Cupcakes

This is no flash in the pan -- these pint-size treats are a sweet fad that won't go away. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

Let's face it, cupcakes are fun. Familiar, colorful and oh-so-cute, these whimsical little cakes are famous for great flavor and mile-high frosting. Best of all? They're small enough that you don't have to share.

And while you can pick up the latest fancy creations at your favorite shop or bakery, the prices for these designer cakes are more likely to leave you with a bad case of sugar shock than with a good sugar high.

But beneath all their sparkle, cupcakes are really simple creations.

Chocolate cupcakes

Total time: 50 minutes
Servings: 20 standard cupcakes

Note: Dutch process cocoa refers to a treatment whereby the cocoa is treated with alkali (alkali neutralizes cocoa's natural acidity); this cocoa can be found at cooking and baking stores as well as at many well-stocked markets.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
3/4 cup hot strong brewed coffee
1 1/2 cups (6.4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) plus 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 egg yolks, at room temperature