Chocolate Cupcakes; White Icing

August 25, 2008


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This weekend I had my cake and ate it, too—in so many ways. I was having difficulty deciding whether to make chocolate cupcakes or a chocolate cake for a birthday. Since the celebrant would likely be taking his gift to the office, I was torn. There' s something not so festive about lighting candles in a series of individual desserts, whereas presenting someone with a full cake is really quite an offering. I reluctantly decided to do the cupcakes since they' re much more portable and a bit less intimidating. As I' ve mentioned in other posts, it' s a lot easier to take a few cupcakes to work than to face a full cake at your desk. I wanted to do a great version of the most ordinary combination: a basic chocolate cupcake with white icing. The chocolate brownie cupcakes I made for another birthday went well, but I wanted something new. I turned to old faithful, “The Joy of Cooking”and searched for chocolate cupcakes in the index. What I found when I landed on page 738 was this: “Prepare batter for Devil' s Food Cake Cockaigne, 718.”At first I was saddened: I would be making cake batter but no cake. Boy was I wrong.

Here is how to do the Devil' s Food Cake Cockaigne:

BATTER: Have ingredients at room temp., preheat oven to 350. * Cook, stirring in a double broiler over boiling water 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped, ½ c milk, 1 c packed light brown sugar, 1 large egg yolk: remove from heat and let it cool to room temp. * Whisk 2 c sifted cake flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt. * Combine in a (separate) small bowl ½ c milk, ¼ c water and 1 teaspoon vanilla. * Beat in a (separate) large bowl at medium-high speed until creamy (about 30 seconds) ½ c (1 stick) unsalted butter. * Gradually add and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes: 1 c sugar. * Beat in 2 large egg yolks, one at a time. * On low speed, add flour to the butter mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 parts, beating until smooth. * Stir in chocolate mixture. * With clean beaters, beat 2 egg whites in a medium bowl at medium speed until stiff but not dry. * Fold lightly into the batter, and pour batter into individual cupcake trays with lining. Bake about 20-25 minutes. (PS: don’t worry if you don’t have a double broiler: make one!)

ICING: Combine in a medium bowl and beat together on medium speed: 4 cups sifted confectioner' s sugar, ½ c unsalted, softened butter. * Add and beat until smooth 4 – 6 tablespoons of milk, 2 teaspoons vanilla and ¼ teaspoon salt. To firm it up, place in the fridge before spreading.

So I made 12 cupcakes. And voila! Half of the batter was left over: perfect for my 8”cake pan. If you’re looking for a very basic and extremely good chocolate cupcake or cake, this batter is incredible. Just make sure you have the capacity for 24 cupcakes or 2 cake pans. (Or half of each.) The recipe is a bit involved, but the end result is worth the effort. I also have to say this: for the first time in my life, I used a Kitchen Aid standing mixer. I know I' ve proclaimed on more than one occasion the authenticity of a recipe made purely by hand. That was only because I never had a standing mixer. I will never go back. This morning I contemplated using it to stir milk into my coffee.

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