These little gems do require a bit more time to prepare, but the final result is worth it. Making the cupcakes can be done a few hours ahead, then the filling and icing can be finished in about an hour.
The tops of the cupcakes were finished with a rich chocolate ganache icing, which is a combination of semi-sweet chocolate chips and cream. This was my first experience making this icing and it was a little tricky to work with, but I loved the way the tops were nice and shiny after they hardened. But this step does require patience! The trick here was to allow the icing to cool completely before adding the second layer of icing. To help the hardening process along, I chilled the cupcakes for just a few minutes after the first layer of icing, then again after the second layer, and it worked out great.
You might notice the cupcake in the top picture is not quite as shiny as the others. Ah, yes, patience! Just in case you panic, like I did, and you're afraid the icing is not going to harden, adding a little sifted powdered sugar to the icing works well, also. This will help the icing harden quicker, but the icing is a bit less shiny. Be patient with the icing and it will work, I promise! These cupcakes are incredibly good and well worth the extra time involved. Enjoy and Happy New Year!!
3/4 cup + 2 Tb Cocoa Powder
1/2 cup Boiling Water
1 cup Buttermilk
1-3/4 cups Flour
1-1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1-1/2 sticks Unsalted Butter, softened
1-1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 cup Creamy Natural Peanut Butter
3 TB Unsalted Butter
2/3 cup Confectioners Sugar
1 cup Heavy Cream
8 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven to 350. Line 24 muffin cups with foil or paper liners.
In a medium heatproof bowl combine the cocoa powder with boiling water and whisk until a smooth paste forms. Whisk in the buttermilk, stirring until combined. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, use a mixer to combine the the 1-1/2 stick of butter with the granulated sugar, blending until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla, then beat in the dry ingredients and the cocoa mixture, alternating the flour mixture with the cocoa mixture.
Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 22 - 24 minutes or until the cupcakes are springy when touched on top. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
In a medium bowl, beat the peanut butter with the 3 tablespoons of butter. Sift the confectioners sugar into the mixture and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Spoon all but 3 tablespoons of the peanut butter mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch star tip. Push the tip of the pastry bag into the top center of a cupcake, and gently squeeze the peanut butter filling into the cupcake. You will feel the cupcake expand just a bit, as you do this. Repeat until all of the cupcakes are filled.
In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer, then remove the pan from the heat. Add the chocolate chips to the cream and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk the chocolate into the cream until smooth. Let the icing stand for 15 minutes so it will cool slightly.
Dip the top of each cupcake into the icing, letting the excess drip back into the pan. Transfer the cupcakes to a rack and chill for about 10 minutes or until the icing has hardened. Dip the tops of the cupcakes into the icing a second time, then place the cupcakes on racks and chill until the icing has set.
Spoon the remaining peanut butter filling into the pastry bag and pipe a small rose in the center of each cupcake.