These super soft, moist and decadent Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting are decadent, smooth and just plain amazing!
So, for Valentine’s Day this year, I wanted to make my husband a special treat. He is absolutely crazy about peanut butter, so I thought I’d try to make my favorite decadent chocolate cupcakes and top them with this creamy peanut butter buttercream frosting.
You know, I’m all the time telling my husband, “I used to make [fill in the blank] all the time.” To which he would reply, “Well, I see where I rank.” When the kids were little, I seemed to do a lot more baking than what I do now that they’re grown. Besides, for the most part, there’s just my husband and I home. So, if I bake 24 cupcakes, who’s going to eat them? Oh, wait…. he will!
Are you a big peanut butter fan? My husband sure is! I like peanut butter in small doses. You know, like those little mini Reese Cups. I think they have the perfect ratio of peanut butter to chocolate. But, if you like peanut butter, you’ll love this peanut butter infused buttercream frosting.
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
First, let’s talk about the cupcakes.
They’re made with both melted bittersweet chocolate and dark chocolate cocoa powder. The chocolates blend together for a decadent treat. But, these cupcakes are super moist and soft and just kind of melt in your mouth.
And then there’s the chocolate decadence. Obviously the dark cocoa powder makes a difference, but what really enhances the chocolate flavor and takes it up a notch is the espresso. Don’t worry, the cupcakes don’t taste like espresso. The espresso is simply used to enhance or magnify the flavor of the chocolates.
Peanut Butter Frosting
I chose to use a butter cream type frosting for the peanut butter frosting on these dark chocolate cupcakes. Like I said, I’m not a big peanut butter fan, but I gotta admit, this frosting tasted pretty amazing.
And, please don’t judge my frosting and all it’s little air bubbles. If I had taken the time to beat my frosting properly, that wouldn’t have happened. 🙂 A lesson in what will happen if you don’t follow my tips below, I suppose!
I mean, it’s hard to go wrong with a buttercream base, right?
But, not all buttercream frostings are created equal. There are really a few tips I’d like to share with you that will help you to achieve the best buttercream frosting ever! I would even dare to say these tips will help you to create the best peanut butter frosting ever, too!
Tips for the BEST Buttercream Frosting Ever!
- Use soft butter. Not melted butter. Not cold butter. And certainly not frozen butter. Set your butter out at least 3-4 hours beforehand for best results. Do not use melted butter. Did I say that already? Using soft butter is the MOST IMPORTANT part of making the best buttercream frosting!
- Use a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or hand mixer and beat the butter for a full 8-10 minutes. By doing so, you’re adding lots of air and making the butter really fluffy.
- Sift your sugar. Remember, you’re trying to create light, fluffy and creamy frosting. For the best results, you’ll want to sift your confectioner’s sugar. This helps to not only remove any lumps, but to also add air to the sugar – an important step in producing fluffy frosting. Air is your friend.
- Add sugar by the spoonful. Don’t just dump your powdered sugar into the butter and mix. You want to add the sugar a tablespoon at a time and fully incorporate it into the butter before adding more sugar.
- Add vanilla and milk last. Once you have the sugar fully incorporated into the butter, add the vanilla and milk and mix on high speed for just a couple of minutes. Again, you want to fully incorporate the vanilla and milk into the frosting. The vanilla, obviously, adds flavor while the milk helps to lighten the frosting. If your frosting is too thick, simply add more milk, one tablespoon at a time. Being sure to beat on high after the addition of each spoonful of milk.
What if my frosting is too thin?
Thin frosting can be caused from a number of factors. One of the major factors that I think may be often overlooked is room temperature. With that in mind, simply place the bowl of frosting in the refrigerator to help bring down the temperature (and thicken the frosting).
If that doesn’t help or help enough, then you can try incorporating more powdered sugar, maybe 2-3 tablespoons at a time. Just make sure you mix well after each addition.
What if my frosting is too thick?
I have found that thick frosting can be fixed rather quickly simply by adding maybe 1 additional tablespoon of milk at a time. I think you’ll be surprised to find out how little extra liquid it takes to thin your frosting. So, be sure to only add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time and mix thoroughly.
Equipment Used in this Recipe
Now that I’ve shared all my best tips with you, let’s take a look at the other supplies you’ll need to have on hand before you get started baking these melt-in-your-mouth decadent dark chocolate cupcakes. Where applicable, I’ve provided links to the exact product I use.
- Medium heat-proof bowl
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Liquid measuring cup
- Silicone spatula
- Muffin pans
- Cupcake liners
- Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer
- Small mixing bowl
- Cutting board
- Wire cooling rack
- Pot holders
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
We’ll start this recipe by preparing the cupcakes as follows:
Step 1 – Preheat Oven
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a regular 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. (You can also use foil or parchment liners.)
Step 2 – Melt the Chocolate
In a medium heatproof bowl add the chocolate, cocoa powder, and espresso. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk mixture gently until smooth then set aside to cool.
Step 3 – Whisk Dry Ingredients
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
Step 4 – Whisk Wet Ingredients
Whisk sour cream, oil, eggs, egg yolk, vinegar, and vanilla into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until smooth, being careful not to over mix.
Step 5 – Fill Muffin Cups & Bake
Divide the batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake until cupcakes are set and firm to the touch or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Let cupcakes cool in muffin pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove the cupcakes and set on wire rack to cool to room temperature before icing. about 30-60 minutes.
Peanut Butter Frosting
Remember the key to really fluffy, smooth and amazing buttercream frosting is to beat or whip the butter really well. The same holds true for this peanut butter frosting. Here’s how:
Step 1 – Beat the Butter
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter for 8-10 minutes on medium-high speed. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can simply use a large bowl and your hand held mixer.
Step 2 – Add the Peanut Butter
Add the peanut butter to the butter and beat until well combined.
Step 3 – Add Dry Ingredients
Add the powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on medium-low to fully incorporate after each addition.
Step 4 – Add Wet Ingredients & Salt
Add vanilla, salt and heavy cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.
Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, you’re ready to frost your cupcakes. You can spread the frosting using a knife, spoon or icing bags & tips. I simply spooned my frosting into a zipper bag, snipped one corner and piped onto the top of my cupcakes.
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
- 1/3 cup Hershey’s dark cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup espresso hot
- 3/4 cup bread flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- In a medium heatproof bowl add the chocolate, cocoa powder, and espresso. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk mixture gently until smooth then set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a regular 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. (You can also use foil or parchment liners.)
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda; set aside.
- Whisk the oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla extract into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Whisk in the flour mixture until smooth, being careful not to over mix.
- Divide the batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake until cupcakes are set and firm to the touch or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Let cupcakes cool in muffin pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove the cupcakes and set on wire rack to cool to room temperature before icing. about 30-60 minutes.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter for 8-10 minutes on medium-high speed.
- Add the peanut butter and beat until well combined.
- Add the powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on medium-low to fully incorporate after each addition.
- Add vanilla, salt and heavy cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 453Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 52mgSodium: 309mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 3gSugar: 26gProtein: 8g
These cupcakes really are as decadent, soft, fluffy and moist as I claim them to be. And, of course, if you’re not a big peanut butter fan, you can use regular buttercream frosting, cream cheese frosting or your favorite frosting.
More Dessert Recipes
If desserts are your thing, you might also like these other dessert recipes that are my family’s favorites:
If you give this recipe a try, I’d love to hear about it! Just leave me a comment below or share on social media and tag me #thebirchcottage.
Til next time…