Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Black Bottom Peanut Butter Cups

Black Bottom Peanut Butter Cups - made November 23, 2013 from Chocolatier magazine, Oct 2006 edition
I took today and tomorrow off to do my holiday baking for Thanksgiving weekend.  For our family Thanksgiving, I'm baking the desserts (more on that in a future post) plus I'm hosting a dessert gathering at my place the next day.
I know I'm not the only one busy with all the Thanksgiving preparations.  But in the midst of all the holiday flurry, I'm also mindful of those in the Philippines impacted by Typhoon Haiyan, a stark contrast of all that I have to be thankful for right now versus the numerous Filipinos displaced and struggling to survive the aftermath of the typhoon. I'm not the only one who feels this way; there has also been an outpouring of support in the Filipino community and beyond to help provide aid and relief to the victims of Haiyan.  Stateside, there are numerous fundraisers happening and I was privileged to contribute in some small way to one of them this past weekend through a long-time friend. I offered to bake for the kids and team members behind the fundraiser, about 24 in total so I had some serious baking to do.
Starting with this recipe for a peanut butter and chocolate combination.  It's essentially a dark chocolate cake, "filled" with a peanut butter cream cheese filling and topped with a Reese's peanut butter cup.  Since I was planning to do a variety of treats, I went small on these so people could sample without overcommitting to any one thing. I filled mini cupcake tins with the chocolate cake batter, added a dollop of the peanut butter cream cheese filling in the center (or sort of in the center) and once they were out of the oven, immediately topped them with mini Reese's peanut butter cups which turned out to be the perfect size for mini cupcakes.
These look rather homey (or homely?) as I wasn't super neat about filling the center in a perfect circle but I liked the homemade look of it all.  This was a nice pairing of peanut butter and chocolate.  The cake itself was soft in texture and dark chocolate in taste while the peanut butter cream cheese filling provided the richness. It made quite a bit of batter though.  I made 2 dozen mini cupcakes, 2 dozen brownie-square-sized ones and a dozen regular-size cupcakes. It's important to time these in the oven as the cake, being a more liquid batter than the filling, will bake first while the filling will seem underdone.  That's okay because you don't want to overbake the cake to dryness.  It's better for the cake to be perfectly done and the filling to be slightly underdone. 

Peanut butter-cream cheese filling
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup creamy peanut butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
¾ cup (4 ½ ounces) Nestle swirled milk chocolate and peanut butter morsels, Reese’s pieces or peanut butter chips

Chocolate cupcake batter
3 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened non-alkalized cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
2 cups lukewarm water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Garnish (optional)
About 36 small (1” diameter) Reese’s or other peanut butter cup candies, cut in half

1.     Make peanut butter-cream cheese filling: Place cream cheese and peanut butter in bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy.  Gradually add sugar, beating another 1-2 minutes, or until light and fluffy.  Mix in flour until just incorporated.  Add egg, vanilla extract, and salt.  Beat until egg is uniformly incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Set aside.
2.     Prepare chocolate cupcake batter: Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350˚F.  Line twenty-four 2 ½” diameter muffin cups with paper cupcake liners.  Sift flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.  Stir in brown sugar, breaking it apart with fork or whisk to evenly distribute it.  Make well in center of dry ingredients and add lukewarm water, oil, vinegar and vanilla extract.  Stir gently until batter is creamy and smooth, pressing out any lumps with fork or back of spatula.
3.     Spoon or pour about 3 tablespoons batter into each lined muffin cup to fill it no more than two-thirds full.  Then top each cupcake with 1 generous tablespoon peanut butter filling.  Bake about 25-27 minutes or until toothpick inserted in cake portion comes out clean.  Allow cupcakes to cool about 15 minutes in pan.  (Note: the cream cheese centers will sink slightly as cupcakes cool.  But, no worries; these little wells are perfect nesting spots for Reese’s cups that will go on top.)  Carefully remove cupcakes from pans and transfer to racks to cool completely.  While cupcakes are still slightly warm, but not hot, place 2-3 peanut butter cup halves on top of each for garnish.  The residual heat from cupcakes should melt peanut butter cups even so slightly, causing them to adhere to cupcake tops.

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