Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dead Man's Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Devil's Food & Dead Man's Peanut Butter Mousse
Slathered in chocolate fudge.
Oh yea. 

We're revisiting my Dead Man's Peanut Butter Pie recipe today, with a few fun tweaks.

Today I found myself wrestling with a familiar peanut butter and chocolate craving.  In such situations I have the following options:

  1. Go to the store and buy all the available peanut butter cups. Of course, this isn't much of an option since getting out of the house with two small children and going anywhere requires nearly as much planning and preparation as a mission to Mars.
  2. Eat peanut butter from jar with a spoon, dipping it into that 20lb bag of chocolate chips I have. Also not a great option, since with this method of consumption, any semblance of portion control vanishes and I just bought skinny jeans.
  3. Bake something with peanut butter and chocolate for the blog, while wearing said skinny jeans and pretend that they will encourage restraint while tasting and testing.

I think we all know how this worked out.

So today we're working with the base of my Dead Man's Peanut Butter Pie, which is actually a relative of my scrumptious cream cheese frosting. We're just adding peanut butter to the cream cheese, whip cream and sugar mixture, so naturally it doubles as a topping for cupcakes too. Though, I like to think of this rich and creamy concoction as more of a peanut butter mousse than a sugary-sweet frosting.

We're also taking a page from hi-hat cupcakes and dipping the peanut butter death into a fudge-y chocolate coating. Though it might seem like you're asking for trouble, inverting a cupcake into molten chocolate, the process actually works like a charm.  If I can do this with a toddler clinging to one leg and a squirming six-month-old hitched under one arm without any frosting falling off, you can too.

So let's get down to it, starting with the cake.

I decided to try a new chocolate cake recipe today. Now, usually when I want a cake recipe or to be inspired, I first look to expert--i.e. baking math oriented--cake makers like Nick Malgieri, Rose Beranbaum, and Susan Purdy. Today however, I'm trying out a new recipe from one of my Thomas Keller cookbooks.

I've had my eye on an interesting cupcake from Ad Hoc at Home. It's not an oil cake or a butter cake, but something a little different. The fats in the recipe come from a generous amount of sour cream and a little melted butter. Since I adore sour cream as a tenderizer in my coffee and pound cakes, I gave it a go and you should too. You'll find the recipe quite simple to make and the texture surprisingly light and moist.

Ad Hoc At Home's Devil's Food Cupcakes
from Ad Hoc At Home
yields 24 cupcakes
1 2/3 cups (188g) cake flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (33g) unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder (dutch processed)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups (330g) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°F and prep cup cake pans with 24 paper liners.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and sugar into the bowl of your mixer. Stir in the salt and equip the paddle attachment.

In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk and sour cream, whisking until smooth.

In yet another bowl, combine the eggs and melted butter.

Now turn your mixer onto medium low and add your buttermilk mixture to the bowl in thirds, alternating with the egg-butter mixture. Scrape down the bowl, as needed to ensure everything is combined.

Divide the batter into your cupcake cups, filling each cup roughly half full.  Bake for 10 minutes and then rotate the pan(s) and bake for another 10 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool completely on wire racks before continuing.

(Cupcakes are best frosted and eaten the same day they are baked but can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

I guess I couldn't be bothered to remove the paper liner
on the other half of the cupcake before photographing it.
 While your cupcakes are baking, get cracking on the peanut butter mousse.

Dead Man's Peanut Butter Mousse Frosting
yields enough to kill anyone
2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream, (recommend 40% ultra)
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons granulated sugar
12 ounces cream cheese (none of that low fat stuff)
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Beat the heavy cream and sugar together in the bowl of your mixer until stiff peaks form. Scrape the whipped cream into a second mixing bowl and it set aside. Now add the peanut butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar to the mixing bowl (you don't need to wash it) and equip the paddle. Beat the mixture on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Reduce speed to low and add the whipped cream, beating until just blended.

Refrigerate the peanut butter mousse mixture for a couple hours before using.

By then your cupcakes should be baked, cooled and ready to rock.

Grab your peanut butter frosting and fill a piping bag with it. We're not going to go mile-high on the cupcakes, simply because the peanut butter mousse is heavier than that marshmallow stuff typically used on hi hats.  Still we're going to be pretty generous. To frost cupcakes like these, use a bag equipped with a large round tip (believe I'm using an Ateco 804). Hold tip steady just above the center of the cupcake and squeeze a large blob onto the cupcake. Now lift your tip and hold it steady again just above the blob you just piped and pipe a smaller blob. Very technical language, I know. This is why I'll never teach baking.

Once you've blobbed all your cupcakes, place them on a sheet pan and then stash them in your freezer.  They need to freeze for at least 30 minutes, until they're firm to the touch before proceeding to the next step.

Chocolate Glaze
4 cups chocolate chips
1/3 cup canola oil

1/2 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Combine chocolate chips and oil in a large heat safe bowl and microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring often until smooth.

Pour this mixture into a narrow vessel, deep enough to accommodate your cupcake and the chocolate.

Now we're ready to get down to business.

After their rest in the freezer you'll find the cupcakes are now very sturdy. I wouldn't juggle them, but they'll certainly survive a dunk into your chocolate.

Slowly dip the cupcake, submerging the top completely in the chocolate. (Try to avoid coating the paper liners as it makes them pesky to peel and eat later.)

Once dunked, quickly remove and set upright. Transfer to the freezer again briefly to set the chocolate coating. 

If desired, sprinkle the freshly dipped cupcakes with chopped peanuts. 

Or just be a little weird and decorate these deadly-delicious cupcakes with little chocolate dead men, white chocolate skulls (piped onto parchment and allowed to set), or whatever other dark ideas you can dream up. 

The cupcakes are best eaten the same day, or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Allow the cupcakes to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. 

Enjoy! They're good. 


  1. OMG these are sinfully decadent looking. I gained ten pounds reading this post!!

  2. Wow.. these look divine!

    I would never be able to make it to the baking stage. The peanut butter jar would be empty and chocolate would be smeared all over my face.


  3. Anything that involves a little chocolate dead man on top has my attention...wait. Or anything that would render me dead from peanut butter topped happiness has my attention. (that's better.)
    I just love the not-so-heavy frosting. ~Megan

  4. oh man! these look SO GOOD. i'm thinking maybe making these as mini cupcakes for a party...

  5. Oh yum!! I LOVE chocolate and peanut butter!

  6. Yummy! I remember your peanut butter pie (which someday I'm going to make for my hubby) - I have it bookmarked. These look awesome, the silhouette is impressive!

  7. I love these. I especially love the pictures where you flip the cupcake over to get ready to dunk them into the chocolate. I could see it screaming for a caption saying "quick, dunk me the chocolate now!"

  8. oh my goshhh... I think this may be THE yummiest looking cupcake I've seen all month (and i read a lot of baking blogs)!

  9. oh man these look delicious! chocolate & peanut butter is one of the best flavor combos! and your little dead men are adorable! thanks for sharing :)

  10. looks so tasty! everyone knows peanut butter and chocolate is the best!

  11. Such impeccable timing! A new series of Nigella has just started on TV here, but the day after the first episode was aired, a colleague walked up to me and thrust a piece of paper at me and urged, "Please, can you make this?". It was Nigella's (new) peanut butter chocolate cheesecake. I watched the ep last night, and will definitely have to make the cheesecake. I think you might like it too....

    PS I love Peanutbutterandginger's post.

  12. Wow! I am so on board with any chocolate peanut butter treats. These cupcakes look ridiculously good and I cannot wait to try the recipe! Thx!

  13. These look fantastic. Makes me wonder why I ever bothered to try tempering chocolate. It was 80% disaster and only 20% usable and shiny. Using the ingredients and method you described, is your chocolate coating hard after it sets? I can't tell by the picture. I just know it looks good.

  14. Ms. A,

    Unfortunately the chocolate coating isn't hard. It may look like chocolate-shell but the texture is actually smooth, pliable and fudge-like.

    As for tempering chocolate, I feel ya.

  15. I am positively drooling over these. My boyfriend just gasped and followed it with an "OHMYGOD YOU HAVE TO MAKE THOSE NOOOOOW," which is a pretty impressive response. I can't believe how incredibly smooth and gloriously silky that mousse looks! Oh, and that perfect glaze... I can't wait to make these, for real. I'll let you know how the juggling goes :)

  16. that picture is just perfect, the way it is divided is perfection and they look so good!

  17. These look absolutely incredible! So many cool ideas! I love making peanut butter cups so these would make for a nice variation. Many thanks!

    Charlotte @

  18. Will you marry me.. Um Please?
    These are amazing!

  19. These look delectable and that topper is hilarious.

  20. Ohhh my these look sooo delicious!!!

  21. Hats off to you Deadman, I really love your blog and pictures in it. They are simply beautiful.

  22. Would love to try this recipe over here in Turkey! My only hope is that the ingredients will produce as fluffy PB mousse b/c our cream cheese and powdered sugar are a bit grainy. Will give it a shot! Thanks!

  23. I made these for my husband's birthday yesterday. His favorite flavor combination for desserts is peanut butter and chocolate. We LOVED them. Next time I think we'll east them with a fork, though. It was difficult to get all the flavors in one bite without getting quite messy.

  24. These look great! I feel sorry for the skinny jeans in my wardrobe just thinking them.

  25. Hi, i´m a brazilian professional cook and i just wanna say thanks for this frosting recipe, it´s just PERFECT!!! I´m doing my version of this cupcake but i had to stop at the frosting and come here to thank you, i´m in love with it!
    Thank mamma humble for me!

  26. Where did you get the little man cutter?

  27. yum! reminds me of ice cream cones of my youth.

  28. oh these are so cute, I've been wanting to do a version of hi hat cupcakes and these look perfect!

  29. Hello Ms Humble, LOVE your blog - but is this your book?

    I posted the question on the book page and somebody replied yes, but still it doesn't look like it's yours?

  30. oh my, these look delicious! And I like the "not so cute" look :P I'm visiting your blog for the first time and I think it's awesome! Probably not the last time I'm visiting you =) Merry Christmas!

  31. Ciniminis,

    Nope, similar title but it isn't my cookbook. That's from another blogger. I saw your comment on and I replied in the forum just to clear things up.

    I'm still trying to avoid any and all cookbook offers--something that flabbergasts and frustrates my extended family--they're a good deal of work and I just like to keep things simple. I bake, I nibble, I dote on my children and I blog (when possible). I like things just the way they are and everyone thinks I am nuts.

    But of course, I am and I wouldn't change a thing.

  32. Just had to drop by 'cause I was feeling a great loss with my baking mojo...and feeling in the dumps 'cause of it. Had to get some inspiration...and your blog is certainly uplifting!
    I've always wanted to make these but didn't ever think I'd be patient enough! They look absolutely gorgeous and delicious!
    I hope you have had a merry christmas and wish you the best for a happy new year!

  33. I used the peanut butter mousse from this recipe to fill some macarons yesterday (which were amazing - didn't last long in my house!), and decided to be brave and try these cupcakes with the leftovers. I am the most atrocious cake baker on the planet, and I was soo nervous about attempting these complicated-looking little dudes, but I must say they are AWESOME. I'm taking them to my boyfriend's New Year's party tonight and I'm sure they'll go down a treat! Thanks for the awesome recipes, Ms Humble!

  34. these look perfect! Damn i'm not a peanut butter person but these cupcakes are great :) YUM!

  35. What a delicious blog you have!! Thanks for sharing all these receipes and your experiences. Hugs ad kisses from Norway =)

  36. Delicious, delicious torture. I am allergic to wheat, but no matter. It was a pleasure just looking at the pictures.

  37. :) WOW these look delicious!!! I just started a blog "The Awkward Baker" and I was wondering if I could feature some of your recipes (linked back to your page of course)

  38. I can't believe I didn't leave a comment here. I pinned these right away. I love the whole concept. The execution is even better and that is where I fear I may have problems. Gonna try though!

  39. Made these last night...OH MY!

  40. I spent all day on these and they came out FANTASTIC! There was nothing I felt needed to be changed about the recipe. And, I had extra chocolate left over to make chocolate dipped strawberries, too! I was literally screaming "Oh my God" over and over when I first tasted the peanut butter mousse, and ate about 10 spoonfuls of it before proceeding with baking. Thank you so much for your recipe. I even posted it on my blog (the post is linked below), and I'm hoping more people will discover your prowess from it. You are seriously a genius.

  41. I just made the cupcakes with the mousse; the last bit of chocolate covering would have killed me. The recipes worked like a charm. Will definitely try the cupcakes as a cake another time.

    They are excellent. Thanks for a killer (dead man) combo.

  42. I'm going to have to try these. They crack me up to look at, and from the sound of the other comments, they're delicious too. Glad I found your blog. I'm loving it.


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