Peanut butter is to jelly what Ginger Rogers was to Fred Astaire: a delightful duo, dancing together in wondrous rhythm. My mouth waters as I see the knife smoothly spreading thick, lustrous, deep tan peanut butter across a slice of bread's porous surface and the plop of a spoonful of sticky, jewel-toned jelly. The first bite glues itself resolutely to the arched roof of my mouth and I slowly and gently detach it with the tip of my tongue.
The lunchbox dynamic duo has broken free of its cubed cell many times before, morphing into cookies, ice cream, cake, and other confections. The peanut butter-and-jelly cupcake has always been one of my favorite twists on the original; a playful treat that turns me back into a carefree kid.
In this recipe I opt for whole wheat flour (though an all-purpose flour substitution is fantastic, too) because I like the earthy nutty notes it adds to the peanut butter base—besides which, I have a penchant for an afternoon snack of rustic whole wheat and spoonfuls of peanut butter eaten right out of the jar on the kitchen counter. Glimmering amethyst grape jelly bursts out of the centers of the cupcakes and a smooth spread of peanut butter frosting fittingly tops everything off.