“Peanut butter [is] the pâté of childhood.” – Florence Fabricant
When I saw another cupcake event was on the horizon for 140Sweets (formerly Cupcakes4Charity) I figured it was time to figure out something new to try out. Something I’d always wanted to learn. And something that (hopefully) I’d be able to pull off successfully. It wasn’t until Thanksgiving of last year that I’d ever even tried a Peanut Butter and Jelly cupcake, adding one in to my order from Hill Country here in NYC. Oh. My. Take a regular vanilla cupcake, stuff it with some squishy jelly in the middle, and cap it off with some fluffy peanut butter. What more could one want? Since then, I’ve had countless ones from Sage General Store in Long Island City. And finally, I decided it was time to see if I could make this magic happen on my own.
I started searching for recipes, but was annoyed. Half seemed to dodge putting the jelly in the middle. I love you Martha Stewart, but no. Placing a blob of jelly on the top of the cupcake is so not the same. The others involved injecting it into the center of the cooled vanilla cupcakes. This seemed a bit involved. Would the cupcakes crumble when I shoved in the piping bag? Or even explode once the jelly was thrust into the middle? It seemed a cupcake calamity would be inevitable. I’d made other cupcakes with filled centers (namely chocolate with cream cheese filling), so was it really necessary for a Welch’s injection? Apparently so. I’m guessing the jelly disrupts the baking process somehow. And who really wants jelly that’s been subjected to 350 degree temps?
If I had to go the injection route, I decided to go with the below recipe from Tyler Florence I found on the Food Network’s site – partly because it looked doable and partly because I wanted to be able to visualize Tyler as I baked (hiiiii!).
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 cup grape jelly (I used Welch’s Grape Jelly)
- Candy bars (Reese’s Pieces, Butterfinger, Nutterbutter, Heath Bar, smashed up with a rolling pin, for decorating — I skipped this, since it seemed like overload to me)
- Peanut butter frosting, recipe follows
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line a cupcake pan with paper liners, gently spray the liners with nonstick spray and set aside.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt over a large piece of paper. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with a hand mixer on medium speed, until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, the egg yolk, and the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Pour in the milk and continue to mix until smooth. Pick up the paper with the dry ingredients and gradually pour it into the wet ingredients, continue to mix just until blended.
- Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared cupcake tins, about 3/4 full. Bake until the tops of the cupcakes spring back to the touch and are not too golden; about 20 minutes (ended up being 22 for me). Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, and then allow to cool completely on a wire rack before filling, frosting or decorating.
- Fill a squirt bottle with the grape jelly and screw on the cap. Carefully insert the tip of the squirt bottle as far as it will go into the top of the cupcakes. Gently squeeze about 1 tablespoon worth of jelly inside of each. Ice the tops of the cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting to cover. Decorate with your favorite candy (optional).
Peanut Butter Frosting
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup smooth peanut butter (I used JIF)
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
Beat the butter, peanut butter, and cream cheese with a hand or standing mixer on medium speed, until light and fluffy. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar and continue to mix until the frosting is smooth, mix in the milk and continue to mix until it reaches a good spreading consisting.
Yield: 2 cups (Tip: I actually made double the cupcake recipe and one full recipe of the icing was enough for both cupcake batches, with way too much to spare for me to spoon away at…)
Overall, I found the cupcakes very easy to make. I made it in stages, doing the cupcakes one day in advance to allow them to fully cool before moving on to the jelly injection. If you had more time to work with and weren’t trying to squeeze baking into remaining hours in the day post-work it could easily be done on a weekend.
I purchased a basic set of Wilton tips and decorating bag to use for the jelly. I went on the conservative side and used one of the smaller tips for the filling. I did not realize how easy it would actually be to fill the cupcakes, so I found this tip actually didn’t put quite as much jelly in the cupcakes as would be ideal. Next time, I’d definitely opt for one with a wider circumference.
When I did the filling, I allowed the jelly to sort of bubble over the top of the cupcake so there was a little pool on top of each cupcake. When I went to ice them with the peanut butter frosting, this worked well as it sort of swirled with the icing. I’d maybe even do more next time to make the mix a bit more prominent. As I noted above, the icing recipe made enough for two recipes worth of the cupcakes. And an optional step up at the beginning is to turn on Dirty Dancing. I found the movie quite enjoyable to dance to as I baked. Just a suggestion.
Having taste tested for quality, I can say these cupcakes are very good! Hope to see some of you tonight at the 140Sweets event. Stop by, say hello, and try a PB&J cupcake… I’m the one in the Welch’s grape jelly colored dress!