Jack Peanut Butler and Jelly Cupcakes

I haven't baked cupcakes in a while... in fact, I haven't made ANY cupcakes on this blog yet!! Penalty flag. Let's do something about that, shall we?

I first tried this recipe back in May for Kate's birthday. You remember Kate, my best friend with the BLACK & GOLD KITCHEN? She was my best friend before the conveniently colored kitchen, I promise. 

Hall of Famer Jack Butler (1927-2013) played cornerback for the Steelers for nearly the entire decade of the 1950s. Butler, a Pittsburgh native, was signed by the Steelers in 1951, though he initially went undrafted. Butler tallied a whopping 52 career interceptions during his nine seasons with the Black & Gold and didn't miss a game for eight straight years. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) In 1959, a severe knee injury ended Butler's career on the field. The injury not only ended his playing career, but plagued him with reoccurring staph infections throughout the rest of his life. 

Nonetheless, Butler went on to scout for the Steelers, amongst other teams (Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles) as the executive director of the BLESTO scouting combine. He would hold this position for 45 years. Likewise, son, Mike Butler, has become the Steelers' scout through the BLESTO organization. 

Jack Butler passed away at age 85 this May from complications related to a staph infection, a direct result of the same injury that ended his playing career in 1959. Though Butler's passing and the cause were tragic, it luckily didn't occur before his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last August. 

Gosh, reading and writing about the late, great cornerback has gotten me all teary-eyed. Let's honor his memory and achievements with these comforting cupcakes.

The original concept for a PB&J cupcake came to me via Martha Stewart Living, though I tweaked the recipe a fair amount, as I often do. Let me explain - one day back in the Spring, I came upon this recipe for Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies on A Cozy Kitchen and my world was turned upside down. Why? Because I learned how mind-bendingly easy it is to make your own peanut butter! Like, chip shot from the 30 yard line easy. Peanuts + food processor = peanut butter. That's it. No hydrogenated vegetable oil, no partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and can anyone explain what in the Squirrel Hill rapeseed is? Sounds like something no one wants. I'll just make my own PB, thanks. 

I used the sandwich cookie filling recipe from A Cozy Kitchen for the cupcake frosting because it's so very yummy. I also broke out the football cupcake liners and ornamental toothpicks that I found at the Red, White & Blue Thrift store on my Pittsburgh trip a few weekends back. So cute! (I mean, uh... tough.) 

And finally, I wanted the jam tucked inside of the cupcakes rather than on top of the frosting. 

This cupcake really, truly tastes like a PB&J sandwich that mom packed in your lunchbox. Here we go!

Jack Peanut Butler and Jelly Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living

For the cupcakes
1 1/3 cups honey roasted peanuts
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting
1 1/4 cup honey roasted peanuts
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 1/2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp butter, softened

For the filling
1 jar jelly or jam 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse 1 1/3 cups peanuts in food processor for 3-5 minutes until creamy.

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda together in medium mixing bowl. In a separate (large) mixing bowl, cream together 1 1/2 sticks butter and sugar with mixer on medium speed, until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at-a-time, scraping down sides of bowl and thoroughly incorporating before adding the next. Mix in 1/3 flour mixture (dry ingredients), then 1/2 of the peanut butter (from food processor) with 1/4 cup sour cream, then 1/3 flour mixture, then the rest of the peanut butter and sour cream, THEN, remaining dry ingredients on medium-low speed, scraping down sides with each addition. 

Line muffin tins with cupcake liners and fill each cup 3/4 full with batter. Bake in oven about 18-20 minutes until tester toothpick comes out cleanly. Allow cupcakes to cool before removing from tins. 

Pulse 1 1/4 cups peanuts in food processor for 3-5 minutes until creamy. Cream together 3 tbsp butter and confectioners sugar in mixing bowl on medium speed. Mix in peanut butter and heavy cream. Set aside until cupcakes are ready to frost.

Take a 1 tsp measuring spoon and scoop out the center of each cupcake (you can discard the centers, but I feel guilty about wasting them and eat a bunch). Spoon 1 tbsp jam or jelly into each cupcake (I used strawberry jam for half and blackberry preserves for the rest). Spoon frosting into pastry bag or large Ziploc with the corner snipped off and frost the tops of each cupcake, starting from the outer edge and surrounding the jelly. 

Makes about 20 cupcakes.

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