Bite-sized peanut butter-rich cupcakes topped with a smooth milk-chocolate buttercream frosting.
If you follow me on Instagram (you should!) you know that Zach and I procured a live Christmas tree for our house this weekend.
And, as excited as I was to get it, I now understand completely why there are people out there who opt for artificial trees instead of live ones.
There are pine needles. Everywhere. Everywhere.
Even though our tree looks pretty and green on the outside, I’m convinced it’s absolutely rotten on the inside. Since we’ve moved it into the house, I’ve already swept up approximately ten pounds of pine needles. It doesn’t help that my dog thinks the stand is a pine-fresh personal water bowl and keeps trying to drink from it, knocking an additional thousand needles to the ground each time.
I’m terrified to string up the lights around it because if you just look at it too hard, the needles start flurrying to the floor, I can’t imagine what will happen when I try to touch it.
So for now, the tree stays bare (though I’m sure the dead-needles situation is only going to get worse the longer I wait), and I’ve been procrastinating in the best way I know how: with cupcakes.
And did I ever procrastinate.
Four batches of these cupcakes were cataloged as failures–edible and sweet, but too dense, too bland, and just generally not just right–until I finally came to the winning combination of ingredients.
The peanut butter flavor is striking and obvious but the cupcakes are still fluffy and moist, buttery and tender bites. With the silky-smooth topping of milk chocolate buttercream, the flavor echoes that of a Reese’s cup (but… better).
The cupcakes are sweet, made sweeter by the milk chocolate frosting on top, but the subtle saltiness of the peanut butter and the light tang of the buttermilk keep them from being cloying. The flavor is light enough that
I managed to one could potentially eat half a batch on their own.
I don’t personally like milk myself, but if I did I suspect that these cupcakes are the sort of treat that would do well accompanied by an ice-cold glass of it.
Sweet, fluffy, and peanut butter-y, they are the perfect way to procrastinate from inadvertently burying yourself in pine needles.
Enjoy! Now I have a tree to tend to.
Mini Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 stick butter softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar tightly packed
- 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- cup ½ buttermilk*
- 1 cup milk chocolate chips
- 1 cup salted butter softened to room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 Tbsp heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350F and line mini cupcake cups with mini cupcake liners. Set aside.
In medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
In KitchenAid or with electric hand mixer, cream together butter, sugars and peanut butter.
Beat in eggs, one at a time and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure ingredients are all incorporated.
Stir in vanilla extract.
Add flour mixture and milk, alternating (add approximately ¼ of the flour mixture then approximately ¼ of the buttermilk, stirring until just combined after each addition. Once the last of the flour/buttermilk has been added, scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl with a spatula and stir again until ingredients are completely combined.
Divide batter into prepared mini-cupcake tin, filling each liner ¾ full (I use a 1½" cookie dough scoop for this, it makes the process very clean and easy).
Bake on 350F for 14 minutes (a toothpick inserted in center of cupcake should come out mostly clean or with dry crumbs).
Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips at 15 second intervals, stirring between intervals, until chips are completely melted. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
In KitchenAid (or with electric hand mixer) cream butter.
Add sugar gradually until well-combined (scrape down bottom and sides of bowl as needed).
Stir the milk chocolate (it should be melted but should not be too hot) and add it to your butter/sugar mixture.
Beat on medium-speed until well-combined.
Stir in vanilla extract.
Add heavy cream, increase speed to medium-high and beat until well combined (about one minute).
Pipe or spread on to completely cooled cupcakes.
*A good substitute for buttermilk (one that I use often) would be ½ cup regular full-fat milk with ½ Tbsp (1½ tsp) vinegar or lemon juice stirred in and allowed to sit for 5 minutes before using
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