Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes (with ad-libbed peanut butter frosting)

I was itching to make cupcakes, and decided to make chocolate. As soon as I decided that, I knew I wanted peanut butter frosting. I think it's a perfect combination. I'm not huge fan of super-sweet frosting, and peanut butter helps to counter the sweetness. The frosting I made was still sweet, but not super-sweet.

For the recipe, I grabbed a cookbook that had arrived here recently, The Betty Crocker Cookbook Special Edition. This one is special because it's part of the Boxtops for Education program. More on that in a moment.

I really think that every home cookbook collection ought to have at least one basic cookbook where the cook can find a reliable version of basic dishes like pancakes and shortbread cookies and cakes and pie crust. And, of course, how to cook basic meats and vegetables.

The Better Crocker books fit that niche perfect. But unlike the version of the book my mother had on her shelf, the modern version has what might have been too exotic back in the old days like home made gnocchi, porketta, and Thai-style chicken.

But really, I turn to books like this for those basics. In this case, I turned to a chocolate cake recipe and the cupcake variation.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour or 2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cups unsweetened baking cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups water
3/4 cups butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees and line 24 cupcake cups with papers.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix on low speed until combined, scraping the bowl as needed, then raise the speed to high and beat for 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter to fill the 24 molds/

Bake at 350 degrees until the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean - 20 to 25 minutes.

Transfer the baked cupcakes to a rack and let cool completely before frosting.

Make-it-your-way Peanut Butter Frosting

I started with a published peanut butter frosting recipe, but it was way too sweet and didn't have enough peanut butter flavor. So I backed up and started again.

Since I was adding to taste, there's no real recipe, but this'll let you make peanut butter frosting to suit your taste.

Powdered sugar
Creamy Peanut Butter
Pinch of salt
Milk, as needed

Start with about 3 cups of powdered sugar - 12 ounces by weight - in a medium bowl. Add 1/3 cup peanut butter, a pinch of salt, and about 1/4 cup milk. Beat with an electric mixer until it's smooth.

Give it a taste. For me, it was too sweet and not peanutty enough. Add more peanut butter, as needed, to get the peanut flavor you need, beating well. I added quite a bit - another 1/3 cup to start, and then more.

As you add more peanut butter, the frosting will get thicker, so once you have the peanut flavor, beat
in enough milk to get to a nice spreadable consistency. Pipe or spread the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.

About the book:

Betty Crocker has joined forces with one of the largest school fundraising programs in the nation: Box Tops for Education.

The Betty Crocker Cookbook Special Edition contains new recipes using “Box Tops” products as well as a certificate for 10 bonus Box Tops that readers can submit to schools.

These “Box Tops” are redeemed by schools for cash for whatever they need.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was under no obligation to write about it.