Peanut Butter Hi-Hat Cupcakes

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

chocolate cupcake with peanut butter meringue frosting underneath a chocolate shell coating

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.

hi-hat cupcake cut in half showing chocolate cupcake topped with peanut butter frosting inside a chocolate coating

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.*

spooning chocolate cupcake batter into a cupcake pan

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.

2 images of a pot on the stove with a metal bowl on top and egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a metal stand mixer bowl with a whisk attachment

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.

homemade marshmallow creme on a whisk attachment

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 meringue frosting in a stand mixer bowl with a whisk attachment

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?

2 images of piping peanut butter meringue frosting onto a chocolate cupcake and a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter meringue frosting

chopped chocolate on a wood cutting board

hands dunking a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting into a mug of chocolate coating

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!

hands dunking a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting into a mug of chocolate coating

chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter meringue frosting underneath a chocolate shell coating

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!

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hi-hat cupcake cut in half showing chocolate cupcake topped with peanut butter frosting inside a chocolate coating

Peanut Butter Hi-Hat Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Homemade peanut butter chocolate hi-hat cupcakes are deliciously decadent. Begin with chocolate cupcakes, top with peanut butter frosting, and dunk into a chocolate shell coating!


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 chopped*
  • 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.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: You can make the cupcakes and frosting separately 1 day in advance. Cover and refrigerate both overnight. Continue with step 5 the next day.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 3.5qt Sauce Pan | Cupcake Liners | Cupcake Pan | Frosting Bags | Frosting Tip
  3. Chocolate: 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.
  4. Egg Whites: 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!
  7. Method adapted from Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans.

Keywords: hi-hat cupcakes, peanut butter chocolate cupcakes

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

hi-hat cupcake cut in half showing chocolate cupcake topped with peanut butter frosting inside a chocolate coating


  1. These cupcakes look INCREDIBLE Sally. I think I mentioned recently how much I loved peanut butter frosting – doesn’t even have to be peanut butter & chocolate – just peanut butter is fine with me, but I am one of the biggest peanut butter chocolate lovers. I was always under the impression hi-hat cupcakes were very difficult to make, but these don’t seem too bad! That frosting could be a little tricky, but I’m sure if you’re careful, it’s manageable. How would these cupcakes work as mini cupcakes do you think? Would it be too difficult because there’s less surface area, or possible? I can’t wait to try these either way 🙂

    1. Yes yes yes mini cupcakes would work! And maybe even easier to dip because they’re smaller.

  2. 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!

    1. The Ghirardelli melting wafers would be perfect, but you would still need to use the oil. 🙂

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

    1. Yes, it will hold up just fine under sprinkles!

  4. 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!

  5. 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! 

  6. 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.

    1. Oh my gosh! This sounds seriously amazing!!!

  7. This frosting just did not turn out for me!
    After adding the peanut butter it separated and was way too soft to even pipe 🙁 Currently debating starting over or just choosing an easier frosting recipe!

    1. Mine too! Did you find a solution? I’ve got mine in the fridge hoping it will set to a piping consistency 

  8. Hey Sally! Is it possible to use semi sweet chocolate chips for the shell instead of chocolate bars? I’d love to avoid going to the grocery store 😉 Thanks!

    1. Chocolate chips won’t set up properly– you really need pure chocolate!

  9. I made this frosting for Sally’s banana cake and it was awesome! It was really fun to try a meringue frosting as I’ve only made buttercream or cream cheese ones in the past. While it is a bit more work than butter cream, I actually found the process really fun! When I think of a peanut butter frosting, I expect it to be heavy or overpowering, but this one was much lighter and as Sally said, not too sweet. I will have to try the full hi-hat method sometime soon!

  10. My feelings have tasted a lot like peanut butter lately, so I made these AND the pb&j cupcakes last night. Loved them both! I was worried about getting these right since I’m a novice baker (and I’d never used a piping bag), but they were wonderful!

    (They’re not as pretty as yours, obviously, but husband’s coworkers will love them and that’s all that matters.)

    Thanks for two more fantastic recipes!

  11. Marcia Wallace says:

    These cupcakes look like a lot of fun to make. The one thing I am always curious about is
    a recipe will call for semi sweet chocolate, as this one does. In one of your pictures you display
    barred chocolate. Are semi chocolate sweet chocolate chips and baking semi sweet
    chocolate bars interchangeable?

    Thank You

    1. Hi Marcia! They are not interchangeable. Chocolate chips contain stabilizers which prevent them from melting properly– they always hold their shape in chocolate chip cookies. Real chocolate, in bar form, is best for melting down as the base of recipes (like brownies, cakes, etc) or for dipping/dunking.

  12. I have made these cupcakes and love them. Especially the frosting. I am planning on making a 3 layer chocolate cake. Would this frosting be suitable for a cake? (With out the chocolate shell)

    1. Hi Renee! You can use this peanut butter frosting for a cake. I recommend doubling the frosting to ensure there is enough.

  13. Sally, I just tried this and my frosting was so soft it fell out of the piping bag What did I do wrong??

    1. Oh no! Did you use oily/thin peanut butter by chance? Or was the butter melted in the slightest?

  14. These are so good. I made full size and mini cupcakes and the minis are even better! I did not use liners for the minis, so the shell covers the bottom some. And they are bite sized. YUM!

  15. Has anyone tried this recipe using a different flavor in place of peanut butter? I am dying to try these because I love the hi-hat concept, but I’m not a fan of peanut butter in baked goods [ducks and hides].
    Can lotus butter be swapped in equal amount? Any way to flavor instead with coffee? Sally – would love to know if you’ve tried/had success with these!

    1. Hi Miriam! You can try the regular plain marshmallow meringue frosting from my ultimate birthday cupcakes instead. (Tastes like homemade marshmallow cream!) To that plain version, you can add a teaspoon of espresso powder for a delicious coffee flavor.

  16. Sally, I brought these to work for a co-worker’s going away and everyone LOVED them. They were gone in no time flat. The only thing I did that wasn’t on the recipe was crush up some roasted peanuts and dip the cupcakes in that after the chocolate. They were adorable! I will definitely be making these again.

  17. What is the best kind of peanut butter for this recipe? We usually get the “natural” kind which is has the oil that separates on top, and you have to stir it. Worried this kind of peanut butter may not work for this frosting as I see some commenters had trouble.

    1. Yes, I don’t recommend the natural peanut butters for baking! I use a commercial brand such as Jiff or Skippy for baking.

  18. Made the peanut butter icing tonight – tastes like peanut mousse…. guests were eating it by the spoonful! Yum!

  19. I’ve made these a few times and they’re sooo good!
    BTW you can easily swap in Nutella for the peanut butter. If you add a few chopped hazelnuts to the chocolate coating, you’ll have perfect Ferrero Rocher cupcakes. 😉

  20. Hi Sally these are absolutely delicious sand I used semisweet chips and they set fine wish i could upload picture.

  21. I made them gluten free and they turned out perfect!! Happy Hubby!

  22. Hi Sally!
    I’ve never used cream of tartar before, is it necessary for this recipe or can I omit it??

    1. Hi Ashley! It’s a necessary ingredient for the egg whites, yes. If you’re interested, see the blog post for details.

  23. Emily Allen says:

    We made these for my daughters 6th bday party! They were a huge success! The theme of her party was poo emoji, so we put little googly eyes on these cupcakes along with cut-out white marshmallow mouths and they turned out PERFECT! I accidentally used cake flour instead of regular flour and was worried they wouldn’t be right, but they turned out fantastic, even using cake flour. We also use a really nice cocoa powder, which is always a crowd pleaser. The one we use is Cacao Barry 100% Cocoa Extra Brute!

  24. I wanted to love these. I was mostly using this recipe for the technique and the frosting. My go-to frosting is Italian meringue buttercream so I wasn’t daunted by this frosting recipe. However, the amount of peanut butter seems to be too much. I made it to that step without a hitch but as soon as I added the peanut butter it separated and refused to come back together. I’m still going to use this technique but the frosting needs some work.

  25. I made these today, they came out fantastic! The frosting seemed a bit loose so I added some more peanut butter, that worked. My son insisted on dipping a couple completely in the chocolate!

  26. Hi, Sally! Is it ok if I use regular peanut butter buttercream instead of swiss meringue buttercream for these cupcakes? Does that still count as being a hi-hat cupcake? Thanks in advance!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Zoe, you can certainly top these cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream if you would like. However, the buttercream will be too heavy to dip into chocolate. You could try drizzling them with chocolate instead but we suggest sticking with the recipe for the best traditional hi-hat cupcake!

  27. My frosting went a bit limp after the peanut butter (reg stuff) was added. It’s ‘resting’ in the fridge. Anything I can do to stiffen it up? Thanks, birthday girl is waiting!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi there! It sounds like the butter in the frosting got too warm. We recommend chilling the whole bowl of frosting for 20 minutes, then return it to the mixer and beat on medium-high speed until thickened. Any longer than this will solidify the butter, so only refrigerate in 20 minute spurts. Hope these cupcakes are a hit with the birthday girl!

  28. Thanks so much, it worked and oh my are these cupcakes delicious!

  29. Hi Sally! Can I successfully make the meringue with half the required amount of sugar or will it affect the stability of the meringue? Thank you!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dianne! For best results we recommend following the recipe as written. If you try anything else, let us know how it goes. Happy baking!

  30. Everyone loved these! Paired with Sally’s base chocolate cupcake recipe, they were a big hit. This was my first time following Sally’s tips for room temperature ingredients and I had no problems. Thanks for the creative recipes!

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