Thursday, February 27, 2014

Happy Birthday, E!


Yesterday E turned another year older. Birthdays are kind of a big deal around here, but even more so since we had Jude. Having a kid has given me a new excuse to be ridiculous with any celebration that pops up, it just gets harder to top myself every year. This year Jude and I drew a giant birthday card for his annual "Happy Birthday, Daddy" Facebook photo, and as cute as it is, it still can't beat the original.


Anyhow, along with crating and photo taking antics, we had dinner at E's favorite Mexican place, followed by birthday cupcakes and candles. The perfect birthday cupcakes for someone who isn't into chocolate? PB and J of course. Nothing could stop me from whipping up a little bit of fudge frosting for the extra cakes, though. Because despite E's aversion, it isn't a birthday in my kitchen if there isn't some chocolate floating around.

These cupcakes began as a spin on an old family favorite, the maid of honor. They are a little pastry that my great grandmother made, then my grandmother, and now my mother is in charge. They have a pie crust base and a lightly sweet vanilla cake on top, with raspberry filling and almond frosting. No family event is complete without them. And though there are many versions of peanut butter and jelly cupcakes out there, most of them are missing the essential crust. This version has the lightly toasted crust, fluffy white bread-esque cake, a jam center and the fluffiest peanut butter frosting known to man.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes
makes 18-20 cupcakes

Ingredients:
Filling:
1 cup strawberry, blueberry, or grape preserves
Crust:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
3 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbls. sugar
1/3 c. very cold shortening
1/2 c. cold water
Cake:
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. buttermilk
Frosting:
1 c. peanut butter
6 Tbls. unsalted butter at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. confectioners sugar
1/2 c. cream

Preparation:
Grease muffin tins with butter and dust with flour.

Prepare crust. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and sugar until combined. Add cold butter and pulse a few times until the butter resembles small peas. With the processor turned on, add the cold water a Tbls. at a time, until the dough forms a ball. Dump the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and knead into a ball. Wrap tightly in the wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes. Once chilled, slice dough ball in half and return one half to the refrigerator. On a floured board, roll the other half into a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut rounds using a biscuit cutter and press into prepared muffin tins. Repeat with the remaining dough.

In a small bowl, stir the jam until smooth. Spoon a generous teaspoon into the center of each muffin cup. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar using a mixer. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture and milk gradually, alternating between additions and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Pour batter into muffin cups, leaving 1/4 inch space from the top. This should be just enough to cover the jam.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until cakes are just golden. Allow to cool 5 minutes in the pans before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Prepare the frosting. Beat butter and peanut butter at medium speed until combined. Add vanilla, salt and sugar and beat until fluffy. Add cream and continue beating until pale and fluffy. Frost each cupcake and top with sprinkles if desired.

2 comments:

Chris Coyle said...

Sounds yummy! I vote strawberry. Can't believe how big your "bean" is now! Seems like just a few months ago you were preggers. How time flies!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Eric!!
Love, Jenny C