Sunday, July 10, 2011

PB&J Cupcakes

Vanilla cake, grape jam filling, peanut butter frosting

This cupcake was a spur of the moment creation. It just felt like a day for cupcakes, so the kids and I dug around in the kitchen and decided on peanut butter and jelly. It's not a fancy cupcake, but it was easy and delicious, and the kids helped! We actually used a cake mix that was in the cupboard rather than making a from-scratch cake. This turned out to be a good thing, because box cake mix has a different texture when baked, and it gave it kind of a fluffy-white-bread feel.

Ok, so here's what you need:

1 vanilla cake mix (and whatever it calls for on the box to prepare it)
Grape jam (or jelly - we used jam)
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3-4 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk

Preheat your oven to 350. Prepare the cake batter as directed on the box. We used a french vanilla cake, but any type of white, vanilla or yellow cake would work. In your cupcake pans (don't forget the liners for this recipe!) fill each liner about half full. Plop about a teaspoon of grape jam in each cup. Don't push it into the batter... you're going to cover it up when you're done. When you have jam in each cup, go back and fill the liners until about 2/3 full. Don't worry about covering the jam completely, because the cake will bake up around it.

The box directions usually call for baking cupcakes about 18-21 minutes. Set the timer for 16 minutes and check them. Dry cake happens when you overbake. Check them every minute until they just start to brown the tiniest bit on top, then take them out. Cool completely. If you just can't stand it and have to eat one straight out of the oven, be warned... that jam gets HOT. Yeah, I made that mistake.

Tip: You will get around 27 cupcakes from a box mix.

Now it's frosting time! This frosting kind of tastes like these little balls of peanut butter and powdered sugar that my grandma used to make. It's good. Real good. Like eat it out of the pastry bag good.

Beat the room temperature butter until it gets nice and fluffy, then mix in the peanut butter. Beat it all until it is creamy, then start adding your powdered sugar. I used close to four cups, alternately adding a teeny drizzle of milk until it reached a good frosting consistency. A few taste tests are necessary, not for the quality of the frosting, but for your own well being and happiness. Trust me.

That's it! Frost the cupcakes however you want. I use a pastry bag, but you can use a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off, or smear it with a knife the old-fashioned way. When you're done frosting them, melt a little jam in the microwave until it is smooth and runny. Drizzle a little on top of each cupcake. Hide one for yourself and serve!

 These cupcakes are a great baking project with your kids (or your sister's kids, or the neighbor's kids). Let them hold the mixer while you crack eggs in the cake batter. If you're brave, let them crack the eggs. They can plop jam in the batter, smear frosting on the top, and drizzle them with jelly. Kids love to help cook, and baking together creates memories for the whole family.
Abigail and Molly, decorating PB&J cupcakes!

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