Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

chocolate peanut butter cupcakes

These Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes offer the dream flavor combo with soft dark chocolate cake topped with luscious silky peanut butter meringue buttercream. You will definitely want this recipe on hand for your next celebration!

chocolate peanut butter cupcakes on a platter

We’ve adapted our dark chocolate sheet cake recipe so that it bakes perfectly as your new favorite chocolate cupcake. Then we’ve topped it with the perfect easy – yes, easy! – meringue buttercream using a new technique that gives you amazingly soft and decadent results. 

The Cupcakes

We use the standard mixing method here to ensure the best structure while keeping a nice, soft crumb. It’s filled with dark chocolate flavor from cocoa powder plus a bit of melted chocolate. It doesn’t take much to bring big flavor!

Start by melting the chocolate and blooming the cocoa powder with some hot water. We add a tiny bit of espresso powder to bring out all that chocolate flavor. You won’t really taste it but it helps the chocolate taste more like itself. Feel free to omit it if you don’t have this ingredient or simply don’t like it. Adding hot water to cocoa as an initial step also allows the cocoa to taste more like itself, bringing that intense chocolate flavor to your cupcakes. You’ll want this to cool before mixing it into the other ingredients so that it doesn’t melt the butter.

Next, continue by mixing the butter and sugar, creating tiny pockets of air that will help the cupcakes rise perfectly. Mix in the egg, then a bit of yogurt and vanilla, then add the dry ingredients in two steps. Once half of the flour mixture is incorporated, add the cooled chocolate mixture before finishing with the last of the flour mixture. Fill your cupcake liners and bake!

chocolate peanut butter cupcakes top view

The Meringue Buttercream

Meringue icing is a truly special thing. It’s lighter in texture than typical American buttercream, made with powdered sugar and butter or shortening. Smooth and silky, it tends to be less cloyingly sweet, too. It’s downfall is that it can be tricky to make because of more complicated techniques, such as heating egg whites with sugar, whipping egg whites to stiff peaks, or making a sugar syrup that you add hot to whipped egg whites. And after that, you add your butter and hope that you’ve done it right and it emulsifies into spectacular buttercream dreams. It’s definitely doable by any home cook, but requires a bit more time, concentration, and finesse.

Two blogs, Cake Paper Party and Sugar Geek Show dug into the techniques and explored how to make it all easier without giving up what makes meringue buttercream so very special. It’s these blogs, the science behind meringue buttercream, and many practice runs that led to this recipe. And this Peanut Butter Buttercream is so worth every bit of that effort! 

chocolate peanut butter cupcakes with view of meringue buttercream

Special Ingredients

Pasteurized Egg Whites – For our meringue buttercream, we use pasteurized egg whites that you can buy in a carton. Make sure to buy 100% egg whites with no additives. Using pasteurized whites keeps your buttercream safe to eat without having to heat the eggs, saving you a lot of time and trouble. You cannot use fresh eggs in this recipe because we aren’t heating the eggs to kill any bad bacteria that may be present on or in the eggs.

Powdered Peanut Butter – This genius product is simply peanut butter with the fat removed, in powder form. It’s a delicious way to add amazing peanut butter flavor to this buttercream while controlling the ratio of fat in this somewhat technical icing. You can also add it to smoothies for a hit of protein. Or sprinkle it over apple slices for a quick snack. It’s delicious! Many brands contain a lot of added sugar and you don’t want those for this recipe. Our fav brand is PB2, which you can find at a lot of grocery stores.

chocolate peanut butter cupcakes

Making the Buttercream

Using a stand mixer is the easiest way to make this icing, since it takes a lot of time to whip it all together into a silky smooth buttercream. Start by using the whisk attachment to blend the egg whites with the powdered sugar, peanut butter powder, and salt. When the sugar has melted into the egg whites, add the vanilla and keep mixing.

The eggs should become opaque and fluffy. When you add the butter, you will add it all at once, scattering it around the bowl so that it will incorporate more quickly without clumping together. Your buttercream will look curdled and you will feel like all is lost. But it’s not! Just keep mixing and it will come together! 

If after 4-5 minutes it hasn’t come together, remove a little (about 1/4 cup) and microwave that small portion for 5-10 seconds, or until it is warm but not melted. Then mix it back into your buttercream and continue mixing. This will help the buttercream smooth out and come together.

When it is smooth, fluffy, and holds a peak, it is finished! You can remove air bubbles by switching to the paddle attachment and mixing on low speed. If your buttercream is super soft, cover and refrigerate before piping onto your cupcakes.

This buttercream can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. To use, bring it to room temperature, then whip it again for a few minutes until it regains its silky texture.

chocolate peanut butter cupcake cut to see inside

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Enjoy!

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chocolate peanut butter cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

The dreamiest dark chocolate cupcakes with a soft crumb and amazing chocolate flavor!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Bake Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Cake, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 cupcakes

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ounce (1/4 cup) Dutch-processed cocoa powder (like Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 1/2 ounce dark or semi-sweet chocolate finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder optional
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) boiling water
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into pieces
  • 3-3/4 ounces (1/2 cup) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 whole large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 ounces (1/4 cup) plain yogurt
  • 4-1/2 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions
 

  • Prep: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a muffin tin by lining each space with a foil or paper cupcake liner.
  • Heat the Cocoa and Chocolate: In a heatproof bowl, combine the cocoa powder, dark chocolate, espresso powder, and salt. Pour the boiling water over the mixture and whisk until it is smooth. Allow it to cool, whisking occasionally.
  • Mix: Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together on medium-low speed until fully combined and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the egg until incorporated, then add the vanilla and yogurt.
    In a separate small bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add half of this mixture to your batter and mix on low speed until you no longer see white streaks of flour. Add all of the chocolate mixture and mix again before adding the remaining flour mixture.
    Scrape the bowl and stir to make sure everything is fully incorporated, then scoop the batter into your prepared muffin papers, filling each ¾ full.
  • Bake and Cool: Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

  • This recipe will work best if you weigh all your ingredients. Even if you don’t weigh anything else, please weigh the chocolate, as your volume measurements will depend entirely on how finely you chop your chocolate (or if you use chips or callets). Don’t have a scale? Use a chocolate bar with the weight marked on it and break off the appropriate number of squares before chopping.
  • Dutched Cocoa makes a difference in taste, color, and the way the cupcakes set in the oven, so make sure you are using it. We like Hershey’s Special Dark, which is a combination of dutched and “natural”.
  • Pouring boiling water over the cocoa and chocolate not only melts the chocolate, but will bring out the best flavor from your cocoa. After mixed, cool to as close to room temp as you can so it doesn’t melt the butter when added to your cake batter. Setting the bowl in a shallow water bath helps to cool it down much more quickly.
Keyword cake, chocolate
Peanut Butter Meringue Buttercream

Peanut Butter Meringue Buttercream

Decadent, silky, and delicious peanut butter meringue buttercream without all the fuss!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Mixing Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, European
Servings 3 cups

Ingredients
  

  • 3 ounces (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) pasteurized egg whites at room temperature
  • 9 ounces (2-1/4 cups) confectioner's sugar sifted
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup) powdered peanut butter sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 7-1/2 ounces (15 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature and cut into pieces

Instructions
 

  • Whip the Base: Combine the egg whites, confectioner’s sugar, powdered peanut butter, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk first on low, then on medium until the sugar is fully incorporated. Add the vanilla and continue mixing on medium speed for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Add the Butter: Add in the butter all at once, scattering it around the bowl, then continue mixing with the whisk attachment on high speed until the butter is fully incorporated and the buttercream becomes fluffy and light. If it looks curdled, just keep mixing and it will all come together. If it isn’t coming together, remove 1/2 cup of the icing and heat it for 15 seconds in the microwave, or until warmed but not melted. Add this small portion back into the larger batch and continue mixing. Repeat as necessary until the icing is light, fluffy, and smooth.
  • Remove Air Bubbles (optional): If desired, to remove air bubbles, switch to the paddle attachment and mix on medium low speed for 10 minutes or until smooth and creamy.

Notes

  • Inspired by meringue buttercream research and techniques from Cake Paper Party and Sugar Geek Show.
  • Makes enough to fill and frost a 2-layer 6-inch cake (double for an 8-inch cake).
  • Store leftover buttercream tightly covered in the refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for 3 months. Bring to room temperature and re-whip before using.
Keyword buttercream, meringue, peanut butter
Tag @mealtimejoy on instagram if you made this recipe

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