June 15th, 2011

Is there really any better way to start off summer than by making a dessert that combines two favorites: cupcakes and ice cream? I think not! Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious are holding an Ice Cream Cupcake Contest in which the winner gets a whole library of baking cookbooks. So what’s my concoction? PB&Bean Cuppies with PB Swirl Ice Cream: chocolate black bean cupcakes filled with a mini scoop of peanut butter swirl ice cream topped with peanut butter frosting, honey roasted peanuts and a tiny peanut butter cup. Mmmm!

Now I know you’re wondering, beans in cupcakes? Yes, I went there again (Check out my Cupid’s Cupcakes recipe, made with garbanzo beans). Instead of using flour, these cupcakes are made with black beans to make them gluten-free. Not only are black beans high in fiber, they are high in antioxidants (the darker the bean’s skin color, the more nutritious). And the best part? You can’t even taste a trace of the black beans in these cupcakes.

Coming back home for the summer does have its perks, namely access to exotic ingredients not found in my meager college kitchen (coconut oil and Valrhona chocolate powder for starters). Substituting coconut oil for butter in cupcakes has tremendous health benefits. It’s no coincidence that people living in tropical climates have healthy hair and skin. It’s all thanks to the high amount of coconut (and its byproducts) that they incorporate into their diets. Coconut oil, which is one of the healthiest oils out there, promotes weight loss by increasing thyroid activity and boosting metabolism (meaning that more fat is burned and converted into usable energy). More specifically, the lauric acid in coconut oil is what makes it a key ingredient in treatments for killing bacteria, fungi, yeast, and viruses. Coconut oil has even been found to treat HIV/AIDS by reducing viral counts to undetectable levels (wow!). This explains the near-perfect health of people who live in the tropics when it comes to diabetes and cancer. Do you believe in the health benefits of coconut oil now?

The unsweetened dark cocoa powder in the cupcakes provides antioxidant benefits due to its high flavonoid content. These benefits include slowing the aging process and preventing cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, heart disease and more. I bet you wouldn’t have guessed that cocoa powder has the highest antioxidant levels of all foods (twice the amount of red wine and three times the amount of green tea)! Keep in mind that I am talking about cocoa powder in its purest form – not store-bought chocolate, which contains milk, sugar, and other unhealthy ingredients that detract from the health benefits. Moreover, unsweetened cocoa powder helps lower blood pressure levels and improve overall blood flow.

If you love cinnamon, then you’re in for a pleasant surprise. The cinnamon in these cupcakes lowers LDL cholesterol levels (the bad cholesterol) and regulates blood sugar levels. Not only is cinnamon an anti-inflammatory food, it is also high in fiber, iron, and calcium. By lowering blood sugar levels, cinnamon helps the body produce less insulin, which promotes weight loss.

The peanut butter swirl ice cream is the icing on the cake (no pun intended) and tastes amazing on its own! (Unfortunately, its beauty is hidden under the frosting in the photos.) There aren’t any noteworthy health benefits from the ingredients in the peanut butter swirl ice cream besides the high protein content of the peanut butter and milk products, but thank goodness there are a lot of ingredients in the cupcakes that promote weight loss! Enjoy!

PB&Bean Cuppies with PB Swirl Ice Cream
Makes 1 dozen cupcakes

For the ice cream:
Adapted from Saveur

1 cup milk
3⁄4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Trader Joe’s honey roasted peanuts

Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until just hot. Meanwhile, beat sugar and eggs together in a medium bowl until thick and pale yellow.

Gradually whisk hot milk into egg mixture in bowl, then pour milk–egg mixture into saucepan. Return saucepan to medium-low heat and cook custard, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in 1⁄2 cup of the peanut butter. Strain custard into a large bowl, let cool briefly, stirring often, then stir in cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until cold, 6–8 hours.

Process mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions, adding 1⁄2 cup of the chopped nuts to the ice cream 30 seconds before it has finished churning. Transfer to a bowl, quickly swirl in remaining 1⁄2 cup peanut butter, cover, and freeze until hard.


For the cupcakes:
Adapted from chocolate & carrots (who adapted it from a hippie with a minivan)

1 (15.5 oz) can of reduced sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
4 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
5 tbsp coconut oil
3/4 cup cane sugar
5 tbsp Valrhona unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
48 Trader Joe’s mini milk chocolate peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin pan and spray with cooking spray.

Blend the beans, 2 eggs, vanilla and sugar in the food processor (or blender) on high until completely blended.

In a small bowl combine the cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.

In a large bowl, beat the butter/coconut oil until fluffy. Add the remaining two eggs and beat well after each egg. Beat in the bean mixture. Beat in the dry ingredients for 1-2 minutes.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place 4 mini peanut butter cups on top of each. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the cupcakes are cooked completely. Allow them to cool completely before icing.


For the frosting:
Adapted from chocolate & carrots (who adapted it from Something Shiny)

1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 – 2/3 cup whipping cream (heavy cream)
12 Trader Joe’s mini milk chocolate peanut butter cups (for garnish)

Beat the peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar until combined. Add in the whipping cream and beat until light and fluffy. Put in a Ziploc bag, cut a hole, add a decorating tip (if you have one) and set aside.


For assembly:

Use a melon baller (small scoop) to dig a small hole into the top of the cupcakes. Using a cookie-sized scoop, create small, rounded scoops of ice cream and place inside of the holes you just made in the cupcakes. Swirl the icing on top of the ice cream and around the top of the cupcakes. Spread it around if you feel like it to completely cover the ice cream. Place one mini peanut butter cup in the middle (tops) of the frosting and sprinkle with the chopped honey roasted peanuts. Serve immediately.

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