This recipe changed the way I think of cupcakes I made these and I could not amazon prime the book, Robicelli’s: A Love Story, with Cupcakes, fast enough! You should absolutely buy this book as soon as possible, it will change your life. I think its obvious how amazing these cupcakes are, just look at the name. I made some adaptations here, my recipe produced 20 cupcakes, I only needed 2/3 of the French Buttercream. But I used the same amount of vanilla and peanut butter and it was perfect. I actually completely forgot about the ganache the first time I made these. They were still amazing but I think the ganache really adds something to the crunchy topping. Definitely use only the best cocao powder, I recommend Valrhona Cocoa Powder.
Canola oil is an option here but I am using grapeseed oil now because the Robicelli’s recommend it. I do not know if it was just coincidence but when I made them with grapeseed oil, the cupcakes seemed lighter, more delicate. There is a lot going on with this dessert, I would suggest serving this with a dry sparkling wine. Gloria Ferrer NV Blanc de Noirs would be a fabulous choice, 92% pinot noir. This is a moderately priced wine from Sonoma that is good with almost anything. If you want something even more bone dry try Friexenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava. This is an extremely dry sparkling wine and its very inexpensive.
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup scalding hot coffee
2/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup canola oil or grapeseed oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Peanut Butter Buttercream
1 recipe French Buttercream
1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate, chopped
Pinch sea salt
3/4 cup roasted peanuts
1 1/2 cups pretzels
Make the cupcakes
Prepare cupcake pans with paper liners and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix the cocoa powder with the scalding hot coffee. Mix on low speed for one minute. Increase the speed to medium. In a measuring cup, use a fork to mix together the buttermilk, egg, yolk, vanilla, salt, and oil. Carefully and slowly pour this into the stand mixer bowl. Stop the mixer, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Continue mixing for one minute, then stop the mixer.
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Poor the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mix on low speed until they are just combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Scoop the batter into your prepared cupcake pans, filling them 2/3 of the way. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until the cakes spring back when touched. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely in the pan.
Make the Peanut Butter Buttercream
Prepare the recipe for French Buttercream. Add the peanut butter and kosher salt at the end, mix on high speed until well combined. (Make sure you taste this and add more peanut butter or salt if needed.)
Make the ganache
Place chocolate in a small bowl. Heat cream and sea salt in a small saucepan until it comes to a boil. Pour this over the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Allow this to cool for a while before drizzling on the cupcakes.
Using a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip, pipe the peanut butter buttercream onto each cupcake. Refrigerate the cupcakes for 20 minutes until the buttercream is firm.
Pulse the pretzels and peanuts in a food processor (or crush in a ziploc bag) until coarse. Place them in a shallow bowl.
Roll the tops of the cupcakes in the crushed pretzels and peanuts, push the topping in slightly with your hands. Drizzle with ganache.