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Surprise-Inside Chocolate Peanut Butter Owl Cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cupcakes(recipe adapted from Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake):

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 tsp good quality vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 30 snack-size chocolate peanut butter cups

For the Frosting:

  • 1 stick 1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar sifted, plus additional if needed
  • 1/3 cup whole milk plus a little more if needed
  • 2 tsp good quality vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tbsp creamy peanut butter

For the owls:

  • 1 bag double stuff Oreos
  • 1 large bag M&M's candy pieces you'll only need the red and brown ones
  • small tube white decorating icing

Instructions

To make the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line muffin tins with 30 paper baking cups and set aside
  3. Whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa,baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl
  4. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla
  5. Beat on medium speed in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer for 2 minutes
  6. Stir in boiling water (don't panic...batter will look thin)
  7. Pour a few tbsp of batter into each cupcake liner, place peanut butter cups on top and gently press down (you want the peanut butter cup close to the bottom of the cupcake, but not all the way down to the liner)
  8. Top off with remaining batter until each liner is almost full (a little more than 2/3)
  9. Bake 22-25 minutes, until tops spring back and cakes are done
  10. Cool completely while you prepare the frosting

To make the Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting:

  1. Using a whisk attachment, whip butter and cocoa until smooth and blended
  2. Alternately add milk and confectioners' sugar until all is incorporated
  3. Add vanilla and peanut butter and whip until smooth

To assemble:

  1. Frost your cooled cupcakes using a smooth knife
  2. Open the Oreos to separate by gently twisting the cookie
  3. Using a very sharp knife, in a sawing motion, slice the plain cookie in half, the half with the icing will be the eyes
  4. Using a little squirt of decorator's icing, attach the brown M&M's to the white iced part of the cookie
  5. Then place the cookies on top of the frosted cupcake
  6. Place the red M&M sideways in between the eyes for the beak
  7. Now dab a little decorator's frosting on the back of the two halved cookie portions and place on top of the eyes