Dark Chocolate & PB Cupcakes

Being a scientist, you’d think I’d naturally be drawn to baking: step-wise instructions, precise measurements, definitive cook times … but no.

Unlike in the lab, I prefer to navigate my kitchen by sense – I know the sweet potatoes have finished roasting when I can smell them.  A quick taste of the curry tells me the spice balance is perfect.  Giving the soup a little stir lets me know it has simmered enough and the texture is spot on.

Save for the occasional rack of pumpkin muffins, stack of pancakes or loaf of banana bread, I tend to avoid baking at all costs.

Well, this weekend I stepped outside the box a bit and whipped up a batch of decadent dark chocolate and peanut butter cupcakes … from scratch.

Inspired by these one-bowl chocolate cupcakes and this peanut butter frosting, I preheated the oven and got to work …

Ingredients: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes (makes about 16 cupcakes)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 vanilla bean (substitute: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 4 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, cut into quarters

Directions: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
  2. Spritz muffin tins with a non-stick spray and set aside.
  3. Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Create a dent in the middle of the dry ingredients with a spoon and add eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla beans and water.
  5. Whisk together wet ingredients then combine with dry ingredients – Take care not to over-mix the batter.
  6. Add batter to muffin tin until each cup is about 2/3 full.
  7. Place a piece of Reese’s PB Cup in the middle of the batter in each cup.
  8. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, rotating muffin tin after 10 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool.

Ingredients: Peanut Butter Frosting

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar

Directions: Peanut Butter Frosting

  1. In a large bowl, mix together butter and peanut butter until smooth.
  2. Continue to stir while slowly tapping in powdered sugar using a sieve or fine-mesh strainer.
  3. Mix until smooth and sugar is incorporated.
  4. Top cooled cupcakes with about a tablespoon of frosting and spread evenly with a butter knife.
  5. Indulge!

I promise these little cakes taste even better than they look (my icing skillz are not the prettiest, I know) and I love the little Reese’s PB Cup surprise when you bite into them!

Enjoy!

Spooky Hump Day Finds

Some of my favorite Halloween finds – Add a little spook to your home:

Where you can get ‘em: