I don't make cupcakes. They seem so complex -- not only do you have to perfect the cake portion of the confection, but you also have to contend with frosting. And the frosting itself is a two pronged challenge as it has to taste and look good. That's a lot for this muffin maker to think about.
Especially as I hardly even eat cupcakes. Not because I don't like them (I do). It's just hard to find a well-made cupcake that makes the nutrition splurge worthwhile. Grocery store bakeries tend to produce dime-a-dozen cupcakes that are often stale or soggy, and cupcakes in general tend to be over-sugared for my palate. However, if you can find me a well-crafted cupcake topped with a mound of swirling frosting (the more the better!), I'd enjoy it with all my sweet-toothed heart! Just ask my husband -- on our wedding day, he ate the cake part of our slice of wedding cake while I ate all the frosting, which he doesn't like at all. I guess we're a good match, huh?
This week, however, my era of inexperience in cupcakery came to a close. Why? Because this week's Tuesdays with Dorie challenged us to take on the chocolate-chocolate cupcakes recipe in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. I have to say, even with my complete lack of cupcake-creating knowledge, these cupcakes turned out well. The frosting could use a little assistance (I'm not sure I used the right amount of chocolate since I don't have a kitchen scale, and the cupcakes don't exactly look pretty), but they tasted rich and chocolaty. I don't normally go in for chocolate cake of any kind, so you know when a white cake lover says that a chocolate cupcake is good, then it's good!
I didn't play with the ingredients much on this recipe. I used a lower-fat yogurt spread instead of the butter, egg replacers instead of real eggs, and chocolate chips instead of chopped chocolate simply because that's what I had on hand. Also, I used reduced-fat buttermilk (which I tasted plain and really enjoyed -- it reminds me of cottage cheese). In the cake batter, I ened upusing 1/3 cup cocoa powder instead of 1/4 cup because I grabbed the wrong measuring cup. Oops. But I don't think too much chocolate can really be a bad thing, right?
The most challenging part of this venture was working with the chocolate and making the frosting. As I already mentioned, I may not have used enough chocolate because I don't have a kitchen scale. The Best Husband Ever lent his assistance and did a fantastic job melting the chocolate. First we tried melting it in the microwave but ended up burning it instead. Then we put the chocolate in a container which in turn we set in a pot of boiling water. That seemed to work better, although still did not seem ideal. The frosting turned out a bit slick and in rather short supply, but was also creamy and rich and deeelicious. Both the Best Husband Ever and I did some copious beater- and spatula-licking during our clean up.
After I frosted the cupcakes, I decorated them with sprinkles and other colorful jimmies that I bought a long while ago but never could find any use for. My favorite of such toppings are rainbox sprinkles, but I used every variety from the mutli-pack lurking in my spice cabinet. The Best Husband Ever and I both enjoyed a cupcake, and then I froze the rest. I plan to bring the remaining ten cupcakes to the school where I work for our Halloween festivities this coming Friday. If the cupcakes thaw well, then they're sure to be a success with the kids, I think.
So. Cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes. Chocolate-chocolate cupcakes. Sure, my batch might not be as fancy-shmancy as Dorie Greenspan's, but they sure are tasty! Still, I think I'll stick to the simpler side of baking for the most part. Scones and muffins are much more trusty. If I need to bake a special treat in the future, though, you can count on the return of the cupcake.