Monday, September 5, 2011

The First Batch: Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

The post for these first cupcakes was actually a long time in the making. I made this first batch quite a few months back, before I even knew I wanted to start a blog. Mind you, I am a novice baker and while I have made MANY cupcakes in my 28 year lifetime, these were the first ones I have done completely from SCRATCH. Obvi I am very proud of this because most of my baking skills came straight from a Betty Crocker box.

I got the recipe from the book, "Cupcakes, by Shelly Kaldunski", that my best pal Stacy got me for my birthday. The book is great for novice and expert bakers alike and really inspired me to keep trying new recipes. The book spawned my cupcake obsession.

Now for the recipe:

Chocolate Cupcakes:

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Godiva, yum!)
1/2 cup plus 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature (this is key, the batter turns out much better if the eggs are warmer) 1 tsp vanilla extract
Grated chocolate for garnish, optional (I opted to use it and snagged a Hershey milk chocolate bar)

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
2. Line 12 cup cupcake/muffin pan with paper or foil liners. (If you don't use liners, make sure to grease the cups or the batter will stick.)
3. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
4. Place chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan; Stir frequently until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from saucepan; let mixture cool to room temp, 10-15 minutes.
5. With a wooden spoon, stir the sugar into the chocolate mixture until well combined.
6. Stir the eggs in one at a time, beating until combined after you drop in each egg and then beat in the vanilla. Gently fold in the flour mixture just until no traces of flour remain; do not overmix!
7. Divid the batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Don't fill all the way.
8. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean (only a few moist crumbs). This usually takes about 22-24 minutes.
9. Let the cupcakes cool completely, about 1 hour.

**Cupcakes come out moist and chocolately. More like a cake consistency. If you like a denser cupcake, you have come to the wrong place.**

The book suggested a coffee, chocolate, or vanilla buttercream frosting, but the last time I attempted a buttercream, I failed miserably. I decided to go with a cream cheese frosting because my husband loves it and it was way less intimidating ;)

Cream Cheese Frosting:

12 oz. cream cheese, at room temp
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted (keeps the frosting from getting lumps)

In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar and mix until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Use frosting right away, or if the consistency is too soft, stick in the the fridge until the frosting is spreadable, about 15 minutes. You can always add more sugar if the frosting is not thick enough. Just don't go overboard or it will be much too sweet!

These were a big hit for my first cupcake! May just be the basics, but that's the best way to start! Enjoy!
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