Thursday, February 18, 2010

PBCC (Peanut Butter Chocolate Chocolate) Cupcakes

Okay, so I know it's been a few(ish) weeks. The thing is, I'm actually terrible at keeping up with blogs. But this is one I'm really passionate about, so I am going to try from now on to keep up with it a little bit better. My apologies.
Now the truth is that my last recipe was a bust: the lemon cupcakes with raspberry filling, that is. I was totally going to post an entry about them anyway, going over why they failed and what I am going to do differently next time. However, my roommate, who has been my photographer so far, deleted the pictures of the failurecakes, thinking I didn't want them (then having a good laugh at my expense over this exchange: "Why do you need the pictures? I thought you didn't like those cupcakes..." "Well, I still need to blog about them!"). And being the OCD creature that I am, I can't in good conscience write about a failurecake without having a picture of them to drive the point home. Rest assured, they were as ugly as they were messy: the raspberry filling looked like brain matter, poking through the watery lemon icing, refusing to be hidden. I will be retooling the recipe with more solid filling and fluffy (rather than drippy-ish) lemon icing, and when I do I will discuss the failurecakes in greater detail at that time.

On to the subject of this post: the ol' standby, PBCC, or Peanut Butter Chocolate Chocolate, Cupcakes. I probably make these more than any other cupcake in my arsenal, mostly because my roommate and main foodie-tester loves them. If you know someone who poo-poo's vegan food, feed them these and I promise they will be a convert.
A good rule of thumb is, when you add assloads of fat and sugar to a food, it will almost always taste good. And these have an assload of fat and sugar, let me tell you. Not to toot my own horn, but I've had strangers tell me that these were the best cupcakes they've ever eaten, period. My roommate describes them, in her crass way, as "god jizzing in your mouth". I'm just repeating what she said.
They're easy to make, too, with simple ingredients -- no one ever said vegan had to be complicated. It's a chocolate cupcake filled with peanut butter buttercream icing, spread with chocolate ganache, and topped with a little dollop more of the peanut butter buttercream icing. They taste especially good when they're still a little warm. They tend to get messy, too, but that depends on how you eat it. I tend to just cram it in my piehole myself, so there's not much time for messiness. Anyway, to the recipe:
This is a slightly modified recipe from my absolute favorite cookbook, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskovitz and Terry Hope Romero, the best vegan recipe-creators on the planet.
As always with cupcakes, before doing anything set the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Then, mix the cupcake batter. The cupcake itself is a basic chocolate cupcake. First you add 1 t. Apple Cider Vinegar to 1 C. soy milk and set it aside to let it curdle. This is important, because it is a vegan replacement for buttermilk. Buttermilk provides leavening properties in baked goods and also makes the cupcakes tender and moist. Rice milk can also be used here, but it doesn't curdle as well, and gives the cupcakes a lighter texture.
In a separate bowl add 3/4 C. Sugar, 1/3 C. canola oil, 1 T. vanilla extract, and 1/2 t. almond extract. Whisk together. Once mixed, add in the soy milk mixture. Beat till foamy and set aside.
In another bowl, sift together 1 C. flour, 1/3 C. cocoa powder (dutch-processed is best), 3/4 t. baking soda, 1/2 t. baking powder, and 1/4 t. salt.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two batches, beating in between till fully incorporated and no large lumps are present.
Taking a 1/4 cup measure, fill the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full. Pop in the oven for 18-22 minutes.
While the cupcakes bake, assemble the peanut butter frosting. With an electric beater, cream together 1/4 C. softened margarine (I like Earth Balance) and 2 T. vegetable shortening till smooth. Add 1/3 C. peanut butter (a smooth, unsweetened version that's a little on the runny side works best), 1 T. molasses (optional, but makes the frosting nuttier), and 1.5 t. vanilla extract and beat till very smooth. Finally, add 1 1/4 C. confectioner's sugar and beat. The frosting will be kind of stiff and crumbly, so slowly add to to 2 T. soy milk or soy creamer till the frosting is fluffy and pale tan. Then, lick the beater. Seriously, it's the best part. Lick the bowl while you're at it. Obviously this would not work in a bakery setting, but if you're at home try it. I put the icing in an icing bag after that so I can pipe the stuff on and it looks real pretty. I like to stick it in the fridge for a few minutes so it's really solid, but don't leave it in too long or it'll be a bitch to pipe.
Finally, throw together the ganache. This stuff is super simple to make and awesomely delicious. It's like a thick chocolate glaze that tastes good on pretty much anything.
Take 1/4 C. soy milk in a small saucepan and slowly bring it to a gentle boil. Once hot, remove from the heat and add 4 oz. semisweet baker's chocolate, chopped, and 2 T. maple syrup. Stir constantly till the chocolate is melted and mixed with the milk and syrup. Let it sit and cool for ten minutes or so.
When everything is cool, take a butter knife and cut little wells in each cupcake. Pipe in the peanut butter frosting, and spread a generous helping of the ganache over it, so that it hides the peanut butter surprise lurking within. Top with an extra dollop of icing and serve. Don't cram them in your mouth too fast.
Up next: Red Velvet Cupcakes!

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