Peanut Butter Hi-Hat Cupcakes
*Lots of step pictures and explanations. Scroll down to get the recipe.*
You know when you bite into a piñata cupcake and surprise!! there’s oodles of sprinkles packed inside? Same thing is happening today. Except you bite through a hard chocolate shell into soft peanut butter meringue-like frosting. And it’s all piled on top of a deliciously moist and rich chocolate cupcake.
What’s on the inside is what truly matters. Life lessons via cupcakes.
Let me begin by settling your fears: these cupcakes are NOT difficult. They look complicated and intimidating, for sure, but as long as you have the correct tools you can speed through the entire process with confidence and ease.
What is a hi-hat cupcake?
Traditionally, hi-hat cupcakes are chocolate cupcakes with a stable and glossy marshmallow frosting that is covered in a hard chocolate coating. It resembles a chocolate dipped soft serve swirl. Mighty and epic, hi-hat cupcakes tower over regular cupcakes. They’re unbelievable.
Similar marshmallow frosting is the topping on my s’mores tartlets. It’s a mixture of egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar, gently heated over simmering water and then whipped until thick and glossy. It truly tastes like marshmallow! But… wait a second. What about adding peanut butter?
Anything is possible. *More cupcake life lessons.*
There are 3 parts to today’s peanut butter hi-hat cupcakes.
- Chocolate cupcakes
- Peanut butter frosting
- Chocolate shell
Part 1: make chocolate cupcakes. I won’t go into much detail about the cupcakes themselves because I want to focus on the hi-hat business. If you click here, you can read more about them. They’re undoubtedly my favorite chocolate cupcake!!
Part 2: once the cupcakes have baked and cooled, make the peanut butter frosting. I’ve got tons of step-by-step photos so you can see the magic happening.
Whisk egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar together constantly over a pot of simmering water. (Above, left.) The egg whites will gently heat and the sugar will dissolve. (Above, right.) In case you’re curious, the cream of tartar stabilizes the egg whites. It also helps the egg whites whip into stiff peaks. It’s a non-negotiable ingredient. And you probably have some leftover after making snickerdoodles over the holidays!
Tip: When gently cooking these 3 ingredients together, simply use a large pot and the stainless steel bowl that comes with your stand mixer– as pictured above. You’ll need your stand mixer in the next step anyway.
Once the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar are gently heated, begin whipping.
It’s so fluffy!
Now slowly beat in 10 Tablespoons of very soft butter and 1 cup of creamy peanut butter. These ingredients will slightly deflate the mixture. That’s OK. It will still be quite stable (thanks egg whites and cream of tartar!) and hold its hi-hat shape.
Pipe the frosting on using a 1/2 inch round piping tip. I use my trusty Wilton #12 tip. Place the tip straight up on the center of the cupcake, then apply pressure and slowly lift up. You now have a round pile of frosting. Do that one more time to create a 2nd smaller pile on top. Sorry, “pile” is really the best word I can use here. Or maybe “blob” ? But it’s a fancy looking pile or blob, right?
Once all the cupcakes are frosted, stick them in the freezer or refrigerator so the frosting sets on top. You want it nice and cold. Now you can begin the final step!
Part 3: chocolate shell time. It’s only 2 ingredients! Melt 10 ounces of baking chocolate (pure chocolate) with 1.5 Tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil. Make sure the melted chocolate is in a wide and deep container. I used a large coffee mug. Let the melted chocolate cool for a few minutes before you begin dipping. Super hot chocolate can deflate and melt the peanut butter frosting.
Remove the frosted cupcakes from the refrigerator or freezer and let’s dunk!
So here’s what I love the most about these peanut butter hi-hat cupcakes: the peanut butter frosting isn’t too sweet! No confectioners’ sugar; only 3/4 cup of granulated. It truly tastes like pure peanut butter under a dark chocolate shell.
I brought them to a birthday celebration on Saturday night and everyone was so curious about how they were made. They couldn’t believe the frosting didn’t melt or fall off when I dipped them into the chocolate! Follow the steps below and if you need help with the products I used, I linked to them below the recipe. HAVE FUN!
Peanut Butter Hi-Hat Cupcakes
- 1 batch homemade chocolate cupcakes
Peanut Butter Frosting
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 10 Tablespoons (145g) unsalted butter, very soft (not melted)
- 1 cup (250g) creamy peanut butter (not natural style)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- 10 ounces (280g) semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped1
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- Set the butter and eggs out that you'll need for the frosting. By the time you bake and cool the cupcakes, the butter will be soft and the egg whites will be room temperature.
- Make the chocolate cupcakes. Allow them to completely cool.
- Make the peanut butter frosting: Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a saucepan filled with two inches of simmering water. Do not let it touch the water. (You can use a double boiler if you have one.) Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved, about 4 minutes. You can use a candy thermometer to make sure they're ready; it will register 160°F (71°C).2
- Transfer the mixing bowl to an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on high speed for 5-6 minutes until soft, glossy peaks form. (See photo above.) On medium speed, add the butter 1 Tablespoon at a time until completely combined and creamy. Some tiny chunks of butter may remain; it will all smooth out. Finally, beat in the peanut butter and vanilla until combined. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if needed. I like to add 1/8 teaspoon of salt.
- Pipe frosting onto each cooled cupcake. I use a Wilton #12 tip. You may have an extra cupcake or 2 leftover if you use a lot of frosting on each cupcake. I use roughly 1/4 cup of frosting on each. Chill cupcakes in the refrigerator or freezer until frosting is completely firm. I freeze mine for 20 minutes.
- Make the chocolate shell: melt the chopped chocolate and oil together in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after each until completely melted. You can also melt in a double boiler if you have one. Let the chocolate cool down for 5 minutes before dipping.
- Holding the cupcake by its bottom, carefully and quickly dip each into chocolate to coat the frosting. Place on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet in case any chocolate drips off. Refrigerate cupcakes for 30 minutes to set the chocolate. Enjoy!
- Cover and store cupcakes at room temperature for 1 day or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Hi-hat cupcakes do not freeze well.
Make ahead tip: You can make the cupcakes and frosting separately 1 day in advance. Cover and refrigerate both overnight. Continue with step 5 the next day.
- Chocolate bars are typically sold in 4 ounce bars. If it's easier, you can use 3 bars (12 ounces) instead of 10 ounces. No need to add more oil. You will have leftover chocolate. I suggest Ghirardelli, Baker's brand, or Lindt. They are found next to the chocolate chips in the baking aisle.
- The egg whites are gently cooked in step 3 to 160°F (71°C). Which is considered safe to eat. You can use a candy thermometer to determine their temperature. You can use pasteurized egg whites, though keep in mind they may never reach the volume of unpasteurized egg whites. You may need additional egg whites.
I've gotten questions about a peanut butter frosting alternative. I haven't tested anything else, but you can make a plain marshmallow frosting (without the peanut butter). Martha Stewart has a complete recipe for the plain marshmallow frosting. It’s very good.
Method adapted from Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans
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More chocolate peanut butter crazed treats: unbelievable peanut butter pie | chocolate sheet cake with creamy peanut butter frosting | peanut butter chocolate lava cakes | peanut butter stuffed brownies | peanut butter chocolate swirl cookies
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