Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Yes, friends, I know. . . I've been posting all this relatively healthy food and talking about weight loss and eating vegetables when really you all want to read about the good naughty food.  That's why the cherry pie post was so popular.  So not too long ago, someone ordered a few dozen mini cupcakes from me.  I was told that I could pick the flavors, so I made my life easy and did chocolate with 2 different kinds of frostings. Then there was a little variety, but it wasn't a pain in my ass.   Plus, I make a kick-ass chocolate cake. 

Now this chocolate cake recipe is big for a batch of cupcakes.  It is big enough to make a 10 inch layer cake for a birthday, or an epic sheet cake, or a few dozen regular sized cupcakes.  I cut it in half to do mini cupcakes, but the recipe below is the big one.  Why? So you can make birthday cake without doing math.  Now go preheat your oven to 300 (yes, we bake this recipe low and slow to keep things nice and gooey) and we'll talk cake.

Chocolate cake batter (Adapted from Gourmet)

  • 4 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate. either chopped fine or use chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour NOT CAKE FLOUR
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup full fat sour cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla

 With all the ingredients measured out (remember, what you see above is a half recipe) it is time to get moving.  Measuring ahead of time may seem like a pain, a waste of time, or a waste of clean dishes, but having stuff all set early makes it really easy to bake without feeling frantic or overwhelmed.  Everything just comes together more easily this way.

First, we take the hot coffee (yes, it needs to be hot. I use espresso shots because I like strong coffee flavor, but you can do anything from your leftover Starbucks to instant, as long as it is hot) and pour it over the chocolate chips.  We're melting chocolate here, friends. That's why the hot is important. So pour the hot coffee over the chips, and just leave it alone.

 Next, sift the dry ingredients into a LARGE bowl. This is especially important to do with the cocoa powder, which tends to seriously clump.  I use a wire mesh strainer instead of a sifting device. It goes quicker this way, and then you don't need to buy a special thing just for sifting.  I put everything from flour to baking powder in the sifter to work out clumps but not salt. If you use fine grain table salt or sea salt, it works, but kosher salt just doesn't fit through the holes.

Once all the dry ingredients are sifted, whisk them together thoroughly.  Not only does this serve to aerate the dry ingredients, but it means you're not going to have clumps of baking soda or flour sneaking up at you in an otherwise awesome chocolatey cake.  

Next, add the eggs.  Break up the yolks right away. Then add the oil, buttermilk, sour cream, and vanilla, and whisk everything throughly to combine.  The mixture will be thick and fudgey.


Once all of those ingredients are combined, it is time to add the coffee and chocolate mixture. It should still be warm, but not scalding hot (or it'll start to cook the eggs).  If it got cool, warm it up in the microwave a little. No big deal.   The coffee and chocolate mixture will make the batter a lot thinner and silky smooth.  Let the batter sit for half an hour. I can't explain why I do this, but it improves the texture.  After the batter rests, It is time to dig out some papers, line your pan, and make some cupcakes!

You can definitely use plain cupcake papers.  The cake will still taste awesome.  But I have a nice selection of fun cupcake papers that I like to use. With the big cupcake craze right now, it is pretty easy to find weird or different pan liners just to make things more interesting.   This time I chose to go with the leopard print ones. I got them relatively cheaply at a local cooking supply store, and they're awesome! So I lined the pan, then sprayed it down with baking spray so the tops of the cupcakes didnt stick to the pan if they spilled over. it just makes things neater.  Once all was prepared, I filled the lines between 2/3 and 3/4 of the way full.

The mini cupcakes bake pretty quickly at 300 degrees, somewhere between 15 and 25 minutes depending on oven.  When done, they still look slightly underbaked but a toothpick or knife inserted into a cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when poked (do this gently.  hot batter burns).  Bake them too long or too hot and they get dry and moist cupcakes are awesome.  While the cupcakes are baking you have a perfect chance to start making frostings!

While I didn't take pictures of the frosting making process, I know the recipes I used.  I made a pretty basic chocolate ganache and a vanilla bean cream cheese frosting.

For the ganache, I used a pound of good chocolate and a cup of heavy cream I used bittersweet chocolate since I like the taste but you can use milk or even white chocolate depending on what you're going for.  I set the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, and put it aside.  I then brought the cup of milk up to a simmer on the stove, pulled it off the heat, and poured it over the chocolate chips.  Let it sit for 4 or 5 minutes, then whisk whisk whisk and you have a beautiful ganache.  If you let it cool to room temperature it'll be spreadable like frosting, if you let it cool then throw it in the mixer it'll whip up even lighter and fluffier.  Of course I did neither of these. I left mine liquidy and just dipped the cupcakes head first into the frosting as kind of a glaze.

I decorated the top with these delicious chocolate crunch pearls, but you don't need to.  use sprinkles or candies or sugar, or even leave them plain.  I just like the texture the crunchy pearls provide. Yum!

The other frosting I made may have been a little more complicated, but not much.  I threw 2 parts room temperature cream cheese and 1 part soften but not melted butter into a mixer and whisked it till light and fluffy.  Then I scraped a vanilla bean and added that to the mix.  When the vanilla bean was well incorporated, I added sifted powdered sugar.  I didn't measure the powdered sugar (bad blogger, I know) but I pretty much add it to taste, and I like a tangy frosting so I didn't add that much. When the frosting was whipped and sweetened to the texture and flavor I like, I scooped it into a piping bag and piped pretty swirls of frosting onto the cakes.

All the cupcakes were frosted and I figured I was done. But then I realized I wanted to add something a little more decorative to the cupcakes since they were a special order for someone I liked and all.  So I added some pretty gold chocolate candies I got in Paris (like the best m&m's in the world) to the top, and viola! even prettier cupcakes!.  

Coming up, some healthier stuff. And some naughty baking stuff as well!


  1. Dang it, woman, you make me want to eat baked goods. I swear, that's a new one on me. :p

  2. Looks delicious. I can't wait to try it.