Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

Peanut Butter Hi-Hat Cupcakes

*Lots of step pictures and explanations. Scroll down to get the recipe.*

And try my dark chocolate cupcakes with creamy peanut butter frosting next.

Step photos and explanations for making peanut butter hi-hat cupcakes at home! Recipe on

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.

Step photos and explanations for making peanut butter hi-hat cupcakes at home! Recipe on

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.*

Homemade chocolate cupcakes on

There are 3 parts to today’s peanut butter hi-hat cupcakes.

  1. Chocolate cupcakes
  2. Peanut butter frosting
  3. 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.

Peanut butter hi-hat frosting on

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.

Peanut butter hi-hat frosting on

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.

Peanut butter hi-hat frosting on

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?

Peanut butter hi-hat frosting on


Step photos and explanations for making peanut butter hi-hat cupcakes at home! Recipe on

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!

Step photos and explanations for making peanut butter hi-hat cupcakes at home! Recipe on

Step photos and explanations for making peanut butter hi-hat cupcakes at home! Recipe on

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


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

Chocolate Shell

  • 10 ounces (280g) semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped1
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil


  1. 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.
  2. Make the chocolate cupcakes. Allow them to completely cool.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!
  8. 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.

Recipe Notes:

  1. 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. Chocolate chips won’t set up properly– you really need pure chocolate for the shell.
  2. 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.

Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

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

Did you make a recipe?

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

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

Step photos and explanations for making peanut butter hi-hat cupcakes at home! Recipe on


Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

Kitchenaid Stand Mixer | 3.5qt Sauce Pan | Cupcake Liners | Cupcake Pan | Frosting Bags | Frosting Tip

If you love chocolate and peanut butter, make my ultimate Snickers cupcakes next!

Ultimate Snickers Cupcakes-- grab the ridiculously awesome cupcake recipe on

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pays me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Step photos and explanations for making peanut butter hi-hat cupcakes at home! Recipe on


  1. Oh… my. These look FANTASTIC! I would love to make these, except for the peanut butter icing since I’m allergic to peanut butter. Would substituting another icing for this one work? Or does it have to be this exact consistency and thickness?

  2. As a kid, there was an ice cream stand on the way home that dipped their swirled ice cream cones into three flavors of waxy, chocolaty goodness! I haven’t been able to find anywhere that dips ice cream like that any more! (If you know of someplace, preferably in Denver, please let me know!) These cupcakes remind me so much of those. So stinkin’ yummy!

    • I hope you find someplace! 🙂

    • “Dairy Queen” still dips their cones in the waxy choc shells! Most also dip in a lovely butterscotch shell if chocolate isn’t your “thing”. If you happen to not like a cone, they also come in a lovely “patty” (with the customary curl in the center) dipped on a stick, called a “Dilly Bar”. Dairy Queen is a wonderful southern tradition (my first job) but I’m unsure how far west (or north) they are sprinkled! Good luck and I hope you find a DQ choc dipped cone in your future!


    That’s all I have to say.

  4. Sally, these look amazing!!! I also just wanted to say how beautiful these pictures are. Flawless.

  5. These look so yummy! I wonder if you could use something like strawberry or banana in place of the peanut butter? I only ask because I know several people that don’t like or that are allergic to peanut butter that may enjoy a cupcake like this with a peanut butter alternative.

    • Hi Manda! I just added a recipe note about peanut butter frosting alternatives. I haven’t tested anything like strawberry or banana.

    • I have to say this made me giggle…I am allergic to all 3!
      Sally-those cupcakes look amazing! I have never made a high hat before…I think I see a new cupcake in my future!

  6. Woow that is a naughty cupcake. Love it! (:

  7. Peanut butter and chocolate is really a combo that can’t be beaten. And it looks like you’ve taken it to the next level here!! These look so fun and absolutely delicious!

  8. Holy. Delicious. I’ve never done a dipped cupcake like this, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why! These look absolutely AMAZING!

  9. I love hi hat cupcakes and the addition of peanut butter to the marshmallow frosting is a genius idea. Your hi hat cupcakes look fabulous.

  10. This looks delicious! 
    I recently went to a restaurant where they had this amazing dessert; a sticky date pudding (with a toffee, salted caramel or butterscotch – I don’t really know -, sauce) topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream! It was amazing! Have you ever tried it? This would be a great addition to your recipes 😉 

    • I actually had a pudding like this the other week with my in-laws! But it didn’t have salted caramel sauce. Lots of cinnamon. So good!

  11. These look in-sane! I fell in love with the hard shell chocolate on my ice cream sundaes and this recipe is bringing me right back!

  12. *swoon*!!! That pb frosting is everythinnnng

  13. Hmm, is there actually 3/4 or 1/2 cup of sugar in the frosting recipe? In the post, you said “No confectioners’ sugar; only 1/2 cup of granulated”, but in the recipe you said to use 3/4 cups. I’m assuming it’s 3/4 cups, but I’d like to confirm.

    P.S. Looks heavenly!

    • It’s 3/4 cup. Initially only 1/2 cup for 2 egg whites, but I increased the volume in my testing to produce more frosting for all the cupcakes. 🙂 Thanks for catching that!

  14. I’ve always loved hi-hat cupcakes and these are stunning! Love the peanut butter frosting (I always need more peanut butter in my life!) and that chocolate shell is everything!

  15. Turrible. Just turrible. lol :p
    I could never come w/ the answer to, “If I had one wish…”
    It’s official! If I had one wish it would be to be in your kitchen for just one day! #Dreams #YouRock

  16. These look absolutely perfect! I didn’t think it was possible to make peanut butter chocolate cupcakes better, but you did it with a mile high pile of marshmallowy icing 🙂

  17. Wow!!  The million or so cupcake variations out there are usually pretty run of the mill, but these are definitely not that!!  These look equally as beautiful as delicious!  Peanut butter and chocolate truly are the best combination ever created!   

  18. Sally, could you use nutella instead of peanut butter?

    • Hi Aimie! Others have asked that too and I’m so sorry, I’m unsure! I haven’t tried it. I can’t see why not though…

  19. How long will these keep once completed? I want to make them for my daughter’s birthday tomorrow (monday), as well as for her to take to school on tuesday. Thanks! 

  20. Hello Sally! If I were to use Ghirardelli melting waffers or Andy melts without adding the oil and stuff would the cupcakes hold up the same? Thanks! Sooooo excited to make these for my family they look AMAZING!

  21. Oh, these are just wrong….just wrong! Look amazing…and I still have yet to make a cupcake…ever! I figure when I finally do, it’s gonna be something spectacular like these! 🙂

  22. These look absolutely AMAZING! Love, Love, Love!!!

  23. Hi Sally,
    These look delicious!
    Would I be able to substitute the one cup of peanut butter with one cup of strawberry puree for the frosting instead? I unfortunately have nut allergies!

  24. I made these today with my 5 year old. Soo much fun! My cupcakes came out a little flat but I’m at 5,000 ft so I’m guessing it’s the altitude. Thanks so much for another great recipe and some fun times with my son!

  25. Do you think the melted chocolate will still hold if I top them with sprinkles while it’s still wet on the dipped cupcakes?

  26. Sally- These are so amazing! I made them for a coworker’s birthday and he (along with everyone at the office) loves these cupcakes. I was afraid they wouldn’t turn out as perfect as yours since the cocoa powder I had was sweetened, and I had to cut the sugar by 1/2 for both granulated and light brown sugar. I also didn’t have creamy peanut butter, only the chunky ones, but they turned out great. Thanks again and great recipe!

  27. Hi Sally. This recipe was amazing -it looked just like your photos, the instructions were easy and the end product was divine! Just wondering if there is a chance you could point me in the right direction on substituting a salted caramel icing instead of the peanut butter one? While my husband and five kids are all fans of peanut butter I am a salted caramel girl through and through!  Thanks so much. Your blog is amazing! 

  28. Oh my sweet tooth. I made the peanut butter swiss meringue frosting. Such perfection. PEANUT BUTTER flavor blast but light! Airy! Totally pipe-able!

    I made a double batch of your triple chocolate layer cake (because chocolate cake requires coffee!), put this magical peanut butter frosting in between layers, finished the edges with your chocolate buttercream then topped with chocolate ganache.

  29. HI Sally,
    Just wondering if I could pipe this frosting on cupcakes the day before? Also because the frosting is egg based, would the cupcakes need to be refrigerated?

  30. What brand candy thermometer do you use? 

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