Small Batch “Pick-Me-Up” Cupcakes

chocolate cupcakes being piped with chocolate frosting
small batch chocolate cupcakes surrounded by pretzels and chocolate shavings
small batch cupcakes - four on and by a white cakes stand
chocolate cupcakes with one cut in half to show the peanut butter center

We needed a pick-me-up

Let me tell you why we needed small batch pick-me-up cupcakes at our house. Recently, my family experienced a loss. Our dog, Spencer, went to be in doggy heaven. He was an English springer spaniel and he had super cute soft and floppy ears. Unfortunately, Spencer developed intramuscular disc disease and experienced a lot of pain and paralysis during his final days.

We remember his funny and happy moments now, like how he used to hop through the snow like a rabbit, popping his head out of a mound of snow and it would stick to his face so it looked like a Santa beard. Once when I was suspended from middle school, I had to stay home and read Call of the Wild to keep up with Language Arts class. And every day, Spencer actually laid right next to me for hours while I read about a dog running with a pack of wild wolves. 🐾🐶

chocolate cupcakes in the process of having holes cut out of the center to fill with peanut butter
pick-me-up cupcakes being piped with chocolate frosting

Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate

Both in honor of Spencer and to cheer my family up, I made cupcakes. And not just any cupcakes. These are what I have dubbed “pick-me-up cupcakes”. My mom took the loss of Spencer the hardest, and she absolutely loves chocolate, so I put as much chocolate in these babies as possible. They are chocolate cupcakes with chocolate chips, and topped with chocolate icing. Spencer was obsessed with peanut butter, so I added a peanut butter center. And who can blame him – peanut butter makes everything better.
And to make sure there was a bombardment of chocolate in everyone’s mouths, I shaved a chocolate bar on top. To add a bit of extra texture and a salty balance to all the sweets, I topped it all with pretzel pieces.

And the best part about this recipe is that it’s small-batch. It makes just four deliciously decadent cupcakes and just enough icing for them. Therefore, there’s no danger of bingeing on these sweets (which I tend to do when I’m sad.)
Tip: Wait to add the pretzel pieces until just before you eat them. If you put them on too early, they get really chewy and gross.

So if life throws a curve ball at you, and your in need of a little pick-me-up, try these! The act of baking these small batch pick-me-up cupcakes is in and of itself an act of meditation. Allow yourself some time and space for self care and indulgence.

pick-me-up cupcakes surrounded by pretzels and chocolate shavings
small batch pick-me-up cupcakes on a white cake stand
girl in a red scarf and grey dress holding a single small batch pick-me-up cupcake

Small Batch Pick-Me-Up Cupcakes

Feeling down and in need of a pick-me-up? Whether it was a long day at work or a loss in the family, these cupcakes loaded with chocolate, more chocolate and peanut butter is the perfect pick-me-up.
Prep Time 35 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people


Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes

  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch fine ground sea salt
  • ¼ cup milk or non-dairy milk
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp chocolate chips

Small Batch Chocolate Frosting

  • 4 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp milk or non-dairy milk (plus more if needed to thin the frosting to your desired consistency)
  • 1 pinch espresso powder (optional)
  • 1 pinch fine ground sea salt
  • a chocolate bar, for shaving extra chocolate on top
  • 8 small pretzels, broken into pieces

Peanut Butter Filling

  • 2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 Tbsp powdered sugar


Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
    In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the ⅓ cup flour, ¼ cup sugar, 4 tsp cocoa powder, and 1½ tsp baking powder.
    In a separate mixing bowl, combine the ¼ cup milk, 2 Tbsp melted butter, and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix just until you cannot see dry flour anymore and the ingredients are incorporated together. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Line a cupcake tin with four cupcake papers (if desired) and fill the four to about ⅔ full with the batter. Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cupcakes. Let them cool on a cooling rack.

Small Batch Chocolate Frosting

  • In a mixing bowl, beat the 4 Tbsp softened butter until it is pale yellow and fluffy.
    Add the 2 cups of powdered sugar, ¼ cup cocoa powder, 1 Tbsp milk, pinch of espresso powder and pinch of salt. Whisk everything together until it forms a thick yet soft frosting.
  • Either prepare a piping bag with the chocolate frosting, or you can frost the cupcakes with a rubber spatula or a butter knife.

Peanut Butter Filling

  • In a small bowl, mix together the 2 Tbsp peanut butter, 1 Tbsp melted butter and 1 Tbsp powdered sugar.

Assemble the Pick-Me-Up Cupakes

  • Using an apple corer, the larger end of a piping tip, or a knife, cut out a hole in the center of each cupcake. Don't cut all the way through the bottom, or else the filling will ooze out.
    Fill each hole with about 1 tsp of the peanut butter filling, until the filling reaches the top of the cupcake.
  • Pipe or spread the chocolate icing on top of each cupcake, to your desired ratio of cupcake to icing.
  • Using a grater, shave a chocolate bar on top of each cupcake.
    Just before eating, break apart pretzels and sprinkle the pieces on top for added crunch and balance of flavor.
Keyword chocolate cupcakes, dog condolences, dog passing away, filled cupcakes, homemade chocolate cupcakes, homemade chocolate frosting, homemade cupcake recipe from scratch, loss of dog, peanut butter filling, pick-me-up, pick-me-up cupcakes, small batch baking
English springer spaniel named Spencer

24 Replies to “Small Batch “Pick-Me-Up” Cupcakes”

  1. Yum-number1

    Whyyyy dooo you pick me up..buttercup babyyyy just to let me down…
    Expect that you didn’t let me down but exceeded my expectations with these cupcake!!! Looks so amazing! 🤤🤤🤤

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