Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

I warn you, this will be a LONG blog because of multiple recipes and that everything (including the homemade fondant pumpkins) is made from scratch! I also like to explain how to do things. Who wants to read a blog and think something is cute and not have any idea how it was made? NOT ME! If you give this a try, it will be worth your time and a definite show stopper.

My husband trains basketball and asked that I make the kids some sweets. It is almost Thanksgiving, so I figured why not be festive? I don't know if you can believe it, but these cupcakes taste even better than they look! Who doesn't like the peanut butter chocolate combination (for you guys who don't, just make a cream cheese frosting)? So ... I bring you the most decadent peanut butter frosting EVER ... I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Ingredients for the Frosting
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup evaporated milk

Ingredients for the Fondant (I only made 1/4 of this recipe)
1 package (16-ounces) white mini marshmallows
2-5 tablespoons water
2 pounds (about 8 cups) sifted confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening

Ingredients/Accessories for Assembly
1 pastry bag
Wilton 1M tip
Thanksgiving sprinkles
Orange and brown food coloring
Luster dust
Pastry brush

Directions for Frosting
1. Combine sugar, peanut butter, butter, and vanilla to a stand mixer. Mix well.
2. Add evaporated milk until you get your desired consistency (I added a little bit extra powdered sugar because I like my frosting much more firm).

Directions for Fondant
1. Place marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe bowl (a BIG bowl, the marshmallows will expand). Microwave 30 seconds on high; stir until mixed well. Continue microwaving 30 seconds more; stir again. Continue until melted (about 2 1/2 minutes).
2. Place 3/4 of the confectioners' sugar on top of the melted marshmallow mixture. Fold sugar into marshmallow mixture. Flavoring can be added at this point if desired (I didn't flavor it and it turned out just fine). Place solid vegetable shortening in easily accessed bowl so you can reach into it with fingers as you are working. 
3. Grease hands and counter GENEROUSLY; turn marshmallow mixture onto counter. Start kneading like you would dough. Continue kneading, adding additional confectioners' sugar and re-greasing hands and counter so the fondant doesn't stick. Fondant should form a firm, smooth elastic ball that will stretch without tearing; about 8 minutes of kneading.

Note: If the marshmallow fondant is tearing easily, it is too dry; add water (about 1/2 tablespoon at a time).

Directions for Fondant Pumpkin
1. Dye the majority of your fondant orange and a TINY amount of the fondant brown (I use gel dyes).
2. Use a tablespoon measuring spoon to separate the orange fondant into equal parts. Roll each part into a ball.
3. After each orange ball is formed, quickly take the back of a knife and roll it along the side (do not drag the knife) of forming a pumpkin affect. Repeat until the entire orange ball looks like a pumpkin.

4. Set aside on parchment paper to allow to harden.
5. Roll the brown fondant into miniature pumpkin stems. Set aside and allow to harden.
6. Once the fondant is harder, add a LITTLE bit of water to the base of the stem and place on the top of the pumpkin (this picture was before i trimmed the stems; you will notice the final product stems look MUCH better than these).

7. If desired, use a brush to add some luster dust to the creases of the pumpkin to add some depth.

Directions for Assembly
1. Place the piping tip in the bottom of a pastry bag and fill with the prepared frosting.
2. Begin frosting the cooled cupcake (you can do this however you want but I chose to pipe tons of flowers by holding the tip in one spot until the desired height of frosting is released; continue this process until the entire cupcake is covered with frosting).
3. Immediately add the sprinkles to the outer edge of the frosting (if the frosting is too dry, the sprinkles will not stick).
4. Place the hardened fondant pumpkin in the center and admire your hard work!

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