Notes: One sleeve of Ritz crackers has about 40 crackers. You'll need about 40 crackers to yield 1 1/2 cups of crumbs needed for the frosting. Use the remaining sleeve to garnish the cupcake parfaits.
- Active time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Total time:2 hours, 45 minutes
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (or 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 sleeves Ritz crackers (see Notes above)
- 4 pints peanut butter ice cream, softened
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 2 12-cup muffin tins with baking spray.
In large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Whisk the wet ingredients into the wet ingredients, then, whisk in the boiling water until mixture is smooth.
Divide batter equally among muffin tins, filling each about 3/4 of the way full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of cupcakes comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Transfer tins to cooling racks and cool cupcakes in tins until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Transfer cupcakes directly to cooling racks and cool completely, about 45 minutes.
While cupcakes cool, prepare frosting. Place chocolate in medium bowl. Bring cream to boil in small bowl in microwave or in small saucepan over medium-high heat on stovetop. Add boiling cream and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to chocolate and stir until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Refrigerate until cooled and slightly set, about 45 minutes.
Break 40 Ritz crackers into small pieces and process in food processor until finely ground.
With electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment on medium speed, beat cooled chocolate until light and whippy, 2 to 3 minutes. Fold in Ritz.
To assemble parfaits, with a serrated knife cut tops off of 12 cupcakes; reserve. Place bottom pieces, cut-side up, in 12 plastic party cups.
Top each cupcake with about 3 tablespoons ice cream.
Place a whole cupcake, top-side down, on top of the ice cream layer.
Fill gap around cupcake with an additional 5 tablespoons ice cream, spreading some of the ice cream over the cupcake. Top with reserved cupcake tops, pressing down gently until tops are just barely coming over the rims.
Spread with frosting and garnish with 2 whole Ritz crackers. Freeze until ready to serve.