When I overthink things I get myself into trouble. I overthought these chocolate cupcakes. I agonized over thoughts of various fillings, my mind racing with options: raspberry curd, mocha whipped cream, chocolate ganache, Dulce de Leche. [No, next.] So, I focused on frosting choices: Swiss meringue buttercream, sea salt caramel frosting, dark chocolate ganache, a simple fruit icing. [No, no. Tasty, but not what I’m looking for…today.]
“Keep it simple, Kel.” She tells me, one hand on the steering wheel as she applies a thick coat of lipstick without looking, once, in the mirror. [Light blue Ford Taurus station wagon that smells like sour milk and old coffee. She doesn’t care. She gave up on caring about incidentals a long time ago. I get that…now.]
I stare, memorized by her confidence, memory recall, her lips as they transform from a pale, wrinkled pink to a smooth, as, buttercream mauve. How does she do that? A mystery to me in so many ways.
Her beautiful bright blue eyes dart over me, examine my face. “What’s with you today?” I turn my face into the light coming through the passenger’s window, a rural landscape runs alongside.
“Nothing.” My go to answer for many decades to come. Poor Mom, tormented and relieved by the unknowns. Juxtaposition at its best.
“Keep it simple.” These words coming from a woman who has never kept anything simple in her life. A woman who counted on plan b and plan c . If the levy should break.
She doesn’t know I will take her words, carry them with me, and sing them like a psalm.
So, I pushed options to the side. Tucked them safely in a place, a corner of my brain, where they sit patiently and wait. Wait for a day when I need them. After all, I am my mother’s daughter.
So I kept it bald, bare, naked and made a rich, moist chocolate cupcake paired with a sweet and light white chocolate buttercream. Nothing fancy, in fact, quite simple, but altogether delicious.
Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream
Cupcake recipe from Not Without Salt
Buttercream recipe adapted from What To Bake & How To Bake It, Jane Hornby
Makes 24 cupcakes ( You may get more. I got 36!)
Ingredients for cupcakes:
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 + 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 + 1/2 cups milk ( I used 1%)
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 + 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup boiling water
Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Line two 12 cup muffin pans with cupcake liners and set aside.
Grab a large bowl and sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Using the a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla on medium speed. Reduce the speed to low and add the sugar and dry ingredients. Mix on a low speed for a couple of minutes, then increase the speed to medium and mix until the batter is smooth, about 2-3 minutes. (You should not see lumps. If you do, keep mixing.) Slowly, add 1 cup of boiling water and mix on the lowest speed until completely smooth. (Alternatively, mix the water into the batter with a wooden spoon until smooth.) The batter will be quite thin. Let the batter rest for about 15-30 minutes. I let it sit for closer to an hour. When ready to bake, gently stir the batter.
Fill the cupcake liners, about three-quarters the way full. Bake until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched or when a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, about 20 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. While the cupcakes cool, make your buttercream frosting.
Ingredients for white chocolate buttercream frosting:
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 ounces white chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a good pinch of kosher salt
2 cups of confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Grab a small saucepan and heat the cream until the edges just begin to bubble. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let it sit, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Once melted, stir until smooth.
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Add the vanilla and salt, scrape down the sides and continue to beat. Slowly, add the confectioners’ sugar. Continue to beat until fluffy and pale. Pour in the cool chocolate and whip on high for 5 minutes. Add more sugar if it seems too thin. ( I didn’t need to add more sugar.) Frost cupcakes with an offset spatula or fill a pastry bag and add your favorite piping tip. Cupcakes are best the day they are made. However, they taste just fine if made a day in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy!
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
piping or Ziploc bag
Using a pencil, lightly draw desired shapes on parchment paper: eggs, flowers, butterfly etc.
Melt 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate in an oven proof glass bowl either using the microwave or nestled on top of a small saucepan with simmering water. * If using the microwave, watch carefully, as it will burn easily. If using the stove top, be sure the bowl does not touch the simmer watering.* Stir until the chocolate is smooth and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Pour melted chocolate into a Ziploc bag and trim just a bit of the corner with scissors. Trace your drawings using the melted chocolate. Allow to dry until completely hard, about 30 minutes. Remove the chocolate from parchment paper with a spatula and carefully add decorations to cupcakes.
5 Classic Cupcake Links!
My favorite cake and frosting match up is yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Sally’s Baking Addiction has a recipe that is making me drool: moist yellow cupcakes with milk chocolate frosting.
Red velvet will never go out of foodie style. Averie Cooks has a recipe for red velvet cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting that looks divine!
Looking for a mouth watering all chocolate cupcake? Head to Sweetapolita for Rosie’s dark and dreamy double fudge cupcakes.
Kids and adults will go crazy for My Baking Addiction’s vanilla bean cupcakes.
I love all lemon desserts, but Cooking Classy’s lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting is really pulling on my heartstrings today!