I had completely forgotten about the package of Halloween cupcake liners and toppers that had followed me home last year. Well, we couldn’t let another year go by with them languishing in the drawer, now could we? Hmmm – orange and black – not my favourite combo for food-friendly items. What could I do with those? Chocolate, clearly. I’ve made orange icing before but wanted something different this time. Reese’s Pieces came to mind. That’s it! Peanut Butter frosting it is.
Next to figure out – how much peanut butter could Swiss Meringue Buttercream support without collapsing into a sticky mess? It turns out that a batch of SMB made with 5 egg whites holds up very well under about 3/4 of a cup of peanut butter. It’s enough peanut butter to flavour the frosting without overwhelming it, and the frosting is a heavenly silky cloud.
Verdict? A keeper, for sure.Print
Have all ingredients except the coffee at room temperature.
For the chocolate cupcakes:
- 60 g or 2 oz good quality semisweet chocolate
- 1 c hot brewed coffee or hot water
- 210 g or 1¾ c all-purpose flour
- 400 g or 2 c granulated sugar
- 100 g or 1 c unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 109 g or ½ c vegetable oil
- 245 g or 1 c yoghurt or buttermilk
- ½ tsp vanilla
For the frosting:
- 5 large egg whites
- 300 g or 1½ c granulated sugar
- 454 g or 1 lb butter, cubed, at room temperature
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 180 g or ¾ c smooth peanut butter
For the topping:
230 g package of Reese’s Pieces
Make the cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F or 325°F Convection. Line two 12 cup cupcake pans with paper liners. (You will need to partially refill one of the pans for the second batch of 6 – 8 cupcakes).
- In a small bowl, combine the finely chopped chocolate with hot coffee or hot water. Let the mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs until thickened slightly and lemon coloured (about 3 minutes). Add the oil, yoghurt, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to the eggs, beating until combined well. Add the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Do not overbeat.
- Using a size #20 (3 tbsp) cookie scoop, fill the cupcake liners and bake in the middle of the oven until the cupcakes spring back when pressed in the centre (approximately 20 minutes).
- Cool the cupcakes in the pans for 5 minutes before turning them out onto cooling racks.
Make the frosting:
- Place the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl (I use stainless steel) and whisk until combined. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, ensuring the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Continue to whisk until the mixture reaches 160°F or until it’s not grainy between your fingers.
- Transfer the egg mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat with a whisk attachment until you get glossy, room temperature peaks. Tip: hold a couple of bags of frozen peas or corn against the outside bowl to decrease the temperature more quickly.
- With the mixer running on medium-low, add small chunks of room-temperature butter, one at a time. Take your time with this – let the butter incorporate fully before adding the next piece (5 – 10 minutes). Don’t panic if the mixture gets soupy. Just keep beating. You can’t overbeat it; it will come together in the end.
- Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Beat in the peanut butter, one large dollop at a time.
Assemble the cupcakes:
Fill a large piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip (I used Ateco’s #860). Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes, starting at the outside edge and working your way in. If desired, top the cupcakes with crushed Reese’s Pieces and cupcake toppers.
The cupcake batter is adapted from Sprinklebakes Chocolate Therapy Cake.