Thursday, 18 February 2010

Peanut butter and Jelly cupcakes

In honour of a dear friend who has left our shores to head back to America and also in celebration of the airing of my boyfriend's episode of Secret Diary of a Call Girl on Showtime, it felt a fitting time to do a cake-over of this old American classic.

I was never given peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a child, so this combination doesn't hold the same nostalgic charm and comfort for me that it does for so many others. In truth, I always thought PB & J sounded like a revolting proposition. Not usually, in itself, a reason to put me off trying something, but not being a huge fan of either peanut butter OR jam sandwiches in particular, it didn't feel like a combination that required my urgent investigation.

The cloying saltiness of peanut butter invaded by sweet and sticky jam sounded like the sickly work of insanity. But what did I know? I used to witness my grandfather tucking into cold rice pudding sandwiches without batting even the flicker of an eyelid and a favourite sandwich filling of mine, growing up, was ham and vinegar. Granted, on paper, it lacks romance, but in reality, the ham and vinegar together creates a deliciously pleasing balance of flavours. The same is true of peanut butter and jelly, and it is exactly what sounds so wrong about it that makes it so right.

I had no excuse for my initial and uncharacteristic reluctance, especially as salty and sweet are far from unfamiliar bedfellows; think Chinese cooking or Margaritas. Once I tried the famous sandwich, even if I wasn't hooked, I was certainly intrigued and pleasantly surprised enough to finish it and then lick my fingers for crumbs. But my main reaction to the experience was simply, "Now this would make a great cake!". And I was right. I like them best as cupcakes, decorated with a swirl of buttercream and topped with a few well placed jelly beans*, because they seem that bit more American. But, as with almost all cakes, the recipe adapts well to whatever tin you care to use, just adapt the cooking time accordingly.

I'm sure the Americans have been doing peanut butter and jelly cakes for years, but I didn't bother to find out before trying it out for myself. This is peanut butter and jelly cake done my way. And, if I do say so myself, it tastes pretty good.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes
Preheat the oven the 180 C or 160 C Fan and line a 12 hole deep muffin tray with cupcake cases.


For the cake
  • 3 oz/ 75 g unsalted soft butter
  • 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 4 oz/ 100 g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 oz/ 100 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • A splash of vanilla extract
  • Milk to slacken the mixture, if needed
For the icing
  • 2-3 tbsp seedless jam/ jelly - I used raspberry because I didn't have any grape, but I believe grape is more traditional
  • 6 oz/ 150 g unsalted soft butter
  • 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1 lb/ 400 g icing sugar, sifted
  • A splash of vanilla extract
  • Milk, if needed.

For the cake
  • Beat the butter, peanut butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
  • Gradually add the eggs, beating between each addition.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder over the top, add the salt and vanilla and beat together until thoroughly combined.
  • Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases and bake for 10 - 15 mins or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool on a wire rack.
For the icing
  • Warm the jam in a saucepan and spoon a little over the top of each cake and leave to set.
  • In the meantime, place the butter and peanut butter in a bowl and beat together until creamy.
  • Sift the icing sugar over the top in two stages, beating between each addition.
  • Add the vanilla extract and milk to slacken the buttercream if needed and give the buttercream a final whisk.
  • Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with either a plain or star shaped no. 10 nozzle and pipe a swirl of buttercream on each cupcake, starting from the outer edge and circling in.
  • Place a few jelly beans on the top and serve.
If you use a palate knife instead of a piping bag for the buttercream, you will only need half the amount, so divide the quantities by 2.

* a cupcake photo will follow shortly, once the camera lead is at hand.


  1. Mmmm, these sound great. I'm going to try them this weekend!

    Peanuts in any manifestation work for me...

    Julia (urban cakes)

    1. I have only just worked out that replying shouldn't involve starting a new comment. I'm an idiot and a luddite, but I always reply (see below). I've just been doing it wrong :(

  2. Ooh, and another thing...

    I usually use muffin cases for cupcakes. Should I get some of the smaller ones do you think, for these? They always seem too small to me..


  3. I tend to use muffin cases (unless I find some particularly adorable fairy cake cases), because I feel cheated if I get a child's size portion of anything, but either size will work.

    The mixture won't come up quite as high with muffin cases, so there'll be more room for buttercream too...