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.
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.
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
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa and coffee until combined and smooth. Set aside until the mixture comes to room temperature.
2. Meanwhile, in a separate medium bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugars, making sure there are no lumps.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until the mixture is light and airy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the sides as needed for even mixing.
4. With the mixer running, mix in the whole eggs, then the yolks, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Mix in the vanilla until just combined.
5. Mix in the combined dry ingredients and cocoa mixture, alternating between the two (one-third of the dry, then half of the cocoa, in stages) until both are thoroughly combined, being careful not to over-beat.
6. Evenly spoon the batter into 20 lined cupcake pans; the batter should fill each liner two-thirds to three-fourths full. Bake the cupcakes, one pan at a time and in the center of the oven, until the cupcakes have risen and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through for even baking.
7. Remove the pan to a rack to cool before frosting the cupcakes. The cupcakes are best eaten the same day they are made.
Each cupcake: 226 calories; 3 grams protein; 30 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 11 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 68 mg. cholesterol; 143 mg. sodium.
Cream cheese frosting
Total time: 15 minutes
Servings: Makes about 6 cups, enough for 2 to 4 dozen cupcakes
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 cups sifted powdered sugar
In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, whip together the cream cheese, butter, salt and vanilla until light and airy. Whip in the powdered sugar, one-third at a time, until thoroughly incorporated. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate until needed.