Grandma’s Peanut Butter Cupcakes


When I lived in Los Angeles, I was obsessed with cupcakes. This was due, in part, to having access to Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills and Frosted (Cupcakery) in Long Beach, amongst others.

Don’t get me wrong, Portland is no slouch when it comes to selling cupcakes (or other baked goods!). Between Saint Cupcake and Cupcake Jones in Portland and Crave Bake • Shop in nearby Lake Oswego (not to mention a whole slew of other bakeries in the Portland Metro area), I have cupcakes at my fingertips at all times.

I both love and hate cupcakes because they are the perfect treat when made right, but, in my opinion, can be so tricky to make! To me the mark of perfection in a cupcake is if it’s moist. If I bite into a dry cupcake, that will be the only bite I take. I have a problem portioning cupcake batter in order to get similar sized cupcakes, which can lead to overcooking or undercooking some of the cupcakes. How can it be that hard? I dunno. But for me it is!

With two cups of egg whites in my fridge, I needed to make some sort of baked deliciousness to use them up. Of course I immediately thought of my Moist White Cake recipe, wanting to turn it into cupcakes. But I’ve made white cake twice recently and didn’t want to make white cake cupcakes. Instead I decided I could easily convert the recipe into peanut butter cupcakes by adding peanut butter. I was hoping to yield the end result of a moist peanut butter cupcake.


  • 24 T. butter, softened (3 sticks)
  • 1 c. peanut butter
  • 1 c. peanut butter chips, melted and cooled
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 5 c. flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 16 large egg whites (2 c.)
  • 2 c. buttermilk
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • Peanut Butter Butter Cream Frosting
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, quartered, for garnish


  1. Set racks at the lower and middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, peanut butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy, add melted peanut butter chips and stir to incorporate.
  3. Stir together flour, baking powder and soda and salt. Set aside. Combine egg whites, buttermilk and vanilla. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to butter mixture then add half the milk mixture.
  4. Continue to alternate beginning and ending with flour mixture. Scrape bowl and beater often. Pour batter into Texas-sized cupcake pans (large) lined with paper liners. Bake cupcakes about 22 to 27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean pretty much clean – it’s OK if you have some bits of cupcake clinging to the toothpick. I actually prefer it.
  5. Cool in pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and let cool completely; then frost. Garnish with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

So the end result was moist even though I was pretty sure I overcooked them when pulling them from the oven.  This time most of my cupcakes came out about the same size as luck would have it. But I was baking three pans of cupcakes at a time and the pans cooked unevenly; thus, I was pulling the pans out of the oven at different times.

Unfortunately, though moist, the cupcakes weren’t overly peanut buttery. Which is the whole point of  peanut butter cupcake. Is it not? In the grand scheme of things, that was fine because the frosting I used was peanut buttery enough. But if I were to make this recipe again, I would definitely add more peanut butter – maybe as much as another cup.


So, I took most of the nearly 30 large cupcakes made to work to share with coworkers. I wasn’t expecting much of a reaction because I didn’t think they were all that special. However, my coworkers were falling into the aisles complimenting me on how delicious the cupcakes were. Particularly, one woman, a good friend of both my current and former bosses, who is known for making a delicious peanut butter frosting and being a tough critic when it comes to peanut butter flavored baked goods. Everyone who tried one marveled at their deliciousness.

My favorite comment was from my friend who has been loyally eating my baked goods for two years now. I asked him to critique the cupcake telling him I didn’t think they were flavorful enough. His response was that the cupcakes were spot on – had just the right amount of peanut butter flavor. And, this was the part I loved, he said the cupcakes taste exactly like a Grandma’s Peanut Butter Cookie. He’s spot on. They do. I was uber-impressed he could pinpoint the flavor! So impressed that I decided to rename the cupcakes to reflect the cookie-esque flavor.

Recipe rating: 


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