Classic Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting
I recently had several occasions that called for celebratory cupcakes. This is one classic dessert that the Freds have yet to find a gold standard recipe for. So I consulted the vast expanse of the internet, where surely someone would have the answer. This was a mistake. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number and variety of recipes. Stuffed cupcakes, savory cupcakes, fruit cupcakes, cupcakes shaped and frosted to look like stuffed bears – it was insane. All I wanted was a nice simple cupcake recipe – you know, the kind you can bring home to your parents without an explanation before they meet. This is actually not a euphemism, one of the occasions that called for cupcakes was the visit of Fred’s family, which was a momentous occasion since they’ve never come to Boston to see us. So I wanted to make cupcakes that would make them want to brave the traffic and the city again. And while Fred’s family is wonderful, they are not the kind of folks who would delight in a basil cream filled cupcake with lemongrass mint frosting.
Ultimately, I found a recipe that seemed simple enough and indeed it did produce a simple, fluffy, not too sweet or rich chocolate cupcake. In fact, I think I would have appreciated a slightly richer cupcake myself, so perhaps I will add more chocolate next time. But I like my desserts particularly sinful. The frosting that accompanies them is also a basic, classic recipe that could easily be embellished if one desired a more ‘gourmet’ treat. But I like my vanilla frosting to be just that – vanilla frosting. And in case you were dying of suspense, the family loved them!
Classic Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 12 full sized cupcakes
3.5 ounces (100 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped – this is one bar of ghiradelli baking bittersweet chocolate, minus a small piece to satiate your cravings
1.5 sticks butter
1 cup + 2 tbs sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tbs flour
2 tbs cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Put your butter and chopped chocolate into a medium bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Stir frequently until the chocolate and butter have melted and combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, then allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine your flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
Beat your chocolate/sugar mixture with an electric/stand mixer on medium for 3 minutes. Add one egg at a time, mixing for 15 seconds between each. Next, add your dry ingredients and mix on a low speed until blended.
Fill cupcake cups (using either a greased pan or cupcake liners) 2/3rds full and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Frost when cooled completely.
Classic Vanilla Frosting
(makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes generously – as pictured here – or 24 cupcakes if you spread a thiner layer)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 tsp vanilla extract
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Add 4 cups of the sugar, the milk and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. It may look lumpy at first, but give it time, it will smooth out nicely, I promise. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating for two minutes after each addition, until the frosting is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar.
Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days, but should be kept at room temperature.