Okay, so perhaps I’m a day late in posting this, but no matter. Cupcakes are to be enjoyed any day! I made these for a Super Bowl party which my friends were hosting. Four guys living in house could provide the wings, pizza, and beer, but someone had to bring the dessert, right?!
Yes, because we all know it isn’t a party if there’s no dessert. Up until that last, sweet course, it’s just a meal. I whipped up these cupcakes – yes, a bit amateur in the decoration and pretty cliché, as if any of my guy friends were really going to notice that en route to their mouths – on Sunday morning, and boy, did they make my apartment smell delicious! It took every ounce of self-control not to steal one of them beforehand, believe me.
I’ve used this recipe before, a Martha Stewart “kid’s recipe” for one-bowl chocolate cupcakes, and it was just as successful this time around. Granted, the chocolate flavor is a teensy bit flat compared to some sweeter types, but the chocolate is still deep and the cake is extremely moist and fluffy. Thank a healthy dose of buttermilk and hot water for the latter. The frosting is my version of my mom’s classic buttercream-type frosting: vanilla as the base and lacing,chocolate for the footballs. She used margarine while I was growing up, but I only use butter now (okay, I confess that I actually like how margarine tastes a little better than butter, but I’m trying to be more healthy here … if that’s possible to say in the context of buttercream frosting!). However, any way you beat it, the frosting turns out fluffy, sweet, and perfect…
… As were the cupcakes. Well, nearly so, at least. Everyone had at least one – including myself – and many of the guys snagged two. Hey, with their metabolisms, they could have had three each! Oh, the injustice…. Anyway, back to the cupcakes. The recipe is below, but I do warn you that the frosting recipe is highly, highly, highly adaptable. I swear, it comes out a little different each time; you need to play with the proportions and add sugar/cream as you go depending on the texture you want. You will like how it turns out, though, I promise – just work with it … hut-hut–HIKE!
Chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting (cupcakes adapted from Martha Stewart)
For the cupcakes:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 2 eggs
- 3 Tbsp safflower oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- 5 Tbsp butter, softened
- 2-3 cups powdered sugar
- 3-5 Tbsp half-and-half, whipping cream, or milk (I don’t recommend skim milk unless you’re using it with a heavier cream)
- 1/2-1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (if making a chocolate frosting)
- 1/2 oz dark chocolate, melted and cooled slightly (optional for chocolate frosting)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 18-24 muffin tin spots with paper or foil cupcake wrappers.
Over a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and water to the dry ingredients (I usually beat the eggs and oil into the buttermilk directly in a 1-cup or 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup, in order to help everything incorporate, but you don’t really need to). Mix until the batter becomes smooth, 2-3 minutes.
Fill each muffin cup location 2/3 full with batter; don’t be tempted to fill them more than this, because this batter rises quite a bit! Bake the cupcakes until completely baked (when fork inserted into the center of the middle cupcake comes out clean, or when the tops spring back when touched), about 20 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and cool completely.
To make the frosting, whip the butter using an electric mixer until it becomes fluffy. Add in a tablespoon of cream, beat until mixed, then add 1 cup of powdered sugar. Mix slowly, then beat for a minute or two to fluff the frosting up. Add in the extracts and mix well. At this point, you can either separate this frosting base into two bowls, one for vanilla and one for chocolate, or continue down one path. If you’re choosing chocolate frosting, add a bit more liquid, beat, and then add in the cocoa powder. You can also add in some melted chocolate, for depth of flavor, but it’s not necessary. Continue to add in a little liquid and powdered sugar, beating well after every addition to keep the frosting fluffy, according to your taste. If you’re making vanilla frosting, just add liquid and powdered sugar until you get the flavor and consistency you want. You can also add more vanilla extract if needed.
Frost the cupcakes when they’ve cooled. You can create the footballs using chocolate frosting in a large-tipped pastry-bag (or waxed paper rolled into a cone, like I did) for the football and vanilla frosting in a narrow-tipped pastry bag for the lacing.