Friday, November 18, 2011

Chocolate Cuppy Cakes


A couple of years ago I became obsessed with cupcakes.  They were kind of popular at the time, and I, of course, wanted to get on the bandwagon.  Cupcakes are so cute, portable, and really the possibilities are endless when it comes to combos of cakes, fillings, and frostings.  I spent months trying out recipes, mastering the art of swiss meringue buttercream and ganache, testing different equipment, and practicing my icing swirls and swoops.


Along the way, I kept a record of my journey, taking notes, recording my best and favorite recipe creations.  I also fed my friends lots of cupcakes, and explored the possibility of opening my own shop or possibly doing cupcake catering.  But, after many months of baking in all of my spare time, I decided that I didn't want to make it my career, so I shelved it for a bit.  Even though I don't bake professionally, I can still pull out an awesome cupcake.

You can imagine how excited I was when I saw that a cupcake bakery was opening in my town.  In my very, very small town, where the most exciting place to go is to Taco Bell.  Last week the sign actually said "OPEN", so my friend and I ventured in with our little kids.  I don't think I can really describe the experience.  It was not pretty.  Really worse than the worst cake you have ever eaten.  I don't know how it happened, and I worry that I sound like a terrible person, but it was just really sad.  That week one of my other friends went in to speak to the owners, hoping to help them, and they decided to close down and re-group.  I truly wish them the best of luck.


I'm here to tell you, though, baking a chocolate cupcake is not hard to do.  In fact, baking a very delicious, moist and chocolately cupcake is actually pretty simple.  I don't know if I have any real tricks so share except to use really good cocoa, don't mix the batter to death (15 seconds will do), and underbaking is better than overbaking.

This recipe is my go-to, and the "granache" icing can't really be any more simple.  No fancy piping bags or tips needed.

Oops!  What happened here?  Poor little cupcake!

What can I say?  This little boy is just like his mama.  No chocolate is safe when we're around.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake
Makes 18 large or 36 regular sized cupcakes

2 1/2 C. flour
1 1/4 C. Dutched unsweetened cocoa powder (not Hershey's), get the really dark stuff, like Ghiradelli (I use Guittard)
2 1/2 C. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. salt
2 lg. eggs + 1 yolk
1 1/4 C. buttermilk
3/4 C. vegetable oil
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 C. hot coffee or water with 1 T. instant espresso powder (if you have to use just water, that is fine, but you will notice a more intense chocolate flavor with the addition of the espresso)

In the bowl of your mixer, sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, soda, baking powder and salt. Mix to combine. In a large glass measuring cup, measure out buttermilk and oil. Add eggs and vanilla to the cup. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in wet ingredients and mix until batter is smooth -- about 30 seconds -- on medium speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then slowly pour in hot coffee or water, with the mixer on low. Mix for 15 seconds and then take bowl off of mixer and finish combining the mixture by hand, using a spatula or large spoon. Poor batter into cupcake papers, filling them about half way full. Cool completely before frosting.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until cake springs back a bit when you touch it.  
Chocolate "Granache" (sorry, inside joke)
12 oz. chopped chocolate or a bag of chocolate chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla 
Heat cream to nearly boiling and then pour it over chocolate.  Let sit for five minutes and then slowly whisk mixture until smooth.  Let cool for 30 minutes before dipping cupcakes.  Dip the tops of cooled cupcakes into bowl, swirling them as you lift up.  Let the cupcakes sit for 20 minutes and then dip them again.  This will give your cupcake a thick chocolate layer of "frosting".