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For Jodi’s birthday celebration last weekend in Asheville, I knew I wanted to bake up a special treat. (After all, what’s a birthday without some cake?) And, admittedly, I’ll use just about any excuse to give a new-to-me recipe a try.

I knew I wanted something chocolate peanut butter themed (a.k.a. the most delicious flavor combination known to humanity), and when I stumbled upon this recipe by the most reliable Ina Garten, I knew I’d found the one. (After all, I’ve had great success with other Ina recipes I’ve tried through the years, including her Portobello Mushroon Lasagna, Chocolate Chunk Blondies, and Rustic Apple Tart.) I love how her recipes are sophisticated yet not overdone. They don’t take a ton of ingredients, and they’re not trying too hard. They’re just GOOD.

Luckily, this cupcake recipe kept Ina’s solid winning streak intact. The peanut butter icing is the standout ingredient. That stuff is amazingly delicious. Last weekend, Jordan said he loved “the peanut butter sauce,” saying that it was more sauce-like than icing-like, and that was a good thing. (Plus, don’t they look so pretty with their chopped peanut garnish?)

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Chocolate Cupcakes With Peanut Butter Icing

Ingredients (for chocolate cupcakes)

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons brewed coffee
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Ingredients (for peanut butter icing)

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Chopped salted peanuts, for garnish
Directions (for chocolate cupcakes)
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with paper liners. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated and brown sugars on high speed for about five minutes (until light and fluffy).
  • Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time.
  • Add the vanilla and mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream or Greek yogurt, and coffee.
  • In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
  • On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture.
  • Mix only until just blended, and fold the batter with a spatula to be sure it’s completely blended.
  • Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (careful to just fill about halfway, as the cake rises a good bit as it bakes).
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting them.
Directions (for peanut butter icing)
  • Place the powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is incorporated.
  • Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.
  • Once cupcakes have cooled completely, frost each cupcake with peanut butter icing (be generous — this icing is worth it!) and top with chopped peanuts.

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