I figured that I would make cupcakes since I recently bought some very fancy (expensive) pans from William Sonoma. I knew I wanted chocolate cake but it took me a while to decided on peanut butter frosting. Then I had to decide on WHICH peanut butter frosting. (Nothing is simple). I decide on Ina Garten's frosting recipe because I find her trustworthy. She didn't let me down. The frosting is peanut buttery but light and fluffy and smooth as can be. Very wonderful.
I chose to make my normal chocolate cake from Cook's Illustrated, good stuff but I think next time I will try making Ina's cake into cupcakes and see how they turn out.
Source: Cook's Illustrated
Yield: 24 cupcakes or 2 round cakes
12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft, plus extra for greasing pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pans
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup hot water
1 3/4 C sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round by 2 inch high cake pans with butter; dust pans with flour and knock out excess. Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in medium heatproof bowl; set bowl over saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water and stir with rubber spatula until chocolate ins melted, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar to chocolate and stir until glossy, 1-2 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in small bowl. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk eggs and yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds. Add remaining 1 1/4 C sugar, increase speed to high, and whis until fluffy and lightened in color, 2-3 minutes. Replace whisk with paddle attachment. Add cooled chocolate mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30-45 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition. Add about 1/3 of flour mixture; followed by half of buttermilk mixture mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds.) Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture (batter may appear separated.) Scrape down sides of bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans; smooth batter to edges of pan with spatula.
Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25-30minutes. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack. Cool cakes to room temperature before frosting, 45-60 minutes.
Peanut Butter Frosting
Source: Ina Garten
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.