I wanted to come up with a clever idea to impress Russ Feingold. I spent a few days coming up with several ideas and I landed on making cupcakes that looked like a grassy front yard with a political sign in them. To do this I shrunk down the Feingold sign that I found online and glued two toothpicks to each end to make them look pretty close to what a yard sign would look like. This took a little bit of time cutting and pasting, but I'm pleased with the results.Read More
Ok this cake is insanely good, especially if you love peanut butter with chocolate. If you are a fan of Reese's cups then you will like this. What I like about it is that the cake is moist, the peanut butter frosting is not too sweet and the chocolate ganache puts it over the top. I am a big fan of Brown Eyed Baker's blog and this is her favorite for obvious reasons. I changed a few ingredients like the cocoa powder and amount of cream in my ganache. I hope you enjoy!
For the Cake:
2½ cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup + 1 tablespoon Hershey's Dark cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1½ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1½ cups strong black coffee, hot
¾ cup vegetable oil
4½ teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Peanut Butter Frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups creamy peanut butter
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅔ cup heavy cream
For the Chocolate Ganache:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
*30 miniature peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped, divided
1. Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the insides of the pans, tapping out excess; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or large mixing bowl if you're using a hand mixer), sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for an additional 20 seconds (the batter will be very thin).
4. Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pans in the oven. Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.
5. Make the Peanut Butter Frosting: Place the powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the heavy cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth (do not overbeat).
6. Assemble the Cake: If your cakes baked up uneven or have domed on top, level off the tops. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Cover with 1 cup of the peanut butter frosting and sprinkle 10 of the chopped peanut butter cups over the frosting. Top with a second cake layer and cover with another 1 cup of the peanut butter frosting, and top with another 10 chopped peanut butter cups. Place the final cake layer on top face-down. Frost the cake with the remaining peanut butter frosting, finishing it as smoothly as possible. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour, until the frosting is set.
7. Make the Chocolate Ganache: While the cake chills, make the chocolate ganache. Place the chocolate in a 4-cup measuring cup; set aside. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm until it just comes to a boil. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. The original recipe called for 3/4 cup cream but I found it too thick.
8. Garnish the Cake: If the ganache was mixed in a bowl, transfer it to a 2-cup measuring cup. Slowly pour the chocolate ganache into the center of the cake, letting it push itself outward and flow over the sides of the cake. Top with the remaining 10 chopped peanut butter cups. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes, giving the ganache a chance to set up. Keep the cake refrigerated, removing it from the refrigerator about 20 minutes prior to serving.
I made these yesterday for my dear friend and colleague that just got tenure. He and everyone at the party loved them, especially his daughter Maya! I really liked the graham cracker base and meringue frosting with the piece of Hershey's chocolate a dust of graham crackers.
Graham Cracker Base
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from 20 squares)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup mini chips
Chocolate Espresso Cupcake
- 2 cups cake flour
- 3/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon Hershey's Dark cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2/3 cup boiling water
- 1 tablespoon of espresso powder
- 6 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 package of Hershey's chocolate bars (for decoration)
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Graham Cracker Base
- Reserve 2 tablespoons of crumbs to sprinkle on the top later.
- Place remaining graham cracker crumbs in a bowl with butter and mix to combine.
- Add approximately 1 tablespoon of mixture to each cup and firmly press crumbs down with the back of a small cup.
- Sprinkle the mini chips on top of the graham cracker base.
- Bake for about 8 minutes. Cool.
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- Then combine eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add sugar and mix until combined.
- Then add flour mixture. Blend at low and then increase to medium. Beat for 2 minutes until blended and smooth. Add boiling water with 1 tbsp of espresso powder. Batter will be thin.
- Let batter rest for 15 minutes and stir again gently before using.
- Fill liners with prepared crusts three-quarters full with batter.
- Bake about 16-20 minutes until done.
- Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool completely
- Combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of a stand mixer.
- Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water without letting the bottom of the bowl touch the water in the saucepan.
- Hold the handle of the bowl while whisking the egg white mixture until the sugar is dissolved… about 4 minutes. Then transfer bowl to the stand mixer.
- Using the whisk attachment, beat the mixture, starting on low and increasing to high speed. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form and the meringue has cooled, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the vanilla and whisk just to combine. Use frosting immediately.
- Place the frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a Wilton 4B tip.
- Pipe high swirls on the cupcakes and brown the meringue using a kitchen torch and serve immediately.
- Using a kitchen torch lightly toast marshmallow frosting.
- Place one small piece of chocolate on the top and sprinkle with graham cracker dust.