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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mini chocolate peanut butter pretzel cupcakes

Today is my dad's birthday!!  (I promised him I wouldn't share his age.)  My dad -- and mom, too -- is the greatest.  My sisters and I went home and the five of us went for dim sum, which is what my dad wanted to do to celebrate.  Dim sum -- if you don't know -- are basically Chinese small plates (often, but by no means always, dumplings) that are passed around the restaurant on carts, and you choose what you want as the cart passes your table.  It's a fun -- and delicious -- experience!

But I digress.  It's my dad's birthday.  Birthdays need to be celebrated (I'm still trying to convince B of this, as he has a big birthday coming up this summer).  Cupcakes (and cakes, or brownies, or pies, or anything baked and topped with a sprinkle) are celebratory.  So my dad got some homemade cupcakes for his birthday.

I wanted to try a new recipe for my dad's birthday, but he isn't a huge lover of sweets (my mom reminded me when I asked about baking cupcakes for his birthday, since she didn't want me to be "insulted" if he didn't eat much of whatever I baked).  When I was rattling off some suggestions, I mentioned these cupcakes, which I had baked before.  She stopped me immediately after by saying "yes, make those.  Your father would love anything peanut butter and chocolate."  And so, with apologies, I am repeating another recipe.  It's a good thing it's a FANTASTIC cupcake.  Although this time I mixed it up a bit, and make some mini cupcakes (full confession?  I got tired of filling those mini cupcake papers after a while, and made some full-sized ones, too, which I ended up bringing home for the celebration).

(Mini) Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cupcakes
From Robicelli's: A Love Story, with Cupcakes, found here



3/4 cups cocoa powder (I used Dutch press cocoa for super dark, chocolatey cupcakes)

2/3 cups scalding hot coffee
2/3 cups buttermilk
2/3 cups canola oil
teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda


Preheat oven to 350.

Line cupcake pans with 24 liners.

Place cocoa powder in mixer bowl and pour scalding hot coffee over.
Mix on low speed until a thick paste forms and mixture stops steaming- about one minute.Like I said before, mine was not thick nor was it a paste, it was actually quite runny.  The cupcakes turned out perfectly deliciously well.

Turn mixer speed to medium.
In a measuring cup, combine buttermilk, egg, yolk, vanilla, salt and oil, and mix lightly with a fork, ensuring yolks are broken.
Slowly pour into mixer.
Stop mixer and scrape bottom well to loosen any caked on cocoa.
Reattach and turn mixer to medium, letting run one minute.
Stop mixer again.

Sift together dry ingredients and pour into wet mixture.
Mix on low speed until just combined.
Remove bowl and use scrape down the sides of the bowl, ensuring everything is mixed.

Scoop cake batter into prepared pans, filling cups 2/3 of the way.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through (I don't rotate them....shhh, don't tell).  * I baked my mini ones for 10 minutes *

Cupcakes are done when the centers spring back when you touch them.
Remove cupcakes from oven.
Let cool completely. 

Peanut Butter Buttercream:


3 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream


Cream together the butter, peanut butter, and kosher salt with a mixer set to "high" until light and fluffy.

Add powdered sugar a 1/4 cup at a time, beating well between each addition. 
Add heavy cream. 
Once combined, taste for flavor.  I added more peanut butter -- probably about 1/4+ cups.

Continue to beat on high for an additional minute to incorporate air. 

Classic Chocolate Ganache:


1/4 cup semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup cream
pinch of sea salt


Place chocolate in a bowl, and shake back and forth until it flattens out on top. 

Heat cream and sea salt in a medium saucepan until it comes to a boil (I forgot the salt.  Oops.  It was fine without it).
Immediately pour hot cream mixture over chocolate, and allow to sit for two minutes to allow chocolate to melt.
Using a heatproof spatula, stir the cream and chocolate together until completely smooth.
Allow to cool slightly before drizzling on cupcakes.
Ganache should not be hot to the touch, but still be liquid.
If it cools completely and becomes solid, microwave on 50% power in 20 second increments, stirring between each, until desired consistency is reached.


3/4 cups roasted peanuts
1 1/2 cup pretzels


Pulse pretzels and peanuts in a food processor until they're coarse crumbs.  (Alternately, place in a strong ziptop bag and repeatedly smack with a rolling pin, a heavy skillet, or anything else your find enjoyable. Place crumbs in a pie dish or baking pan.)


Fill pastry bag fitted with regular tip with peanut butter buttercream, and pipe onto each chocolate cupcake.  Since the icing is sweet, and my dad isn't a lover of very sweet things, I chose not to pile it up on the cupcakes as much as I did last time.  *Also, I couldn't find a regular tip and used another one.  Since the cupcakes are coated in the pretzel-peanut mixture afterwards, it doesn't really matter all that much which tip you use, but if you like the icing super-domed like it was when I made them last time, I'd recommend using the regular tip. *
Put cupcakes into the refrigerator so buttercream hardens- about 20 minutes.  Don't skip this step - my icing was pretty soft otherwise and I'm sure they wouldn't have been nicely domed afterwards.  BUT....don't keep them in for too long, otherwise they'll get hard and the toppings won't stick.

Gently roll the sides of the buttercream in peanut/pretzel mixture. 
Pour a handful over the top and lightly pack on with hand. Do NOT dip them top down into the bowl and press.  The icing isn't THAT hard.  You will flatten out the icing on the top of the cupcakes.  I learned that lesson after cupcake #1, and the rest of them looked perfect (if I do say so myself).
Shake off excess and set aside. 
Drizzle ganache across each cupcake.  I do this by placing them in a few rows on top of papertowels and drizzling both up and down and side to side on each row.

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