 100g (2/3 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 200g (1 cup) light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 75g (1/3 cup) plain or vanilla yogurt
- 175g (1½ cups) plain or all purpose flour
- 25g (3 tablespoons) cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- Pinch of salt
- 240ml (1 cup) milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 225g (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 250g (1 cup) smooth peanut butter
- 500g (4 cups) icing sugar (US powdered sugar)
- 60ml (¼ cup) milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Reese's Pieces candy
- Salted pretzels, broken into bits
- Roasted peanuts
- 50g (2oz) dark or bittersweet chocolate, melted
- Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F (170°C fan) and line a cupcake or muffin tin with 14 cupcake liners.
- Melt the chocolate, either in the microwave or over a saucepan of boiling water. If using the microwave, make sure to stir the chocolate every 20 seconds to avoid burning it. Set aside.
- Cream the butter using a stand or hand-held mixer, until it is pale and creamy, and has no lumps. Add the sugar and mix well.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add the melted chocolate and yogurt, and beat well.
- Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt, and mix gently until just combined. Try to avoid over-mixing. Pour in the milk and vanilla extract, and mix gently until fully combined. Scrape down the edges and the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is completely mixed together.
- Fill the cupcake cases ¾ full, as the cupcakes will rise when baking. Put in the oven for 20-22 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Place the butter and peanut butter into a medium-sized bowl and whip with a hand mixer or stand mixer until fluffy and light. This should take about 5 minutes. You want the butter to have become light and airy, and be very pale.
- Add half the icing sugar (250g / 2 cups) and beat well. Pour in the milk and vanilla extract, mix well, and then mix in the remaining icing sugar. Scrape down the sides as needed.
- Using a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle (or just use a disposable piping bag and chop the tip off) pipe blobs of the buttercream onto the top of each cupcake. This is done by keeping the piping bag vertical and squeezing - the buttercream will spread out and form a blob. You may get a little peak on the top when you stop piping, but you can just press this down into the blob and cover with decoration.
- Press Reese's Pieces candy, pretzel bits, and roasted peanuts onto the top of each cupcake, and then drizzle with melted chocolate. Leave to set before eating.
- The frosted cupcakes will stay fresh for 3-4 days if stored in an airtight container in a cool place. The unfrosted and unfilled cupcakes can also be frozen for up to 3 months - defrost overnight at room temperature. The buttercream can be made a day or two in advance and stored in the fridge. Keep it in a bowl covered with clingfilm, and bring back up to room temperature and beat well before using. The buttercream also freezes well - put in an airtight plastic tub (with room for some expanding) and use within three months. Defrost overnight in the fridge, and then beat well to bring it back to a good consistency.