Monday, April 25, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

Another week, another birthday.

For her birthday treat, my roommate, Lindsey, chose chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting, and I couldn't have been more thrilled. It had been a while since I made something chocolaty and delicious, and it was high time I got back to my chocolate roots.

I've got a go-to buttercream frosting recipe in my arsenal, but, at the time, no spectacular chocolate cake/cupcake recipe. Enter Martha Stewart. This cupcake recipe is the base for her adorable Hi-Hat cupcakes (which I am determined to make, by the way, I just need to get a candy thermometer first), and it could not be more delicious. The cupcakes are moist, but not overwhelmingly rich. Although, if rich is what you're going for, some good chocolate frosting would do the trick.

That's what I'm talking about

The recipe is pretty simple and straightforward, so I don't have any helpful tips or tricks to share. But for some extra flair, try serving the cupcakes topped with chocolate shavings in addition to frosting. Also, these would be great filled with a chocolate ganache or a raspberry filling. Go crazy.

Chocolate shavings add a little flair to an otherwise plain cupcake

Bon appetit!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
Makes 12
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, broken into small pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-lb. powdered sugar
1-3 tsp milk, cream or half and half

Preheat the oven to 350°F with rack in the center. Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and heat in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring well after each interval. Stop once most of the chocolate is melted and some chunks remain. Continue stirring until all the chocolate has melted. The heat from the melted chocolate will dissolve the remaining chunks. If you microwave the chocolate until it is all completely melted, you risk burning it, which you really don't want to do because that means you have to toss the chocolate and start over again. For a quick tutorial on how to melt chocolate without the hassle of a double boiler, check out this video by Amanda & Merrill of food52.

Forget the double boiler. To melt chocolate, all you need is a microwave.

Set chocolate aside to cool. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Combine butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Don't be afraid to let the two ingredients mix for a while, creaming takes time. I've found that creaming rarely gets explained despite being a very basic baking technique. This instructional slideshow is a great resource explaining the process in words and photos.

On low speed, mix in melted chocolate. Increase speed to medium and add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat until creamy and color has lightened slightly, about 1 minute. Mix in sour cream.

On low speed, add half of the dry ingredient mixture, beating until just incorporated. Mix in water. Add the remaining dry ingredient mixture and beat until just incorporated.

Line a cupcake pan with paper liners. Fill each liner with enough batter to come 1/8 of an inch away from the top, about 1/3 cup. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until tops are firm and a toothpick/cake tester inserted in the center of cupcakes comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.

Transfer to a cupcakes to a wire rack to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing. While cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. 

Cream butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Add sugar gradually, allowing butter and sugar to come together fully before adding more. For a creamier frosting, add milk/cream/half and half by the teaspoon and beat on high, until frosting reaches the desired consistency. (Note: this recipe is intended for a two-layer cake, so you will definitely be left with some extra frosting).

Frost cupcakes and serve. To store, cover and refrigerate.

Source: Martha Stewart (cupcakes) & Bakerella (frosting)

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