It seems rather critical that every baker have a great vanilla and chocolate cupcake in his or her recipe lineup. After baking a number of chocolate cupcake recipes that seemed promising but did not deliver I came across a recipe in a cookbook that had all the makings of what I was looking for. After a serious recipe makeover, I had a chocolate cupcake that would satisfy both the young palate and the decadent chocolate lover.
This recipe was inspired by the Devil’s Food Cupcakes from Tom Douglas’ The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook (yes, I am smitten with this book and I am having a hard time returning it to the library despite the fact that it is well overdue!)
The only problem is that I have a seriously hard time leaving well enough alone. I almost never make a recipe as written and therefore hardly ever know how the actual recipe is supposed to turn out. I can’t decide if this is because I feel like I know what the ingredient proportions should look like, because I like getting creative, or because I am lazy. Probably some combination of the three.
Anyway, this is what my thought process looked like as I analyzed this recipe:
- “Whipped egg whites! There is no way I am whipping egg whites for a cupcake recipe. That’s ridiculous!”
- “I think this needs a little more moisture so I am going to double the sour cream.”
- “I don’t want to go across the kitchen to get kosher salt. I will just reduce it and use regular salt.”
- “Cake flour seems wrong for a chocolate cupcake. I’m going to use all-purpose flour instead.”
- “Two teaspoons is a lot of baking powder. I think I will quarter it.”
- “There is very little sugar in this so I think I will jack it up a bit.”
- “I really do not like chopping chocolate so I will just grate it with my rotary grater instead and I don’t feel like grating that much.”
- “Vanilla is delicious and a little extra never hurt!”
Whatever the motivation was for these cupcakes, they are moist and light and full of chocolaty goodness. The original recipe had a peaked volcanic looking top while these have a nicely shaped dome and beautiful interior. Sometime I get to revel in serendipity!
The cupcakes are topped off with a rich Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Don’t be fooled by the soft color of the icing. The peanut butter flavor is full and pervasive and the light texture of this buttercream pairs wonderfully with the moist, smooth crumb of these mini cakes. Enjoy these tasty little beauties.
- 1 ¾ ounces (50 grams) good quality cocoa powder, I used Pernigotti Dutch processed cocoa
- ¾ cup (180 milliliters) very hot water
- 4 ounces (113 grams) sour cream- ½ cup
- 2 large eggs
- 4 ounces (113 grams) brown sugar- ½ cup
- 3 ½ ounces (99 grams) granulated sugar- ½ cup
- ¾ cup (180 milliliters) canola or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) vanilla extract
- 6 ½ ounces (184 grams) all-purpose/plain flour- 1 1/3 cups
- ½ teaspoon (3 milliliters) salt
- ½ teaspoon (3 milliliters) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (3 milliliters) baking soda
- 2 ounces (57 grams) finely grated chocolate, semisweet or bittersweet (about 70% cacao)
- 8 ounces (227 grams) egg whites from whole eggs or a carton
- 16 ounces (454 grams) granulated sugar
- 16 ounces (454 grams) unsalted butter softened but not warm
- 4 ounces (113 grams) creamy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 F (177 C) and line cupcake pans with 12 paper liners.
- In a large bowl whisk together cocoa powder and hot water. Whisk in sour cream followed by sugars and vanilla. Whisk in eggs one at a time. Gradually whisk in oil in a steady stream.
- Sprinkle in flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and whisk until well combined. Gently stir in the grated chocolate.
- Divide batter between the liners using a ¼ cup ice cream scoop filling 2/3 full and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then move to a cooling rack. Cool completely before icing or store in an airtight container. The cupcakes can be frozen unfrosted. Makes about 12 cupcakes
- Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler and set over simmering water, stirring periodically, until the sugar is dissolved and the temperature reaches 160 F (71 C) if using cracked eggs. Alternatively the sugar syrup can be made in the microwave. In a microwave safe bowl heat the egg whites and sugar for 2-3 minutes on high stirring every 30 seconds until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches 160 F (71 C).
- Remove from heat and cool until very cool to the touch. This can be done rapidly in the freezer in a cake pan.
- Meanwhile, beat the butter in a mixer bowl with the flat paddle attachment on high for 2 minutes until fluffy and lightened.
- Reduce speed to medium-low and gradually add half the cooled sugar syrup to the butter; beat 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl, add the second half of egg syrup and beat on medium-high for 2 minutes.
- Reduce speed to low and add the peanut butter followed by the vanilla extract. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute until light and creamy.