I love frosting. Don’t tell my husband or my dog but I kind of want it to be my Valentine. It shouldn’t be too fancy. I like a smooth European buttercream as much as the next person but give me a fluffy, sweet, powdered sugary American buttercream and I simply can’t stop eating it. It completes me.
(The fact that I usually go on a bit of a sugar cleanse the week after my girls’ birthday is probably not mere coincidence.)
Ella and Hailey turned 12 this month. I know, I can’t believe it either. Cue the clichés. I miss my little girls but adolescence is not nearly as bad as advertised so far. I mean, it’s certainly not for the weak hearted but it’s been full of so many moments of pride and hilarity it’s hard to complain. Don’t get me wrong, I do still manage to complain. The pleasure of seeing my girls be good friends, take big risks and execute sarcastic remarks with perfect precision definitely outweighs the sulky, spacey, embarrassed by everything I do moments though. 12 is gonna be good.
This year the cupcake orders were vanilla with vanilla buttercream from Hailey and chocolate with peanut butter frosting from Ella. No big party this year so we shared some with our friends who are like family then took the rest to the Oregon coast where we spent the birthday weekend. It was cold and rainy just like it’s supposed to be the first weekend of February. Friday, their cousins Abby and Nicole came for the birthday dinner and a very loud game of Pictionary. Saturday, we drove up the coast from Florence to Newport and had coffee, hot cocoa, and Euphoria truffles with the sea lions. And Sunday, we got to have breakfast with their Uncle Billy and Liz who happened to be at the coast for his birthday too! Pretty perfect.
I was happy about the peanut butter frosting request as I’ve been meaning to blog the recipe for some time now. The key to a good buttercream frosting is room temperature butter and patience. The rest is pretty easy. The patience comes with the mixing because to achieve maximum fluff you’ve got to let the mixer do its thing. Of course, it’s ideal to have a stand mixer you can just let run on its own but a hand mixer will do just fine. I like to use a natural style peanut butter for this recipe because it has a more intense flavor and the texture is a little thinner. That said, make sure you don’t have one so natural that it’s grainy. Safeway makes a great no-stir organic peanut butter and the Jif natural is good too.
PS: If you have leftover frosting, use it to make graham cracker sandwiches and stick them in the freezer for a happy treat once your cupcake party is over.
Peanut Butter Frosting
(makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes or a double layer cake)
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I use no-stir Safeway organic), divided
5 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 – 4 tablespoons milk or cream
Place softened butter, 1/2 cup peanut butter, and 2 cups powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl (the bowl of a stand mixer or other) and beat with wire attachment or electric beaters until light and fluffy. Scrape sides with a rubber spatula occasionally.
Slowly, add 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (not shown, sorry), beat until well combined, then add 2 tablespoons milk/cream, salt, and vanilla extract, beat until well combined, then add remaining powdered sugar. If the frosting seems too thick, add the remaining milk/cream. Beat on high speed until frosting is really light and fluffy, using a rubber spatula to scrape sides occasionally.
Take out the wire attachment and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of peanut butter. If you don’t combine it completely it will have a cute swirl effect. Up to you.
At this point, you are free to frost your cake or cupcakes in any style you like.
For the piping I’ve shown, take a plastic pastry bag and fit it with a large star piping tip.
For even more of a swirl effect, smear some straight peanut butter on the inside of a small section of the bag (totally optional but kind of fun).
Fill the bag with frosting and fold the top.
Some might feel a little sorry for my husband these days… Post hysterectomy I feel like I’ve entered a second adolescence myself so this house is chock full of misplaced hormones. I’ll never forget meeting a middle aged man at the Costco food court when the girls were just babies. He admired the girls then looked at Bob, told him to enjoy the baby girls, then explained that he had two teenage girls and a wife at home and that’s why he was there, all alone, drinking coffee at Costco most Sunday afternoons. Here we are.