Couch Peanut Cupcakes: Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Ice Cream
Is there a single better phrase in the world than "chocolate peanut butter ice cream cupcakes"? This weekend had me (and my lucky taste-testers) in a dreamlike swirl of experimental frostings, mixed toppings, and flavorful cakes. After several days of testing and weeks (yeah, seriously, weeks) of planning, I finally produced a batch of mouth-watering cupcakes. How? Why? And can you have some? All questions to be answered...
I am a faithful reader of Stef's Cupcake Project ever since I stumbled upon it many months ago while looking for a reliable recipe for naan. That, plus her very good advice when crafting my shotglass cupcakes, had me hooked, and so when I saw a post on her blog about an ice cream cupcake contest (co-sponsored with Scoopalicious), I was immediately intrigued. I love baking, but more than that I love a challenge and trying out new techniques and novel ideas. I went right to the drawing board and started dreaming up cupcakes.
Technically, the cupcakes I finally settled on were my third attempt, after two other potential cupcake creations fell by the wayside. They will get a Foodie Dreams, Kitchen Nightmare post in due time.
Just as I was wondering what else to try, I started talking with one of my coworkers, Rebecca, about my weekend plans. I mentioned the cupcakes and my various attempts and ideas, and she said that she often made ice cream cakes. One of her favorites was a peanut butter chocolate fudge cake with layers of ice cream. That was all she had to say before I was off in cupcake dreamland, already envisioning a dream cupcake. I el-oh-vee-ee peanut butter and chocolate, and I was dumbfounded that I hadn't thought of pairing them, cupcake form, sooner. I started researching different frostings and cakes before I settled on the final form: a peanut butter cupcake inside a crushed-Oreo cookie crust, covered in peanut butter frosting and topped with a scoop of ice cream and Reese's pieces. It was a triumph of peanut-chocolatey-creamy madness, and a completely amazing blend of flavors and textures.
I started with the cake, which was pretty easy. Using a box of vanilla cake as my base, I mixed in a scoop of peanut butter (about a cup, although I was only using 1/3 of the boxed batter). It was amazingly smooth and baked up perfectly and pleasantly round.
Once they had cooled, I melted some chocolate using a double-boiler and dipped the sides and bottom of the cupcakes in the chocolate. I had already crushed some Oreos (removing the filling first), and rolled the cupcakes in the Oreos, giving them a cookie crust (note: no paper liners for these cupcakes). I mixed up some peanut butter frosting--basically peanut butter, butter, and sugar--and scooped out a place for the ice cream. I frosted the whole thing, "caulking" the hole for the ice cream a la my shotglass cupcakes, and stuck them in the freezer for about 10 minutes. While they were freezing, I scooped ice cream into small balls and rolled them in the crushed Oreos. Once the cupcakes were cold enough, I topped them with the ice cream and quickly frosted them (it's best to take them out of the freezer and frost them one at a time), finally decorating them with some Reese's pieces.
After all the work and all the waiting, finally, my testers and I could enjoy the cupcakes of my labor. How did they taste? Oh-so-amazing. I was very, very pleased with the final result. All the flavors balanced and enhanced each other very nicely, while the combination of textures--the crunchy Oreo crust, the smooth peanut butter cake, the cold ice cream, and the sweet frosting--gave it a wonderful feel. I was very happy especially with the peanut butter parts--the cake and the frosting. I would completely make both of them again, although possibly not together. The cake was nutty without being over-powering, while the frosting tasted like the smoothest, sweetest peanut butter on the planet. Plus, I got a new toy, a pastry bag with different applicators, and had loads of fun trying it out. Secretly (or not so), I dream of being a professional cake-maker, and I can imagine myself piping and swirling for many happy hours.
All in all, I declare the peanut butter chocolate ice cream cupcakes a success! (as though, if you mixed all those things together in any way, shape, or form, they wouldn't be a success)
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER ICE CREAM CUPCAKES
1 box vanilla cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
3 cups extra creamy peanut butter
1 dozen Oreo cookies
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup softened butter
4 cups confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons milk
vanilla, chocolate, or peanut butter ice cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix cake mix (note: before opening the bag, roll it between your hands to break up any clumps) with oil, water, and eggs
Add 3 cups peanut butter and mix until smooth and even
Fill a muffin pan 2/3 with batter (do not use paper liners)
Bake for 17-20 minutes or until the cupcake is round and smooth
Let cool and remove from pan
Remove vanilla filling from Oreos with a knife and place cookies inside a heavy-duty freezer bag
Crush using a rolling pin until fine
Using a double boiler (or a metal bowl on top of a pot of boiling water), melt chocolate chips
Dip sides of the cupcakes in the chocolate, then in the Oreo cookies
Scoop out a hole in the top of the cupcake, where the ice cream will sit
Prepare the frosting: mix butter, peanut butter, sugar and milk until smooth; it should be even-colored and hold its shape
Cover the entire top of the cupcake with frosting and freeze for about 10 minutes
Scoop out ice cream (about a walnut-sized amount) and roll in the Oreos
Top the cupcake with the ice cream and quickly frost, using a pastry bag instead of a knife
Decorate, as desired, with Reese's pieces
Posted by Kendall Kulper Toniatti at 7:02 PM