So I just sulked about it for months...watching everyone else blog about Martha cupcake goodness...yes I had cupcake envy! Then one day I came home from work to find that the hubs had a surprise on the table waiting for me! It was indeed Martha's cupcake book, and actually sitting right next to it was Hello Cupcake! (yet another book I was wanting)!! What a great guy he is!
But back to these wonderful cupcakes...
So a co-worker had a "special" birthday coming up. The big "4"-"0"! I knew I wanted to make him something special, I just wasn't sure what to do. I kept going back and forth, cake - cupcake - cake - cupcake, I finally decided I wanted to do cupcakes so I could try out another Martha recipe.
I emailed my co-worker's girlfriend to find out his flavor of choice. Turns out it was chocolate! I am actually not a huge fan of chocolate, nor am I really supposed to eat much of it, but I flipped through the book anyways and came across a chocolate cupcake recipe that looked pretty tasty. It was topped with a Swiss Meringue Buttercream, which I thought would be a great combination.
Sure enough it was a FABULOUS combination and I am so glad I made them. The cupcakes were so incredibly moist and flavorful. I actually think this recipe would make a great cake. The buttercream was so smooth and creamy; it went perfectly atop the chocolate.
(from Martha Stewart Cupcakes, cupcakes - page 152 / buttercream - page 304)
For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk (see my tip for homemade buttermilk here)
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm water
For the buttercream:
5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into Tablespoons, brought to room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Reduce speed to low. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract and the warm water. Beat until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. (Batter will be thin.)
Divide batter evenly among the lined cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 10 minutes. Turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.
Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months in an air tight container.
For the buttercream:
Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.
NOTE: Don't worry if the mixture appears to separate or "curdle" after you've added the butter. Simply continue beating it on medium-high speed, and it will become smooth again...PROMISE!!!
(Optional) To tint buttercream (or royal icing), reserve some for toning down the color, if necessary. Add gel-paste food color, a drop at a time (or use the toothpick or skewer to add food color a dab at a time) to the remaining buttercream. You can use a single shade of food color or experiment by mixing two or more. Blend after each addition with the mixer (use a paddle attachment) or a flexible spatula, until desired shade is achieved. Avoid adding too much food color too soon, as the hue will intensify with continued stirring; if necessary, you can tone down the shade by mixing in some reserved untinted buttercream.
To finish cupcakes:
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium french star tip (Ateco #863 or Wilton #363) with buttercream. (I used my Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator) Pipe buttercream on cupcake as desired. Cupcakes can then be stored up to 1 day at room temperature, or refrigerated up to 3 days in air tight containers. Bring to room temperature to serve.
Happy Birthday ya "OLD FART" :o)
~Photography by Kristen Wiltse Photography