Cheater, Cheater, Cupcake Eater

Clearly my guilty conscience has gotten the best of me on a weekend that generally celebrates the end of self-control and restraint—while I did not give anything up for lent this year (mostly because I was so swamped at work/life, I completely lost track of time), I have tried to make a year-round effort to eat in moderation and log at least 4 workouts per week.

…that was until Wednesday night—now, I will say that this cupcake catastrophe was primarily the result of the obligatory birthday celebrations for colleagues at work—I generally like to combine celebrations at work with my hobby for baking—but I cannot blame this all on work, as there was clearly an inner voice screaming for homemade chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting.

This cupcake recipe was not something new or trendsetting—because when it comes to baking, sometimes the tried and true route is the best course to take—who doesn’t love a good (I mean really good) chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream frosting?

On Wednesday night circa 10:00pm EST, the lessons from my Cambridge School of Culinary Arts baking classes came flooding back to me as I searched for the perfect cupcake recipe—some of those helpful cupcake and baking tricks of the trade will be forever engrained in my memory:

Chocolate—to whip up a more well-rounded chocolate taste, especially in cakes, it is integral to incorporate some coffee (or even a little liqueur). While you may not necessarily taste the coffee or liqueur—think of it like adding a little lemon zest to a pie or tart—the notion is the same, many people describe the effect as “brightening” the flavor;
Sifting—if a recipe calls for sifting, don’t skip this step! Sifting is another critical step to ensure a balance of the dry ingredients before they are incorporated into the wet ingredients—nothing is worse than getting a bite of baking powder or having clumpy-looking frosting;
Anyone can Pipe—anyone can learn to pipe frosting for a professional finish on any cake or cupcake—using a standard 12” piping bag with a variety of tips—just remember the key to beautiful piping is maintaining even pressure throughout

Before you embark on your next cupcake creation, give this YouTube video a view for some helpful tips on frosting:

Onto the cupcakes—as adapted by my favorite cook of all time, The Barefoot Contessa:

Betty’s Chocolate Cake
Cake Ingredients:
• 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
• 2 cups sugar
• ¾ cups good cocoa powder
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 cup buttermilk, shaken – see below for instructions on how to prepare
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Frosting Ingredients:
• 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons heavy cream
• ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray and line cupcake pans—cupcake
liners are not required, but remember to spray extra well if opting to go without.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until combined. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. With the mixer on a low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the coffee and stir to combine. Stop the mixer and be sure to scrap the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake pans—filling cups a little over ½ way. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool pans for 5-10 minutes and continue cooling cupcakes on a wire rack until completely cooled.

To prepare the buttercream frosting, beat butter for a few minutes in the stand mixer with the Cupcakes
paddle attachment on a medium speed. Slowly add the powdered sugar and turn the mixer down to low. Beat until the sugar combines with the butter. Add the vanilla, heavy cream and cocoa powder and beat on a medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the buttercream becomes light and fluffy.

Note: Do not go out and buy buttermilk, unless you’re planning to make 6 dozen of these treats. Instead, combine 4 tablespoons of lemon juice in a cup of milk –stir and let stand for 10-15 minutes before using.

This cupcake experience inspired some fun Easter-themed cupcakes to be served tomorrow–stay tuned for more details!

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