Yes. These sweet little cupcakes look like my Blackout Chocolate Cake and Buttercream… They are like doppelgängers, but good, not evil. Ok, maybe they are evil in what they could do to the waistline if you eat too many which is completely a concern with how rich, tender, sweet and amazing these black chocolate cuppies are. So I take it all back. They ARE doppelgängers.
I digress. I have a confession about me and cupcakes. We hate each other (until recently) and we typically don’t get along once the oven gets involved. My batters are always delicious and looking as a batter should. I know my methods and techniques and formulations. But I have rarely found a recipe that I like after it comes out of the oven. Too dry. Too dense. Too flavorless. Too crumbly. Too spongy.
I’m picky. I look for perfection in all things cake and it’s hard to satisfy me. But it always ends in great recipes, so I take the struggle and frustration with my cupcake recipes in stride. Something wonderful will come from it all.
I’ve tried my Blackout Chocolate Cake recipe as cupcakes and just like my Perfect Vanilla Cake it just isn’t meant for small cupcakes. And that’s totally cool with me. I don’t believe in one size fits all because no matter what, you end up compromising somewhere. And because I’m a curvy gal who knows first hand that “One Size Fits NOT ME”. *sigh*
Nothing is truly perfect all around for everything you need – and different recipes for different needs is the best way to go so you always end up with exactly what you want and need for your cake project. A cupcake consistency should not be what you’re carving for a gravity defying cake. Likewise, a dense pound-cake style layer cake should not be a cupcake (unless it’s a wedding cuppie meant to go with a wedding cake… Then I’m good with a denser cuppie.)
So let’s talk about these deep, dark, sultry, sexy cupcakes and frosting. First, let me say that this is a frosting, not a buttercream. What is the difference? Well, it depends on who you ask. And since you’re here, I will make the bold assumption that it’s my opinion that you may be looking for 😉
In Kara’s cake world:
- Buttercream: usually a a fussier coating for a cake featuring meringue (made with egg whites and granulated sugar), or foamed egg whites. Very stable at room temperature, soft and silky, and loaded with butter. Perfect for wedding cakes.
- Frosting: made typically of a fat (butter or shortening, possibly vegetable oil) and mixed with confectioner’s sugar, then thinned to piping or spreading consistency with milk or cream. Often crusts over, but is much stiffer generally, but not as stable or as good for layered cakes. Perfect for cupcakes, though, and home-style cakes.
- Icing (because it’s another tossed around term in this realm): confectioner’s sugar and a liquid of some sort with a flavoring agent. Interchangeable as a glaze, though typically a bit thicker. Think cinnamon buns and bundt cakes.
Ok. Now that THAT’S out of the way….
This one is frosting, not buttercream. I don’t like buttercream on cupcakes, I want something thicker and richer and more sinful since the cupcake is such a small and controlled portion. 😀
This one is based on Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa recipes (cupcakes, too) but I handle to recipes slightly differently and I alter the ingredients a bit. It does change the outcome and as much as I like the standard recipes, this makes them that much more awesome!
Can we take a second to admire those awesome liners and that GLORIOUS round dome on these cuppies? Come on. That’s sexy right there!
Sorry. I couldn’t resist sharing those pics! I took way too many, so much so that I nearly forgot to tell you how I altered these recipes! (focus, Kara, focus!)
For the Blackout Cake, I wanted a slightly denser cake. Not much. But just a bit. And I wanted an even deeper flavor. So rather than just the milk in the recipe, I used homemade, full fat buttermilk. It’s simple – just squeeze half of a lime (or lemon or white vinegar) into a one cup measure and then fill the rest of the one cup with whole milk (4% milkfat). Give it a quick whisk and let it set for 5 minutes.
Because I know it will be asked, the answer is “Yes.” You could use fat free, store-bought buttermilk but this recipe wouldn’t turn out the same. The fat content from the milk is important to the formula, but the acid action that comes from buttermilk (or in this case the lime juice) helps to create a denser cake structure.
For a deeper and more complex flavor (yeah, I’m gettin’ all kinds of foodie up in here!) instead of just hot water added at the end, I brewed a nice dark French Roast coffee and used a cup of that just off the hot plate. It’s gotta be hot. Like boiling hot. That’s why the recipe calls for boiling water. So – hot coffee. If you’re a Keurig user instead of a “I drink coffee by the gallon each morning” kind of fiend like me, you can get instant espresso powder and dissolve that into the 8 ounces of boiling water. No need to run out and buy a coffee brewer.
And lastly, just to be sure this cuppie is as black as I could get it, I added my new FAVORITE black food color (that is totally tasteless, by the way, and that is strong enough you don’t need to use tons of it…) from Amoretti. I’ve used and loved Amoretti products since pastry school and their quality is top of the line. There is nothing they make that I haven’t loved and I was THRILLED to get connected with them to work with some of their products! The full line of their products is scheduled to be available on Amazon later this year! Watch my blog and I’ll keep you posted 😉
*I didn’t even make it through writing this blog post before eating one… Ok. I didn’t make it through the photos BEFORE writing the blog post… OKAY! FINE! Maybe I ate two.*
Also, even though I DO love the original Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa, I would suggest getting your hands on some cocoa noir – black cocoa. It’s even darker and richer than Hershey’s and it will give you and even darker black chocolate cake. Another question to be answered before it’s asked: “No.” Natural, unsweetened cocoa will not work in this recipe. You’ll be utterly disappointed and I will get to wag my finger saying “I told you so!” And I actually do not like doing that. So just trust me. Dark, dutched black cocoa noir.
Now, for my mild, though very necessary, alteration to the frosting… Are you ready? CREAM!!! Do not use milk. In comparison to cream, milk is kinda like water. Should we thin our frosting with water? Or with thick, rich, glorious cream?
Cream. And I use a bit more than what is called for in the original recipe. So I’ve changed it below so you can just click print and go 🙂