Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes

March 1, 2010

Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes

Yesterday was my oldest son’s birthday, and although I do make him a cake from one year to the next (he’s 31),  I didn’t this year.   Retrospectively, I did decide that the cupcakes made as a Valentine’s Day treat for my two remaining menfolk-in-residence might be as good a reason as any to coerce me to sit and write something in celebration.  My oldest loves chocolate cake, and had I asked what he might enjoy for his birthday, he’d have said chocolate.  Anything with chocolate.  Like his mother, he can do without the calories, so I think it’s fitting this year that a photo of a birthday cupcake take the place of the real McCoy as long as I can get him to look at my blog.  I’m not holding my breath because as my grandmother would have said, the chances are “slim to none and Slim’s on a fast train out of town.”

Where was I?

Cupcakes.  True to form, I haven’t tried either the cake or frosting recipe before, but have tried many others from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.  This is the book I go to when I want to experiment.  If you’re not familiar with it, you won’t see glossy photos of each recipe.  It’s more of a work horse cookbook.  What sets it apart from other cookbooks is the way the ingredients are listed.  Measurements are provided by volume and weight which makes it quite easy to divide a recipe or to adjust ingredient quantities.  Cakes are presented in one section and toppings in another and although Beranbaum makes suggestions about which go best together, I enjoy considering all the options.  Each recipe also contains a brief section on “understanding” where the science is explained.  As much as I’ve been an avid cook most of my life, I don’t always understand how or why certain ingredients interact with one another, so it’s helpful to understand what may not work when I’m experimenting.

What caught my attention with this recipe was the brown sugar — not something I’m used to seeing in a recipe for chocolate cake.  Equally interesting was the recipe for the buttercream.  Yes, it has an alarming amount of butter in it (hence the name “butter” cream…), but it’s made with egg whites instead of egg yolks, and they aren’t cooked as they would be in a mousseline buttercream.  Both recipes work quite nicely with one another and make a very chocolatey combo that the resident menfolk finished off in a couple of bites — even if it wasn’t in celebration of either of their birthdays.

Speaking of birthdays, Sass & Veracity turns a big three years old this month and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to share with you that Saveur magazine has graciously nominated me in their 1st Annual Best Food Blog Awards in the “Best Individual Post” category.  I’m very honored considering those whose work is sitting alongside mine.  They understand the time and effort it takes to put a good post together — let alone two or three in a week.  The post Saveur has chosen to focus on is one I wrote after returning from Puerto Vallarta last spring at about the time that H1N1 was gaining momentum.  A group of friends and I met there in celebration of a 40th birthday only to find that we may have trouble getting back across the border.  We didn’t, of course, and thankfully I was able to have fun with my own version of Mexican street tacos, which have absolutely nothing to do with chocolate fudge cupcakes or birthdays.

Are you with me?

Chocolate Fudge Cupcake Recipe

Ingredients

3/4 c. + 3 T unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa

1-1/2 c. boiling water

3 lg. eggs

1-1/2 tsp. vanilla

3 c. cake flour, sifted

2 c. light brown sugar

2-1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 c. unsalted butter, softened

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Pour the boiling water over the cocoa in a medium bowl and stir until well combined, then cool to room temperature.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, 1/4 of the cooled cocoa mixture, and the vanilla.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer, add the rest of the dry ingredients and  mix on low until combined.
  5. Add the butter and the remaining cocoa mixture, then mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated until well moistened.  Beat for an additional 1-1/2 minutes, then scrape down the sides.
  6. Add the egg mixture a third at a time, making sure to beat at least 20 seconds after each addition.  Scrape down the sides again.
  7. Fill 24 paper-lined cups with the batter.  They will be full.
  8. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the cupcake springs back when pressed.
  9. When removed from the oven, let sit briefly in the pans, then remove to a rack to cool completely before frosting.

 


Recipe Notes:

  • I’ve had to deal with the whole Dutch-processed debacle before and finally found it at Henry’s — a sort of home town market here in San Diego.  They have it available in bulk, which is nice.  If you don’t have that kind of cocoa available,  Beranbaum suggests that you can use 1 cup of non-alkalized cocoa like Hershey’s instead.
  • The batter is really lovely once you get it past the curdle stage, and trust me, it curdles.  Just turn the motor up to high and let it rip.  At some point, it will all come together again.  It will.  I promise.  Then, carry on.
  • Spray the top of your pans with oil, or rub them lightly with a paper towel dipped in oil.  This recipe fills the cups so full, should they over shoot the cups (and they shouldn’t) you wouldn’t want them to stick on the surface of the pans, right?
  • They rise beautifully, but I have to admit, I used my convection oven set at 340 degrees F for 20 minutes.  I turned the trays half way through the cooking time to ensure even cooking.  We’ll chalk this up to paranoia.
  • I let them cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then turned them out to cool completely on racks before frosting.

 

Chocolate Buttercream Recipe

Ingredients

10 oz. bittersweet chocolate

2 c. unsalted butter, softened

4 lg. egg whites

1 c. granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Over low heat, in a double boiler, heat chocolate until it begins to melt, stirring frequently until smooth.
  2. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the egg whites on medium high to the soft peak stage.
  4. On medium, beat the sugar in gradually until stiff peaks are formed.
  5. Add the softened butter a tablespoon at a time, beating briefly before another tablespoon is added.  If the mixture begins to curdle, increase the speed of the mixer and beat until it comes together again before continuing with the butter additions.
  6. Add the cooled chocolate and beat until completely smooth and incorporated.
  7. Set aside until ready to use on the completely cooled cupcakes.

Eggwhite Chocolate Buttercream

Recipe Notes:

  • This frosting is completely divine.  Period.
  • I used an unsweetened chocolate for this recipe because that’s what I had on hand.  To make sure the recipe was as close to the original as possible, I added 1 T of granulated sugar for each ounce of chocolate in the recipe.  I added the sugar after the chocolate was melted and stirred until all was smooth.
  • When the chocolate is added to the  butter mixture, please know that if it is too cool, chunks will stay in the frosting.  This isn’t alarming unless you plan to pipe it.  Then it’s extremely alarming if you’re me.  Chunks clog the nozzle, and although you attempt valiantly to create perfect swirls of chocolate that entice potential indulgent individuals to sample your cupcakes, the chunks cause more than a small problem.  Then you’re forced to frost each cupcake by hand, making sure each is perfectly coiffed.  But the chunks of chocolate should you happen onto one one?  Oh.  My.
  • All in all, they’re a delightful mouthful of chocolate if you’re ever in need of one.
  • Oh, and if you haven’t voted for me yet, please think about it. I’d grin from ear to ear knowing that you had.

Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Nastassia(LetMeEatCake) March 1, 2010

I don’t have The Cake Bible but i’m going to have to get it. How do you get your cupcakes so neatly in the pan? These look scrumptuous! Congrats on your nomination, you deserve it!
.-= Nastassia(LetMeEatCake)´s last blog ..Foodbuzz 24 24 24: A Glimpse Inside The Foodie Underground =-.

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kellypea March 2, 2010

Thanks! I use an iced tea spoon from my flatwear set. It’s narrow, and I spoon painstakingly into the cups. When I’ve finished, I use a wooden skewer to swirl it all together. It helps even it out and if need be, I can adjust quantities. Since I have absolutely no patience, it’s quite the challenge!

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Peter March 2, 2010

How could you not resist diving into that bowl of chocolate? Care to make another dozen for me? I’ve just moved my B-day up to tomorrow. ;)

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kellypea March 2, 2010

Thanks for stopping by, Peter. Sorry it’s been so long since I did the same. I’m definitely ready for some excellent Greek food.

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Nicole March 2, 2010

That is some gorgeous cake batter! And, of course, the resulting cupcakes look amazing, too :-)
.-= Nicole´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Salsa! =-.

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bellini valli March 2, 2010

Congratulations on 3 years and for being nominated…all very exciting!!!

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Maria March 2, 2010

Happy Birthday to your son and Congrats on your Saveur nomination. Well deserved! These cupcakes are perfect for celebrating!

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Fearless Kitchen March 2, 2010

This is an absolutely beautiful recipe!
.-= Fearless Kitchen´s last blog ..Recipe: Chocolate-Almond Torte =-.

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kellypea March 2, 2010

Thanks very much, but all credit definitely goes to Beranbaum! I love her work.

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grace March 2, 2010

dazzling cupcakes, kelly! perfectly suitable for that extremely important milestone of having lived 31 years. :)
and congrats on being acknowledged by saveur–good luck!
.-= grace´s last blog ..complexity defined =-.

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Katie @ Cozydelicious March 2, 2010

Your cupcakes are beautiful! I love The Cake Bible! It’s my go-to book when I get the baking bug (along with her Pie and Pastry Bible). And congrats on the nomination!

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kellypea March 2, 2010

Thanks! I don’t have the Pie and Pastry Bible, but probably should. Is it set up the same way?

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lo March 2, 2010

Whether it’s Mexican street tacos or chocolate cupcakes, I’m always a big fan of your cooking! Big Congratz, Kelly! The honor is so well deserved… I’m going to go right over to Saveur and vote :)

Going to have to check out that recipe in the Cake Bible!
.-= lo´s last blog ..Soup Night: Why Size Really Doesn’t Matter =-.

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kellypea March 2, 2010

Thanks Lo! I appreciate your feedback :)

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Karen@Mignardise March 2, 2010

Congratulations on the recognition from Saveur – that’s quite an honor!
You totally deserve it too.
These cupcakes are over the top! Just beautiful.
.-= Karen@Mignardise´s last blog ..A Brief History of My Love Affair with Chinese Food. And Potstickers. =-.

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El March 2, 2010

Congratulations on your nomination. These look utterly splendid. I wish I could have one right now.

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Aparna March 2, 2010

Congratulations on being nominated. I’m like your son and always happy about anyhting chocolate, so I’d say these are indeed the perfect birthday bake.
.-= Aparna´s last blog ..Spicy Potato-Carrot-Pea Filled Buns And Fougasse: Baking From ABin5 =-.

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joey March 4, 2010

Anything chocolate has got me…and these cupcakes look especially tempting! Congratulations on the nomination and happy blog anniversary!
.-= joey´s last blog ..Brown Sugar Roasted Pineapple =-.

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my little expat kitchen March 7, 2010

This is my first visit to your blog. I just discovered it through the Saveur nominations. Congratulations! Your site is wonderful. Such inspiring recipes.
This one here looks delicious. I adore chocolate and especially cupcakes.
Good luck!
Magda
.-= my little expat kitchen´s last blog ..A cautionary tale and the best meatballs you’ll ever have =-.

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kellypea March 7, 2010

Thanks very much! I’m happy that you’ve taken the time to stop by and leave a comment. I appreciate it :)

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Casey March 10, 2010

Oh boy! Those look totally and completely ridiculous! I am not usually a huge chocolate lover but those, those I would be all over. Did you lick the bowl yet?
.-= Casey´s last blog ..Acrylic Picture Frames =-.

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