Archive for April, 2009

A chocolate cupake with my Grammy's famous chocolate buttercream frosting

A chocolate cupcake with my Grammy's famous chocolate buttercream frosting

I found the recipe for these chocolate cupcakes in Deep Dark Chocolate, by Sara Perry (reviewed here by myself, yay). The cake in itself was pretty good. A bit dry, but that was my fault, as I cooked the cupcakes two minutes past the point my instincts told me to take them out. The liquid in the batter was strong coffee, which added a nice depth to the usually-one-note chocolate cake flavor. So all-in-all, it’s an easy recipe, and definitely a make-again.

The frosting, however, is another story. I’ve been eating my Grammy’s chocolate buttercream frosting for…forever. We use it on cakes, cupcakes, brownies, eat it plain, whatever. And the best part about it is that it’s totally customizable. And yes, that means there’s no recipe. Sorry! I tried to write one down when I was making these cupcakes, and ended up tweaking the results for 15 minutes, so I lost count of the tablespoons and pinches. But one of the best parts about a customizable icing is if you mess up, you just have to keep adding more dry or wet ingredients until you have like a gallon of frosting. And leftovers are always a good thing. In my family, we eat it on graham crackers.

I’m going to try to post all of my favorite Grammy recipes over the next few months, but I think this one is my favorite. She also has Blueberry Buckle (aka coffee cake), a multi-purpose One-Egg-Cake, Beau-Catcher Brownies and on and on, and the rest of them have fun names as well. She’s been baking for decades. She knows her stuff. My mom and I learned from the best. I don’t think she reads blogs, but thanks, Grammy!

Because it’s the most important, I’ll make my Gram proud and start with the frosting.

Grammy’s Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Start with:

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/3 cup milk
5 tablespoons room-temperature butter (unsalted)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt

Just throw everything together in one bowl, leaving the milk for last, and adding it a bit at a time. As I said, I always end up futzing with this recipe a bit when I make it, so don’t trust me. I think 1/3 cup milk is going easy. But you always want to start with less milk, because if you add too much at the start, you’ll have to add more and more cocoa powder and powdered sugar until it gets thick enough. Which is what I did last night when I made these. And ended up with a ton of frosting. Win.

Beat with electric mixer until smooth. If it tastes too chocolaty, add more powdered sugar, and visa versa. Use 1% milk if you’re feeling healthy (but then why are you eating cupcakes?), whole if you’re feeling adventurous, or heavy whipping cream if you just happen to have a ton of heavy whipping cream in the fridge. If the frosting doesn’t taste buttery enough…add more butter. You get the point.

Mix the frosting until it all comes together, and you’ve got all the cocoa powder off the sides of the bowl. If the frosting is going to stand up on cakes and cupcakes, it should end up with stiff peaks, and if you dip your finger in, you should get a nice hunk. Not that I did that.


Ok, so I did that. But if not a mess-free cook, I am a sanitary one, so I actually dipped my finger into the spoon, then got a new one and continued stirring. We go through a lot of spoons here. (And yes, Tony C, I know what this looks like.)

You can frost your sweets immediately with the resulting deliciousness, or refrigerate until you need it. Just remember that because it contains butter, it’ll harden up on you when it gets cold, so you’ll have to bring it to room temperature before using. On to the cupcakes.

Wedding Cupcakes

Recipe from Deep Dark Chocolate by Sara Perry
Makes 12

1/3 cup premium unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon premium unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (optional)
1/2 cup very hot coffee
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange twelve 3 1/4 ounce, 2-inch paper party cups on a large, heavy-duty baking sheet, or add liners to a standard 12-cup muffin tin. In a small bowl, combine the unsweetened cocoa, the Dutch-process cocoa (if desired) and the coffee. Stir until well blended and let rest for 5 minutes. In another small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt until well blended. Set aside.

In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer set on low speed, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the whole egg and egg yolk, one at a time, until fully blended, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla until blended. Stir the coffee-cocoa mixture again and beat it into the butter mixture in increments, alternating with the dry ingredients, until just blended and smooth. Scrape down the bowl again.

Divide the batter equally between the cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until a tester inserted in the middle comes out just clean, 20 to 24 minutes. Do not overbake (oops–g-ma). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

After cooling and frosting, try a cupcake, and then send love notes to my Grammy!


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Almost-Flourless Chocolate Cake

Almost-Flourless Chocolate Cake

I recently discovered Orangette‘s fabulous food blog, and her recipe for an almost-flourless chocolate cake just sucked me in and wouldn’t let go. All it’s made of is chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs and a touch of flour. Seriously. How could it be bad? It seemed like it would be rustic and rich, like something you would order from a tiny, homey café while on a trip to Paris. You’d drink your steaming café au lait and swirl forkfuls of the chocolaty goodness in freshly whipped cream, thinking about how this cake would be the first thing you’d mention when describing the trip to your friends. Yeah, this is what food does to me. And it really was that good. My photo, unfortunately, is not that good. I didn’t care about the picture. I just wanted to eat cake.

Recipe from Orangette, adapted from Je veux du chocolat! by Trish Deseine

7 ounces best-quality dark chocolate
7 ounces unsalted European-style butter (the high-butterfat kind), cut into ½-inch cubes
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 Tbs unbleached all-purpose flour

“Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and butter an 8-inch round cake pan. Line the base of the pan with parchment, and butter the parchment too.

Finely chop the chocolate (a serrated bread knife does an outstanding job of this) and melt it gently with the butter in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring regularly to combine. Add the sugar to the chocolate-butter mixture, stirring well, and set aside to cool for a few moments. Then add the eggs one by one, stirring well after each addition, and then add the flour. The batter should be smooth, dark, and utterly gorgeous.

Pour batter into the buttered cake pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until the center of the cake looks set and the top is shiny and a bit crackly-looking. (I usually set the timer for 20 minutes initially, and then I check the cake every two minutes thereafter until it’s done. At 20 minutes, it’s usually quite jiggly in the center. You’ll know it’s done when it jiggles only slightly, if at all.) Let the cake cool in its pan on a rack for 10 minutes; then carefully turn the cake out of the pan and revert it, so that the crackly side is facing upward. Allow to cool completely. The cake will deflate slightly as it cools.

Serve in wedges at room temperature with a loose dollop of ever-so-slightly sweetened whipped cream.”

g-ma’s note: If you’re lazy like me, skip the whole turning-it-upside-down part and just serve it out of the dish. I used a porcelain 9-inch pie dish and it worked out just dandy. Even though I left it on a cooling rack, keeping it in the plate continued the cooking process after taking it out of the oven, but I liked the kinda-chewy edges that this process created. Enjoy!

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