Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

cupcake ninja

Did you know that cupcakes can be so good that they need protection?  They can.  These are.  Let me  tell you how they came to be.

After stumbling across Movita Beaucoup’s delightful blog, courtesy of More Stomach, I added her feed to my reader.  Not long after that she had the nerve to post a recipe for one bowl yellow cake with lemon buttercream frosting.  Now I do love me a one bowl recipe as evidenced by my sworn allegiance to Abby Dodge’s Emergency Chocolate Cupcakes, so I had to investigate the Beaucoup. Luckily, Easter presented an opportunity to give them a go and they instantly won me over.

The cake is pillowy soft with an enjoyable tang from the buttermilk.  It makes a perfect canvas for whatever flavors you want to showcase.  For Easter I threw the zest of one lemon into the cake batter and then made a strawberry lemonade frosting.  They were a homerun.

Fast forward a few months and I was trying to find the perfect treat to make for my cousins who were visiting from Detroit.  I threw out a few options in a conversation that went something like this:

Me:  I can’t make a damn decision about what to bake for Cousins Birthday on Friday. Here’s the options….how about you pick:  Apple Upside Down Cake; Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars; Caramel Apple Muffins; One Bowl Yellow Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting.

Jen: Looking at recipes…I’m leaning towards the yellow cake or the pb&j bars!

Me: What do you think about the yellow cake with a jelly filling and peanut butter buttercream frosting?

Jen: Ummm. Amazing.  Omg. Pb frosting.  You’re a genius!

Me: As Daddy Pig tells Peppa, I am a bit of an expert ; )

So it was that I set about turning the easiest yellow cake into an homage to the classic pb&j sandwich.  I kept strictly to the cake recipe….no tweaks, no additions, no deviations.  Once the cupcakes had cooled, I used my favorite unitasker to make a hole in the middle for the jelly to hide…and those little cupcake cores may or may not have become a perfect little snack as I filled and frosted.  Next came the jelly and a generous dollop of peanut butter frosting.   All that was left to do was keep them safe until after dinner and shove them in our faces.

Hence, the ninja.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

Adapted from Movita Beaucoup and Brown Eyed Baker

BAH Note: I had to make a second batch of cupcakes because I overfilled the tin on my first batch which caused me to overbake the cupcakes and completely mangle the goods trying to get them out of the pan.  Learn from my mistake and don’t fill your pan any more than half full.  I ended up using about two tablespoons of batter per cupcake in the second batch and it was spot on.

I lost track of exactly how many cupcakes I got but this recipe will make approximately 12, or a single 8 inch round cake.  If you have a little batter leftover after filling your pan, drop cupcake paper into glass jars or custard cups and make a few extras for snacking…nobody has to know.

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons room temperature butter
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

Line a cupcake tin and heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the workbowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle beater and mix on low for about one minute.

Add the butter and mix on low for about two minutes until the mixture resembles sand and no large bits of butter remain.

Add the buttermilk and vanilla and mix for about two minutes, scraping down the side of the bowl occasionally.  Add the egg and mix until combined.  Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and give the batter a final mix to ensure no pockets of flour remain.

Fill each cup with approximately 2 tablespoons batter and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes then remove the cupcakes from the pan to cool completely.

Remove a small core from each cupcake and fill the hole with your choice of jam, jelly, or preserve before topping with frosting.

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons room temperature butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

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 sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

{printable recipe}

Sweet and Sour

Sweet and Sour

My journeys around these Interwebs leads me some interesting places.  Some I come back to time after time for inspiration and ideas.  And thanks to those sites, I discover new destinations on a daily basis.  I’m telling you, it really IS a world wide web y’all.  Today I’d like you to journey with me to the world of the Brown Eyed Baker for some Sweet and Sour Chicken.

In her post, Michelle said, “This recipe, although it takes awhile to get from the stove to your plate, is well worth the effort. The flavor of the sauce is perfect, the texture of the chicken is wonderful and all together, you’d think you ordered this from the neighborhood Chinese restaurant.”  Yeah, what she said.  For two reasons:

1 – This dish will take you a long ass time to get on the table.  So don’t come home, casually glance over the recipe and seeing that nothing needs to be marinated, decide to settle into watching that episode of The Gilmore Girls that’s sitting on your dvr before you start dinner.  You will be very sorry when you come back into the kitchen at 6:30 only to realize that you’re not going to eat until about 8pm.

2  – Assuming that you choose to ignore #1 above, it will still be worth the effort to start making this even if you don’t get to eat until 8pm.  Because this Sweet and Sour Chicken is that good.

Somewhere between coating and battering and browning the chicken, I had my doubts.  There was also some pesky basting every 15 minutes for the hour of oven time.  And then there was the whole it’s late and I’m really hungry whining going on in my head.  I was determined that under no circumstances would I like this dish.  But if the happy dance I did as soon as I took one bite of a sticky, glazed, tangy, sweet morsel is any indication, my determination is no match for Sweet and Sour Chicken.

Sorry Luke, Lorelai, Rory, and Logan, but you’re no match for Sweet and Sour Chicken either.  The next time this comes up on the week’s menu, y’all are just going to have to chill out in dvr land until I get SSC in the oven.  If you tasted even one bite, you’d understand completely.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Brown Eyed Baker’s Adaptation of Amber’s Take Out Fake Out

BAH Note:  Unless you scale this recipe down and only make half (which isn’t a bad idea if you cook for one), I suggest working in batches from the point where the chicken goes into the cornstarch.  I also suggest being prepared to get your hands pretty dirty because I found that my hands were the best tool for getting the chicken from the cornstarch to the egg and then the frying pan. Just remember to wash them thoroughly after handing the chicken.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce and garlic powder in a small bowl and whisk to combine.  Set sauce aside.

Cut the chicken breasts into bite sized chunks.  Place the cornstarch in a resealable plastic bag, add the chicken pieces, and shake to coat.

Crack the eggs into a medium sized bowl and whisk.  Shake excess cornstarch from chicken and coat chicken with egg.

Heat half the oil over medium high heat in a large frying pan, add half of the chicken, and brown on all sides.  Remove cooked chicken to a 9×13 baking dish and repeat with the remaining chicken.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and give it a stir once or twice so the pieces are well coated.  Bake for 1 hour, basting and turning the chicken in the sauce every 15 minutes.

{printable recipe}