Thursday, January 24, 2013

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes

Dinosaur sprinkles!

     A lot of people know me for my famed cupcakes.  It makes sense because I know how to make a good cupcake, and I make them frequently.  In fact, I made each of my friends a special cupcake for their birthdays last year, and for my sister's friends on their birthdays and my brother's preschool on special holidays.  (See here, here, and here, for example.) I even made my middle school science project "The effect of pH level of cupcake batter on the height of the cupcake after being baked." (It got a blue ribbon (: )
     As you may know from previous posts, tomorrow is my brother's birthday, so I'm making him chocolate cupcakes to bring to his adorable preschool friends. I wish I could be there! This is just a precursor to the confetti strawberry layer birthday cake I'm going to make him.

  1.      Here are some tips for making perfect cupcakes:
  • Use buttermilk.  If you can't find it in stores (I can't) then just mix one tbs white vinegar with 1 cup minus one tablespoon of milk.  Or, you can probably find dry buttermilk powder in the baking isle or where the dry milk is. 
  • Sift the flour (this makes the cake fluffier)
  • Use quality ingredients, like good cocoa powder and real vanilla beans (If you're making Oreo cupcakes, well then be sure to use quality Oreos)
  • Don't overmix the batter (overmixing kills the cupcake)
  • Bring ingredients to room temperature (so they mix better)
  • Make exact measurements. If you don't have a kitchen scale, then be sure to use the spoon and level method for measuring flour. 
   As long as you follow the recipe and these tips, you'll be sure to make a chocolate cupcake which the average human taste buds would deem the perfect chocolate cupcake.  Here's the recipe.

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes

makes about 30 cupcakes
adapted from Ina Garten


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  1. 2 cups sugar
  2. 3/4 cups cocoa powder
  3. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  4. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  5. 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  6. 1 cup buttermilk
  7. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  8. 3 large eggs
  9. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  10. 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (I boiled water and added a teaspoon of instant espresso powder)
  11. Directions

  12. Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
  13. In a large bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  14. Place the buttermilk in a container with a sturdy lid and close it.  Shake for about 30 seconds to make it fluffy.
  15. Add the oil, eggs, and vanilla to the buttermilk and whisk until combined.
  16. Slowly add wet ingredients to the dry while stirring with a spoon or mixer on low speed. Stir until just combined.
  17. Add coffee in a thin stream, stirring constantly until just combined.  Batter will be thin.
  18. Pour batter into baking cups (I used a ladle) and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  19. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for a few minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove cupcakes and place on a wire rack to cool completely.  
  20. Once the cupcakes are cool, frost with fudge frosting (recipe below) and enjoy!

Fudgy Chocolate Frosting


1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, room temperature
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 tablespoon vanilla
a pinch of salt
4 1/2 cups confectioners sugar (sifting unnecessary)
6 tbs half and half or heavy cream


  1. In a glass bowl over simmering water, or a microwave in 30-sec intervals, melt 4oz of the chocolate, stirring constantly until smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in remaining chocolate until smooth.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Once it's cool, add the butter.  Cream with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Then add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined.
  3. Add half of the sugar and beat until incorporated.  Then, mix in the cream. 
  4. Add the rest of the sugar until the desired consistency is reached and beat until fluffy.


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