Saturday, January 12, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes and Some Exciting News!

I have some news today. In creating resolutions and fresh starts, I took time to go over my blog and what I've achieved with it. As fun as it is to post things that are going on in my kitchen, it is still quite random, the things I decide to bake. I was thinking about how much I've learned over the years and how I've had to visit many different sites to learn baking techniques and tips as well as gather reliable recipes and techniques. 
So this year, in hopes of creating a page solely committed to teaching the art of baking at home, I've created a website, Leelabean Bakes! ( This website's blog will offer up an outline of basic baking methods, techniques, tips, tricks, and recipes. Think of it as a how-to guide, Baking 101. I hope to provide readers with knowledge of various desserts as well as the successful techniques to create them in their own homes. Please come and join me and each week, we'll go over a different recipe. By the end of the year, you should have a substantial collection of reliable, delicious recipes under your belt as well as a comprehensive website that can help you find any information you need pertaining to baking! Join me next week in my kitchen as I bake a simple delicious yellow cake that is fit for any occasion!
Leelabean Cakes will continue to be posting as it has always been, so subscribe to both sites to keep up on it all!

Now, onto my post - yesterday, I made some cupcakes. I was in the mood for chocolate, so I used one of my favorite recipes and topped it with a luscious peanut butter Swiss meringue buttercream, mmm dreamy creamy!

 But that's not all! Before I topped my cupcakes with the buttercream, I filled them with thick, rich caramel. If you love peanut butter and caramel, this cupcake is for you!

Below, you'll find the recipe. The caramel can be a store-bought one for ease of preparation. The Swiss Meringue Buttercream will work if you follow the recipe exactly as stated. Good luck and enjoy!

Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

By: Leelabean

Yield: 2 dozen cupcakes

Chocolate Cake:
 2 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 c cocoa powder
3/4 c granulated sugar
3/4 c light brown sugar
2 t baking soda
1/4 t cinnamon (optional)
1/2 t salt
1 1/4 c buttermilk
1/2 c + 2T canola oil
2 lg eggs, RT
1 T vanilla
1 t chocolate extract (optional)
1 c prepared strong coffee (made by mixing 2 t instant coffee + 1 c warm water)

Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
7 egg whites or 250g (I use egg whites that come in a carton, so it's easy to measure out by weight)
400g granulated white sugar
5 sticks butter, cut into pieces, cool room temperature
1 T vanilla
1/8 t salt
3/4 c smooth peanut butter

Caramel sauce, prepared
honey roasted peanuts, crushed

Making the cupcakes:
Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Preheat your oven to 350*F.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine all the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, sugars, baking soda, cinnamon (if using), and salt. Using a flat beater, combine the ingredients for a few seconds. Add the oil followed by the buttermilk and beat on medium to medium high for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. The mixture will become a little lighter and airier as air becomes incorporated it.
In a separate container, combine the eggs, vanilla, and prepared coffee. Whisk a bit to blend. Then pour the egg/coffee mixture into the bowl of the stand mixture and mix the batter until all of the ingredients are well incorporated and uniform in consistency. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl while doing this. The consistency of the batter will be very thin - kind of like a very thick buttermilk. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin liners about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes up clean.
Let these cool on a wire rack until you are ready to fill them.

Making the buttercream:
In a clean (no grease, whatsoever) bowl of your stand mixer, place the egg whites and sugar. Place it over a bain-marie on your stove and let the water come to a simmer, gently whisking the egg-sugar mixture. Bain-marie is just a French term meaning to heat something up using indirect heat from boiling water. When the egg mixture reaches 140*F, take it off the bain-marie and attache it to your stand mixer. Beat the whites with the whip attachment until tripled in volume, resembling a white fluffy meringue cloud. Cool the meringue as it is whipping. I like to place bags of frozen vegetables around the base of my mixer to aid in the cooling process.
Once the meringue is completely cooled to room temperature, switch to the paddle attachment and add your butter piece by piece until all of it is added. It may look soupy or curdled along the way but ultimately it will come together. Add the vanilla and salt and peanut butter and mix until incorporated. Place the stand mixer bowl holding your frosting in your fridge if you are planning on frosting the cupcakes within the hour. If you plan on frosting much later, keep your frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When you are ready to use it, place the contents into the bowl of your stand mixer and beat it all together again until the it is the consistency of buttercream.

Cupcake assembly:
Using an small spoon, dig out a hole into each cupcake. This is where the caramel will sit. Eat the scraps. You deserve it. :-) Then, using a teaspoon, slowly spoon the caramel into each cupcake until it is flush with the top of the cupcakes. Place your frosting in a bag with a decorative tip and pipe a swirl atop each cupcake. Top the cupcakes with the crushed honey roasted peanuts. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk!

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