Mini Chocolate Cupcakes with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Centers – “Autumn/Halloween Version”

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These ‘surprise in the center’ cupcakes are extra chocolaty and delicious – frosting is always optional.

I like to call these types of recipes A Little Help From My Friends because I used a purchased cake mix and canned decorating cake icing. I know most people don’t have a lot of extra time, so A Little Help From My Friends always helps.

I think you’re gonna find these cupcakes a bit addictive.  Once you pop one in your mouth, you just can’t stop!  Extra cocoa, brown sugar and a bit of vanilla are added to a dark chocolate cake mix, giving these mini cupcakes an extra BAM of chocolate flavor.  And the goodness of mini Reese’s peanut butter cups really puts these little treasures over the top in the taste department.

The trick to making these is placing a mini peanut butter cup in each lined cupcake section before adding the batter.  ++ In this particular instance, mini cupcake tins were used, but these special cupcakes can also be prepared using regular sized cupcake tins.

I prepared these Autumn/Halloween cupcakes last weekend when my twin brother and his family came for dinner. We cooked chicken breasts and thighs on a grate suspended over my fire pit. (I’d been wanting to grill chicken this way for a long, long time.)  The chicken turned out really tender and the smoky flavor reminded me of when my dad used to cook hamburgers over an open fire.  The flavor of those hamburgs has stayed with me entire life. Let me tell you, grilling with today’s charcoal briquettes, which now often contain bits of charcoal PLUS coal, starch, sawdust, and sodium nitrate, can’t even come close to the taste of grilling over a wood fire.

After the meal, these mini Autumn/Halloween cupcakes .. and  S’Mores .. were enjoyed by all. (None of the adults had any of the S’mores but they couldn’t stop eating these cupcakes…) After my guests departed, I wrapped up a few baking potatoes in several layers of aluminum foil and nestled them in the fire. The next morning those potatoes made the BEST home fries.  Oh yeah – the best things in life are free!

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++  Yield – 50 or so mini cupcakes

++  Heat oven to 350F

++  Bake mini cupcakes 12 minutes   (Bake average sized cupcakes according to package directions.)

Ingredients

++ I highly recommend using cupcake liners

  • 1 box Dark Chocolate  – prepared according to the package directions
  • 1  Tbs. cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbs.  brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  Here’s what I used to decorate my Autumn/Halloween cupcakes

  • 2 cans green Decorating Cake Icing   ++ I used Betty Crocker brand
  • 1 (1 lb.) bag candy pumpkins  ++  You’ll have some leftover to nibble on!!

Method

Line cupcake tins.  Unwrap mini Reese’s peanut butter cups and place one in each section.

Prepare cake mix according to the package directions. Add  1 Tbs. cocoa powder, 1 Tbs. brown sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. Beat for another 30 seconds or so.  Using a tablespoon, fill each section 2/3s full of cake batter. Using a small spoon, spread batter so peanut butter cups are fully covered.

Bake for about 12 minutes. Cupcakes will be slightly rounded and, when tapped with a finger, should not dent in.  Remove cupcakes and cool on a rack. Repeat until all batter is used up.  It’ll take a little while to make so many cupcakes but it’s easy and fun   ; o )

When cupcakes are fully cooled, frost with canned decorating icing.  ++  Use the star tip which is included with the icing.  Lightly press a candy pumpkin on the top of each cupcake. Enjoy!

TIP — While one batch of cupcakes is baking, remove wrapping from additional peanut butter cups.  Children love to help with this… but be prepared to lose several candies in the process!   

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