Saturday, June 23, 2007

Not So Dainty Cupcakes

Part of being a Dainty Deb is not simply the "dainty" part -- there is also a good deal of "Deb" involved. To me, being on top of one's life includes being kind to one's family. Particularly Debs are concerned with the well-being of their significant other. My husband's well-being, tragically for my daintiness, often requires Peanut Butter confections.

I'm leaving my poor husband to fend for himself for a week while I visit my brother in Manhattan. I thought it only a measure of good manners that I make him something delicious before I go... They're about 500 calories apiece, but they're pretty astonishingly delicious. They're like a cupcake version of a peanut butter cup.

Decidedly UnDainty Deliciousness (Peanut Butter Cupcakes)

Preheat your oven to 350 and line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.

You'll need:

1 1/4 C. flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 C. gently packed light brown sugar
6 T. butter, softened
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 C. smooth peanut butter
2 lg. eggs, room temp.
1/2 C. milk (whole or soy is best), room temp.
12 oz. peanut butter morsels, divided in half
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/3 C. heavy cream
Mini-Reece's peanut butter cups, cut into fourths, for garnish

In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter and vanilla together on medium speed, beating until blended. Add in peanuty butter and beat until blended and fluffy. Add each egg individually, beating well after each addition. Add milk, beat well. Finally, stir in 6 oz. of those peanut butter morsels gently.

Fill each cup evenly, and bake 25 -- 30 min. until golden on top and when a toothpick comes out clean. Let them cool completely -- meanwhile, you can make your own icing (see below) or cheat a little (Debs know how to cheat, gracefully, with feminine allure and without getting caught) and use store-bought. Then top with the peanut butter cup fourths.

Easy-Peasy Chocolate/Peanut Butter Frosting

*Note: This makes about double what you really need to top the cuppers with, so either halve it or have a plastic container on hand to save the remaining amount in for later. It refrigerates beautifully for up to 3 months.

Melt the remaining peanut butter morsels, the chocolate chips and the heavy cream over low in a saucepan. Stir occasionally (usually takes me about 10 min) until totally 100 % smooth. Pop in the fridge for about an hour. You want it to be cool all through, though not hardened. The best way to test this is with a clean finger stirring -- although, then you're left with a deliciously coated finger... Anyway. Once it's done, about an hour in the fridge, then you want to beat it on medium to high speed for about 3 -- 5 minutes until creamy and fluffy.

As a variation, if you'd like to make these as breakfasty muffins, you can turn them into PB&J treats: Just as you're ladling the first dollop of batter into the paper muffin cup, top each of those dollops with a tablespoon full of your favorite jelly (I like scuppernong). Then cover entirely with another dollop of the batter before baking. You don't have to ice them when they're filled with jelly and they make very enviable breakfast or lunchtime treats at any office.

Dutiful Deb Ditties:

"Ain't No Other Man" by Christina Aguilera (See, you married him for a reason. Hopefully he didn't marry you sheerly for your cupcakes, but hey. They never hurt.)

"Me and Mr. Jones" by Amy Winehouse

"If You Wanna Be Happy" by Jimmy Soul (I like the part where he defends his wife, saying "she sure can cook, baby!")

"The Man I Love" by Etta James (The man I love loves peanut butter and has the rapid metabolism of a flying squirrel. sigh.)

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