Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chocolate Love Cupcakes

As promised, I now present the chocolate love cupcakes!
What started as an accompaniment to the Anniversary Rose Cake ended up being a bit of a show-stealer.

When I was planning for my parents' anniversary party I started to think that a single-tiered cake may not be enough servings for the anticipated number of cake-eaters. Rather than make a two or three tiered cake (too wedding-y) I decided to tackle another project instead. I already knew exactly what I wanted to do, based on an idea I had seen on cooking shows and (where else) Pinterest, and had always wanted to try. I wanted to top some cupcakes with words and pictures that were piped in chocolate (kind of like this).

Decision number one: cupcake flavor? Chocolate. Duh.
Decision number two: frosting flavor? Chocolate. Duh.
(OK, I'm not some kind of cake flavor snob, I just thought the chocolate cupcakes would look nice in contrast with the white cake and not get ignored, poor little things).

So here we go. I baked up a bunch of chocolate cupcakes (as it turns out, way too many, but it wasn't hard to convince people to take some home) and frosted them with a delicious double chocolate cream cheese sour cream frosting (triple threat people! Sweet, rich, creamy, and tangy). Instead of doing a typical cupcake swirl with that pointy little top, I mimicked the rose cake and did each cupcake with a single chocolate frosting rose. They turned out pretty...well, pretty.
A note about this frosting: It was pretty stiff at first, but rather than thin it out with cream, I just jumped right into piping the roses. It turns out this was the right choice, as after the first couple cupcakes, the frosting softens a lot from the warmth in your hands. The first few attempts left a lot to be desired, but once it softened it was a dream to pipe with. Very smooth.

But, back to the inspiration for the project in the first place: the piped chocolate decorations.
While the cupcakes were cooling (those that my Gram didn't eat straight off the cooling racks, frostingless and all), I melted down some semisweet chocolate. I poured this into a piping bag with a teeny tiny round piping/decorating tip (you can use Wilton's #1 or #2 round, depending on the thickness you want). You could also just snip the tip off a parchment decorating cone. Yep it's that easy. Chocolate, piping bag, steady hand, and you can write whatever you want (insert mischievous laugh here).
Some people trace the design onto parchment paper first, I just kind of went for it straight onto the parchment paper. The lesson here? You will get to snack on all kinds of "ruined" designs that turned out very un-pretty.
So anyway, I just kind of tried a whole bunch of different things, and I ended up loving the little scripted "love" toppers, the little hearts, and a couple of "30"s that turned out OK. I left these to cool and harden, crossing my fingers that they would peel off the parchment as promised, and went to ice the cupcakes.
I won't leave you in suspense. They peeled off with no issues at all (save the ones that I had piped too thin). It's a simple as peel gently and place onto the frosting. Voila.

In very uncharacteristic form, I found myself putting the lovely little chocolate toppers onto the cupcakes with plenty of time left to shower and get ready for the party. Before leaving the room, I separated the "not party display material" cupcakes from the ones that made the cut, told the hovering cupcake 'testers' (my visiting Grandparents) that they were free to gorge themselves on the less attractive cakes, and threatened all within hearing range with a painful death if they touched the other ones before the party.

They were a hit. I think for some of the party-goers, even more so than the rose cake. Oops. The understudy is sneaking up on the headliner. Oh well, they are, like, 17 kinds of chocolate. Who doesn't love that?


Ina's Chocolate Cupcakes.
I found this here, but used a different frosting (recipe to follow).
And yes, you will notice that there is almost as much cocoa powder as flour in this recipe. That may or may not have been one of the deciding factors to try this recipe...I am also a believer in using coffee in chocolate cake.

12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp.
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 extra-large eggs, at room temp.
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temp.
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temp.
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup good quality cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F
Line cupcake pans with paper liners (I used pretty gold and silver metallic ones. The less sturdy regular paper ones didn't hold up as well).
In the bowl of your mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) cream the butter and the sugars on high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (don't skimp on this! 1 minute is not enough. 2 minutes is not enough).
Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs one at a time, then add vanilla and mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
In the mixer, on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk and ending with the flour.
Don't overmix here! Mix until blended, finishing up by gently folding with a spatula if need be.

Scoop batter into pans. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes in pans on racks, then turn out onto racks to completely cool before frosting.

Annie's Eats' Triple Chocolate Cupcake Frosting
I found this here.

14 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
9 oz. cream cheese, at room temp.
9 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp.
3 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
6 Tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sour cream

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or (carefully) in the microwave. Set aside to cool until barely warm.
In the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on med-high until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
Gradually mix in the confectioner's sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.
Beat in the chocolate and then the sour cream.
Continue beating until smooth and well-blended.
Try not to eat it all before you frost the cupcakes.

Enjoy the chocolate and feel the love!

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