Peanut Butter Lava Fudge Cupcakes
The softest, most tender chocolate cupcake ever, filled to the brim with luscious hot fudge sauce, frosted with whipped, fluffy peanut butter frosting and finished of with French chocolate sprinkles and a chocolate-covered pretzel. This is a chocolate and peanut butter lover dream come true!
Here’s a thought for you to “chew” on:
Are cupcakes still in?
Or did cronuts and macarons steal their thunder?
Debatable? I assume so.
But does it make a difference? Absolutely not because it’s enough that I’m letting fashion stick its nose in my wardrobe, that I strongly refuse to let it decide what I eat. Yeaaah! Because I’m rebel like that! Um-hmm!
Especially when its a cupcake like this one.
Peanut butter. Lava. Fudge! Keep scrolling to see what I mean…
If you’re like me and believe that peanut butter and chocolate is one of the best food combinations in the history of mankind, you might just shed a tear of joy while biting into this.
But then, the lava center will erupt in your mouth, and you’ll be too much in Pleasantville to cry.
A super soft, ultra moist, melt in your mouth chocolate cupcake, cradles the best hot fudge sauce you’ll ever have. When you bite into it, it oozes. And if that’s not enough, the cupcake is topped with a very peanut buttery frosting that gets whipped the heck out of it, so it’s all airy, fluffy and mousse-y. See all those air bubbles in the frosting? It’s from all the whipping, which mean it’s so light and not dense at all.
The rim of the cupcake is studded with French chocolate sprinkles for a fun textural contrast, another pop of flavor and for pretty looks. It’s like a necklace for the cupcake. And this one surely deserves itself some jewelry. The French chocolate sprinkles are softer than their classic cousins and actually taste like chocolate. I’m in love with them, but I know how hard they are to find. So the regular ones are always welcome to take their place, but also consider chopped peanuts, pretzels, toffee bits…the possibilities are endless.
The cupcake then gets a final adornment of a chocolate-covered pretzel, you know…because pretzels and peanut butter are meant for one another. I made my own chocolate-covered pretzels because I’m food nerd, but in my defense, they only took like 10 minutes to make. Max. Substitute with store-bought ones if you’d rather use your 10 minutes doing something more useful.
Let’s get into the details.
That hot fudge sauce…is simply the best! Uber chocolatey, perfectly sweet, satiny smooth, thick enough to cling on ice cream, yet thin enough for drizzling and oozing purposes. I use it over so many things including cake, ice cream and fingers. You could of course take a shortcut and use your favorite store-bought hot fudge, but please don’t. You’ll thank me later.
I’ve tried so many recipes for hot fudge sauce before, but something would always go wrong. Most of them would have the sugar crystallize over me and cause the whole thing to seize…aarrrrghhhh! But then those that turned out smooth, tasted too sweet. So when I found this recipe, I made a few tweaks to adjust it to our taste and then never looked back.
I mean look at that…do I even need to convince you with a sight like this?
Don’t be fooled by it’s light color thinking it lacks in peanut butter flavor, because it’s anything but. With 1 1/3 cups of peanut butter going into it, this frosting screams peanut butter. But unlike peanut butter frostings that taste so heavy, that a nap is required after its consumptions, this one is so light (in texture, not in calories) and ethereal. It gets whipped like there’s no tomorrow, which causes the color to lighten, and incorporates air bubbles into it, so it feels fluffy on the tongue.
It’s also just sweet enough with salty notes coming from the peanut butter and the touch of added salt. I could just eat it with the spoon (sigh!)
They’ve made a show on the blog with these Nutella Lava Cupcakes and in so much more in my home baking. I’ve been using this recipe for years, modifying it along the way, until it has reached my definition of perfection. The crumb is unreal! So light, fluffy and tender and of course moist, because I hate dry cakes. I’ve never had anyone try it without complimenting how soft they are. If you love the texture of cake mix, then this is the recipe you’ll want in your life, because they are as close to their texture as there ever will be. The flavor, however, is light years better because they actually taste like chocolate.
*I overfilled the cupcake pan just a bit because I wanted the cupcake to have a muffin-top-like cap. This produced a cupcake with a rim, which gave room for the sprinkles to stick on. If you’re not planning on sticking sprinkles, then fill the pan with less batter. More details on that, down in the NOTES section of the recipe. To fill the cupcake with the hot fudge sauce, we need to make a hole in center; a place where the sauce could sit in. Using a paring knife, and being careful not to pierce the bottom, you’ll make a circular cut about halfway through , then pop it out. Hey check out exactly how I do this step on instagram! I posted a video!
Take the cake “plug” out and cut its end and shove it in your mouth. You’ll get a preview of the taste before everyone else:)) Save the top part to cover the hole later.
Then using a spoon or a piping bag, fill the now empty hole with that luscious hot fudge sauce. You might need to warm up the sauce just a little for easy filling. Remember the top part of the cake “plug” I asked you to save? I hope you didn’t eat it up because now is the time to plug it back in.
To stick the sprinkles around the rim of the cupcake, you’ll need something for it to adhere on. I chose melted chocolate, because once dried, it pretty stable. However, leftover hot fudge sauce will do the trick, although might cause the sprinkles to move around a bit.
So easy, just use a paint brush (I have a few saved for food use only) dip it in melted chocolate and paint with it all around the rim. Or just dip the rim in a bowl of melted chocolate. Then roll around the cupcake’s rim in a plate full of sprinkles. Or peanuts. Or crushed pretzels!
There…now your cupcakes are wearing a halo of chocolate sprinkles. My kind of halo!
Pipe on this yummy yummy frosting, using a tip of your choice. But if you want see how I frosted those, check out that video on instagram.
You got yourself a treat made in peanut butter and chocolate heaven.
Now who cares if cupcakes are out of style?
Eat your heart out food fashion police!
For the Hot Fudge Sauce:
- 5 oz (140g) finely chopped semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons (1/2oz/ 15g) cocoa powder (I used Hershey's)
- 6 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons (1 1/8oz/ 32g) sugar
- 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons milk (use water instead for a darker chocolate taste)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4oz/ 21g) unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
For the Cupcakes: (you can substitute your favorite cake mix for a shortcut)
- 1/2 cup (4oz/ 114g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2oz/ 298g) light brown sugar, packed
- 2 egg, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (1 1/2oz/ 42g) unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process*
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (6.4oz/ 180g) cake flour* (see note for substitution)
- 2/3 cups (5 1/3oz/ 150g) sour cream, at room temperature
- 3/4 cups (177ml) hot water (or coffee)*
Peanut Butter Frosting:
- 1 1/4 cups (10oz/ 283g) unsalted butter, softened but still slightly cool
- 1 1/3 cups (12 3/4oz/ 360g) creamy peanut butter*
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 2 1/4 cups (9oz/ 255g) confectioners sugar (sift if lumpy)
For Garnish: (optional)
- 16 to 17 storebought or homemade chocolate-covered pretzels*
- Chocolate sprinkles, chopped peanuts or crushed pretzel, for garnish
- 1/2oz (15g) melted chocolate, for sticking garnish to the cupcake rim
To make the Hot Fudge Sauce: (could be made up to 2 weeks in advance & refrigerated)
- In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 20 seconds, until melted and !smooth, 1 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the cocoa until dissolved. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine together the corn syrup, sugar, cream, milk, and salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Cool the mixture slightly, about 2 minutes. Then whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly before using.
For the cupcakes:
- Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 350F/180F. Line 2 cupcake pans with 16 cupcake liners.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl, if using a handheld mixer), whisk the butter on high speed until smooth.
- Add the brown sugar and mix together until slightly lightened in color, about 3 minutes.
- Scrape down the bowl, then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Add in the vanilla and continue mixing until lightened more in color and texture and looks fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
- Add the cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and mix until well blended. Scrape down the bowl.
- With the mixer on lowest speed, add one-third of the flour, followed by half of the sour cream, then mix to blend. Then add the second third of the flour, followed by the rest of the sour cream, mix again. End with the remaining flour and mix just until combined. Scrape the bowl as needed.
- With the mixer running on medium low speed, drizzle in the hot water (or coffee) and mix until very smooth, about 1 minute. Batter will be very thin and soupy.
- Portion the batter evenly among the cupcake liners (I like to use a 3 tablespoon measure ice cream scoop) until 2/3 full.
- Bake until the tops spring back to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes clean or with a few cooked crumbs attached, 16 to 17 minutes. Start checking after 15 minutes. The cupcakes might deflate slightly after they come out of the oven, but should NOT look sunken. If the do sink, that means they were underbaked. They should have slightly domed tops.
- Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling and frosting.
- While the cupcakes are baking and cooling, make the frosting (instructions below)
To make the Peanut Butter Frosting: (could be made up to 3 days ahead)*
- Beat the butter, peanut butter, cream, vanilla, and salt together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low, slowly add the confectioners' sugar, and neat until the frosting is light and fluffy, 5 to 10 minutes.
- To make a hole in the cupcake, use a pairing knife to make a deep circular (1-inch in diameter) cut in the center of the cupcake. Make sure you only cut about halfway through the cupcake, and don't go all the way through the bottom. An apple corer would also work perfectly here. Using the tip of the knife, lift the cut piece of cake from deep inside and remove it completely. Let's call this the 'plug.' Cut the bottom half of the 'plug' and snack on it or do whatever you want with it. Set aside the top half of the plug, which will be used to cover the cupcake after filling them.
- Using a small spoon or a piping bag or a zipper lock bag with the corner snipped off, pour in the Hot Fudge Sauce into each cupcake. Be generous:) Fill almost to the top. You might need to rewarm the sauce just slightly for easy filling.
- Use the cake 'plug' to cover the tops of the cupcakes, where they have been filled.
- To decorate the cupcake rim with sprinkles, use a clean paint brush to paint around the rim with melted chocolate, alternatively dipping the cupcakes in a small bowl of melted chocolate will also do the trick. Dip the now-wet rim of the cupcake into a small bowl full of sprinkles, rolling it around to adhere to the entire circumference.
- Using your favorite piping tip (I used a large round tip Ateco 808) or an offset spatula to frost the cupcakes with the Peanut Butter Frosting. The way it's done here, is by starting to pipe in the center, going aroung once, the ending in the center with a burst of pressure.
- If desired, top with chocolate-covered pretzel. Serve cupcakes right away or store in an airtight container.
- The cupcake batter will make anywhere between 16 and 17 cupcakes. Making 16 will result in a larger cupcake with a muffin-top-like cap (just like the ones pictures above), enabling enough room to decorate the rim with sprinkles. Making 17 on the other hand, will produce cupcakes that rise just right above the cupcake liner, without any muffin-top-caps. If you're not planning on sticking sprinkles around the rim, I'd recommend making 17.
- Dutch processed cocoa powder gives a deeper, more chocolatey flavor to these cupcakes. However, if you can't find it, no worries, natural unsweetened cocoa works really well too, without affecting the outcome. If using natural cocoa, use the darkest, best quality cocoa you can find. I use Hintz unsweetened cocoa and love it!
- Cake flour gives these cupcakes a soft and tender crumb, but it could be hard to find, at least where I live. I substitute this by placing 3 tablespoons of cornstarch or cornflour in my measuring cup, then add the all-purpose flour on top of that and continue measuring like I normally would. So I end up using 1 1/2 cups minus 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour plus 3 tablespoons cornstarch. If you have cake flour, just use that.
- Using coffee in chocolate baked goods intensifies the chocolate flavor without making it taste like coffee. I just stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of instant coffee (Nescafe) into my 3/4 cup of hot water. If you're not okay with using coffee then just use hot water instead.
- Do not use crunchy, natural style or homemade peanut butter in this frosting. Only thick commercial peanut butter will work here.
- The frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Let the frosting stand at room temperature until softened, then whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, 2 to 5 minutes.
- To make homemade chocolate-covered pretzels, simply dip each pretzel, one by one, using a toothpick into melted chocolate (I used milk chocolate). Arrange on a parchment lined plate and freeze a few minutes until chocolate is set. Using a different color/type of melted chocolate (I used dark chocolate), drizzle lines on top of the pretzels in a zigzag pattern. Return to the freezer to set. Peel pretzels from the parchment paper and use as cupcake toppers.
Chocolate Cupcakes recipe adapted from Food Network
Hot Fudge Sauce slightly adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.
Peanut Butter Frosting adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.
Measurements Note: All recipes of this site have been developed using weight measurements. Although US volume measurements have been included for your convenience, it is highly encouraged that you weigh your ingredients using a kitchen scale to get the best possible results. Due to the sensitive nature of baking, kitchen scales are proven to yield more accurate and consistent results than measuring cups. Enjoy!
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