Sorry, dude. I know how much you wanna phone home about how awesome these cupcakes are, but I don't think that's gonna happen. Guess you'll just have to stay here with me. I'm sorry I had to trick you with Reese's Pieces®. It's not that I think you're dumb or anything, I just knew you'd like them and wanted you to come out. They are quite delicious, no? Oh hey--remember when you got drunk? Or when you played dress-up? Yeah...good times.
Here's my first entry for November's Cupcake Hero event, hosted by CB of I ♥ Cuppycakes!. Entry deadline is November 15th, and voting starts a few days later when the round-up is posted. I'll post a voting reminder in a few weeks ;) The theme for this month is Peanut Butter, so I thought I'd pay tribute to my favorite extraterrestrial by incorporating his favorite candy into the recipe. If you ask me, Reese's Pieces®, with their delicate crispy shell and smooth creamy center, are the "bomb dot com." Sooo much better than those pesky M&Ms® (whose owner, Mars, Inc., declined the movie tie-in). Chocolate cake with Reese's Pieces® is pretty good, but what puts this cupcake over the top is the peanut butter Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC). If you've never made SMBC before, you're missing out! It's delicious and worth the extra effort.
E.T.'s Favorite Cupcakes:
Chocolate cupcake with peanut butter chips and Reese's Pieces® mixed in, frosted with peanut butter Swiss meringue buttercream. Topped with more Reese's Pieces®, of course!
E.T.'s Favorite Cupcakes (makes 24)
18.25 oz. box Betty Crocker® devil's food cake mix
8 oz. sour cream
4 oz. butter, melted (1 stick)
½ cup milk
½ cup Reese's Pieces® candy
½ cup peanut butter chips
Peanut butter SMBC, recipe follows
approx. ½ cup chopped Reese's Pieces® for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°F and line two muffin pans with paper liners. In a mixing bowl, combine cake mix, sour cream, melted butter, milk, and eggs. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds to moisten. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Increase mixer speed to medium and continue beating batter for 2 minutes (batter will be quite thick). Fold in Reese's Pieces® and peanut butter chips. Portion into 24 paper-lined cups, and bake at 350°F for 20-24 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.
Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream (adapted from HTEAC)
(enough to frost 24 cupcakes generously, with some leftover)
1¼ cups packed dark brown sugar
4 egg whites
¼ tsp. salt
8 oz. unsalted butter, softened but still cool
½ cup creamy peanut butter
Place brown sugar, egg whites, and salt in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water (double-boiler set-up). Heat, whisking constantly, until mixture reaches a temperature of 160°F. Take your time and bring the mixture up to temperature slowly; you'll know you're close when the mixture starts to get a little foamy. Once mixture has reached 160°F, remove from heat and pour into the work bowl of your stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the hot mixture on high for 5-7 minutes, until a marshmallow-type consistency is acheived.
**Important: Feel the sides of mixer bowl at this point. It needs to be at room temperature before proceeding. Chances are, it's still a bit warm. 160°F is pretty hot, so it may take some time to cool off.
Once the sugar-egg mixture has cooled down, switch over to your paddle attachment. With the machine running at medium-high, add the butter 1 Tablespoon at a time. At some point during this process, the frosting might look curdled--that's okay. Keep going and it should work itself smooth. Once all the butter is added, continue beating until a thick frosting is formed. I hate to use this phrase, but...you'll know it's done when you see it. Your mixture will probably look loose and batter-like for the longest time, then as you're watching the mixer go and go for what seems like an eternity, in an instant it will transform to a thick & pipeable consistency. When frosting is finished, add peanut butter and beat to incorporate.
HELP! The frosting never turned out for me :(
If the sugar-egg mixture is too warm and/or the butter is too soft when they are combined, the emulsion will never form and you'll get butter soup. If this happens, don't freak out! And whatever you do, DON'T toss the whole thing. Stash the whole thing in the fridge for say, 15-30 minutes (depending on how liquidy your mixture is), or until the mixture has chilled and has thickened some. You don't want it in there so long that it turns solid though. Once it's chilled a bit, try beating it again. This has worked for me in the past, so hopefully it does for you too. Don't give up if it looks ruined!