Chocolate Cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream, topped with a pretzel.
My grandparents gave me the Cooks Illustrated Baking Book for Christmas, and this is the first recipe I made from it- and it’s a winner. (Of course it is, it’s America’s Test Kitchen!) However, being me and a food blogger, I couldn’t just let the recipe be as is- I had to change it up a bit! The original recipe calls for the butter and sugars to be creamed together. Well, I’m a bit lazy and didn’t want to drag out the stand mixer, and I knew I would need to make the frosting as well, so no stand mixer it was. I melted the butter on the stove and stirred in the chocolate and sugar.
I then mixed together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt), mixed in the wet ingredients (sugar, butter, and cocoa alternated with a mixture of milk and vanilla), added eggs, and bam! 2 bowls and a measuring cup, 7 minutes, and we have a cupcake batter, which is baked for 20 minutes. It’s just as easy as a cake mix!
The buttercream is the same frosting used for my death by peanut butter cookies, and is just as easy to make! I wanted to make some chocolate covered pretzels for the cupcakes, but again… got lazy and didn’t want to walk to the store to get melting chocolate, so I just stuck on plain pretzels. They’re just as good!
Taste breakdown: The cupcakes are soft, fluffy, and moist- no dense or dry cupcakes here! The frosting is sweet, but not too sweet. The trick is to use salted butter, add a dash of salt, and to use just enough confectioners sugar to add body, but not too much to make the frosting too sweet.
The recipe is originally for a two layer chocolate cake, and will make around 17 cupcakes.
Make these for your NYE party, or blaze ahead into the new year enjoying cupcakes and sweets! (All in moderation, of course.)
- 12 tablespoons (1 and ½ sticks) butter
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1 and ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons coffee (brewed; I used leftover from my morning coffee. can be omitted if desired.)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 and ¼ cup all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup peanut butter
- 2 and ⅓ cup powdered sugar
- dash salt
- 17 pretzels
- TO MAKE CUPCAKES: Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the sugar and cocoa powder until combined. Add coffee and remove from heat. (This is the butter mixture.)
- Measure milk into a liquid measuring cup and add vanilla extract. Set aside. (This is the milk mixture.)
- Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Add eggs one at a time into butter mixture.
- Add milk mixture and butter mixture to dry ingredients, alternating until all ingredients are combined. (Add ⅓ of butter mixture, ⅓ of milk mixture, ect. until all are combined.)
- Fill cupcake liners with batter until about ⅔ full. I used a ¼ measuring cup for each tin.
- Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out with no batter. Let cool before topping with frosting.
- TO MAKE FROSTING:
- Beat butter in stand mixture with whisk attachment until smooth. Add peanut butter and mix until combined. Add powdered sugar a little at a time until all is combined. Mix in salt.
- Spread on cooled cupcakes and top with a pretzel.
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