Friday, September 21, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes, Cupcake Camp DC 2012

For other avid followers of the cupcake scene, you may already be familiar with Cupcake Camps. Originally designed as an informal gathering for cupcake lovers, the event has now gone global, spanning the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. Unfortunately, I was out of town for the first two iterations of Cupcake Camp DC, but this year I was finally able to throw my hat in the ring with my take on Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes. With both amateur and professional categories, more than a dozen bakers contributed cupcakes for this year's event benefiting the DC Candlelighter's Foundation, and raising more than $2000 for the children's cancer foundation.

Despite a tornado warning and torrential downpour, lots of cupcake fans showed up to sample flavors like Lemon Lavender, Irish Cream, Spiced Caramel Apple, Cannoli, Spumoni and--the crowd favorite--Chicken and Waffles Cupcakes. After running a test batch of Peanut Butter Cupcakes past my coworkers, I decided to incorporate their suggestion of making both grape and strawberry-filled cakes, so that tasters could pick their favorite PB&J combo. Similarly, I topped a few with chopped peanuts for the chunky peanut butter devotees.

 Want to host a Cupcake Camp in your hometown? Check out the Cupcake Camp page for all the how-to details!

A couple of notes: If you decide to make these cupcakes--and I may be biased, but you totally should--you can also make these cupcakes using regular, all-purpose flour, just reduce the amount by 2 tablespoons (though the crumb texture won't be as soft). As for decorations, for the jelly drizzle I diluted some jelly with a tablespoon of water and used a plastic squeezy bottle. Just a bit of advice though--if you try to do this with strawberry jelly, you'll want to pass it through a mesh sieve first to remove the berry pieces. Trust me on this one.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes
     adapted from Annie's Eats
     makes 18-22 cupcakes
2 cups cups cake flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3 large eggs
½ cup sour cream (reduced fat is fine)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup buttermilk

Grape or strawberry jelly for filling
Chopped peanuts (optional)

Peanut Butter Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Pinch of coarse salt
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to blend.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Blend in the peanut butter.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Blend in the sour cream.

3. With the mixer on low speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk and then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing each addition just until combined.

4. Divide the batter between the prepared liners filling each about 2/3 full.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Let cool in the pans a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before proceeding.

5. Using a small paring knife to cut a small cone from the top of each cupcake.  Cut the tip portion off of each cone and discard, reserving a disc from each to cover the filling.  Fill each cupcake with a small spoonful of grape or strawberry jam.  Replace the cake discs over the filling.

6. For the frosting, combine the butter and peanut butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar and salt. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the vanilla and cream just until incorporated. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip until light and very fluffy, about 4 minutes. Frost and decorate as desired.