Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

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A delicious homemade chocolate peanut butter Cupcake recipe, topped with chocolate ganache and creamy peanut butter frosting. These cupcakes are absolutely delicious! It’s a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting. I could eat these every single day. I promise it will be the best thing you’ve ever tasted. Better than peanut butter and jelly, ice cream, and fancy cakes costing $80. You’ll wonder why you ever ate anything else.

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING

Moit chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting, chocolate ganache, and peanut butter cups. These cupcakes are the ultimate chocolate and peanut butter dessert!

Close up of chocolate peanut butter cupcakes on a white cake stand.

If you follow me on Instagram you may remember seeing a sneak peek of these cupcakes a few weeks ago.  I know a lot of you love chocolate and peanut butter, so I’ve been wanting to create a chocolate peanut butter cupcake for a while now. And these cupcakes deliver! These are literally like a Reese’s peanut butter cup in cupcake form.

I originally planned to stuff these cupcakes with a peanut butter cup in the middle. But, since the cupcake batter is so thin they sunk straight to the bottom and stuck to the liners. It was not pretty. So I decided to just top them with the peanut butter cups and I think they actually look better that way.

Chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting on a white cake stand.

RECIPE INGREDIENTS

This recipe for chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting requires a few ingredients you may not keep on hand, but everything is easy to find at the grocery store. Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe: 

  • All-purpose flour: Spoon and level the flour when measuring it. 
  • Cocoa powder: I recommend using unsweetened natural cocoa powder. 
  • Baking powder and baking soda: Gives the cupcakes a little lift. 
  • Salt: Balances out the chocolate flavor. 
  • Sugar: I used a blend of brown and granulated sugars to add sweetness and flavor. 
  • Oil: Keeps the cupcakes moist. Use vegetable or canola oil. 
  • Buttermilk: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can try making your own. 
  • Egg: To help bind everything together.
  • Vanilla extract: Use pure vanilla extract, if possible. 
  • Water: Should be boiling hot. 
  • Instant espresso powder: Doesn’t make the chocolate cupcakes taste like coffee, it simply enhances the flavor. 
  • Butter: I recommend using unsalted butter since the amount of salt in salted butters can vary between different brands. 
  • Peanut butter: Use creamy peanut butter from a brand like Jif or Skippy. Natural peanut butter doesn’t work as well in the frosting.
  • Powdered sugar: This sweetens and thickens the frosting. You may need to sift the powdered sugar if it seems lumpy. 
  • Heavy whipping cream: Should be at least 36% fat. Helps thin out the homemade peanut butter icing while still keeping it creamy. 
Three Reese's cupcakes on a white plate. A cake stand of cupcakes rests in the background.

HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES

You’ll start out with my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe. I’ve been using this cupcake recipe for a while now and it never fails. The cupcakes always turn out super chocolatey, soft, and they stay moist for days.  

You’ll also be topping these cupcakes with an easy peanut butter frosting. Remember my post about how to make buttercream frosting?  The recipe for this frosting is pretty similar, with the addition of some peanut butter and a little less powdered sugar. I found that 2 cups of powdered sugar was just enough to create a nice thick frosting that piped well and wasn’t too sweet.

And the ganache? Is it not just so gorgeous dripping down the frosting on these Reese’s cupcakes? I did a post last week about how to make ganache and it’s extremely easy. All you need is a little chocolate, heavy cream, a microwave, and 5 minutes. You do want to let the ganache cool some before you spoon it over the frosting, so it doesn’t melt it.

Then, you’ll cut some miniature peanut butter cups in half and stick them on the cupcakes. You can leave the peanut butter cups off if you want or just buy a small bag to use. I really love the extra little treat on top of the cupcakes. It’s like a dessert on top of a dessert!

Close up of three chocolate peanut butter cupcakes on a white plate.

CAN I FREEZE THESE CUPCAKES? 

You can freeze the frosting and cupcakes separately in a freezer bag, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before frosting. Or you can frost the cupcakes, freeze them on a baking sheet first, then store them in a freezer bag.

CAN I USE THIS RECIPE TO MAKE A LAYER CAKE? 

Yes, you could double the cupcake recipe and bake it in two 9-inch cake pans or three 8-inch cake pans. The frosting will either need to be doubled or multiplied by 1.5 — it depends on how much frosting you like! 

BAKING TIPS

  • If you want to use a box mix for these cupcakes, you can do that as well, but don’t let homemade cupcakes intimidate you! I promise they’re easy to make and you can mix everything up in one bowl.
  • The recipe will make 16 cupcakes, so if you have 12-count muffin pans you’ll need to bake them in separate batches. I actually bought a 24-count muffin pan a while back and I LOVE it. A lot of cupcake recipes make more than 12 cupcakes, so it’s great to be able to bake them all at once. If you don’t have one and love to bake, a 24-count cupcake pan is a great investment. Trust me!
  • If making this recipe ahead of time, I recommend storing the cupcakes in the fridge and bringing them to room temperature before serving. 

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES

  •  prep time: 20 MINUTES
  •  cook time: 20 MINUTES
  •  total time: 40 MINUTES
  •  yield: ABOUT 24 CUPCAKES 1X

DESCRIPTION

These peanut butter cupcakes are rich, delicious, and even come with a little “surprise” inside!


INGREDIENTS

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CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract, store-bought or homemade
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used Gold Medal)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dark chocolate cocoa powder)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup coffee, lukewarm (you can use decaf coffee if desired!)
  • 24 mini peanut butter cups, unwrapped (I used Reese’s)
  • (optional: melted chocolate for drizzling)

PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract, store-bought or homemade
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

INSTRUCTIONS

TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES:

  1. Prepare 24 baking cups with paper baking liners. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt until combined. Then in an additional separate bowl, stir together buttermilk and coffee. Add dry ingredients to creamed butter mixture alternately with buttermilk and coffee, beating well after each addition.
  4. Fill baking cups with batter on top of the peanut butter cups until they are nearly 2-3 full, then nestle a peanut butter cup in on top of the batter. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  5. Top with peanut butter frosting. (Optional: Then drizzle with melted chocolate.)

TO MAKE THE PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING:

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat peanut butter, butter and vanilla together on medium speed until combined and smooth. Add remaining ingredients and beat on low speed until incorporated. Then beat on medium-high speed for an additional minute until smooth and fluffy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

These Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes are my absolute favorite cupcake recipe. They’re rich, dark, and incredibly moist. The Peanut Butter Buttercream on top is the perfect pairing for the dark chocolate flavor. They only take about 30 minutes to make!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes - with Chocolate Syrup Drizzle and Chopped Peanuts On top

Even though I’m not solely a baker, I would totally go to that Cupcake Wars show with these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes. They’ve become my go-to when I need cupcakes for something, whether it’s for a party, to give to a neighbor, or to satisfy a chocolate cupcake craving. They are outrageously good.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

What I love about this recipe is that it’s easy to make, but more importantly, you can use all-purpose flour here instead of cake flour. I get that sometimes you need specialty flours to make certain desserts, but I don’t usually have cake flour on hand, so it’s nice when you can use regular flour and still get an incredibly soft and moist texture.

The peanut butter buttercream is also excellent, and only requires 4 ingredients. Ordinarily I’m somewhat of a buttercream snob and prefer to make buttercream without confectioner’s sugar so I can avoid the subtle grittiness that comes with it. But because the peanut butter is such a big component of the buttercream, it’s much less noticeable, and the buttercream is plenty luscious, light, and smooth. I admit to having found myself piping little tastes onto my finger, and thinking momentarily about how acceptable it might be to instead pipe some frosting directly into my mouth (real talk here, haha).

Chocolate Cupcake Recipe - with Peanut Butter Frosting on Top of Wood Board

Tips for Best Results

Use real buttermilk – The flavor of real buttermilk is unmatched. I know people often substitute milk with a little vinegar, but it’s not the same in terms of flavor or texture.

Don’t overmix – One of the biggest secrets for great baked goods is to make sure you don’t overmix the dry and wet ingredients together. You want to stir until you no longer see bits of dry flour, but it’s okay if there are a few lumps here and there.

Use a quality cocoa powder – I know it’s cheap and widely available, but the standard Hershey’s cocoa is not the best choice here. I recommend higher quality options. Guittard is my favorite, but Scharffen Berger, Valrhona, and Ghirardelli are also good choices.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter buttercream Frosting with Chocolate Syrup Drizzle and Peanuts

Step by Step Overview:

To get started on your Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes, begin with the cupcake batter. Whisk together the dry ingredients, which are all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt:

Cocoa Powder and Flour Whisked in Bowl

Dutch-process or natural: Either should work here.

Recommended brands: Guittard Cocoa Rouge is my absolute favorite, but other recommended brands are Scharffen Berger, Vahlrona, and Ghirardelli. If you only have something like Hershey’s, it will still work here, I just think the flavor is better with higher quality brands.

In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, a neutral oil, one egg, and vanilla extract.

Buttermilk, Eggs, Oil, and Vanilla in Bowl

Try to use real buttermilk

I have successfully made this with a substitute of milk or almond milk with a small amount of vinegar, and it works out in terms of the chemistry. But milk with vinegar or lemon juice certainly does not taste like real buttermilk, so if possible, please try to use the real thing. True buttermilk really does taste better.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients:

Dry Cocoa Flour Mixture in Bowl Mixed with Wet Ingredients

When the flour is almost incorporated, pause for a moment:

Chocolate Cupcake Batter in Mixing Bowl with Spatula

Add coffee to the mixture, then finish mixing until the flour streaks disappear. The batter will be very thin:

Coffee Mixed Into Chocolate Cupcake Batter in Mixing Bowl with Spatula

Coffee in the batter?

Coffee is a flavor that’s known to enhance the flavor of chocolate (and it’s great in this recipe). It’s not enough here to be noticeable to most people. However, if you absolutely don’t want to include it, you may substitute water.

Divide the chocolate cupcake batter evenly into 12 cupcake liners placed in a muffin pan:

Chocolate Cake Batter in Paper Liner Muffin Wells

Bake for 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean:

Chocolate Cupcakes Baked in Muffin Tin

They will be so dark and chocolatey!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes - on Wooden Board Showing Moist Texture and Dark Color

Let the cupcakes cool, then make the peanut butter buttercream by whipping together butter, confectioner’s sugar, peanut butter, and a little vanilla extract:

Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting in Mixing Bowl

Pipe the buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting on Top on Wood Board

How to Serve

While optional, I like to drizzle a little bit of chocolate syrup on top and add chopped peanuts for garnish. It looks beautifully visually and adds a little bit of extra texture. You could also sprinkle over some chopped mini peanut butter cups!

Recipe Tips and FAQ

How do you store leftover Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes?

Keep in the fridge for up to 7 days, ideally stored in an airtight container so the buttercream doesn’t absorb off-flavors from the fridge.

Can you freeze Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes?

Yes, these freeze beautifully! Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Make sure they are sealed tightly so they don’t get freezer burned or absorb off-flavors from the freezer.

How long can you keep the cupcakes at room temperature?

According to the USDA, butter is safe at room temperature for two days. I personally do not recommend leaving these out for more than 1 day though. It’s better to store them in the fridge, then let them come back to room temperature by leaving on the counter for about an hour before enjoying again.

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