Yesterday was my brand new
minion’s respected co-worker’s birthday, and I wanted to celebrate her first month on the job (and a milestone birthday she wasn’t really looking forward to) with her favourite treat: a dark, rich chocolate cake. Cake’s a bit hard to transport around the office, however, so I went with the cupcake version instead, and I made someone else do all the hard work for me in choosing the best recipe. I picked Sally’s Baking Addiction’s tried and tested Death by Chocolate Cupcakes and doubled the recipe (as I am wont to do). An entire bar of this lovely dark chocolate went into the process and I think it was entirely worth it.
Like all good cupcakes, you start with butter and chocolate, and melting things. In the bowl of a double boiler (or in your microwave, but I no longer own one of those), melt together 1 cup unsalted butter and 4 ounces chocolate (the recipe calls for semi-sweet but I say use whatever is your favourite).
Once that’s all smooth and sassy, set it aside to cool a little bit. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners and preheat your oven to 350°F.
In a smallish bowl, whisk together 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Leave that alone and do the next thing.
In a largish bowl, crack 4 large room temperature eggs, then tip in 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Whisk-y, whisk-y, whisk-y.
Pour the melted butter and chocolate into the egg/sugar stuff and mix until smooth.
Grab yourself 1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, tip 2 teaspoons white vinegar or lemon juice into a cup and top it up with milk. Give it a stir and leave it about five minutes until it’s curdled and thick. It’s not *quite* the same, though, and the Pie likes having buttermilk for pancakes, so I am using the real deal). Alternate pouring some buttermilk into the chocolatey goo with adding the flour mixture, and stir until just combined. You don’t want to overmix this or the batter will bake up flat.
And this batter is going to be THICK. Sally says it’s thick like pudding. I think it’s even thicker than that.
Spoon the batter into your cupcake cups and bake for 18 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the centre cupcake comes out clean.
Set those aside to cool completely and get started on your icing. Actually, before you do that, break up another couple ounces of that lovely dark chocolate and set them to melt in your double boiler. Once it’s all liquid, set it aside to cool almost to room temperature.
Beat up about 1 cup room temperature unsalted butter in the bowl of your mixer until it’s pale and fluffy. Sift together (to avoid lumps) 5 1/2 cups icing sugar and 1 1/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder in a separate bowl.
Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract to the fluffy butter and then tip in some of your icing sugar mix. Drizzle in, alternating with the icing sugar mix, 1 cup heavy cream. Because I don’t remember where I put my mixer shield, this happened of course.
And because none of my aprons fit me anymore, this happened as well. Baby bellies are cooking hazards, it seems.
But when you’re done you’ll get this lovely soft icing that’s pretty much exactly halfway between a ganâche and a buttercream. It’s very delightful. Use that and a wide tip to ice your cooled cupcakes.
As I was making these, I remarked to the Pie that my youngest teammate, who is 23, was going to ask why there were “hashtags” all over the cupcakes, and he laughed. Then the next morning, the first thing she did when she walked into the room was go, “what’s with all the hashtags?” I so called it. Kids these days … :)