The fluffiest of fluffy cupcakes.
Aren't they so festive? Which is totally what I was going for. Why? Because I made these cupcakes for a very special lady who is turning 19 this year - my youngest sister, Candice.
And there's no better way to celebrate than with some soft dark chocolate cupcakes topped with the richest dark chocolate buttercream frosting, along with a fun assortment of sprinkles.
Even when Candice was a teeny child, she had a love for chocolate. Now that she's older she's probably moved on to more complex flavors (like coffee, which I totally approve), but I'll never stop associating chocolate with her. It brings me back to how we used to tease her that her butt would turn black if she kept eating any more chocolate chips, and how she would always get the super crazy chocolate signature creation at Coldstone Creamery. She was the chocolate queen in the household, and we all knew it.
So naturally when I decided to make a recipe for her birthday, I immediately picked some simple but beautiful chocolate cupcakes.
These dark chocolate cupcakes were incredible because they were so light and moist, not dense like many homemade cupcake recipes can turn out. I used a different recipe before trying out this one, and it was quite a disaster. Runny batter, sunken in tops, and a funky flavor that just did not do it for me. I knew that if I was going to make birthday cupcakes, I would have to start over. After all, it's for my sister, and she deserves only the best.
So I washed all the dishes again, and started over with a second recipe that I had been eyeing. The result? Sweet, chocolaty perfection.
The chocolate buttercream was another hit. It had a great chocolate flavor and a wonderful consistency - not too thick and not too runny. Juuuust right. The Goldilocks of frostings, if you will.
I will admit though, through this process of cupcake baking I learned one very important thing about myself: cocoa powder drives me insane. It's so hard to prevent the little dusty particles of cocoa from flying out of your bowl when you're mixing, and it just goes everywhere. Trust me, you can check out my t-shirt for proof. Little chocolate streaks everywhere. Not mad though! I'll sacrifice a t-shirt for perfect birthday cupcakes any day.
These are now my go-to recipes for chocolate cupcakes and frosting. Go make them yours too!
Chocolate birthday cupcakes
For the cupcakes
1 1/3 cups (185 g/6.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (50 g/1.7 oz) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick/113 g) butter, softened
1 cup (200 g/7 oz) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk
1/2 cup (120 ml) hot water
1 batch frosting, see below
For the frosting
1/2 cup softened butter
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk
For the cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. On medium speed, beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla extract and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry ingredients and beat just until combined. Beat in the milk until combined. Add the other half of the dry ingredients and beat slowly until combined. Add hot water and beat just until combined. Do not over mix – the less you mix, the lighter the cake will be. The batter should be liquid-y.
Divide batter evenly between cups, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Make up the frosting (recipe below). To frost and decorate, frost one cupcake and then immediately put the sprinkles on top. Do this for each cupcake - it takes time but the sprinkles will stick better to the frosting right after you frost! Enjoy with a nice glass of milk and celebrate!
For the frosting
Whip butter and cocoa together until smooth in large bowl.
Stir in vanilla and powdered sugar.
Slowly stream in milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Scrape sides and whip again until light, fluffy and smooth, 1-2 minutes.
Happy 19th birthday Candice, a few days early! Make this year the best one yet. Love love love!