I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And I’ve had some REALLY good PB&J cupcakes from wonderful bakeries. So when I heard about Project PB&J, a blogger cooking contest celebrating National PB&J Day, I thought, “I can do that!” In retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have been so confident…
After reading the contest guidelines, I knew I couldn’t come up with my own recipe for the cake, and I wasn’t sure that just adding a couple of ingredients would be changing someone else’s recipe enough. The longer I thought about it, the more I ran out of time. So in the end this is what my cake recipe turned out to be:
– 1 Box of Betty Crocker Yellow Cake mix
– 3 eggs (as per the box instructions)
– 1 ¼ cups of oil (as per the box instructions)
– ¼ cup of water (as per the box instructions)
– About 1 cup of chopped peanuts
– About 1 cup of diced strawberries (Fresh or frozen: If using frozen, thaw and drain as much water as possible)
(I always like to rally my ingredients to make sure I’m not missing anything.)
(Diced strawberries and chopped peanuts: I used the food processor to chop the peanuts. They came out finer than I planned, but still worked to create a nice texture.)
I decided that my big modification was adding the chopped peanuts and strawberries to the batter. I really wanted that crunchy texture from the peanuts because I’m a big fan of crunchy peanut butter. I decided that the strawberries would help balance it (and fruit in cake usually works).
Pre-heat your oven according to the instructions on the box. Mix the batter according to the instructions on the box. Mix desired amount of peanuts and strawberries into the batter. Bake according to the instructions on the box. Easy enough, right?
(Batter with the chopped peanuts.)
(Batter with strawberries. Also my first time using silicone cupcake liners.)
(Baked cupcakes. The silicone liners have a “fill” line, however I think I could have gone above that to create a higher top on the cupcakes.)
Once the cupcakes cooled, it was time for the filling!
– Your favorite jam or preserves (in this recipe, that means strawberry preserves). If you want to get fancy, you can make your own!
Take the cooled cupcakes and cut holes in the center, like a bowl, to hold the jam. Spoon the jam into the center.
(I decided to remove the cupcakes from the silicone liners prior to filling and topping. I don’t recommend doing this if there will be a filling!)
(Baby spoons work REALLY well for getting filling into those tiny holes!)
Now on to the frosting! A couple of years ago I created a peanut butter frosting on a whim, mixing together peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. I remember it turned out really well, but just in case, I also purchased Cool Whip for this experiment. And, I’m glad I did! The peanut butter and marshmallow fluff did not come together the way I had hoped, so the Cool Whip saved the day.
– Creamy peanut butter
– Marshmallow fluff
– Cool Whip
Mix together a couple dollops of peanut butter with a couple dollops of marshmallow fluff. Then add in a couple dollops of Cool Whip. Don’t worry about folding the ingredients into the Cool Whip to maintain that airy texture. The marshmallow is too sticky, so just stir it all up until it’s mixed well. Then add in a couple more dollops of peanut butter and stir. I tried to keep it so it had a swirl texture. I failed. But it still tastes good! So if you fail too, don’t worry. As you can see, this is all experimental anyway!
Now time to top the cupcakes with the frosting! This is where I had more issues. I couldn’t decide what to do. I did a couple of cupcakes with the frosting piped on, but didn’t like the results. Then I just tried spreading the frosting on top, but also didn’t like that. I think it was because the frosting and cake looked monotone and I really wanted a pop of color from the jam, which would hint to what was inside. In the end I settled with swirling the frosting to expose the filling and bring some to the top.
(Luckily I made some of the cupcakes in these foil liners, which really helped keep them together!)
(Some of the options I worked on for the cupcakes taken out of the silicone liners.)
When it comes to this recipe, I probably shouldn’t be too hard on myself. The cupcakes actually were tasty, especially since I’m not a baker by any means. The texture of the cake was great with the chopped peanuts. It was exactly what I’d hoped for! And the ratio of strawberry preserves, peanut butter flavor, and yellow cake are perfect. I still can’t help but to think that there’s nothing “special” about the results. No more so than if I’d just made a plain peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s exactly like a traditional PB&J, but in cupcake form. However, sometimes that’s okay, right?! I’ll let you be the judge.
Let us know if you decide to try this recipe or have your own PB&J Cupcake recipe! And visit Once Upon a Loaf for more information on Project PB&J!
– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn (Westminster, MD)