The combination of peanut butter and jelly – or PB&J – reminds me of the brown bag lunches I took to school as a kid. They were definitely my favorite type of sandwich, and I am still a fan of the flavor combination in any form because salty, sticky peanut butter always seems to pair perfectly with sweet, fruity jam. These Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Cupcakes are a twist on that classic lunchbox sandwich, a more adult cupcake that still embodies those childhood flavors. I would call these an “adult” cupcake because they’re not your typical, buttery cupcakes.
The cake was inspired by a very French type of cake made with ground almonds (I’ve also used macadamia nuts), and instead of almonds, I’ve used peanuts here. Since they use peanuts instead of peanut butter, these little cakes have a very clear peanut flavor to them instead of a strong peanut butter flavor. This means that the overall flavor is a little more subtle than many peanut butter cakes. Salted, roasted peanuts are the best choice for this recipe because they impart the most flavor. If you’re not going to use salted peanuts, add a generous pinch of salt to the batter to help highlight the nuts’ flavor. The cakes also have a light, fluffy crumb that is reminiscent of sponge cake and are not too sweet – which makes them perfect for filling with a layer of fruity jam. I used strawberry here, but you can use grape, raspberry or any other flavor you like.
You could leave the cakes filled with jam and serve (or eat) them as-is, but I wanted to make them a little more decadent with a smear of cream cheese frosting and a sprinkle of coarsely chopped peanuts. The cream cheese adds some additional richness and a bit of extra sweetness to the cupcakes. They’re a little different than those classic sandwiches, but they’re least as tasty as those PB&Js you ate as a kid.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Cupcakes
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup roasted and salted peanuts
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
2 tbsp rum
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
approx 1/2 cup jam of choice
additional peanuts, chopped for topping
cream cheese frosting, recipe below
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with 8 paper liners.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, peanuts, sugar and baking powder and whizz until everything is well blended and the peanuts are ground. Add in eggs and rum and pulse to combine. Batter should be smooth. Add in melted butter and pulse several times to incorporate.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, until the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, then remove wrappers and split each cake in half. Fill with approximately 1 tablespoon of jam.
Top cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and a sprinkle of chopped peanuts.
Small Batch Cream Cheese Frosting
3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until frosting is smooth and thick enough to spread.