Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dangerously Decadent Cupcakes


I had to come up with a shorter name for these cupcakes because "Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Center and Peanut Butter Frosting Dipped in Homemade Magic Shell" is technically correct but WAAAAY too long, don't you think?

Besides, Dangerously Decadent Cupcakes is also accurate given the various individual and combined components. I'm pretty sure these should come with a warning. Something like: These are so rich and delicious, you are advised to eat at your own risk; death by cupcake is not out of the realm of possibility.

Dwight and I were invited to a cookout last Saturday which gave me the perfect opportunity to test out a cupcake idea on some willing guinea pigs. I've found that most people don't really care that you're testing a recipe on them, especially if it involves cupcakes. And chocolate. And peanut butter. So I looked up some recipes, combined various ideas together and came up with these.


I'll list the recipes below and provide a link for a printable recipe as well (NEW FEATURE ALERT). I plan on adding printable recipes to archived posts, but it'll take me some time. In the mean time, I've condensed the ridiculous amount of photos I took into some collages. Individual photos are at my flickr photostream if you just can't get enough choco-peanut butter goodness.

cake collage

First things first: The Cake. I found this recipe from Cook's Illustrated featured on a number of blogs. It comes together a bit like homemade brownies, using bittersweet chocolate, cocoa and butter all melted together then added to an egg-sugar mix. Next, you add the rest of the ingredients, the usual suspects like flour and leaveners, but this recipe also includes sour cream. Another level of richness to an already heady lineup of ingredients.


As you can see, the batter is very thick and almost fluffy. It's not like a typical cake batter. I used my large Pampered Chef scoop to get the batter into the paper liners (which are adorable, don't you think? psst...I got them at Michael's).


But did you see what I tucked in the batter? Mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I used the dark chocolate ones, but you can use regular, if you prefer. Based on a suggestion I found while browsing for recipes, you can freeze them for 20-30 minutes prior to baking. I did, but I'm not sure what difference it made. Maybe the centers would melt a bit if left room temp? As it was, mine stayed pretty much "as is" except the outer chocolate melted, creating these cute little divots.


These divots are evident when you cut down the center like I did for the first photo. When you're shoving them in your face, though, you never even know it's there. You could easily pipe a dollop of frosting in there first then pipe the swirl if you just can't handle the thought of there being even a smidge of wasted frosting coverage.

Next came The Frosting. Oh, my. This frosting. It's incredible. It's made of butter, peanut butter, powdered sugar and whipping cream — what's not to like?


I used my Wilton 1M tip, filled a disposable bag, and went to town.

Heaven, whipped into a pale golden fluff.


 If I'd stopped right there, these would still be amazing. But I had an idea – take the peanut butter cup idea and apply it to the frosting. Let's dip 'em in chocolate coating. So I went looking for a homemade "magic shell" kind of recipe. I knew they were out there (Google it - there are a number of variations) but what surprised me was that the secret ingredient wasn't paraffin–my suspicion–but coconut oil. Why coconut oil, you ask? Well, because it's solid at room temperature. It's melting point is 76°F so keep it below that, and you've got a (relatively) solid chocolate shell. Granted, it stays much more solid on something really cold like ice cream, but put the cupcakes in the freezer before dipping and keep them in the fridge after, and you're good to go. (Which also means this wasn't the BEST idea for a cookout recipe, but I didn't hear any complaints.)

dip collage

(Oh, goodness. All of that dipping took me back to my Dairy Queen days—back in the olden days. You know, High School.) The dip was a little thin, but Dwight had the best idea "Why not dip them twice?" Done and done.


I packed them into my (really crappy) cupcake carrier and we headed off to the cookout.

eating collage

They were a big hit, with kids...

and dogs alike. (Don't worry, she only had a some of the frosting, and a tiny bit of chocolate.)

Now let's get to the recipes!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes 
(with Reese’s PB Cup Center)
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Makes approx 12 (I got 15 out of it with plenty of batter left on the sides of the bowl for me to enjoy. What?)

8 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I used Ghiradelli)
1/2 cup (1.5 oz) Dutch processed cocoa (or regular if that’s what you’ve got handy)
3/4 cup (3.75 oz) All-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup (5.25 oz) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (4 oz) sour cream (you could use reduced fat, but really…why bother)
12-15 mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line tin with cupcake liners.

Combine butter, chopped chocolate and cocoa in a small bowl. Microwave 30 seconds then stir. Microwave at 15 second intervals until smooth. (It only took me the first 30 seconds plus 15 more before it was smooth and glossy.) Don’t overheat! Alternately, you can get fancy and use a double boiler, or a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water.

Cool until barely warm.

In small bowl, combine flour, soda and powder.

In a medium-ish bowl, beat the eggs then whisk in the sugar and salt. Add the cooled chocolate mix, beating until smooth and well combined. Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. Whisk until fully combined. Add sour cream, mixing well, then add remaining flour mixture, whisking till flour is fully incorporated and batter is thick.

Scoop batter into lined tins using you preferred method—spoon, ice cream scoop, measuring cup. Place a mini Reese’s cup in the center of each cake. Press into the batter until nearly level with the top.

Bake 15-20 minutes (original recipe said 18-20 but mine were most definitely done at 15 minutes). Check doneness with toothpick. If it comes out clean, you’re good.

Cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then move to a wire rack to cool thoroughly before frosting.

Printable Recipe Here

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting
Adapted from browneyedbaker.com
Easily covers 18 cupcakes, and that’s if you have a heavy hand.

1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 - 2/3 cup whipping cream (heavy cream) adjust as necessary - add more if it looks like it needs it. Go wild.

Beat peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar until thoroughly combined. Add cream and beat until light and fluffy. Give it a few minutes to get nice and pale and lovely. Lick the beaters. No, really. Do it. It’ll make you feel like a kid again.

Spread onto cooled cupcakes or pipe with your preferred decorating tip.

Homemade Magic Shell
Adapted from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

3 regular size Hershey bars, broken into smaller bits
1/2 cup coconut oil

Combine chocolate and oil in small, deep bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. The oil will have melted, but the chocolate will still be partially solid. Microwave at 15 second intervals until the mixture is smooth. It won’t take long.

Pour over ice cream or dip frosted cupcakes that have been in the freezer at least 15 minutes. Take cupcakes out just a few at a time. If you’re double dipping, place cupcakes back in the freezer for a few minutes before re-dipping.

Enjoy! Sure, it’s not exactly health food, but it’s got to be at least a little better for you than the processed stuff in a squeeze bottle.

Just for the record, I had plenty of this left over after double dipping 12 cupcakes–a good 1/2 cup or more left. It’ll keep in the pantry for a while, but if you put it in the fridge, it’ll turn solid and you’ll need to nuke it before using.

Printable Recipe Here

I hope you made it all the way through that post; it was a whopper. And let me know what you think of the printable recipes. Do you want them with pics, or do you prefer text only. What about the size? Is full page good, or do you prefer recipe cards? 

Let me know in the comments!


  1. Ummm, holy crap? Your recipes never cease to amaze me, and the pics are stellar! Rock on!

    And thanks for the disclaimer about the dog. I was about to report you to the SPCA! ;)

  2. those cupcakes are definitely dangerously decadent! wow, I could eat those till I burst!! what a great recipe, I should try the peanut butter cup idea with my girls!

  3. WOW! Those cupcakes look deadly, yet delicious. the pictures are absolutely stunning. i love chocolate and peanut butter together! great job!!!

  4. WOWSA! Seriously my mouth is watering. I love the printables - and as usual your pics are stellar!

  5. My jaw just dropped! haha. These are definitely decadent but I would gladly down 3 of them! haha. These look beyond good! I want one!
    Would you mind checking out my blog? :D http://ajscookingsecrets.blogspot.com/

  6. delicious! i have no doubt that my face would end up looking much like the kiddo's, and i'm okay with that. :)

  7. OMG I'm dying. That's it, the perfect food right there. I could leap through the screen right now to eat that....if there ever was a deadly combo it would have to be PB and Chocolate. Gorgeous!!

  8. These look absolutely amazing!!! I'm definitely going to have to try these.


  9. Saw your feature on Cupcake Takes the Cake and just had to come by, check out your wonderful recipe, and say hi! It seems that those of us who are confectionerily inspired have been on the same Reese's wavelength this month ~ you, me, and Cookies & Cups, to name of few, have been baking up some magic with the classic pb/choc candies. I love, love, love, your take on the pb/choc combo. Gotta love a gal who appreciates Cooks Illustrated! Your photos are beautiful and your tutorial is great. Love your wit, humor and style! I'm so excited to try your recipe for homemade Magic-Shell!

  10. omg, these are going on the to do list this weekend! YUM!

    Kim @ http://frostmeblog.blogspot.com
    party inspiration

  11. oooo yummy!! i am going to try these :)

  12. Oh my gosh ~ they look amazing!!! I just found your blog through Cupcakes Take the Cake and I am so glad I did. I love chocolate & PB, definitely making these soon!

  13. Hot Damn! (Sorry, but how else can I exclaim how amazing these cupcakes look? And me imagining the process and the flavors as I bite into them. How amazing are these! Thanks for making our lives a whole lot sweeter.)

  14. DB- You'll have to start making a list of requests for when you visit. :)

    Chef Dennis - These are so rich, I about burst after eating just one. :) I think your girls would love them. My nieces sure did!

    Honey - Thanks for the compliments!

    Susie - I'm excited about the printables. Let me know if you run into any problems with them!

    AJ- Thanks for stopping by! Your blogs looks fantastic - love the design. Can't wait to check it out in depth!

    Grace - Yeah, I pretty much lost all decorum eating these. ;)

  15. Elizabeth - LOKE PB & chocolate combo - such a classic, and for good reason.

    Frosted - Thanks for stopping by! (I can't wait to check out your blog!)

    Jenn- Thanks for the heads up about Cupcake Takes the Cake! I had no idea they featured these. Thank you so much for stopping by. Your is great and the PB Cup Brownie cones - to die for - SUCH a great idea!

    Kim - Let me know how the cupcakes go! And thanks for stopping by because now I know about your blog which looks fabulous. I love love love seeing all of the party inspiration (and your blog header is ADORABLE).

  16. Baa Baa Cupcake - Thanks for stopping by! I'm SO going to make your blueberry cupcakes - WOW! Now I'm extra glad my husband and I went nuts BB picking this year!

    Pink Mixer - (Love the pink mixer, BTW!) Thank you for stopping by after seeing the link on Cupcake Takes the Cake.

    Daniel - :) How can you go wrong with PB & chocolate?

  17. Heavens to Mergatroid those look sinful! So good!

    As for the printable recipes - I love them exactly as you have them.

  18. Disneypal - Thank you so much for stopping by and for leaving feedback on the printable recipes. Glad you like them!

  19. sweet charlotte! I must have these now. nicely done!

  20. vanillasugar- Thanks! I hope you like them as much as I did. :)

  21. OH MY GAHD. are you joking? those look like the best thing in the entire world.

    eff. i wish you hadn't done that. now i need to make them...

  22. These look so delicious and rich! I really want to try them. I was wondering if there is a noticeable coconut taste in the faux "Magic Shell"? I have a couple of coconut haters here that won't touch anything with the taste, texture or even smell of coconut.

  23. DoughGirl- I wondered about that myself and took a big whiff of the oil after I opened it -- nothing. Another nice thing about coconut oil is that it's a "neutral" oil, meaning it has no taste. So no worries with your picky eaters. They won't taste or smell it at all. :) Have fun!

  24. I just found your blog and OH MY GOSH. These cupcakes look absolutely to die for good. I have to find an excuse to make them...ASAP!!!

  25. I've been wanting to make an amazing peanut butter cupcake, and I'm sitting here in awe at not only the picture, but the recipes. I can't wait to try this on my chocolate-peanut butter lover friend!

  26. My diabetic mouth is drooling, lol.

  27. THESE LOOK A-MA-ZING!!!! My kids will love these! Thanks for posting photo directions! I am your newest follower! ::Kristin::

  28. Where do you buy coconut oil? I am hoping to make these tomorrow for my hubbys B-day :D They look yummy!

  29. Renee- I just emailed you, but for anyone else that might be wondering, I found the oil along side the regular oil, but with the organic/fancy oils. This was at my local supermarket. Here's a link to what I bought:

  30. What a gorgeous cupcake recipe!! I am making these tomorrow! However being in England we have no Reese's cups and so I'm making them myself!

    Can i substitute Coconut Oil?? Possibly Veg Oil? But i don't want the shell to taste nasty...

    It's extremely hard to get hold of here and is soooo expensive!

    I cannot wait to try them! xx

  31. AnnabelleBlue- The original recipe used vegetable shortening, one brand name for that is Crisco. Not sure if you have that in the UK. Basically you need a fat that's going to be solid at room temperature. I hope that helps!

  32. AnnabelleBlue (and others) - the other thing you can do is use a bit of regular vegetable oil (canola or something similar) to melt with the chocolate then just drizzle it over the cupcake rather than dunk it. Not the same effect, but it'll give you a bit of the chocolate-over-peanut butter-over chocolate idea behind the dunking!

  33. I used your recipe last night (with a few tweaks) and the cupcakes were delicious!

    I stopped at a large retail store yesterday and it is currently being revamped into a “Super- W*****t” so a lot of the shelves are literally empty! Since I’m lazy, I decided to make due with what I could find. I replaced the heavy cream in the frosting with cream cheese, and the bittersweet chocolate with Lindt Dark Chocolate with a touch of Sea Salt. In hindsight, I really wish I had just gone to get some whipping cream because although the frosting turned out good, it was very rich. The cake was so moist and fluffy we had to eat the cupcakes with forks, but it was most definitely I think, and a general concensus, the best thing I’ve ever baked! (Besides the fact I over filled the cupcake pan) So thank you!! I think the sea salt chocolate was a great touch because it’s so so subtle, but it makes the cakes taste wonderful and the sour cream makes it super moist!

    *PS> I like to use a piping bag to fill the cake pan, it's MUCH easier than an ice cream scoop or measuring cup, and much less messy!

  34. HLee- Awesome! I'm so glad you made them and reported back - thank you! I love hearing about your experience making them.

    Also, the tip about filling the pan using a bag is a GREAT idea. I'll have to remember to try the sea salt chocolate, too! :)

  35. i am absolutly amazed by these and cant wait to make them! ive always been someone who loves to bake and i love to try to make new cupcakes my friends and family have never tasted.. i think these will be PERFECT for the next party!! thank you for sharing and thank you for the easy printable recipes with pictures!

  36. YiDDiE - Thanks for the feedback on the printable recipes. I'm glad you like them! Please stop back after you make the cupcakes--I'd love to hear how they turned out!

  37. These look fantastic! I've always wanted to try those hard hat cupcakes but I like this recipe better! Stumbled and bookmarked!

  38. Grabbing this one for my weekly test recipe, but plan to go with more of a Milk Chocolate profile since that is what my DH loves! Thanks for sharing this!

  39. buttercups cupcakes
    The first is to use your oven instead of a campfire. Place a graham cracker on a lined
    cookie sheet. I prefer to use mini marshmallows for the indoor recipes. Place several mini
    marshmallows on the graham cracker and place under the broiler. Turn on low. Let the
    marshmallows melt onto the graham crackers. Once done, pull them out and place the
    chocolate on top and then cover with the second graham cracker. These are actually pretty
    good. All they're missing is that burnt taste on the outside of the marshmallow that only a
    campfire can provide. Once they're put together, you can put them back in the warm oven to soften the chocolate and make the graham crackers a bit warm. Don't heat too long as you don't want the chocolate to actually melt.
    buttercups cupcakes

  40. These are the most amazing chocolate-peanut butter cupcakes I've ever tasted.
    Even if you don't like/love peanut butter, the chocolate cupcake alone it's so rich & decadent.
    This recipe is a must!!!

  41. Hi I tried this recipe and you are so right about it, it is decadent. Linking you to my blog. :)



  42. I would like to make the cupcakes. I would prefer to make mini cupcakes, but would like your opinion if it would be too small for the mini peanut butter cup.? Also, Martha Stewart has a recipe for the chocolate magic shell that was used on her "Hi Hat Cupcakes" -- I believe it was with canola oil which may be easier for some people to find than coconut. Appreciate any help ---- do these cupcakes need to be refrigerated after dipping? Sue

  43. Anon (Sue) - thanks for stopping by and the comment. I did send you an email, but wanted to answer here. I think half of a mini RPB cup would be better. I think a full one would be nearly as large and the cupcake.

    Regarding the topping, I would certainly trust Martha Stewart on just about any food question, so here recipe sounds like a good alternative. I don't think subbing canola oil for coconut would work with the one above, so definitely use the entire recipe from MS.

    I did refrigerate the cupcakes to make sure they didn't melt. Just remove them about 15-20 minutes before serving to take off the chill.

    Have fun and enjoy! Let me know how it goes!

  44. Cai - I'm SO glad you liked them! Thanks for linking. :)

  45. Yum! I'm so thrilled to make these for my husband when he gets home. Thanks for sharing.


  46. Oh my goodness. These are all that are right and holy in the world.

  47. Kelly, these cupcakes look SO delicious! I just found this post and your blog and cannot wait to try them.
    I have a daughter who will go nuts for these.
    Thanks for sharing!

  48. Made your cupcakes for my dad's birthday.

    VERY EASY (and quick (and delicious))!

  49. These are absolutely beautiful cupcakes!

  50. Wow...magazine quality cupcakes for sure! In response to your cupcake transporter, I got this super gift for my birthday from my sisters and absolutely LOVE IT! It's a cupcake transporter that's in the shape of....you guessed it...a GIANT CUPCAKE!!! It holds 2 dozen cupcakes. It's so cute and it leaves more than enough room so the cupcake icing doesn't get mashed and no one touches all the cupcakes in an effort to get theirs out. Just search 'Giant Cupcake Holder' and you will find it. I have the big pink one.

  51. Awesome cupcakes! I LOVED the printable recipes!! Thanks!

  52. Can you please tell me if you are using "miniature peanut butter cups" or "Mini" ones? I guess one has a paper on it that you would remove and the minis don't. I also wonder if you could use the minis to make the mini cupcakes? Thank you, Sue

  53. Hi, Sue! I used the miniature ones, the kind with the papers. I don't think the mini's had come out just yet. As far as using the minis in mini cupcakes - I think that would be perfect! Let me know how it goes! You can always email me directly at somethingshiny at frontier dot com.

  54. I like these "Dark Chocolate Cupcakes 
(with Reese’s PB Cup Center)", it looks delicious, can I use coconut oil for additional flavouring?

  55. I made these on Monday night for my colleagues at work. They were gone in a flash. Awesome cupcakes!

  56. I found these on Pinterest. They look amazing!

  57. I make peanut butter cup cupcakes often and found a trick to keep the PB Cups centered and not baking down to the bottom is to toss them lightly in flour and just set them on top of the batter...don't push them down. just a tip!

  58. Oh my God! This is amazing! I´m already in shock!!!! Awesome and love the printable. Thanks for sharing because here in Spain there aren´t cupcakes materials and recipies.

  59. My boys devoured them. My husband was sampling at each step ;)

  60. Taking these to my mother in law's for Easter dinner. Thanks so much!! (found you on Pinterest)

  61. Dogs can die from chocolate so I'm glad she only had a tiny bit. Be cautious next time.

    This is a great idea! Love the cupcakes!

  62. Hey curious when you make the frosting, is the butter straight out of fridge or room temp or softened? Making them today look delish!

    1. The butter should be room temp or close to. You're going to LOVE that frosting. It's seriously amazing!


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