I always say if you can't decide on a dessert, go with chocolate cake. Better yet, chocolate peanut butter cupcakes. Rich, dark, and moist chocolate cupcakes topped with fluffy, creamy, and smooth peanut butter frosting. It's so simple yet irresistibly delicious!
The Best Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
Every year for Father's Day I try to come up with a dessert my dad would love, and every year I end up making these chocolate PB cupcakes because I know he loves it! How could he not? The cupcakes themselves are ridiculously soft, fluffy, and moist - even when kept in the refrigerator! Because let's face it, we're nearing summer and we're not about to risk having our silky smooth peanut butter frosting melt away by keeping our cupcakes on the kitchen counter. Nope.
Tips for making chocolate PB cupcakes from scratch
As somebody who's made countless numbers of cupcakes, I tend to think that making cupcakes from scratch is easy peasy (unless they're vegan). If you're not the type to bake cupcakes any opportunity you get, here are some tips to keep in mind when making chocolate peanut butter cupcakes:
Make sure all your ingredients are room temperature. Room temperature ingredients will emulsify better. What does this mean? A nice crumb, no air pockets, and you won't end up with a wet layer at the bottom.
Don't over mix your batter. I know, it's fun to mix mix mix, especially when the batter's thin and smooth like this recipe! But over-mixing your batter can overwork the gluten in the flour and result in a tough cupcake. So stop mixing as soon as the batter is smooth!
Use non-natural peanut butter. I love my Maranatha peanut butter but I swap it out for good ol' Skippy when I'm making peanut butter buttercream frosting. Natural peanut butter tends to cause the frosting to separate in the frosting. Greasy frosting anyone? No thanks.
How to make chocolate cupcakes
I love these chocolate cupcakes because they come together in a bowl! That's right, it's a one-bowl recipe! In a large bowl, sift together the sugar, cake flour, all-purpose flour, dutch-processed cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and fine sea salt. Add the egg, sour cream, whole milk, warm water, instant espresso, oil, vanilla extract, and stir until combined.
Pour the batter into a cupcake pan lined with paper liners about ⅔ of the way up, and bake at 340°F/170°C for 15 to 18 minutes. Mine always comes out perfectly at 16 minutes! Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for a minute before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
How to make peanut butter frosting
In a bowl, cream together the unsalted butter and peanut butter. Beat until pale and fluffy. If it's warm in your house and your frosting's looking too soft, stick it in the fridge for 10 minutes before beating again. Add the sifted powdered sugar a little at a time and beat again. Add milk or heavy cream as necessary.
After I frost my cupcakes, I like to smooth the top with an offset spatula and roll the sides in some chopped salted peanuts. That extra kick of salt is everything, trust me! I then add a small drizzle of melted chocolate on top and swirl the chocolate and frosting together using a toothpick!
How to frost your chocolate cupcakes
To pipe, or not to pipe, that is the question. I think the answer lies in who these cupcakes are for. Are they for Mom's birthday? Use a closed tip to create a fluffy frilly mound. Are they for Dad of Father's Day? No need to pipe. If your dad's anything like mine, he's not about the visuals. Save yourself some time by using a knife or offset spatula.
How to customize your chocolate peanut butter cupcakes
These chocolate PB cupcakes on their own are very simple, so you can jazz them up by customizing them to your liking!
Top them with a Reese's cup. Need I explain? It's a no brainer.
Top them with salted pretzels. You could swap out the chopped salted peanuts for chopped salted pretzels. You get that same salty crunch which is a nice contrast to the soft cupcake and frosting.
Add some caramel. Swap out the chocolate drizzle for a caramel drizzle! Or, you could core out the cupcake before frosting them, fill the hole with caramel sauce and then frost the cupcake for a caramel surprise when you bite into them!
One of my favorite flavor combinations in cupcake form. If you love peanut butter cups, or you love the combination of sweet and salty, you are going to love these cupcakes! I know it.
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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
- 1 cup / 200g light brown sugar
- ¾ cup / 90g cake flour
- 2 tablespoons / 15g all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons / 37g dutch processed cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon / 2g instant espresso powder
- ½ teaspoon / 3g fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon / 6g baking soda
- ½ teaspoon / 3g baking powder
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup / 57g sour cream (greek yogurt is a great substitute)
- ¼ cup / 57g whole milk
- ½ cup / 113g warm water
- ¼ cup / 57g olive oil (any neutral flavored oil will work)
- 1 teaspoon / 5g vanilla extract
Peanut butter frosting
- ⅔ cup / 151g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1⅓ cup / 344g creamy peanut butter
- 2 cups / 250g powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon / 15g whole milk (heavy cream also works)
- ¼ cup / 42.5g dark chocolate, melted (optional)
- ¼ cup / 36g salted roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 340°F/170°C and line a cupcake tin with liners and set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift together the sugar, cake flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, instant espresso, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
- Add the egg, sour cream, whole milk, warm water, oil, vanilla and stir until just combined.
- Pour the cupcake batter into a lined cupcake pan about ⅔ of the way up, and bake them for 15 to 18 minutes.
- Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for a minute before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Peanut butter frosting
- In a bowl, cream together the unsalted butter and peanut butter. Beat until pale and fluffy. If it looks too soft, stick it in the fridge for 10 minutes before beating again.
- Add the sifted powdered sugar a little at a time and beat again. Add the milk if necessary.
- Pipe or spread the peanut butter frosting onto the cooled chocolate cupcakes and garnish with chopped peanuts and melted chocolate.
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