Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Out with a Cupcake - Bye Michigan

This post is bittersweet, and that's not just a reference to the Chocolate Ganache or Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting I used to top these Peanut Butter Cupcakes.

Today marks the day I move out of my college house in Michigan and back into my parents' house in Florida until I take a job elsewhere, preferably in a big city.

These past few weeks have been emotionally charged and incredibly strange. I've said, "goodbye" to many of my best friends, finished working at each of my jobs, packed up and shipped home all the things I'm keeping, and thrown out or donated the rest.

I've also been keeping track of all of my "lasts:"
  • Last night out in Ann Arbor
  • Last dinner we'll cook together
  • Last early morning greasy breakfast with my roommates 
  • And finally, last blog post in Ann Arbor
I realize that for the average reader, where the author of an online blog is posting from doesn't make a bit of difference, but for me, it makes all the difference in the world. 

No longer will I be able to walk around to my friends' houses with plates full of cookies or cupcakes to share. No longer will I be able to show up at my friends' house with two platefuls of cupcakes for an impromptu tasting session. No longer will I get to surprise my roommates with a cookie-scented house when they come home from work. Sad, sad, sad. 

To mark this end of an era, I set up a Michigan-themed photo shoot of these Peanut Butter Cupcakes I made with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Ganache. 

My sister and I were craving something peanut butter when we mapped out our baking plans and settled on Peanut Butter Cupcakes. I couldn't decide between topping them with this Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting or with Chocolate Ganache. So I didn't. 

I gave this plate of goodies to the professor I worked for all year as a thank you
Peanut Butter Cupcakes (Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com)
Makes well over 2 dozen regular sized cupcakes, 4 dozen minis, or some combination of regular sized cupcakes, mini cupcakes, and a small cake like I made.

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (the original recipe called for Cream of Tarter. I don't have that. Commenters said replacing it with lemon would work just fine)
  • 1 pinch salt

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your cupcake pan(s)
  • In a large bowl, blend brown sugar, shortening and peanut butter until light and fluffy
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time
  • Add vanilla and lemon juice
  • In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt (if you're using Cream of Tarter, add that here too)
  • Alternate adding flour mixture and milk (about 1/2 cup at a time of each) into the batter until all incorporated 
  • Evenly distribute batter into prepared pan(s) 
This batter was one of the lightest and fluffiest I've worked with yet
  • Bake mini cupcakes for about 11 minutes, regular cupcakes for about 16 minutes, and mini cake for at least 20 minutes (times may vary depending on your oven, so check with a toothpick)
  • Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (Recipe adapted from Cupcake Project):
Makes enough frosting for about half of your cupcakes (I topped the rest with Ganache)

  • 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature 
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar 
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder 
  • 1/2 tablespoon heavy cream (milk will work too)


  • In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese and butter together until smooth
  • Add powdered sugar about a cup at a time
  • Add cocoa powder
  • NOTE: At this point, my frosting was really thick. Too thick to work with. So, I added 1/2 tablespoon heavy cream to make it more manageable. I'm noticing now that I never sifted my powdered sugar. Maybe that made the difference. Make a judgement call here and add the liquid if your frosting is hard to manage, or skip it if it's fine.
My frosting pre-last minute addition of heavy cream

After I added the heavy cream
I piped the frosting onto my cupcakes. This is really easy to do. For instructions, check out my post about Peach Tea Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate Ganache: (Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com):
Makes enough to cover a small cake and about 6 cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate 
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

    • Bring heavy cream to a boil in a medium sized pot 
    • As soon as it starts to boil, remove from heat and pour over chocolate 
    • Whisk until smooth 
    • Let it cool for several minutes before pouring over cake(s)

    EATING TIP: For whatever reason, these cupcakes were best the day AFTER I baked them. Immediately after they finished, they were good but a little too dense for my liking. It was as though the peanut butter weighted them down. The next day, this denseness magically disappeared and I was left with light and fluffy peanut butter cupcakes. 

    You can take the girl out of Michigan, but you can't take the Michigan out of the girl. GO BLUE!

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