Saturday, November 15, 2014

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

It has been said that baking is an exact science.  Measurements need to perfect, dry ingredients and wet ingredients need to be kept separate until the right time and one false move and the dish can be ruined.  This is why so many of us reach for the boxed cake mixes to make our cakes and cupcakes, it takes the guess work and the risk out of baking.  I certainly did until I found this recipe.  It is the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe, rich and moist, yet light and fluffy.  It is not too sweet and incredibly easy to make.  It takes maybe 10 minutes longer in prep work but cooks faster than a boxed mix recipe.  The Buttercream frosting is incredible.  It is rich and creamy and adds the perfect sweetness to the chocolate cupcake.  I never knew how easy buttercream was to make until I tried.  The name gives away 2/3 of the ingredients and it takes about 5 minutes to prepare.  I have made these cupcakes for every birthday and holiday over the past year and they are always a major hit.  Give these a try next time you feel the need for some cupcakes.

This is what you need for the cupcakes:

Dry Ingredients
1 cup of All Purpose Flour
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp finely ground Coffee

Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup Milk
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
1 Egg
1/2 tsp of Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup boiling Water

This is what you do:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees, add the cupcake liners to your muffin tin and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Mix the dry ingredients together and then add all the wet ingredients except the boiling water.  Once completely mixed, add the boiling water and mix on high for one minute.  Fill your cups about 3/4 of the way full and cook for 12-15 minutes.  Use the toothpick method to make sure the cupcakes are done.  If it comes out clean, they are ready.  Let cool for 10 minutes in muffin tin then remove to plate or wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Cool Time: 30 minutes
Makes 12-15 cupcakes

First thing to do is preheat the oven to 325 degrees and put your cupcake liners in your muffin tin.  Then lightly spray them with cooking spray.
No cupcakes will be sticking here.

Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp finely ground coffee to a mixing bowl. The coffee really highlights the cocoa powder and creates a lovely rich flavor.  If you have a Kitchen Aid stand up mixer, add it to that bowl, if not, any medium size bowl will work with a hand held mixer.  Mix all the ingredients so they are distributed evenly.  

Next, add the 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, 1 egg and 1/2 tsp of Vanilla.  Mix on medium power until everything is incorporated.  Turn the mixer off and carefully add the 1/2 cup boiling water.  Turn the mixer on high and let it go for 1 minute.  Turn off and scrape the sides.  
 Before the boiling water.
After the boiling water.

The boiling water seemed like a strange add to a non-baker like me, but it really helps the batter become light and fluffy and super moist.  Don't skip this step!  It makes the batter pretty thin, but it is supposed to.  There is a method to this madness.  Fill your cups about 3/4 of the way full with the batter.
 I like to use an icecream scoop when I make cupcakes.  It fills the cups up to the perfect amount and is less messy.
Oven ready.

Bake for 12-15 minutes at 325 degrees.  Stick a toothpick in the cupcake when you take it out of the oven.  If it is clean, you are good to go.  

Let rest in the muffin tin for 10 minutes and then remove to a plate or wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

And speaking of frosting...
Here is what you need for Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:

2 sticks of Salted Butter, room temperature
3-4 cups of Powdered Sugar 
2-3 tbps of Cream or Milk
2 tsp of Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Salt
This is what you do:
Mix the butter until light and fluffy on medium high speed for about 3 minutes.  Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and mix.  After each cup is added, mix on high for 10 seconds to fully incorporate.  When 3 cups are added, add the 2 tsps of Vanilla and 2 tbsps of cream and pinch of salt.  Incorporate fully and check the consistency.  If you want it thicker, add more powdered sugar.  Thinner, add more cream.  
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Work Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 Minutes
Frosts about 12 cupcakes or more
Add your room temperature butter to your mixing bowl and mix on medium high until light and fluffy.  Usually takes about 3 minutes. 
 You can always soften your butter in the microwave, just do it in 10 second intervals.
 Light and fluffy butter, kind of an oxymoron.

Now, add your powdered sugar a 1/2 cup at a time.  When a full cup is mixed, turn the mixer on high for 10 seconds before adding the next 1/2 cup.  When you have added 3 cups, add the 2 tsp of vanilla, 3 tbsp of cream and a pinch of salt and mix completely.  Taste it and if you want it thicker, add more sugar, thinner add more cream.  
Things are getting delicious around here.

Next, add your frosting to a large Ziplock bag and snip the corner off.  This creates a lovely swirl to your icing that looks fancy but could not be simpler.  
 I dyed mine blue for my little princess who is turning TWO and loves Cinderella.
Ready to frost.

These cupcakes are out of this world.  Kids love them because, cupcakes, but adults love them too.  They have more complex flavor profile and are not sickeningly sweet like a lot of bakery or store bought ones.  Plus, they are so easy and you get to take all the credit!
 So pretty.
So fluffy yet super moist.  Perfect, basically.

Hope you enjoy these as much as my family does!  

**recipe adapted from Add a Pinch**