Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Cupcakes
Classic chocolate cupcakes filled with sticky, salted caramel sauce and topped with fluffy peanut butter buttercream - what more could you want? How about an extra drizzle of caramel sauce and a shower of chopped candy bar? Okay, now we are talking!
I made these super decadent cupcakes for my husband's birthday a few weeks ago. He's all about sinfully sweet desserts - the richer and chocolaty, the better! If you can recall, past birthday treats have included an ombre Mocha Rum Cake, Boozy Birthday Cupcakes, and this over-the-top Peanut Butter Banana DONUT Cake!
These cupcakes really speak for themselves. If you like the idea of a candy bar transformed into a cupcakes, then make this recipe. My favorite part? The surprise caramel center!
I've taken my best Devil's Food Cupcake Recipe and dressed it up with a mound of frosting and flood of caramel. Different from my oil-based Classic Chocolate Cake Recipe, these cupcakes have a deep chocolate flavor while still being fluffy and tender. The recipe uses trio of bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened cocoa powder and instant espresso powder to really pump up that chocolaty flavor.
If you are a peanut butter lover, then I bet you are already drooling over the frosting. To lighten up the peanut butter buttercream, add a couple tablespoons of heavy cream and really let it whip. You should have leftover heavy cream from the caramel sauce. A creamy peanut butter works best here - not the natural kind where the oil separates. I'm tempted to add a pinch of salt to the peanut butter buttercream, but you will get plenty in the salted caramel - so you decide.
One batch of homemade salted caramel sauce is the perfect amount for the filling and extra drizzle. Use an apple core, a large piping tip, or a paring knife to core out a small portion of the center of the cupcakes (make sure they've been cooled). To fill the cupcakes without making a sticky mess, put the caramel sauce in a disposable piping bag and then snip the tip just before squeezing the caramel into the center of the cupcakes. A squeeze bottle would work too.
After posting a preview pic on Instagram, a few people thought I used crumbled bacon to sprinkle on the top. And while that sounds like a delicious salty/sweet situation, the bits on top are chopped-up candy bar. Either bacon or bar would work, as would chocolate sprinkles or chocolate shavings.
Oh, and lastly... Happy Birthday, Brett!
The Best Devil’s Food Cupcake Recipe
4 ounces dark chocolate (about 70%), chopped
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ¼ cup boing water
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant espresso
1 cup unsalted butter, very soft
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
3 large eggs
½ cup milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.
2. Combine the chopped chocolate, cocoa powder, and boiling water together in a large heat-safe mixing bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
3. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
4. Using an electric mixer, combine the super soft butter with the sugars. Mix for a couple minutes until thoroughly combined.
5. Add the vanilla, almond, and eggs – one at a time, making sure each in incorporated before adding in the next. Stop mixing and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
6. With the mixer on low, stream in the chocolate mixture until combined.
7. Slowly add in half of the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stream in the milk. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
8. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until combined.
9. Fill the cupcakes liners not more than 3/4 of the way full and bake until done, about 22 to 24 minutes.
10. Let cool on a cooling rack before frosting.
Whipped Peanut Butter Frosting
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
3 to 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream (or milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth.
2. Add in the peanut butter and mix until smooth.
3. With the mixer on low, gradually add in 3 cups of the confectioners' sugar, 2 tablespoons cream, and the vanilla.
4. Once incorporated, increase the speed to medium and mix until light and fluffy (about 3 to 4 minutes).
5. Add in more milk or sugar until desired consistency is reached. Frosting should be soft and fluffy - not stiff nor soupy.
Salted Caramel Sauce (for drizzling and filling)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup heavy cream,
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Place the sugar, syrup, and water in a small saucepan over high heat.
2. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil and cook without stirring until the mixture turns a medium amber color.
3. Once it reaches the correct color, remove from the heat.
4. Slowly (and carefully) whisk in the cream (the mixture will bubble up a bit, so use caution).
5. Whisk in the butter until melted.
6. Transfer the caramel to a heat-safe container and stir in the salt and vanilla.
7. Let cool until thickened.