Monday, August 29, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

Brownie cupcake with peanut butter cup inside and PB frosting

This month was my daughter's 7th birthday. When I asked her what kind of cake she wanted, she said, "Uhhhhhhh... CUPcakes, Mom!" I was prepared to make something pink and sparkly, but she shut that idea down in a hurry. She wanted these rich, chocolatey, peanutty morsels of goodness. The kid has good taste! This is no regular cake. It's chewy brownie with a peanut butter cup baked right inside it, topped with a fluffy peanut butter frosting. The very best thing about these cupcakes is the teeny little cupcake on top - a Reeses mini with a dollop of frosting looks exactly like a cupcake. Tastes like a bite of heaven, too.

You need a lot of peanut butter cups for this. I bought a bag of the miniature snack size cups (like you get in Halloween candy), a bag of minis, and a couple of regular sized ones to make crumbs with. It sounds like a lot of candy, but really, can you have too many peanut butter cups in your house? I think not.

Here's how you do it.

The Cake:

1 box brownie mix with directions for cake style brownies
whatever the directions on the box call for to prepare them
24 small peanut butter cups

Prepare the brownie batter according to the directions on the package. Fill cups 2/3 full. Get out the candy and unwrap those sweet babies. Do not enlist the help of your children for this step unless you bought two bags. Gently press a peanut butter cup into each cup-o-batter and bake. It took about 25 minutes to bake my brownie cupcakes. There will be a small indent where the candy is when you take them out, but don't worry... it's just more room for frosting. Cool completely.

The Frosting:

1 sticks softened butter
1 C peanut butter
3 - 4 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Whip the butter. Add the peanut butter and whip some more. Add the vanilla, then start slowly adding powdered sugar. 3 cups will give you a fluffier frosting, 4 cups a thicker one. We went fluffy. If you need to thin it, add a little milk as you go.

The Decorating:
If you are piping the frosting, start by squeezing a dollop into the indent made by the candy in the cake, then pipe it on as you normally would. Line up a bunch of mini peanut butter cups and pipe a tiny dollop of frosting on top. If you want the candy crumb look, chop the regular sized candy cups into pieces.

Take this advice: Freeze the candy you want to chop before you try it or you will end up with a sticky blob of candy.

Sprinkle some candy on if you like, then press a teeny cupcake on top. Voila! Make sure you have a full gallon of milk when you make these, because you're going to want a glass. I will be making these again. And again. And again. You will too. :)

Nom nom nom

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Easy ice cream cone cupcakes - Kid friendly!

You know you want me. Funfetti Cake, vanilla buttercream, sprinkles.... Come on, take a bite.

This cupcake is nothing but fun. There is no fancy recipe. No complicated fillings. Your kids can make these.... mine did. Well, my kids and a couple kids I claim as mine.

This is seriously so easy there isn't even a recipe. The kids picked out confetti sprinkled cake mix, so we mixed it up according to the directions on the package. Set the cupcakes in muffin tins and scoop batter into them. Inside the cone there is a place where the bottom cylindrical part stops and the curvy top part begins. That's your batter line. Bake them about 20 minutes and let them cool. The cake puffs up all pretty and ice creamish. If a little drips over, don't worry about it. The kids thought it looked more ice creamish. Yes, ice creamish is a word.

We made vanilla buttercream from this recipe, but you could certainly use the stuff from the can. For that yummy birthday cake flavor, make your own. My pretty 14 year old niece made the buttercream this time, and it came out perfectly.

Vanilla Buttercream

1 C butter, softened
4 C powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Slowly mix in the powdered sugar, alternating with a Tbsp of milk if needed to get a smooth consistency. The frosting should hold a soft peak if you pull a spoon of it up out of the bowl.

To get the ice cream cone look, you really need to pipe the frosting. I had the girls use a pastry bag with a star tip, but you can cut the corner off a ziploc bag and squeeze it on that way. If you want swirly colors in the frosting like we did with the blue, just take a portion (about 1/3) of the frosting and mix in some food coloring. When you fill the pastry (or ziploc) bag, fill one side of it with the colored frosting, then fill the remainder with the white. It mixes up when you squeeze it out! Throw some sprinkles on top and you're done.

The kids had fun decorating these, and they had fun eating them. There is a time for fancy cupcakes, and there is a time to let the kids dig their hands in and do something fun with cooking.  The next cupcakes I make, I'll do grown-up style, but these... these were for the kids!