I really love baking for birthdays. I especially love baking for surprise birthdays. At work, I like to bring in a few presents for my coworkers on their big day, and decorate their desks. When they walk into work, they are surprised by how festive their desk is and hopefully they feel loved and appreciated.
For this birthday celebration, I decided to choose a nautical theme; all of the presents in some way relate to the ocean. This birthday gal loves to spend time at the beach and on her boat with her husband and children. She also adores peanut butter and chocolate desserts. I always knew I would have to make her my Devil’s Food cupcakes with peanut butter frosting, and once I hit upon my theme, I knew how I would decorate them.
I like to use fondant to decorate cupcakes because you can get a very precise, colorful, clean look without a lot of effort. I still need to learn how to make my own fondant at home, but for this occasion I purchased some from my local craft and baking store. I also bought a small anchor cookie cutter/ fondant cutter. I wanted my color scheme to be blue and white, and so decided to make the anchors blue and have the disc they would like on top of be white. I bought striped cupcake liners to match.
Fondant is not something that everyone likes to eat, so I like to make it easy to remove. Making a disc that I place on top of a generously frosted cupcake ensures that people can remove the disc and still enjoy a well-frosted cupcake, even if the disc removes some of that frosting.
No matter how well decorated your cake is, though, it must be absolutely delicious to eat. This cake is deeply chocolatey and decadent. The coffee enhances the flavor of the chocolate; you won’t taste it. The peanut butter frosting is perfect; not overly greasy or sweet, and perfectly peanut buttery and fluffy. Give these cupcakes a try for a special occasion, or just because!
1 cup of softened butter
2 cups of peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
5 to 8 tablespoons of whipping cream, as needed
3 3/4 cups of confectioner’s sugar
In your stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add your softened butter and peanut butter and beat together until creamy. Add in your vanilla bean paste and mix well. Add your confectioner’s sugar slowly, until the frosting is thick. Add you whipping cream 1 tablespoon at a time, until the frosting is thick but spreadable. Once there, beat for 5 to 8 minutes until it is fluffy and paler in color. Set aside.
1/4 pound royal blue fondant
1/2 pound white fondant
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
I purchase my fondant, since I have yet to master making it on my own. Lightly dust your work station with confectioner’s sugar. Roll the white fondant out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with the 3 inch cookie cutter.You will want 12 3 inch white circles in all.
Reddest your surface with confectioner’s sugar. Roll out the blue fondant to a 1/4 inch thickness. Using a 1 1/2 inch anchor cookie cutter, cut out 12 anchors.
Brush the back of the white fondant anchors with some water and place them onto your blue fondant circles. All to dry, then place the fondant decoration on the top of your frosted cupcakes.
The Cake: (adapted from Laura Vitale)
2 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup coffee
1 cup of softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/3 cup whole milk
1/8 cup sour cream
This makes 18 cupcakes
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 cupcake pans with cupcake papers. It will make 18 cupcakes.
In a saucepan, combine the coffee, cocoa powder, and milk, and bring to a simmer. Mix well and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
In the bowl of your standing mixer fixed with a paddle attachment, add your butter and sugar and cream together until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add your vanilla bean paste and sour cream.
Add 1/3 of your flour mixture to the creamed butter and eggs and mix well. Add 1/2 of the coffee mixture and beat well. Add half the remaining flour mixture and beat well, then the remainder of the coffee mixer, and then the remainder of the flour mixture. Adding these ingredients in this alternating manner assures that everything will be well incorporated without being over beaten.
Divide your batter between into your cupcake liners. I use an ice cream scoop for the job. Bang the pans on the counter to rid the batter of any air bubbles.
Bake in your oven for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean and the cake springs back to the touch. Allow them to cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once cooled, add your peanut butter frosting to a piping bag fitted with a round tip, and frost your cupcakes. Top with you fondant decorations and enjoy!