I knew when I started taking pictures of all of my cupcake creations that I probably should have started a blog then, but let’s face it, I’m lazy. It’s taken me over a year to get around to actually doing this, so there are going to be lots of back posts so I can post my pictures and such. And here we go:
Last year while browsing in Williams and Sonoma, my eye caught one of the most beautiful cookbooks that I had ever seen, the book that has practically become my bible for cupcake making. I know you’re wondering what it could possibly be so brace yourselves…it was the Martha Stewart Cupcake book. Now the cheap side of me had a little debate with the baker side of me. Seriously, it was like a little devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. This book was going for something in the neighborhood of 30 bucks, which isn’t all that bad but if you knew how much I got paid at my job you’d understand. Needless to say, the baker devil own the argument and I went ahead and bought the book (it was an early birthday present to myself, okay?). So totally worth it, and I’d buy it again if I had to.
The first gem I decided to conquer from this book was the sunflower cupcakes. I pretty much decided to go all out, balls to the walls on my first attempt here. Armed with my wonderful roomie’s Kitchen Aid stand mixer and my set of piping tips I went to work on the recipe for the cupcake base, which are one bowl chocolate cupcakes. This is about the only time Martha lets you use only one bowl during your baking, she loves to torture you with multiple bowls. It’s not a good thing Martha.
Makes 18 to 24 (this recipe always makes me exactly 18 cupcakes)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 3/4 cup buttermilk (I’ve done them with plain skim milk and have been fine)
- 3 tablespoons safflower oil (you can use any kind, I use canola)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.
- Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.
These are by far the best chocolate cupcakes I’ve made to date and have officially become my go to chocolate cupcake base for so many cupcakes I make. I topped them with a Swiss meringue buttercream. This is an awesome frosting because it’s not super sweet and it doesn’t get that grainy texture that you can get when using powdered sugar. I’m sure you’re all eager to make this stuff but be warned, this recipe is not for the faint of heart. It’s a bit time consuming and pretty hard to do without a stand mixer (I’ve tried and it takes FOREVER). Also, forget it if you’re on a diet because there’s a pound of butter in this recipe. No really, I’m serious…literally a POUND of butter:
Makes about 9 cups, enough for about 28 cupcakes. (you can totally half this recipe, I often do)
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 10 large egg whites
- 4 cups (8 sticks or 2 pounds) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth.
- Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
- Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don’t worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.
- Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.
I tinted my buttercream yellow and went to work doing my magic. I’m not going to go into details about the piping because I’m a little to lazy to post the directions, and lets face it this is already a pretty long post. Anyway, not to toot my own horn or anything (okay, maybe a little tooting) but I’m going to say I did a pretty good job for my first piping job. Here’s another view of the cupcakes:
Add some mini chocolate chips in the middle and there you have it cupcake lovers, a sunflower cupcake to impress your friends. Share them with your friends and family and be sure to post pictures on Facebook because I can tell you you’ll get lots of good compliments to boost your ego.
Until our next cupcake adventure.