My friend Alfie had generously shared with me one of her favorite chocolate cupcake recipes. It sounded amazing and I was sure it would turn out famously as not only is she a fabulous cook but every recipe she has ever shared with me has turned out to become a classic around these parts,
However, last Tuesday, while sitting in my car on the way home, stuck for thirty minutes between the U-Village and the exit to 520, in those two slow as molasses lines of traffic, that the inspiration for Maki's cupcake extravaganza came about.
Browsing the pages of a just purchased April 's issue of Cook's Illustrated what do I see but Rediscovering Chocolate Cupcakes, a piece written by Dawn Yanagihara with what seemed to be an easy peasy recipe for Dark Chocolate Cupcakes along with a recipe for a basic Easy Vanilla Bean Buttercream and three flavored variations (chocolate, coffee and peppermint).
In it the author lamented the outcome of most homemade chocolate cupcake efforts. She was aiming to develop an intensely chocolaty batter made with the best chocolate combination, the ideal leavening balance and a classic buttercream icing to top things off.
In the end, it was all about creating a super-chocolaty chocolate cupcake with a light and cakey texture with a fine crumb.
Since when it comes to cupcakes, my absolute favorite is the chocolate variety (followed closely by the classic vanilla) I knew I had found my IMMB entry. So, yesterday afternoon I stopped at Trader Joe's to pick up the ingredients I had run out of: eggs, heavy cream and sour cream. And I could not wait to get home to start baking!
These babies were made last night while the vanilla buttercream icing was made first thing this morning, bright and early. Both recipes turned out to be not only very easy to prepare but also quite flavorful and other than the two kinds of chocolate did not call for any hard to find or exorbitantly priced ingredient.
The icing portion of the cupcake making was most fun and I improvised on toppings (my icing techniques are sorely lacking) with homemade candied rose petals, silver dragées and beautiful silver coated almonds and candied orange rind I buy--to make orangettes with-- from DeLaurenti.
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
(makes 12 cupcakes)
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (Valrhona)
- 1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa (Scharffen Berger)
- 3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
1-Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position;heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-sized muffin pan (cups have 1/2 cup capacity) with baking cup liners.
2-Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and fully combined. Set aside to cool until just warm to the touch.
3-Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in small bowl to combine.
4-Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla, and salt and whisk until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift about one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined, then sift remaining flour mixture over and whisk until batter is homogeneous and thick.
5-Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until skwer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean.
6-Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes. (To frost: Mound about 2 tablespoons icing on center of each cupcake. Using icing spatula or butter knife, spread icing to edge of cupcake, leaving slight mound in center.)
*I prefer my cupcakes to be more dense and moist than these ones turned out to be. I also like the buttercream to be a bit fluffier. Later this week, I intend to tweak an already great recipe a bit to see if it can be improved by using Greek yogurt (in place of sour cream) and Martha Stewart's Buttercream Icing recipe instead.