November 4, 2009 § Leave a comment
My family has endured many “doorstop” cakes from my kitchen. For my birthday this year, I made a vanilla buttermilk cake that claimed to be “fluffy and light,” but in fact, turned into a gigantic paperweight, dense as a brick.
This past weekend I wanted to make spooky cupcakes for Halloween. I flipped through a book my aunt gave me a few years ago called “Crazy About Cupcakes” by Krystina Castella. Krystina’s cupcakes are detailed and gorgeously decorated – the perfect inspiration for my bake-a-thon afternoon. I decided to try one of her chocolate cupcakes; I halved the recipe and made a couple of minor tweaks. Two hours later, iced with a pumpkin-y shmearox and dotted with festive candy corn, I had fifteen dark chocolate cupcakes waiting for neighbors, family and friends.
These cupcakes were so light, they seemed to evaporate in your mouth!
I’ve been researching different ways to change cake and muffin crumb-size and fluffiness. This recipe includes several techniques I learned from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) and Krystina (Crazy About Cupcakes). Be sure to read the methods all the way through before pulling ingredients out of the cupboard, just to make sure you know the order of the steps.
Ingredients for 15 medium/small cupcakes:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup evaporated cane sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt, room temperature
1/4 cup good quality cocoa*
1/3 cup boiling water
1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate
*These cupcakes are only as good as the quality of chocolate you put into them.
1. Remove 3/4 stick butter and two eggs from the fridge. Measure yogurt. Allow all three ingredients to reach room temperature, about an hour.
2. When liquids are no longer chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil water on the stove. Remove and whisk in cocoa powder. When smooth (no powder chunks), add chocolate chunks and whisk until completely melted and glossy. Set aside.
3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter until fluffy – at least 3 minutes. Add in eggs, one at a time, and beat for another minute. Add vanilla.
4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda and salt. Whisk with a fork. Return to the mixing bowl and add a third of the flour mixture to the bowl, mixing slowly. Then add a scoop of yogurt. Add a bit more flour; add a bit more yogurt. Add back-and-forth additions of flour and yogurt until the mixture just comes together. Scrape down the sides of the pan and be mindful to see that no butter has stuck to the bottom of the mixing bowl. Stir briefly once more but be wary not to over-mix.
5. Pour chocolate mixture into the mixing bowl and mix, just until combined.
6. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.
Note on the frosting: I made up an autumn-y shmear (butter, powdered sugar, canned pumpkin, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, vanilla). I liked it because it didn’t overpower the chocolate flavor. These cupcakes would be especially good with a plain butter-cream frosting or – what I want to try next – a butter-cream frosting with a hint of mint.
Diet Notes: Nut-free