Tell me about your Labor Day weekend so far. What did you do? Relax at home or get away? We spent the weekend up in the poconos, brought the pups, took lots of pictures, grilled out on the deck, rented a boat, and floated on unicorns. Yes, that’s right. It was one of those epic, yet relaxing weekends to close out a nonstop (and kinda stressful!) summer. Looking forward to Fall things.
Speaking of Fall! I want to share THEE most perfect September treat. Nothing brings me back to September school days growing up quite like PB&J sandwiches, except for maybe a new set of butterfly hair clips and a lisa frank pencil case.
Something you’ve gotta know about these peanut butter & jelly cupcakes: they start from my simply perfect vanilla cupcakes. Have you had the chance to try them in the past week? I love them. They’re fluffy and sweet, soft and light, moist and buttery all in one cupcake wrapper. We can owe all the lightness to the sour cream, cake flour, creamed butter, and egg whites.
I chose to make them this way– rather than a peanut butter cupcake base– because I wanted just the right balance of peanut butter and jelly. So peanut butter frosting, on top of a vanilla cupcake, filled with strawberry jelly. Now doesn’t that sound like the quintessential lunchbox treat? Nostalgic and comforting. ♥
Just like the original, I added vanilla bean to the cupcake batter. You can leave it out completely, but I really like the extra flavor it brings. Vanilla bean and peanut butter… vanilla bean and strawberry… these flavors are just so beautiful.
Remember, when you’re filling cupcake wrappers with batter– fill only about 2/3 – 3/4 full. Otherwise your cupcakes could rise too tall then sink back down. Or worse! Spill over the edges. See above? That’s about how high I always fill mine.
And they always rise fabulously. See?
This is just about as fancy as the whole ziplock bag thing, but here’s how I always fill my cupcakes:
Sure it’s a little scrappy, but it works. Just cut a little circle out of the cupcake, fill with about 1 teaspoon of jelly and top with the piece you cut out. You can use any flavor jelly you like. Maybe grape is more your style? It works here!
Once you pile the frosting on top, you won’t be able to see the cut-out underneath. It can be our little cupcake secret. Now it’s time for the frosting. This is my favorite peanut butter frosting on the planet. I’ve been using it for a few years from brownies to snickers cupcakes (yes!) and chocolate cake. It’s rich and creamy without being overly sweet. In fact, all you taste is peanut butter. Which makes sense because it’s mostly all peanut butter! Only 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar, rather than 3 or 4 like most frostings.
To frost these peanut butter & jelly cupcakes, I used Wilton piping tip #12. This is a super simple frosting method if you ever want to try it. Place the tip straight up on the center of the cupcake, then apply pressure and slowly lift up. That’s all I do!
Check out all that jelly inside these super fluffy vanilla cupcakes. Not sure which part is the best, but that strawberry surprise inside is pretty awesome.
That light and fluffy cupcake texture! Happy back-to-school everyone. 🙂
Peanut Butter & Jelly Cupcakes
- 1 and 3/4 cups (200g) cake flour1
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract2
- optional: seeds scraped from 1/2 of a vanilla bean
- 1/2 cup (120g) full-fat sour cream3
- 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk3
- about 1/4 cup your favorite jelly (any flavor!)
Peanut Butter Frosting
- 5 Tablespoons (75g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (250g) creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup (120g) confectioners' sugar
- 1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- optional: crushed peanuts for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2 liners - this recipe makes about 14 cupcakes. Set aside.
- Make the cupcakes: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy - about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg whites, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean (if using). Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk until combined. Do not overmix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.
- Pour/spoon the batter into the liners - fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 19-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before filling and frosting.
- Fill the cupcakes: Using a sharp knife, cut a circle/hole into the center of the cupcake to create a little pocket about 3/4 inch deep. Place about 1 teaspoon of jelly inside and top with the piece of cupcake you removed to seal it. See photos above for visual. Repeat with all cupcakes.
- Make the frosting: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the softened butter on medium speed for 1 minute until completely smooth and creamy. Add the peanut butter and beat on medium-high speed until the two are combined. Add the confectioners' sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat on low speed for about 20 seconds, then gradually increase to high speed. Beat on high for 1 minute. Frost the cupcakes. I used a Wilton piping tip #12 to frost.
Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- If you cannot get your hands on cake flour, you can make a DIY version from all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons. Mix in 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. This equals 1 cup of cake flour. I suggest doing this twice, mixing it all up in 1 bowl then removing 1/4 cup since you need 1 and 3/4 cups in this recipe.
- For best flavor, pure vanilla extract is strongly recommended. If using imitation, increase to 1 Tablespoon (3 teaspoons).
- Whole milk and sour cream are strongly recommended for the best taste and texture. A full fat plain yogurt would work instead, though the cupcakes may not be as light. Same goes with a lower fat milk. I suggest both of these ingredients are at room temperature so they mix easier into the batter.
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Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.
Vanilla Beans | Tilt Head Beater | 5-qt Tilt Head Glass Mixing Bowl | Cupcake Pan | Colorful Mixing Bowl Set | Frosting Bag | Frosting Decorating Tip | Measuring Cups | Kitchenaid Hand Mixer | Kitchenaid Stand Mixer
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