Often a possible recipe will rattle around in my brain for a few weeks. This one has been created over and over again in my head for about a month or so. Sadly, it had to wait until after I got my tonsils out and after I could eat something like pretzels once again. Well, I've got the green light now so that means go a create whatever evil creation in the kitchen you can come up with.
These really should be named "Chubby Hubby" cupcakes, but I wasn't sure everyone across this lovely world of ours had access to the wonderful Vermont-made Ben & Jerry's flavor of ice cream, justly named "Chubby Hubby" It's ice cream, mixed with fudge, peanut butter and littered with chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels. The snack bar in my freshman dorm at Syracuse University sold it, and I think it was responsible for most of that freshman 15 (or was that the copious amounts of beer I drank, who can tell, right?).
These are cupcakes not to be messed with, they're substantial The filling is what you'd find in a peanut butter ball or buckeye, but with added chocolate covered pretzel chunks. No they're not local (although I do use as making regional baking ingredients as possible) and they're certainly not on the "light" side. However, when a massive storm is bearing upon New England and a blizzard is attacking the Midwest, these are what the doctor ordered, I promise.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cupcakes
Makes: 18 cupcakes
Sources: base cake recipe from David Lebovitz, frosting is Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting
9 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising) (195 grams, I weigh flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup strong coffee (or water, but I recommend the coffee), cooled
1/2 cup whole or low-fat milk (I used low fat)
1 cup peanut butter (I recommend creamy, but chunky might be fun)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners (powdered/icing) sugar
2 large chocolate covered pretzels, crushed, enough for a 1/2 cup of crushed pretzel
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
package of mini chocolate covered pretzels
2-4 large chocolate covered pretzels, crushed, to sprinkle over frosting
Preheat that oven to 350 degrees, set the rack to the center, and get crackin'. I suggest cleaning as you go on this one, it makes a mess.
For the cupcakes themselves, take two cupcake/muffin pans and butter top of each pan and fill the little holes with your favorite cupcake liner, and set them aside. (You'll have one full pan, one half full)
Now, sift together the cocoa powder, cake flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl (I just recently bought an actual flour sifter, do it, my life has been changed). In the bowl of a standing mixer, or by hand, beat together the butter and sugar about a minute until it becomes smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
In a glass measuring cup or bowl, mix together the coffee and the milk. Stir half the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, add the coffee/milk mixture and then stir in the other half of the dry ingredients.
Now take that batter, and pour it into your little cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 of the way full. Pop them in the oven and bake until a toothpick comes out of the center cleanly, about 19-21 minutes.
Allow the cupcakes to cool in their pan 5 minutes, and then let them cool completely on a wire baking rack.
Now, let's move onto the filling. First, take In a microwavable bowl, or in a saucepan on the stove top, melt peanut butter, unsalted butter and salt until soft, stirring the entire way. Take off the heat, and add in your confectioner's sugar and vanilla extract. Now, while the mixture is still a little warm, add your crushed chocolate covered pretzels. The chocolate will melt a bit into the mixture, which turns out amazing.
Now head back over to your cooled cupcakes. Using a sharp edged spoon or melon baller, scoop out the center of each cupcake to make room for the filling. Set aside the little top you've cut out, we'll be putting that back on. I usually fill cupcakes with a frosting tip, but the pretzels will clog it up in this case. Now, put a spoonful of filling into each little cupcake, and put the top back on. If it leaks out a little, no worries, we're going to put frosting on top of it anyway.
Speaking of the frosting - melt your butter, stir in your cocoa, and alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beat with an electric mixer until you have spreading consistency. Stir in your vanilla. You get about 2 cups of frosting with this recipe.
Now you can just slather that stuff on the top of the cupcakes, or you can pipe them, I used a Wilton 22m star tip in this case. Now, take some more chocolate covered pretzels, crush them and sprinkle them over the top and add a cute little mini-pretzel to the tippity top and dig in!