Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Cocoa Cream Cheese Frosting

Oh hello there.  I’m Hannah.  I believe we’ve met before, but I have been suspiciously absent from normal life (read: this blog) for quite awhile.  I’ll allow you to pretend that I was off doing any one of the following things:

1. swimming with giant sea turtles and whale sharks (shark whales?  whale fish?  unsure.) in the Seychelles.

2. writing an epic, world-changing haiku about…well…no.  This one is just not believeable.

3. saving all of the lost puppies in the world.  Yes.  Believe it.

4. anything useful and crafty, like sewing a quilt or taking in that one skirt that I keep wearing even though it is far too large.

Really, any of these things would be better than the reality of me, lost in a cave of signaling pathways and metabolic cycles.  See?  Even just saying those words is boring.  Let’s never speak of them again.

Let’s speak of cupcakes.

Peanut butter cupcakes.

Chocolate cream cheese frosting.

And a birthday celebration involving margaritas, these cupcakes (not at the same time as the margs ew GROSS), and Star Wars.

So far in medical school, I’m most proud of the fact that people maybs a little bit want to be friends with me.  I mean, let’s be serious.  I’m kind of weird.  And awkward.  And weird.  So when people want to be friends, I’m happy.  One of these people is named Cathy.  She went to the other all girls high school in Dallas (let’s not get into any stereotyping here).  She likes Homestarrunner. (if you’re over the age of 25, you probs are unfamiliar with this.  This is ok.  It’s a sign of maturity.)  She likes being an actual runner.  She likes cream cheese frosting, and I more or less assume that everyone likes peanut butter and chocolate.  Unless you have a peanut allergy, in which case, do not eat these cupcakes.  If you do, LawyerKate will keep me from getting sued by you.

Cathy is kind of a grown up now (24 whole years old!), but the nice thing about med school is no one is really a grown up.  Student-ing delays adult life.  Fact.  Yes, we have to pay bills and feed ourselves and work our little fingers off but…med school is not real life.

Anyways.  Can someone please keep me on track here?  The point is cupcakes.  As per us(ual), Martha Stewart came through for me with a pretty yums-town peanut butter cupcake recipe.  I added peanut butter chips because…is there a situation where this is a bad idea?  No.

Then some super smooth, super amazing cocoa cream cheese frosting went on top, courtesy of AllRecipes.  I really liked using cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate.  I think it helped cut the sweetness of the frosting a little bit.  The texture of this frosting is cray cray (crazy) as well…fluffy and smooth without being too airy.  Let’s use it on other things.  Regular chocolate cupcakes?  Yellow cake?  Or…maybe I could make a facial mask out of it?  No.  Bad for the pores I think.

Word of caution: have a supply of real milk from a cow on hand when you serve these.  Being the pseudo-crunchy-granola lady that I am, I only had almond milk in the fridge, which disappointed the birthday girl…and all the other normal people in the room.  Don’t be like me.  Have normal-people food and drink ready to serve!

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Cocoa Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes about 20 cupcakes

For cupcakes
1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 TBS baking powder (yes, tablespoon)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup (= 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (Martha suggests natural, but I used regular and they turned out great.  You can also add an extra spoonful if you’re a fellow peanut butter fiend.)
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter chips

For frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, slightly softened (but still cool)
1/4 cup (= 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
4 TBS milk

1. For cupcakes – Preheat oven to 350ºF with racks in the upper middle and lower middle positions.  Line a cupcake pan with cupcake wrappers.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  Set aside.
3. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the peanut butter and vanilla until combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.
4. Alternating the dry ingredients with the sour cream, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions (sour cream in 2) to the butter mixture.  Stir just until incorporated after each addition.  Once all the dry ingredients have been added, fold in the peanut butter chips.  Evenly distribute the batter among the cupcake tins, filling each cup about 3/4 full.  Bake cupcakes for about 20 minutes, switching pans top to bottom halfway through.  When done, cupcakes should spring back with lightly pressed at the top.  Let the cupcakes cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.  Meanwhile…
5. For frosting – In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium high until completely smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla and the cocoa powder on low speed until incorporated.  Still on low speed, gradually mix in the powdered sugar.  Add up to 4 TBS of milk to reach the desired frosting consistency (less milk for thicker, pipe-able stuff; more milk for spreadable).  If piping, frosting will probably have to be covered and refrigerated for about an hour before using.  (Frosting will keep, covered in the fridge, for a few days.)
6. Pipe or spread the frosting on the cooled cupcakes.  Add sprinkles and a candle if you wish, or just eat them immediately!  Frosted cupcakes will keep covered and refrigerated for 2-3 days.

Recipe for cupcakes adapted from Martha Stewart; recipe for frosting adapted from AllRecipes

I promise I won’t stay away as long next time.  Something has to keep me sane in the midst of all the science!  Thanks for reading, happy baking!



  1. oh my gosh!
    oh oh oh my gosh.

    I need to stuff one of those in my face.

    plus cupcakes and Star Wars for birthday parties is mandatory!
    I like you more already!

    this is why I will never ever be able to break my sugar and flour habit

  2. Hannah,

    The pictures are wonderful! They beautifully depict the process AND with each photo, my mouth watered more and more. Do you have any left?

    Love, Mom

    1. Sadly they’re all gone! The recipe was a keeper though, I’m sure I’ll make them again with all the pb-chocolate fans in the family!

  3. I’m 30, and I *totally* know who Homestarrunner is! The physics kids & I would loiter in the physics dept reception area & watch the videos on the computers during classes. And that was at least 8 years ago.

    So yeah. I’m more hipster than you. Or something.

  4. 1. made these this weekend; a little dry, but delicious! (i think my muffin tin makes smaller than standard size, therefore should have baked less time?)

    2. how does one that drinks almond milk not have natural PB? sounds like you are conflicted…

    3. can’t wait to make more of the PB recipes. is october PB appreciation month?

    1. hi greer!
      1. defs. smaller pan, less baking.
      2. confession time: as far as eating purposes go, i’ve mostly switched to almond butter. i don’t think there’s any unnatural almond butter. (sometimes i even make my own, and that is fo sho natural.) i’ve tried some of my recipes with natural peanut butter, and i personally just prefer the way the less-good-for-you kind turns out. something is going to kill me. it might just be peanut butter. (more likely though, diet coke.)
      3. sure. why not!

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