Chocolate Cupcakes & Peanut Butter Frosting

Last week I showed you how to make your own parchment paper cupcake liners. I hope you thought about trying them. It's such a fun option! This week, as promised, I am sharing the recipes for both the cupcakes and the frosting that I made for that post.

The cupcake recipe is something I found years ago in a little recipe book that came with a package of Hershey's Cocoa I bought at the grocery store. The recipe was for a Deep Dark Chocolate Cake. I still remember the first time I made it. It was the best chocolate cake I had ever tasted. It was so moist and delicious that I knew my search for the perfect chocolate cake was over. I have been making it ever since...

The cake is made with eggs, milk and cocoa which all contribute to the delicious flavor but I think the secret ingredient is the cup of boiling water that is added as the last step. It makes the batter thin but the result is an extremely moist cake that you could actually eat without frosting. Remember this when you make your cake or cupcakes using this recipe. When you check for doneness you may not get a completely clean toothpick. If there is wet batter on the toothpick the cupcakes are not done. If there is a little bit of cake on the toothpick, as in the photo below, they are done (trust me and don't over bake them).

I thought I found the perfect peanut butter frosting recipe several years ago. I would have said there wasn’t a better one out there. I made it to top off my Deep Dark Chocolate Cake and I swore I heard Halleluiah when I took my first bite. The combo became a family favorite.  Then one day, a few weeks ago, my daughter Elizabeth emailed me and told me she found a peanut butter frosting recipe that just might be better than the one we had. Was she serious? I didn’t think it was possible but I decided to try it and she was right! This peanut butter frosting is so good I think you could eat it by itself without the cake and you would be in heaven. This is now our favorite peanut butter frosting (maybe one day I'll share the other recipe too because they are both amazing!).

Deep Dark Chocolate Cake (adapted from Hershey’s Deep Dark Chocolate Cake)

Makes 2  9”layer cakes or 24 cupcakes


2 cups sugar

1 ¾ cups flour

¾ cup Cocoa ( I use Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa for a deeper chocolate flavor but regular cocoa is fine)

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt ( I toss in a pinch of sea salt instead)

2 eggs

1 cup milk

½ cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9” cake pans or prepare cupcake pans with liners. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add boiling water and stir until combined. Batter will be thin. Pour batter into prepared pans or cupcake liners (fill cupcake liners 2/3 full). Bake 30-35 minutes for 9” pans, 25-30 minutes for cupcakes or until toothpick comes out clean (or almost clean as shown above).

Cool in pans for 10 minutes; remove from pans and place on wire racks. Cool completely.

*TIP ~ when I use standard cupcake liners I will lightly (key word-lightly) grease and flour the tops of the cupcake pan. That way if the batter rises above the liner it will not stick to the top of the pan and the cupcakes will come out easier

Peanut Butter Frosting


8oz cream cheese, room temperature

4 Tablespoons butter, room temperature

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

3 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup whipped topping (I use cool whip)


Mix cream cheese, butter and peanut butter together in mixer fixed with paddle attachment until well blended. Slowly add powdered sugar until blended. Add whipped topping and mix until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

Refrigerate frosting.

*TIP ~ this frosting will become soft if it sits too long. Frost your cake or cupcakes right away or place frosting in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. I like to pop a decorating bag filled with frosting into the fridge until it reaches a desired consistency for decorating. Refrigerate your cake or cupcakes until 15 minutes or so before serving.

*TIP ~ I used a Jumbo French tip and a pastry bag to decorate the cupcakes you see in the photos.