After a few weeks of break, I’m refreshed and ready for school to start back again tomorrow. I just wasn’t feeling working on the blog over the break, hence the absence of posts. However, I did spend a lot of time baking, walking Stella around parks, working on some sewing projects, catching up with friends and family, and reading novels. I’ve had a lovely time, but I’m ready to get back to a schedule.
I made these cupcakes a few days into my break. Even though I’m not much of a cupcake fan, they were quite good. I had never made chocolate cupcakes from scratch before, so I turned to my trusty Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book, and it came through as usual. The cupcakes had a nice, light texture and a chocolate flavor that was rich without being too sweet. I love the method for melting the chocolate with hot coffee rather than using a double boiler or microwave intervals. It worked like a charm, and the hot coffee really brought out the chocolate flavor in the cupcakes. I felt that the amount of peppermint in the frosting was sufficient, but the vanilla extract in the cupcakes could be subbed for peppermint extract if a stronger flavor is desired. This is now my go-to recipe for chocolate cupcakes!
For the Cupcakes:
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
⅓ cup (1 oz.) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¾ cup hot coffee
¾ cup bread flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the Buttercream:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
¾ tsp. peppermint extract
½ to 1 Tbsp. milk
3 candy canes, crushed
1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners.
2. Place the chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour hot coffee over the mixture and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Whisk mixture until smooth, then transfer to refrigerator for 20 minutes.
3. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.
4. Whisk the oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
5. Divide batter evenly between the muffin cups. Bake until the cupcakes are set and just firm to the touch, 17 to 19 minutes. Let cupcakes cool in muffin tin until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from the tin and place on the wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
6. To make the frosting, cream butter in a medium bowl until fluffy. Gradually add in powdered sugar, continuing to beat on medium speed. Beat in salt, peppermint extract, and just enough milk to produce frosting that is a pip-able consistency. Frost cupcakes as desired and garnish with crushed candy canes.
Yield: 12 cupcakes
(Cupcake recipe from Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book)