Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling

October 11, 2011

My technician at work loves my friend Julie’s colossal cupcakes that she makes at her bakery, The Upper Crust. However, Julie had to relocate the bakery a few weeks ago and hadn’t yet reopened for business by the time my tech’s birthday rolled around last week. So I decided to surprise her by replicating her favorite version, chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting and chopped peanut butter cups!

I found this recipe in my May/June 2010 issue of Cook’s Illustrated, and it looked like a perfect fit. Cupcakes are tricky because they have to be less crumbly than regular cake because they’re meant to be eaten out of your hands, but they must also stay tender. This recipe uses bread flour instead of regular flour to help maintain the cake structure without making it tough.

Unfortunately I developed a fever overnight and called in sick to work the next morning, but my husband had a half day of work and so he was able to deliver them in the afternoon. I was sad to miss out on sharing one with everyone, but I kept one at home for myself to enjoy separately!

Chocolate cupcakes with ganache filling

Makes 12 cupcakes


Ganache filling

  • 2  ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
  • 1/4  cup heavy cream
  • 1  tablespoon confectioners’ sugar


  • 3  ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
  • 1/3  cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 3/4  cup hot coffee
  • 3/4  cup (4 1/8 ounces) bread flour
  • 3/4  cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon baking soda
  • 6  tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2  large eggs
  • 2  teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla extract

Peanut butter frosting

  • 1/2  cup granulated sugar
  • 2  large egg whites
  • 1/8  teaspoon salt
  • 12  tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
  • 1/2  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3  cup creamy peanut butter


  1. For ganache filling: Place chocolate, cream, and confectioners’ sugar in medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave on high power until mixture is warm to touch, 20 to 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth; transfer bowl to refrigerator and let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.
  2. For cupcakes: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-size muffin pan  with baking-cup liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside. Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
  3. Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Place one slightly rounded teaspoon ganache filling on top of each cupcake. Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour.
  4. For frosting: Combine sugar, egg whites, and salt in bowl of stand mixer; place bowl over pan of simmering water. Whisking gently but constantly, heat mixture until slightly thickened, foamy, and registers 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Place bowl in stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat mixture on medium speed until consistency of shaving cream and slightly cooled, 1 to 2 minutes. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, until smooth and creamy. (Frosting may look curdled after half of butter has been added; it will smooth with additional butter.) Once all butter is added, add vanilla and peanut butter; mix until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light, fluffy, and thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds, scraping beater and sides of bowl with rubber spatula as necessary.
  6. Mound 2 to 3 tablespoons frosting on center of each cupcake. Using small icing spatula or butter knife, spread frosting to edge of cupcake, leaving slight mound in center. Garnish as desired.


  1. wow, what can I say. Just reading the recipe is enjoyable !

    • Thanks Orla! They were pretty easy to make too – no stand mixer needed except for the frosting (and you could certainly use some different kind of frosting if desired)! I will have to make them for a church luncheon sometime. :)

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