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PPQ: Peanut Butter Cupcakes

by Shawnda on April 15, 2012

in Cakes, Cupcakes & Brownies,Chocolate,Project Pastry Queen

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Jen of selected this week’s Project Pastry Queen Challenge was selected by Jen of Sweet Morris: Peanut Butter Cups with Peanut-Penuche Icing.

The cake portion of the challenge is one of the better peanut butter cakes I’ve baked. The crumb is tender, without being too dense and there’s plenty of peanut butter flavor. Other peanut butter cakes I’ve tried have either been too heavy or lacking in flavor.

I was a little surprised the cake turned out so well because it calls for dark brown sugar – I was certain it was going to be heavy.

I made a few changes to the recipe:
– I only used a scant 1 cup dark brown sugar (that’s all I had on-hand; it has been my experience that most PPQ recipes do just fine with reduced sugar anyway)
– The mixing directions in the original recipe are a little less standard than most cake recipes, so I rearranged the mixing method to cream the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and salt for several minutes while gathering the rest of the ingredients. I then added the remainder of ingredients based on normal mixing methods.
– Because I only had enough brown sugar for the cake, I opted to use a different frosting recipe (The World’s Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting is below; it absolutely lives up to its name).
– Only fill the muffin cups ~2/3 full – otherwise you’ll get spill-over.
– I only added chocolate squares to half of the cupcakes because I knew that once the cupcakes completely cooled, the chocolate would return to it’s original hard state. Personally, I don’t find biting into something hard in the center of a cupcake very enjoyable – this would be better if filled with either a truffle (softer) or additional frosting using the cone method.

The peanut butter cake recipe is definitely a keeper! Jen will be posting the full cake & original frosting recipes on her blog. You can check out how the other PPQ members fare this week here.

The chocolate buttercream frosting is currently my very favorite chocolate frosting. It calls for the unusual addition of Ovaltine (yep, that Ovaltine) for more concentrated chocolate flavor. It’s light, fluffy, and not at all overly sweet.

The World's Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

A rich, smooth, and fluffy chocolate frosting that lives up to it's name: The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting


  • 12 Tbsp butter, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used half Special Dark blend)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Scant 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup Rich Chocolate Ovaltine powder


  1. On medium high, cream the butter, cocoa, and salt for ~3 minutes.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla.
  3. Mix on low just until incorporated and then beat on medium-high for ~2 minutes, until smooth.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the cream and ovaltine.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and stream in the mixture with the mixer running on low.
  6. After most of the liquid has mixed in, slowly increase the speed of the mixer to medium high and beat for ~2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  7. If your frosting looks grainy, it's either a little too warm in your kitchen or it wasn't mixed on a high enough speed, for long enough. I had the first problem so I put the bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes and then remixed it until smooth.
  8. Beat in additional powdered sugar, if desired.
  9. Pipe or spread onto your cakes, as desired.
  10. Additional frosting will keep well-covered for ~1 week in the fridge.


Yields: Enough frosting for 1 8- or 9-inch cake or 24 cupcakes (18 liberally frosted cupcakes)

Adapted from Joy the Baker Cookbook

Estimated time: 15 minutes



Guanabana Margaritas

It’s my week to host Project Pastry Queen! A turn that happens to coincide with the end of Lent so you know what that means.


40+ days without a margarita. There is much ground to be made up!

Guanabana Margaritas

Have you ever had guanabana? I hadn’t even heard of it before The Pastry Queen cookbook. The flavor of guanabana is really difficult to pin down. It tastes and smells a lot like a fruit smoothie – a blend of several fruits. Between the two of us, we picked out pineapple, orange, guava, and banana. And that blend makes it ideal for use in a cocktail!

Guanabana is sold in two ways in my store: as frozen pulp in the International freezer case and as canned “nectar” on the Mexican aisle (both are Goya brand). The English side of the can of nectar reads “Soursop,” if that helps you locate it easier. Goya products are widely available here in southeast Texas but I’m guessing that might not be the case everywhere. The nectar (based on my experience with its guava counterpart) seems to basically be a fruit juice reduction, sweetened, and then artificially thickened a bit.

I made a few changes to the recipe, based on personal preference:
– I omitted the lemon juice (that’s weird, right?) and replaced it and the lime juice with my “homemade margarita lime mix” (equal parts water and lime, sweetened with 5 drops of liquid stevia per serving)
– I omitted the powdered sugar (that’s weird, too, right?)
– I doubled the Guanabana Nectar

They go down very, very easy.

You have been warned.

Guanabana Margaritas

Margaritas made with fresh lime juice and guanabana (soursop) nectar. Look for the canned nectar in the International Foods or Mexican Foods aisle.


  • 1/2 cup lime juice (4-5 limes)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup guanabana nectar
  • 3/4 cup tequila
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur
  • Your favorite sweetener, to taste
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Salt, optional


  1. Stir together the lime juice, water, guanabana nectar, tequila, and orange liqueur.
  2. Add the sweetener of your choice, to taste (I typically add ~5 drops of liquid stevia per serving).
  3. Run the lime wedges around the rims of 4 glasses and dip in salt.
  4. Fill with ice and divide the margaritas between the glasses.


Yields: 4 servings

Adapted from The Pastry Queen

Estimated time: 10 minutes



Jubilation Granola

This week’s Project Pastry Queen challenge was selected by Amanda of Homekeeping Adventures: Jubilation Granola Chews. Full of nuts, oatmeal, and coconut, they’re described as a softer, chewier granola bar.

The granola was definitely soft and chewy but mine didn’t hold together as bars.

2 out of 3 ain’t bad, I guess!

I made half the recipe in an 8×8 pan, replacing the coconut with more oatmeal and using a mixture of pecans, almonds, and pistachios. Alone, the granola is pretty sweet but serving it on top of a bowl of fat-free Greek yogurt really balanced the flavors and cut the sweetness. So that’s how I’ll be eating the rest of it :)