Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

I know, I know -- you think this recipe sounds a little weird, right? WRONG! I was at my friend Maria's this week (canning blueberry syrup) and noticed this cake in her refrigerator. It looked scrumptious! Being the shy person that I am, I asked her for a bite. Yum!

If you love peanut butter and chocolate, you are going to love this. Maria gets the credit for finding this recipe in cyber world. I'm putting a spin on it though. I'm making cupcakes and filling them with raspberry jam. It's heavenly. If you are afraid of the jam (and the peanut butter frosting) at least try the cake using you own favorite frosting. It's a winner.

1 box Chocolate Fudge cake mix (or any chocolate cake mix)
1 (3 oz.) box instant chocolate pudding
2 cups sour cream
5 eggs
1 cup melted butter
1 tsp. almond extract
1 cup chocolate chips (I recommend Ghirardelli semi-sweet)

raspberry jam (for filling)

In a large bowl, beat first 6 ingredients until well blended. Mixture will be thick. Stir in chocolate chips. Using a 1/4 measuring cup, scoop batter into individual cupcake tins that have been lined with paper. Bake the cupcakes for 18 to 20 minutes. Test them at 18 minutes -- you don't want them to over bake. Let cool before frosting.

Peanut Butter Frosting

2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening
2/3 cup butter
1 3/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
6-8 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approx. 2 lb.)

Cream shortening and butter with electric mixer.
Add peanut butter, milk and vanilla.
Gradually add 6 c. sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry.
Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add more sugar (or milk) as needed until icing is desired consistency (should be firm enough to hold a shape but still smooth)
Keep icing covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Re-whip before using.

To Assemble:

Using scissors, cut off about 1/2 inch of the corner of a disposable pastry bag (or a zip lock freezer bag.) Fill the bag with the raspberry jam, pushing it all to the bottom of the bag like a tube of toothpaste. Gently jab the trimmed end of the pastry bag into the top of the cupcake and squeeze -- filling the cupcake with about 2 teaspoons of jam.

Put the frosting in another disposable pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe a large circle around the top of the cupcake to cover it completely. Garnish with chocolate shavings or chopped up peanut butter cups.

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes.

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