Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Pumpkin

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes
This is a dense, moist, chocolaty cake with a hint of pumpkin as the last note. The recipe below will make approximately 2 dozen cupcakes.

1 1/3 c (166 g) flour
3/8 c (33 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
7/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c (118 ml) pumpkin puree
1/6 c (40 ml) sour cream, room temp
1/2 c (118 g) butter, room temp
1 1/2 c (213 g) brown sugar, lightly packed
2 eggs, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 c (157 ml) hot coffee

Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Line two 12-cup muffin tins and set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, soda, cinnamon, powder and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

In another small bowl, combine the pumpkin puree and sour cream. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar, until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until very well incorporated. Add the vanilla. Being sure to scrape the bowl often, pour in a third of the dry ingredients, mix until just combined, then add half of the pumpkin mixture and mix until just combined. Repeat, then add the remaining dry ingredients. Gently and gradually stir in the hot coffee. When smooth, fill liners 1/2 to 3/4 full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly. Cool in pans 3 minutes on a rack, then remove from tins and cool completely before frosting.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

5 egg whites
1 1/4 c (250 g) sugar
1 1/2 c (340 g) butter, room temp and cut into cubes
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c chopped chocolate or chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1/4 c + smooth peanut butter

In the base of a double boiler, bring water to a simmer. In the top bowl (or just a bowl to place over a pan of simmering water) combine the egg whites and sugar and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot to the touch (160F on a candy thermometer if you want to be completely accurate), about five minutes depending on the original temperature of the eggs. When the mixture has warmed sufficiently, pour it into the bowl of your stand mixer and whip on high speed until the bottom of the bowl is room temperature, ten to fifteen minutes. When the bowl is no longer warm, turn the mixer to medium-low and begin adding the butter piece by piece. Let each chunk incorporate completely before adding the next and don't rush the process!

After all of the butter has been added, add the vanilla and melted, cooled chocolate and turn the speed back to high. Whip for about 3 minutes or until the buttercream comes together. Add peanut butter to taste, beating to combine.