Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

 When I was in junior high, our church youth group would have overnighters occasionally on the Sunday nights when we didn't have school on Monday.  There were those kids who would never come to the overnighter, because they are the ones who "couldn't cut it (Ben would have been one of those)."  In retrospect, they were the smart ones who knew at a young age what their body could and couldn't take.  However, in our juvenile setback, we saw it not only as our duty, but our obligation to stick it to the man by experiencing the world from dusk to dawn.

Our ammunition was nothing less than your basic food groups--High Fructose Corn Syrup disguised as Dr. Pepper, Monosodium Glutamate disguised as Nacho Cheese Doritos, transfats disguised as Grease cloying Pizza & Unrefined sugar disguised as any & all candy.  And what happens when you eat those basic food groups over the course of 10 hours?  You crash and burn my friend, crash and burn. 

It wasn't until we were driving home at 6:00 am with the Arizona sun burning a hole in my retinas, that I began to wonder if a night-time of no sleep, crap food, and a bit more crap food was worth it?  My stomach was hungry for real food, but my body was beyond tired.  I felt like a two-year old at the one o'clock hour being pushed around the mall with my mom saying, "one more store honey."  That morning my body trumped my stomach and slowly walked down the hall, with random clothes & stuff dropping on the floor like Hansel & Gretel walking toward their candy house ecstasy.

It wasn't until around 12:30 when I arose from my zombie induced coma to meander towards the wafting smell of the kitchen. 
My mom was making some food for the potluck that evening and all I can say is that I've never tasted anything as good as chili mac at a moment like that, or the chocolate cookie with peanut butter chips.  I ate a bit to rid my stomach from eating itself and went back to bed. 
When I finally woke up for the day, I came back to the kitchen to find that the cookies weren't just an illusion, but were actually really good cookies, which later found their destiny in my mouth.  And as I tasted these chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting,all I could think of were those cookies from the Memorial Day Picnic.  I remember grabbing a glass of cold milk to compliment the obvious marriage of chocolate & peanut butter.  And for these cupcakes, I recommend the same.  Just leave the overnighters to those crazy middle & high schoolers.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting (printable recipe)

This recipe is adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home.  One thing about Ina Garten's recipes is she always uses extra-large eggs, which no one ever has in their home.  So I always use large.  I used two large as an equal exchange in this recipe.  However, if there were three or more extra-large, then I would increase the large eggs to equal it out.  And you should definitely have a glass of milk when eating these cupcakes.


  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature

  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso (follow directions) or brewed coffee

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup good cocoa powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Kathleen's Peanut Butter Icing, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and instant espresso. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low-speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it's completely blended.

Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (1 rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount). Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frost each cupcake with Peanut Butter Icing.  Sprinkle with some sea salt.

Kathleen's Peanut Butter Icing:
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar

  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.