Monday, October 27, 2008
Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream
Growing up in Paris, I have fond memories of macarons, croissants and fresh baguettes as regular morning treats. Paris is filled with bakeries, or 'boulangeries' where bread is freshly made and can often be bought still warm from the oven. Certain things, however haven't yet made it to our tables...and cupcakes are of those things. Sure, France has some of the most elaborate pastries around, but no authentic cupcakes to be found. There's just something about a moist cakey cupcake with luscious sweet icing. It's surely hard to beat. While I was living in New York last year, my near-obsession with cupcakes compelled me to wander into any cupcake store I could find. I always felt the slight irony of me wanting a simple heart-warming cupcake when I had spent the day making intricate meat dishes, homemade pasta or puff pastry from scratch at school.
All to say that posting a cupcake recipe was long overdue! I made a simple chocolate buttercream with a cocoa base this weekend and it turned out well. Next on my list is making orange-flavored buttercream. Mistake to be avoided would be: adding orange juice to buttercream as the acidity in the orange makes the icing curdle (I speak from experience here!).. so I will be making it with Grand Marnier and orange zest only. For now though, these all-chocolate cupcakes did the trick.
Recipe (batter adapted from the Barefoot Contessa)
Makes about 15 cupcakes
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup of buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup good cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick of butter
1 3/4 cups of confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 tablespoons of bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and sour cream. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it's completely blended.
Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (1 rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount). Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.
Cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add the confectioners' sugar little by little. Mix for about 3-4 minutes until the mixture is smooth. Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla extract and mix well until the chocolate is entirely incorporated. Ice the cupcakes as you please. Enjoy!
Once you have iced the cupcakes, it is best not to store them in the fridge to maintain the icing's texture.