Monday, January 21, 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes with Quick Vanilla Buttercream

My search for the perfect chocolate cupcake AND vanilla frosting recipes are over, thanks to these little gems!  Recently I needed to bring cupcakes to my sister-in-law's baby shower, and I was fretting because I didn't know which recipe to use.  Of course there is store-bought, or from a mix, but I just couldn't bring myself to do that.  I took a risk on trying two new recipes, but seeing as how I trusted their source (Mel's Kitchen Cafe), I figured it would work out.  

This was at the book-themed baby shower- I tried to make the cupcakes match!
They were a huge success!  Everyone at the shower loved the cupcakes, even those who normally don't like cake!  And my husband doesn't like normal frosting, but he liked this kind.  It really is a cross between buttercream and cream cheese frosting.  It held its shape well when I was piping it.  I will most definitely make both of these recipes over & over again! 

Chocolate Cupcakes
Printable version here

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 standard cupcake pans with paper liners. In a glass liquid measuring cup, combine the cocoa powder and hot water and whisk until smooth. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat (or using a bowl & a microwave), combine the butter and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth and the butter is completely melted. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer (or to a stand-alone bowl, using a handheld electric mixer) and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is cool, about 4-5 minutes.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing each addition just until incorporated. So basically you’ll add 1/3 of the flour, mix, then add 1/2 of the sour cream, mix, add another 1/3 of the flour, mix, add the rest of the sour cream, and finish with the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling no more than 2/3 full. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes (I used a slightly rounded large [3 tbsp.] cookie scoop, and baked for 17 minutes). Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.   

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Mini Cupcakes: This will make approximately 96 mini cupcakes, using a 1 tbsp. scoop of batter for each one.  Bake for 10 minutes or until done.

Recipe Source:

Quick Vanilla Buttercream
Printable version here

*Makes about 3 cups of frosting (enough for 24 cupcakes)

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
16 oz. powdered sugar (about 3 ½ cups)
¼ cup heavy cream*
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

In a large bowl using a handheld mixer or the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat the softened butter and cream cheese together until it is light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla (and food coloring, if desired). Add the powdered sugar gradually and mix in fully after each addition. Cream at low speed until well blended and creamy. Pour in the heavy cream and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy. 

*Note: you can substitute milk for the heavy cream but the frosting will be missing an element of silky creaminess.   

[I recommend keeping this frosting refrigerated, because of the dairy and because it melts a little when it gets too warm.  I frosted my cupcakes using a piping bag, and after a few minutes I needed to put the bag in the fridge to bring down the temperature because it was starting to melt.  Also, it worked fine to make the day before I needed it.  I took it out of the fridge a few hours before I needed it, and I rewhipped it with a hand mixer.]

Recipe Source:

Why I love it? This is the BEST tasting chocolate cupcake & vanilla frosting I have ever made!  They're as good as any cupcake I've had, either from a store or from a box.  They are not very difficult to make, and they don't require any hard-to-find ingredients.  I promise, you won't regret making (or eating!) them!

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