First, an order of administrative business: the chocolate giveaway is finished, and Maria of Two Peas and Their Pod is the winner. So Maria, I left you a comment in your blog–email me your address and I’ll send those right out to you. Thanks to everyone who left a comment. I actually have a lot of leftover candy from the All Candy Expo I attended earlier this year, so I might do another giveaway once I sort through it all. Stay tuned. Now back to your regularly scheduled sweets…
A recent picnic in the park was a great excuse to do some baking. I decided to go with mini cupcakes, because they’re adorable and a manageable amount of dessert for most people. (You know how it’s fashionable for people–especially women–to insist that they “don’t eat sugar”? Yeah, I don’t believe in that.) But even the most stalwart anti-sugarite can sometimes be swayed by a petite, beautifully constructed, two-bite mini cupcake. Mwahaha! Victory will be mine!
Because they’re so small, it’s likely that some people will go for more than one, so I wanted to offer a variety of cupcakes, with a minimum of extra effort on my part. So I took a batch of chocolate cupcakes, a simple ganache, and a basic vanilla buttercream, added a few extra flavorings, and ended up with six different types of mini cupcakes.
Chocolate cupcakes + buttercream + peanut butter + salted peanuts = Nutty Chocolate Cupcakes
Chocolate cupcakes + buttercream + strawberry puree + fresh strawberries= Berry Blast Chocolate Cupcakes
Chocolate cupcakes + buttercream + vanilla extract + mini M&Ms= Ruffled Vanilla-Chocolate Cupcakes
Chocolate cupcakes + chocolate ganache +sugar confetti= Double Chocolate Cupcakes
Chocolate cupcakes + a filling of buttercream + chocolate ganache glaze = “Faux-stess” Chocolate Cupcakes
[This recipe makes about 2.5 dozen full-size cupcakes]
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened best-quality cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water or coffee
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325°F. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into large bowl. Combine sugar, water or coffee, buttermilk, oil, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla in another large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat egg mixture until blended. Add dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed until blended, scraping bowl occasionally, about 4 minutes.
Line cupcake molds with papers and fill them about 2/3rds full. Bake cupcakes, until puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to racks and cool completely.
Print this Recipe!
You will need a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and a candy thermometer for this recipe. It can be colored and flavored however you like.
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup water
14 oz granulated sugar (about 2 cups)
1 tsp cream of tartar
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
Flavoring extracts or colors
Place the room temperature egg whites in the *very clean* bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Place the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Insert a candy thermometer and cook until it reaches soft-ball stage, about 240 degrees.
While you are waiting for the sugar syrup to reach the proper temperature, begin beating the egg whites. (I usually start beating them when the temperature is around 220 degrees.) Turn the mixer to medium speed and beat until the whites look foamy. Stop the mixer briefly and add the cream of tartar. Turn the mixer back on and begin to beat on medium-high speed until the whites are stiff but not crumbly. You can turn the mixer off if the egg whites are finished before the syrup is ready.
When the whites are stiff and the sugar syrup is 240 degrees, turn the mixer back on to medium-high and pour the syrup into a cup or pitcher with a spout. Slowly and carefully pour the hot syrup down the sides of the bowl into the egg whites while the mixer is running. The whites will rise in volume. After all of the syrup is added, let the mixer run on medium speed until the sides of the bowl feels barely warm, which may take anywhere from 10-20 minutes.
Once the egg white mixture has cooled, gradually add the softened butter bit by bit until it is all incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. The egg white mixture will deflate and might look soupy. If it looks soupy or broken, continue to beat the mixer on low or medium speed until it comes back together. (It WILL gradually become a beautiful, smooth frosting. I promise.) Once the frosting is finished, you can add any extra flavorings and colors you’d like. Some favorites: vanilla or mint extract, fruit purees, melted lukewarm unsweetened chocolate, or creamy peanut butter. It’s very flexible. The frosting can be stored at room temperature for a few days, or up to a week or two in the refrigerator. If refrigerated, allow it to come to room temperature, then re-beat to get the proper texture. Jason knows just what to do with excess frosting.