Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes and Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Do I need an excuse to make cupcakes? Um, NO. But I suppose if I do, a birthday is the perfect excuse. Yay for birthdays! These cupcakes are actually the first cake recipe I've ever made without the help of a cake mix...yeeahhh, no lie. I'm a cheater usually. But I thought, time to try!

I found this lovely recipe on the Smells Like Home blog (if you haven't checked it out, I highly recommend it). It's pretty much a-mazing!

Of course, the second they were finished, I HAD to taste test...one for the team, ya know? They turned out to have more of a semi-sweet vs. a milk chocolate taste. I was actually worried about taking them to work since they weren't overly sweet (Huh. What does that say about my coworkers?? hehe...like I'm any different). What can I say, we love our sweets at work!

I had Matt and his friend try one, just to make sure...and what do ya know? Both said they were the best I've ever made! Woot woot! They were also a big hit at work! So, anyway, HIGHLY recommend the recipe, both the cupcake and frosting. Happy baking!!

Get your ingredients together: see? Not too many, pretty simple recipe!

You have to make the chocolate sauce/mixture pre-batter. Boil water and add cocoa powder to it. Stir until smooth.

Oh and p.s. do NOT try to taste this sauce....it's gross!! But that's cocoa powder and water for ya! And no, I'm (ahem..) not speaking from experience here.
Set the chocolate sauce aside and mix your dry ingredients together: 1 1/3 cup flour, 2 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt.

Remember: always sift those dry ingredients! Makes all the difference!

In a stand mixer bowl (or bowl with a hand mixer) beat 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. 

Add two eggs one at a time until smooth. Then add 2 tsp vanilla.

Add dry ingredients and beat ONLY until mixed together. DO NOT overbeat the batter!

By this time, the cocoa mixture should be cooled to room temperature. Add this to the batter and stir until smooth.

Pour batter into muffin cups (this makes enough for about 16) filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Da-da-da-DA! Bea-U-tiful cuppie cakes!

Ingredients to make the frosting. On the blog, this cake recipe was paired with a Vanilla Bean Buttercream. It. was. devine! Soooo good!

Beat 2 1/2 sticks of butter until smooth. 

If using a vanilla bean slice in half lengthwise and scrape seeds out. Add them to the butter.

Add 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar and a pinch of salt. Beat until most of the sugar is moistened.

Beat at medium speed until mixed together. Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 2 tbls heavy cream. Once incorporated, beat on med-high for about 4 minutes. It's magic!! The frosting goes from heavy and wet to light and fluffy!

Frost those cupcakes! I used a closed star tip for these...


Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes about 16 cupcakes

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup boiling hot water
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter or line 16 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a small bowl, stir until smooth the boiling hot water and cocoa powder. Let cool to room temperature.

In another bowl, whisk/sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Then, in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add the flour mixture and beat only until incorporated. Then add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.

Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full with batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until risen, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing. You can either spread the frosting on the cupcakes with a small spatula or if pip, use a large Wilton 1M open star tip to make lovely swirls.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Makes 3 cups (enough to frost 24 cupcakes)

2 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
1 vanilla bean halved lengthwise, or 1 tbls vanilla bean paste
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbls heavy whipping cream

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. If using a vanilla bean, using a paring knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into butter. If using vanilla paste, add instead. Beat mixture at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds.

Add confectioners' sugar and salt; beat at med-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully incoporated, about 30 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and cream. Beat at medium speed until mixed, about 20 seconds. Then, increase speed to med-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

Frost cupcakes or cakes.


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