Chocolate and peanut butter mini cakes
High Country Baking
The two-inch cakes (my favorite size for a cupcake, yielding two yummy bites) feature a rich chocolate flavor and moist, dense texture (think pound cake) complemented by thick swirls of smooth, melt-in-your-mouth peanut butter frosting. And, if you want to gild the lily, you can embellish the frosting further with a sprinkle of grated dark chocolate and a drizzle of the same chocolate, melted. No, it’s not gourmet, but it’s mighty tasty.
Make the Cakes
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the lower third. Line the cupcake pan with paper liners. Lightly grease the liners with a vegetable oil-flour baking spray.
2. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and whisk vigorously to combine. Add the softened butter pieces, the egg and the egg white. Set a timer for 2 minutes. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until the dry ingredients are moistened but not wet. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until the 2 minutes are up. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
3. In a 1-cup measure or small bowl, combine the cold milk, the espresso powder and the vanilla. Add this to the batter and beat for another 2 ½ minutes on high speed, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as you do so.
4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling the cups to about a quarter of an inch from the top. Smooth the tops and tap the filled pan on a counter a couple times to release any air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 16 to 18 minutes (longer for standard-sized cupcakes). Don’t overbake. Remove to a rack and cool about ten minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and let them cool completely.
5. Cut the butter into 8 pieces, add them and the peanut butter to a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the vanilla and sugar, ¼ cup at a time, until a firm, smooth mixture forms. Add milk or cream a little at a time until it reaches a pipe-able consistency. If it’s too thin, add more sugar. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and make swirls of frosting on each cake. If using chocolate topping, grate about 1 ½ tablespoons of the semisweet chocolate and sprinkle it on the frosted tops. Melt the remaining chocolate and drizzle it decoratively over the frosting.
Vera Dawson, author of the high-altitude cookbooks “Baking Above It All” and “Cookies in the Clouds,” is a high-altitude baking teacher. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude.