My step-dad is a peanut butter nut, so for his birthday yesterday I made magic-in-the-middle cupcakes. I was inspired by what I saw going on at Cupcake Bakeshop , which has some gorgeous-looking filled cupcakes and great how-to pictures , and also by the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion magic-in-the-middle cookies, which I have drooled over for some time without actually making. These are basically chocolate cupcakes with a sweet peanut butter center and rich chocolate ganache frosting. They are very rich, but one makes you feel perfectly content and deliciously satisfied. I like the cupcake format because it's easy not to over-indulge.
The basic idea here is to take a small sharp knife and cut a cone shape out of the center of the cupcake, reserving the cone. Fill the empty space with filling, then cut the excess cake off the cone and replace the top back on the cupcake. Once you've frosted them, no one can tell the difference!
We cheated and used a chocolate cake mix, but we picked up a nice one at the local gourmet grocery store. Instead of the usual partially-hydrogenated vegetable solids found in most cake mixes, this one had us add the fat in liquid butter form, with very tasty results. The picture doesn't really do it justice because it's a terrible cell phone picture - alas, my digital camera isn't around right now. In any case, this is a fun cake for a special occasion - especially one at which the birthday boy needs to feel like a kid again!
Use your own chocolate cake recipe or mix; here's what I did for filling and quick icing:
Peanut Butter Filling
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix the peanut butter with 1 tablespoon water and beat with a hand-held mixer or a fork until shiny. You can add more to change the consistancy, but if you add too much, the mixture will seperate and turn grainy. Then beat in the sugar and vanilla. Feel free to add more peanut butter or more/less sugar to change the flavor.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
8 oz bittersweet chocolate/chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream
Put the chocolate in a small bowl. Heat the cream on low heat until it just begins to bubble around the edge of the pan. Then pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for five minutes. Stir until the chocolate has melted and been fully incorporated. The frosting should be very shiny. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes to thicken the consistency; you can put it in the fridge to shorten the time a bit, but the ganache will lose some of its gleam.
Fill cupcakes, frost, and serve with a candle!