The month of March is great for three reasons: March Madness, spring training and most of all, birthdays. I know more than 20 people who were born in the month of March, including my younger sister, my childhood neighbor, two other Observer staffers and myself.
My friend’s dad, who was also my softball coach growing up, shares March 25 as a birth date and so do three high school classmates, including a set of twins.
And those are only the people I can remember without the help of Facebook.
With birthday celebrations happening multiple times a week, it calls for some baking creativity.
For my last baking responsibility of the month, I set out to bring back a flavor from my childhood: peanut butter. Even though peanut butter is also a staple in my adult diet, as I stood in my kitchen, jamming out to “90s Pop Radio,” I was instantly catapulted back to my pre-teen years.
Pandora switched from Usher to Backstreet Boys to Ace of Bass and eventually I found myself dancing to Spice Girls, while images of my middle school self flashed across my mind.
It took the beeping of the oven and the wafting aroma of the chocolate peanut butter cupcakes to bring me back to reality. I was no longer a pre-teen; I was a 25-year-old who was late for an editorial meeting. I hurriedly pulled off my apron and rushed for the door, stopping briefly to grab my Destiny’s Child CD for the drive. After all, age is just a number.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
What you need:
For the filling:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
For the frosting:
8 ounce cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 cupcake pans.
To make the filling, combine the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter and vanilla extract in a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and set aside on a baking sheet.
To make the cake batter, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; whisk together and set aside. In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the sour cream, milk and vanilla extract. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar, and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until incorporated.
Spoon 1 tablespoon or 2 of batter into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Place a ball of the peanut butter filling in each cupcake well and top with the remaining batter so that all the cups are filled.
Bake for 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, in a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter and peanut butter until smooth. Slowly mix in the confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth and well blended. Mix in the whipped topping until smooth and fluffy.
Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.
For more from Shanna's Kitchen, click here.