I’m not a potential #GBBO contestant. The food I create isn’t art. I enjoy baking and cooking, and I love doing it for other people. Some of my happiest moments are cooking a big meal for my family and them genuinely enjoying it. I prefer preparation to actually eating, in all honesty.
Obviously I generally have to eat what I create, so I dabble in dairy-free alternatives to traditional food. I don’t particularly get any kind of thrill out of this (as I’ve said previously, I’d be pretty happy to wake up one day with a stomach that can handle all of the proteins) but it’s cool when I make something I can eat that tastes like the “normal” version.
In an attempt to shake myself out of a several-month-long hole of going to work and returning home to do nothing, I’ve been trying to cook more often. I’ve recently mastered some of the Sunday roast basics, learnt a quick and easy marinade that goes with everything, and now I’m starting to experiment with cupcakes.
Peanut butter is one of my favourite ingredients to use in cakes, because it provides a great texture and added oomph to an otherwise standard bun. It’s also super creamy and, 9 times out of 10, completely dairy-free as standard.
As anyone with taste-buds knows, peanut butter’s soul mate is chocolate. So these cupcakes, inspired by my boyfriend’s favourite chocolate-peanut butter combo, are my take on that perfect match.
For the cupcakes
- 115g dairy-free butter (I use Purefect’s sunflower or soya butter)
- 115g caster sugar
- 2 medium, free-range eggs
- 175g self-raising flour
- 2 tbsp Reese’s Creamy Peanut Butter
- 1 tbsp of soya milk (if needed)
For the icing
- 125g dairy-free chocolate buttons (I use Gluten and Dairy-Free Chocolate Buttons from ASDA)
- 100g dairy-free butter
- 200g icing sugar
- About 12 tsp Reece’s Creamy Peanut Butter
Preheat your oven to 200°c/400°/gas mark 4 and put 12 bun cases into a bun tray. Cream together the dairy-free butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat each of them until all of the mixture is nice and creamy. Add in 2 tbsps of the Reece’s peanut butter and again beat until it’s all mixed in. It might seem like it won’t blend at first, but it will.
Fold in the flour a few scoops at a time until you have a pretty thick mixture. Add the soya milk if the mixture ever gets too thick. Spoon in to the bun cases and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Let the buns cool on a rack. You’ll notice that the buns are more firm than light and fluffy. They need to be to hold the weight, and taste-wise, they’re not dense. They should also rise well, whilst the top should be quite firm.
Now it’s time for the fun part.
Melt the dairy-free chocolate buttons as you normally would, over a pan of hot water. Stir the buttons until the last one melts and remove the bowl from the heat. As the chocolate begins to cool (you want it to come to room temperature, whilst still being runny), make your butter cream by beating the dairy-free butter and icing sugar together.
Once you have a firm mixture, add the melted chocolate and mix until it’s all blended together. Use this time as an opportunity to eat whatever melted chocolate is still in the bowl because that stuff is delicious. You can keep this butter cream in the fridge until its ready to use.
Now that the buns are cool, grab a small spoon or a knife and make a crevice in the cake. I do this by carefully scooping about a teaspoon of cake from the top of the bun. Try and do this neatly to keep the bun shape, but it really doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect.
Scoop a teaspoon of the Reece’s peanut butter and spread it into the cake hole. Gently but firmly put the “cake hat” (that’s the bit of the cake that’s been scooped out) back on the bun and repeat.
Grab the icing out of the fridge and give it a stir to make sure it’s creamy. Spread across the top of the buns. I use a knife for this, but if you prefer to pipe then by all means do. There are plenty of additional decorations that would go well with this, such as chopped up peanuts, or you can keep them plain.
Et voila! Reece’s Peanut Butter Cupcakes!
The dairy-free verdict
The Purefect butter is pretty good for baking, as it’s a gentle flavour and blends well with the other ingredients. It’s also really soft so you can use it straight out of the fridge. It’s missing that touch of salt I used to like in real butter, but as a widely available (and not unhealthy) alternative, you can’t really go wrong.
ASDA’s chocolate buttons have always been a preference of mine. For something so cheap, they melt really well and, when warm, they taste exactly like normal chocolate. The icing in this recipe tastes really nice to me, and it cures my craving for chocolate.
These cupcakes are great if you love Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups but struggle to find them in your local store. The jar of spread is really big, so you could probably make 5 batches of these buns before you run out. It’s a worthwhile investment, or, of course, you could just use normal peanut butter for a slightly less creamy taste.
This is my first attempt at a recipe, so be gentle on me! Hopefully you’ll give these cupcakes a try – let me know in the comments or on Twitter @gmkershaw91.