Tuesday, 28 July 2009

THE BEST CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES EVER: CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH VANILLA SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

DSC_3559

I know it doesn’t look like I’ve been searching for the best darned chocolate cupcake recipe, but I have. I have tested Corriher’s Deep Dark Chocolate Cake recipe and the Cooks Illustrated Dark Chocolate Cupcake recipe against my favourite go-to recipe by the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten.

When I tested the Corriher recipe, I found the flavour okay but it certainly didn’t beat out Garten’s recipe. I found the Garten recipe superior in ease of technique and less fussy as you didn’t have to use as many eggs (nor did you have to separate and save 4 whites from the extra yolks you needed). For the extra richness the yolks added to the Corriher recipe, I didn’t find the cupcake any more flavourful. For some strange reason, I also found little pockets of unmixed flour in the baked cupcakes, which is my ultimate pet peeve. I had sifted the dry ingredients so that shouldn’t have happened. I had followed the directions carefully, so I wasn’t happy. Initially, I thought that the technique of adding the flour into the warm hot cocoa mixture was the problem, but I’m not too sure. In any case, it wasn’t a foolproof recipe and it didn’t work out for me.
DSC_3536 - Copy

DSC_3548

So, it was with apprehension and a bit of excitement that I picked up a copy of Cooks Illustrated from the newstand and noticed they had a recipe for a Dark Chocolate Cupcake. I chose to make it for Bebe’s birthday. Yes, I know I made her chocolate butterfly cupcakes already for her birthday party, but that was her “warm-up birthday party” for her friends. I had used Corriher’s Deep Dark Chocolate recipe for those cupcakes but didn’t bother to post the recipe because I generally don’t post recipes that don’t pass muster in my kitchen. I have made Corriher’s Whipped Cream pound cake many times however, and that is my go-to recipe for pound cake.
DSC_3539

I made these particular cupcakes for Bebe’s actual “real” birthday, July 27. Yes, she’s a big girl now…all of 6 years old. I also liked that the CI recipe only made 12 cupcakes. I really didn’t have any need for the usual batch of 24 cupcakes that a recipe yields. To make a perfect birthday weekend, we like to spend the real birthday together as a family. Bebe specifically requested chocolate cupcakes and with her permission, I was able to forgo the usual pink colour in the buttercream.
DSC_3549


So, we went on a Stanley Park train ride in the morning, went to Maplewood Farms in North Vancouver and visited the Lynn Canyon all in one weekend for her birthday. Bebe’s favourite activity, I think, was having a picnic on the rocks along the rushing shallow water of the creek.

DSC00005

As you can see, people like to stack rocks and make inukshuks along the water in Lynn Creek. The icy mountain water is so refreshing in this heat wave and the shallow pools of water are perfect repositories for your feet as you sit on a rock munching on a submarine sandwich and fresh fruit. Ahhh!
DSC_3553

This Dark Chocolate Cupcake yields a perfect top for decorating as it doesn’t have pointy domes. The cake’s crumb is strong enough not to crumble so you can inject some fillings inside for a surprise, and most importantly, it tastes really chocolatey! I think it beats out all of the recipes I’ve tried so far (and I’ve tried many) in terms of flavour. It incorporates Dutched cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate which you melt with the butter. I appreciate that I didn’t have to cream room temperature butter because sometimes it’s a pain to remember to bring it out of the refrigerator and if I leave it out too long, the butter can get too soft. So, for my future chocolate cupcakes, this will be my favourite recipe.

DSC_3558

I like to decorate my cupcakes with fresh organic flowers from my garden. These are Johnny Jump-Ups. They look quite similar to the sugar violets I used to decorate. I have a variegated variety that is violet, yellow, orange and various permutations thereof. It’s gorgeous!
DSC_3555

So, here’s my take on the perfect cupcake. It’s a combination of vanilla buttercream and chocolate cupcake. I like vanilla swiss meringue buttercream swirled atop the CI Dark Chocolate Cupcake. I don’t like sprinkles, but hey, if you have kids you have to put them there, don’t you? I went halvsies with the girls and left mine sprinkle-less because I don’t like the crunch of the sprinkles distracting me from enjoying the silky smooth buttercream.
****update:  check out a Caramel version of the Buttercream here.

***P.S.  I have been receiving a few comments from people who do not think the crumb is moist enough.   I never said the crumb would be super-moist, but it is superior to every other cupcake for CHOCOLATE FLAVOUR.   For this particular application: a chocolate cupcake with a huge buttercream swirl, this crumb is strong enough to create structure that won't buckle under a heavy buttercream swirl.  This cupcake is superior for FLAVOUR AND CAKE DECORATING PURPOSES WITH BUTTERCREAM.  Not for eating frostingless. Anything with a moist cupcake crumb would not hold up to the rigors of cake decorating...the huge swirl of buttercream frosting that I tend to employ.  If you want a moister crumb, try the Garten recipe  I mentioned before near the beginning of my post.  It uses just cocoa powder, coffee and buttermilk and no real melted chocolate is used.  That being said, this recipe isn't dry either.   Everyone's expectations for a perfect cupcake is different.  This one rocks for flavour and beauty.  It is perfect for bringing to parties.  Veggie oil based batters will always give you a moister crumb, so look for recipes incorporating oil if you like a moist cupcake.

DSC_3560

DARK CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
(from Cooks Illustrated, “American Classics 2009”)
(makes 12 cupcakes; do not double recipe…make two separate batches if you need more)
**Cakebrain's note:  IF YOU LIKE REALLY MOIST/WET CUPCAKES, THESE ARE NOT FOR YOU.  MOVE ALONG TO THE QUINOA CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE RECIPE.  These cupcakes are perfect for cake decorating purposes, which requires a crumb with structural integrity and that will hold up to buttercream and other decorations.   To ensure a moister cupcake with this recipe, ensure you WEIGH YOUR INGREDIENTS CAREFULLY.  Do not dip and scoop/pack your dry ingredients.
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 3/4 cup (3 3/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) sour cream
  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-sized muffin pan (1/2 cup capacity) with baking-cup liners.
  2. Combine butter, chocolate and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and fully combined. Set aside to cool until just warm to touch.
  3. Whisk flour, baking soda and baking powder in small bowl to combine
  4. Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift about one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined; then sift in remaining flour mixture and whisk batter until it is homogenous and thick.
  5. Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.
  6. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes.
I highly recommend that instead of the suggested Easy Vanilla Buttercream that incorporates butter and confectioners’ sugar, that you frost the chocolate cupcakes with a Swiss Meringue Buttercream. The Swiss Meringue Buttercream is smooth, silky and not overly sweet. It pairs beautifully with the dark chocolate. The best part of this particular buttercream is that it isn’t grainy, pipes beautifully, and holds up well even in warm weather.
SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
(from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes; makes about 5 cups)
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup plus 2 T sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. (optional) To tint buttercream, 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 the paddle attachment) or a flexible spatula, until desired shade is achieved. Avoid adding too much food color too son, as the hue with intensify with continued stirring; if necessary, you can tone down the shade by mixing in some reserved untinted buttercream.

123 comments:

Clumbsy Cookie said...

They're very pretty! And if they're THE BEST, I have nothing else to say, lol!

Palidor said...

The best you say? Well, they certainly look incredibly tasty. I may have to try these!

Great blog you have here. The pictures make me so hungry. ;-)

Manggy said...

Well, how can I argue with that, huh? I'm glad it worked out! I can't quite figure out why the recipe doesn't like doubling, though, ha ha ha!

Mélanie said...

I like the decoration with real flowers very much. It's simple and so elegant. Your daughter must have had a great birthday!

Chef Fresco said...

Those do look like the best chocolate cupcakes! And the flowers are so pretty!

Juliana said...

Oh! These cupcakes are so cute...love the frosting on it! Great pictures!

♥Deeba @Passionate About Baking♥ said...

Just gorgeous...your pictures & the cupcakes. They do look the BEST!! The topping is gorgeous too, organic flowers & all. Your blog is beautiful!

Jackie at PhamFatale.com said...

I love the way you piped the buttercream. It looks so beautiful, like straight out from a cooking magazine cover

Y said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing! I'll have to try these out some time. They look amazing!

greengeekgirl said...

These cupcakes are pretty darn tasty. I rarely bake, so I scoured the internets for a good while before deciding on the recipe you posted! ^_^

A couple of things I did do differently--I made mine into mini-cupcakes, because I had the mini pans. I baked them for about 13 minutes and they were done! I haven't compared them to the big ones but they taste fine to me. I also added some instant coffee crystals to my melted butter/chocolate combo, which was really, really good.

Cakebrain said...

greengeekgirl,
glad you had a successful adaption! I love it when a recipe is flexible and reliable!

Anonymous said...

I made this last night but haven't gotten to taste it. I actually baked this using the 9" pan as I want to make this for a birthday girl. From the "look" of the cake, I think it'll be a good one, but I'll have to see cause I messed up the baking powder measurement on this one.

Thanks for posting and for sharing! Your cupcake looks adorable!

Irene said...

Oh, how I love to see you make cupcakes! They are totally, totally gorgeous, as usual! Thanks for doing the legwork for all the rest of us with the testing. :)

AnnaBeL said...

Hello! I was wondering why you said not to double the recipe.

Thanks!

Cakebrain said...

AnnaBel,
Actually, I'm just repeating what it says according to the original recipe. The Cooks Illustrated recipe states not to double the recipe but instead to make two separate batches. I believe this has to do with the proportion of leavener. I know that according to Rose Levy Beranbaum, in her cookbook The Cake Bible, leavener doesn't have the same effect on a batter when you simply multiply it (as for making a big wedding cake). The CI recipe explains it simplistically by stating a double batch would "yield a slightly compromised rise". Beranbaum explains it better and tells you why you actually need to use less leavener as you increase the amount of batter...which I won't go into here. It's kind of complicated. Just trust this is true or better yet, you can read about it in the book.

Kat said...

What kind of chocolate did you use? I'm never sure what qualifies as "bittersweet." Is it the same as semi-sweet? The wording suggests not. I plan to make these for my nephew's birthday this weekend (a while 3 years old!) and I want them to be perfect. :) Thanks for any help you can give!

Cakebrain said...

Kat,
Frankly, I don't like how manufacturers and retailers bandy about the terms "bittersweet", "semi-sweet" and "dark". It certainly is confusing. I prefer to go by percentages. I generally bake with a Callebaut dark chocolate with 70% cocoa. When I think "semi-sweet", I think chocolate chip morsels you buy in the bag. However, since the terms are pretty interchangeable for baking purposes, I would instead consider the quality of your chocolate. Go with a good brand. I think you should look for a dark chocolate with 70% cocoa in it. Try Callebaut, Valrhona, Scharffen Berger etc. Do not buy Baker's brand chocolate from the local market. It's grainy and yucky.

EverydayMama said...

I too always look for the %. These sound great, and I just love the way you've decorated them, beautiful and YUM-E!

nightpanda said...

CakeBrain - where do you buy your chocolate?

Cakebrain said...

NightPanda,
I buy my chocolate from 3 main sources: Callebaut dark chocolate chunks & White chocolate chunks from the Real Canadian Superstore bulk bins; Dark Cocoa powder, Dark, Milk and White Chocolate of different percentages from Famous Foods on Kingsway; and Organic Chocolate, Unsweetened Dark Chocolate Cocoa powder by Scharffen Berger, Valrhona etc. from Whole Foods

Anonymous said...

Hi, Can i just use this recipe to bake a chocolate cake rather than cup cakes??? =D

Cakebrain said...

Anonymous,
Since the original recipe was designed for cupcakes, I didn't think to try it for a regular cake. I suppose you could give it a try. That being said, Cooks Illustrated might not agree with that as they tested the recipe specifically for cupcakes. There are plenty of other recipes out there for cakes. They have published one for layer cakes and I also like the Barefoot Contessa chocolate cake. It wouldn't hurt to try it but I haven't done it myself. You could experiment. I would be cautious about the size of the pan you use. Temperatures and time would be totally different. I have no idea what those times or temperatures might be. Tell me if you're successful. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I made these cupcakes last night for my sons birthday today. Last night they were delicious but today they are VERY dry. I kept them in an airtight container hoping that would keep them moist but didn't work.

Cakebrain said...

Anonymous,
That's unfortunate. I've never had that problem with this recipe. All I can say is that this recipe has been tested by Cooks Illustrated and they're pretty good at ensuring a recipe works. The only reason I can think of that dryness could occur with this particular recipe is if you overbake them.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking of making these for a friends wedding. They want chocolate cupcakes and white chocolate cupcakes. Has anyone got any idea's for an icing for these that would be suitable for wedding cakes. Cheers. BTW i love the look of these and if the buttercream is quite stiff i may use it too :)

Cakebrain said...

The best buttercreams that hold up well to heat and are excellent for piping are shortening based. Go to the Wilton.com site and you'll find the recipe. You can replace some of it with butter for better flavour and it tints true colours

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for that Cakebrain. Will do.

Anonymous said...

I just made these for a housewarming party and they were absolutely a hit!!! I collected fall leaves, arranged them on a plate, underneath the cupcakes, and then sugared tiny maple leaves and placed them ontop. Totally cute and definately delicious!!! Thank you!

Cakebrain said...

Anonymous,
Yay! I love it when a recipe works for you too! What a fantastic idea to decorate with fall leaves...and fancy too with the sugaring technique! I have to remember that!

sandra said...

hi, i love the look of these cupcakes. one batch being made right now except that i think i overfilled them and some have sadly exploded.

quick question: how do you tint SWB to a true pale pink? i always get it slightly peachy which is quite annoying especially for fussy princesses who want pink buttercream. i usually use a rose gel tint. Any other tricks you use?

Nataliya said...

I tried the cupcakes and the buttercream. I would honestly say that I no longer need to buy gourmet cupcakes, these are delicioussssss. THE BEST! I made the minis 12-13 minutes in the oven.

Although I had an issue with the buttercream, it would turn into a cottage cheese consistency, I went through 3 batches last weekend...but resolved the issue by putting the buttercream on a pot with simmering water...and texture got smooth again, whipped it a lil and was ready to decorate!

Speaking of decorating, where do you get these gorgeous pearlized dragees? And what size are yours?

Thank you for a great recipe!

Cakebrain said...

Nataliya,
Isn't from scratch so much better? I'm so glad it worked out for you! If your buttercream curdles, sometimes, this happens initially, but all you have to do is increase the speed a bit and beat it more to smooth it out. It usually looks curdled initially and that's normal. The pearlized dragees I use are from my local gourmet store, Meinhardt's. I believe the dragees are from India Tree

Daphne S said...

Wow! I made these in mini for my office (I made them into little ghosts with mini chocolate chips for eyes) and I am blushing from all the compliments. That meringue frosting is making everyone swoon. I will definitely be makig them again. Thank you.

Cakebrain said...

Daphne,
yay! I love it when a recipe works for you too! great idea with making ghosts!

Aaisha said...

Oohhh these look delicious! One question - how do these compare to the Martha Stewart One Bowl Chocolate cupcakes? I've been using that recipe for a while, and it stands up great, but this recipe looks AMAZING!
Thanks!
PS - I love your blog!

Cakebrain said...

Aaisha,
I've made the MS one bowl cupcakes and I must say this cake is yummier and has better chocolate flavour. That being said, the fact that you can whip up the MS cupcake recipe in one bowl is a factor that isn't lost on me when I'm pressed for time! It'll do too in a pinch! I prefer the Barefoot Contessa chocolate cupcakes over the MS One Bowl cupcakes though.

Anonymous said...

I am going to make these for a baby shower. My friend is having a little girl and I think the flower idea is inspired. I can't wait to try these. My mouth is watering already! Who doesn't love a good chocolate cupcake? Thanks a million! I will let you know how it goes! Ü
- Julie V from Salt Lake City

Cakebrain said...

Hey Julie,
Good luck with the shower! I know for a fact cupcakes go over well! Everyone loves their own individual little cake all to themselves. It feels so special.

hungry said...

Thanks! Yum. We melted daims into the top for a chocolate carmely hit.

Cakebrain said...

Hungry,
what a great idea!

pastrylady said...

you've decorated these cupcakes beautifully! the flowers are a fabulous idea and make the cupcakes take such a grown-up and sophisticated personality :)

i made the cupcakes (with ina garten's peanut butter frosting) and mine also turned out rather crumbly and dry - the flavor was dark and intense, though, which i loved.

pretty blog! :)

Cakebrain said...

Pastry Lady,
aw shucks...thanks for saying so! I think dry cupcakes are the kiss of death in this household. Nobody touches them. However, that being said, ample buttercream often solves the issue. Our ideal cupcake is a moist cupcake and lots of swirly smooth buttercream! heaven!

Tess22 said...

Absolutely the best yet - I've been doing alot of cupcake wedding cakes lately and using the MS Devil's food up 'til now - NO MORE! These are by FAR a superior taste and texture (and simpler too) I've also found that they stay unbelievably moist if I bake a few days in advance and freeze them...
Thanks a million!!!

Cakebrain said...

Tess22,
yay! another happy camper! I love it when it works for other people too! I do really love the taste of these cupcakes and am glad your tastebuds agree with mine!

Rosie said...

Has anyone tried filling the centers with chocolate ganache? I'm tempted to try it out.

Theresa said...

i love the way you frost your cupcakes! they're always so beautiful. can i ask you what tip you use for these?

Cakebrain said...

Rose,
I haven't tried, Ganache for a filling...but I have used Marshmallow fluff! It's like a ding-dong but better!
Theresa,
I use a Wilton 1M tip.

Anonymous said...

Hi!

This is the first time I'll comment on your blog, but after hours of searching for a good Chocolate cupcake( I always find that they're not ''chocolaty'' enough when I make them), I came across yours. And now I have a small question; I live in The Netherlands, and as far as I know, unbleached flour doesn't excist here. Bleached flour, however, does. I was wondering if you think this could affect the flavour somehow!
Thanks in advance!

Cakebrain said...

Anonymous from Netherlands,
Unbleached flour simply doesn't undergo the extra processing that makes flour "white". It uses fewer chemicals. I would dare say though I'm no expert in this field, that the taste would not be detected much, especially since the flavour in question is chocolate. It may affect texture to a small degree though. Give it a try and swap it out for bleached flour. It will still be good.

Anonymous said...

Hey!

Thanks for your advice, i'm gonna get all the stuff I need( including the bleached flour, LOL), and try them out! I'll let you know how they taste! And the meringue buttercream looks absolutely wonderful by the way!:)

debcom said...

These cup cakes sound delicious and I am going to try them if I can find the bittersweet chocolate required. I would love to make the icing but the only stand mixer I have is my moms old Hamilton Beach which came with regular beater attachments and a single whisk- but no paddle. Do you think I could make this icing?

Cakebrain said...

Hi Debcom,
I've never used anything but my Kitchenaid stand mixer. I'm so sorry I haven't any idea whether your Hamilton Beach will be able to handle it. That being said, technically you could make everything by hand with a wire whisk and a lot of elbow grease. So, why not? It might take a bit (or a lot?) longer, but as long as you wait for the right consistency to be achieved before proceeding, it should be okay. I imagine the swiss meringue may be a challenge by hand, but a single whisk attachment on the HB ought to do the trick initially and then you could use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula in place of the paddle attachment and mix by hand for the rest of the recipe. Good luck!

Hyon said...

I made these cupcakes for my son's birthday party at his preschool. It was a HUGE hit (especially with the teacher who was impressed I made something that didn't come out of a box :-).

I'm making the cupcakes again for his "real" party on Saturday but was wondering if I can use this recipe for a bundt pan (making an inchworm cake). What temperature would I use (350 at 50 mins such as your chocolate velvety cake)? Or a little longer? Any help would be appreciated b/c I don't have time to test drive the bundt before making the cakes on Friday.

Cakebrain said...

Hyon,
I'm so happy the cupcakes turned out for you. I'm not too sure about converting this recipe for a bundt pan. When I want a bundt shape, I use a bundt cake recipe. The crumb will be different and I imagine the timing will dicey. This recipe as I understand it is best made as a cupcake. If you don't have time to test-drive, I think to be safe, you should use a bundt cake recipe. If you're daring, you could try it in a bundt pan but keep an eagle eye on it after the 50 minute mark. good luck!

Andilu said...

Hi!
I have been baking for years, but have never found that elusive "best" chocolate cupcake recipe. I must thank you a million trillion times for posting it!! I just baked them tonight, and not only is the recipe easy, but I am pretty sure it IS the best chocolate cupcake ever. Yours are so lovely! I haven't frosted mine yet, and can only hope they turn out half as purdy as yours :)
Thanks again!!

ren said...

omfggggggg this is like. the epitome of a chocolate cupcake. i'm an avid baker and i have my holy grail yellow, red velvet, and white recipes but chocolate was the one missing. this is DEFINITELY going into my recipe stash for EVER. I used agave nectar and it was fantastic. thank you a million times for this recipe!

-karen

Anonymous said...

These are the BEST! Have made them a few times and they turn our 'perfect' every time! Thank you!!

Melissa said...

Hey! This looks delicious but I was wondering if you don't have a stand mixer for the frosting, will a hand mixer work?

Cakebrain said...

Melissa,
I think you can use a hand mixer, but you may have to add some extra minutes in order to get to the stiff peaks stage. As well, you will need to keep going longer after the scary curdling stage. But it should still work! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi! Your cupcakes are beautiful, thank you for sharing the recipe. I gave them a try & mine also came out slightly dry :( I bake quite a bit, and my cakes & cupcakes generally turn out really well. I've been racking my brain trying to figure out the cause, and had a few questions that might help identify the problem.
1. I only had "double-acting" baking powder & that's what I used - the recipe calls for "baking powder". Which did you use?
2. I used Valrhona cocoa powder - Do you know if that's the wrong kind of cocoa (in terms of processing - dutch or whatever). Can you tell me what cocoa you used?
3. And finally - my cupcake pan is the dark/non-stick variety (I did use cupcake liners) - I'm wondering if I should lower the temp since I used a dark pan?
I saw the comments others had about dryness, so was very conscious about avoiding over-baking - I checked them at 16mins and the skewer came out with batter. Then I checked again at 17 and it was clean - so I pulled them out right away. Sorry for the long post - I just really love the flavor of these and want to figure out where I went wrong!

Cakebrain said...

Hi Anonymous,
Gee, that's so not cool to have them dry. Unfortunately, sometimes it's climate/environmental or the type of flour that you use. I'm from Canada and we have different flour than other countries. That could be the problem. However, that being said, this is an AMERICAN recipe from Cooks Illustrated so that shouldn't be the issue. I have a feeling though climate/humidity may be an issue as may measurements systems. If you weigh ingredients as opposed to dip/scoop and levelling, that will truly affect the proportions of the ingredients.
I used double-acting baking powder, dutch-processed cocoa powder (Callebaut) and Callebaut dark chocolate--which could also be one of the factors that may affect dryness. The percentage of cocoa butter in a chocolate bar will definitely have an affect on your baked good. I believe mine was 60% (but it was a long time ago...don't quote me on that!)
I always use cupcake liners (prettier!) and my tins are dark/non-stick too so that's not the issue.
You know what? If this recipe didn't work, use the Garten recipe. It is way moister than this one. And easier too. The flavour of this one is definitely the best but if it's super moistness you're after, go with Garten's.

Christy said...

I tried these cupcakes last night. The recipe was very easy after mise en place. The chocolate taste was good, but I found the texture to be dry and they had too many crumbs for my taste. I will try them again and bake at a lower temp than suggested to see if that produces a moister cupcake. But I have to say I was disappointed with my first attempt.

Cakebrain said...

Hi Christy,
If you're looking for a moister cupcake, try the Barefoot Contessa recipe. I never said this was the moistest cupcake. I said this recipe produces the BEST CHOCOLATE FLAVOUR. This particular cupcake's flavour/crumb goes well with a buttercream. It is not to be eaten without frosting in my opinion. Whereas, a moister cupcake crumb may not hold up to a hefty swirl of buttercream but buckle under the weight. So I don't think you'll ever get a moister crumb here because of the heavy dose of chocolate on all fronts in the batter. However, the BC recipe might just be what you're after.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your reply! I weighed the chocolate, but did use "dip/level" for the flour and sugar. I think I'm going to give it another try and weigh all the ingredients this time ...

Mendy said...

These Cupcakes are the BESTEST EVER, thank you for sharing the recipe.

Cakebrain said...

Mendy,
Thank you for validating my claim! The flavour is truly lovely, isn't it?

robin said...

Greetings! I've been searching for some time for the ultimate chocolate cupcake recipe, but have baked a good many duds. I'm an American transplanted across the pond in the UK and I often find it difficult to replicate recipes designed for North American ingredients. I've learned to avoid recipes requiring cake flour. I'm not ready to give up hope just yet, though. Your recipe looks outstanding... Wish me luck!....

Rosalba said...

I found this blog and recipe when looking for chocolate cupcake recipes. I love baking from scratch but I had never baked cupcakes from scratch before so I was really trying to find a good recipe. I read your blog and decided that you had invested so much in trying different recipes that these ones had to be really good. So I tried making them last night and I totally LOVED their flavor. However, mine sank a little bit in the middle and some of them were difficult to take out of the pan making them come a little bit apart. It was also the first time I tried to make the buttercream and I guess I failed. Mine totally curdled and couldn't use it to decorate. I tried raising the speed but it seemed to get worst. I guess I'll try it again next time but I'm also wondering about how many cupcakes I can frost with 5 cups of buttercream?

Cakebrain said...

Rosalba,
thanks for your comment. I think that perhaps you may have underbaked your cupcakes? Ensure that your oven temperature is correct first by using an oven thermometer. If that isn't the problem, then make sure that the cupcakes test for doneness (use a toothpick). I avoid the problem of cupcakes stuck in the tin by spraying with PAM or by lining with paper liners. I prefer paper liners because they pop out easily and make it easier to decorate with the buttercream.
As for the Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I would say that it is quite anxiety-inducing at first because it IS supposed to curdle before it gets better. I would make sure that the butter you used was at the right temperature and that you did give it quite a bit of time in the stand mixer. I usually crank up the speed on my Kitchenaid until it comes together.
You should have enough and more to spare for this recipe if you make 5 cups of buttercream. I suggest you freeze the extra buttercream if you have any left over. You can defrost and whip it up again to use for another recipe.
It all depends on how you decorate. I use a lot when I swirl and so it varies from person to person because of how high you swirl your tops.

Anonymous said...

I tried this recipe when I saw it on the cover of Cooks magazine. I had never had such delicious cupcakes. I also loved the frosting that came with the recipe. I lost the magazine and am thrilled you have it on your blog. I agree with you. I used Giradelli chocolate [I made them in San Francisco] so I am going to see if the type of chocolate makes a difference.

Adri said...

Thanks so much for your response. I did use paper lining but I will try using the oven thermometer to make sure the temperature is the right one.
I did get a bit frustrated with the buttercream but I am trying them both again this weekend and with your suggestions I'm hoping the come out great.

frecklepuss said...

HOLY GOOD GOD THIS IS THE VERY BEST PIECE OF CHOCOLATE HEAVEN I HAVE EVER EATEN!!! I added about 10 callebaut chips to the top of the batter in each cupcake and stuck them in before baking. I also added cocoa to the icing (at the end) (and halved the recipe for the icing .. 5 cups is NOT needed to ice these little babies) my family is going to LOVE me!! Thank you so much for posting!!

Robin in CA said...

I have been looking for the perfect CHOCOLATEY, moist cupcake recipe with white icing and this is it!! Thank you so much for providing it. The cupcakes had a perfect crust, a perfect crumb, and were chocolate enough to stand on their own. The icing was velvety and delicious and piped so perfectly.

Amanda Cupcake said...

I'm kind of a self taught cupcake lover.. and I am always looking for an amazing chocolate cupcake recipe. I am going to try this one tomorrow..and give you some credit on my amanda cupcake blog when I am done! :)

www.amandacupcake.blogspot.com

nikkidenison said...

Hi, In your swiss meringue buttercream recipe you state '1 cup plus 2 T sugar' please would you clarify what the 2 T bit means? If you could give me a weight for the entire sugar amount that'd be great as we don't have cups in the uk. Also is it caster sugar or granulated sugar? Thanks in advance, Nikki

Cakebrain said...

T=tablespoon= 15ml
t=teaspoon=5ml
1 cup=250ml

Cakebrain said...

Nikki,
I got the recipe from Martha Stewart online. I'm sure you could use the recipe converter on my sidebar to figure it out.
Granulated sugar is used for baking unless otherwise indicated in a recipe, especially if it is a North American source. See my comment above about the abbreviation

Erik R. Soto Photography said...

I just stuck my cupcakes int he oven. I was amazed ho thick the batter was. I have made a lot of cupcakes over the years and none were so thick. I also ended up using light sour cream because thats what ended up in the fridge. Oops. I peeked in the oven just a moment ago and realize they are cracked on top. Not that I care because I am covering them in a thick chocolate cream frosting. Cant wait to taste them!

Caitlin said...

Fantastic cupcakes, huge hit at the party I brought them too. I was a bit worried with the frosting; after I added the butter it turned to soup! I let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours and it firmed up enough to pipe, but the texture looked bumpy. Still tasted great though, I think a problem may have been that my kitchen was too hot.

Luxury Hunter said...

I just wanted to say THANK YOU for sharing your happy foods. This is the first blog I have subscribed to and really enjoyed. Your words are fun, the picture gorgeous and the recipes WONDERFUL - so again, THANKS.

Amy

Roxanne said...

I made these cupcakes as I'm going to test run a few different recipes to find the perfect recipe but I'm not going any further the recipe is amazing!! The cakes are the perfect consistency and are still moist the next day!! Love it, I'm in Australia so it took me a while to translate it into our measurements and options of ingredients and it worked perfectly!!! Thank you so much.

Cakebrain said...

Roxanne,
I am so happy the recipe worked out for you too!
It's so important for people to have a trustworthy recipe for chocolate cupcakes(imho)! Thanks for your comment!

Cakebrain said...

Amy,
I am so flattered that you think so! I am also very grateful for your comments because these are the things that buoy me when we're in the doldrums of winter! Thanks for subscribing!

meriam from moorea said...

hi,
your cupcakes look amazing,i would definitely give it a try.
but i have a problem whith swiss meringue buttercream,perhaps you can help me for that.
i ve made strawberry SMBC ,(whith frozen strawb.)i kept it in the fridge for one day,and i re-whippped it ,but it curdled;no way to get it smooth again,even after a long time.so i gave up,but i don t feel confident to try again.
i have to notice that i did nt let it come to room temperature,i re-whip it right after taking it out of the fridge.
do you have any advice ,please?
thks for answering and thks for sharing all of your recipes and experience in baking.

Cakebrain said...

Meriam,
I feel your pain!
My advice to you is to follow instructions/ingredients EXACTLY...or suffer the consequences when you're playing with Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Do not adapt recipes until you have made a recipe successfully.
I myself would not make anything but vanilla first...unless it was a recipe published specifically in a particular flavour. I am hoping you didn't take a vanilla recipe and add frozen strawberries (or even fresh) because the moisture content of strawberries would curdle any batch of any buttercream...fat and water don't mix!

Next, you must allow a cold buttercream from the fridge to come to room temp for the solidified butter will not combine well with the moisture of the strawberries. If you do make a strawberry buttercream, you may have to use jam or extract. I don't think fresh strawberries would be a good idea.

meriam from moorea said...

thks a lot for your answer,it makes sense!! i m gonna follow your advices,there are precious.
congratulations for your blog and all of your recipes, thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

These cupcakes sound and look delicious! Made them for Easter. Followed directions exactly. They looked just like your photos. So pretty. I was thrilled! But, alas, mine were dry too. ( Trying again today. I'm obsesses.

Cakebrain said...

Anonymous et al with dry cupcakes: USE A SCALE AND WEIGH YOUR INGREDIENTS instead of scooping/dipping because you may have packed too much flour or cocoa powder.

Michelle said...

New to your blog, love the name. Came upon your blog on my quest for a favorite chocolate cupcake recipe- light and airy et cetera. Made the swiss meringue buttercream and u were right in ur comparison with the Easy Quick buttercream which is the one I usually make. Trying the CI cupcakes tonight. thanks

Anonymous said...

Hello! I baked these for my boyfriend's birthday, and the cake turned out absolutely amazing, but I had some trouble with the swiss meringue icing. They came out really oily and kind of grainy...do you have any idea why? Could it have happened because I whipped the icing for too long? Ironically enough, I whipped it for longer to get rid of the lumps (that I think were caused by the butter). My icing also turned out tasting really buttery!

Cakebrain said...

Hi anonymous with lumpy buttercream,
I am wondering since your problem was lumpy butter that your butter was too cold. Butter has to be left out to room temperature or it won't incorporate properly. It should be soft.

Cynthia said...

Just discovered this blog and I LOVED these cupcapes. Admittedly, mine were not as cute but they tasted GREAT.

Cakebrain said...

Cynthia,
Oh yeah! I am so happy when a recipe works well for other people too! Cute cupcakes are all about the 1m Wilton tip in my kitchen!

Anonymous said...

Hi! Can I use a electric mixer?

Cakebrain said...

Sure you can use an electric mixer but it isn't really necessary since you need all these separate bowls to melt the chocolate etc. If you do want to use the electric mixer, the only point you would start using it is where you start whisking the eggs. You can proceed with the mixer from that point on. You do not have to mix very long; just to combine.
The stand mixer is invaluable for the Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

Laurabee said...

Thank you so much for the recipe!! I tried the cupcake and the buttercream for the first time at the last minute for my daughter's 2nd birthday. I've never made frosting before, and it turned out so yummy!! The cupcakes were a hit!! Love the blog too!! I have to read up on the other inspiring posts now!! Thank you!!

Cakebrain said...

Laurabee!
I am so happy the cupcakes turned out so well for you...considering you were under duress!

Anonymous said...

tried your recipe! DELICIOUS! thanks for sharing. since i also made a chocolate cake with ganache frosting, right after baking your cupcakes, and there was some ganache frosting leftover, i used that to frost the cupcakes. hope the combo turns out well.

Anonymous said...

I never comment on anything but i felt compelled to do so. This is the best frosting I have ever made and a contender to the best I have ever had. I'm in love! The chocolate cupcakes are incredible. You can't really go wrong with Ina!. I'm taking them to work tommorow otherwise I may eat them all.

jenniestar09 said...

I love this recipe and have used it many times. However, this time I need to make 20 dozen, and making them in separate batches seems tedious. Any suggestions on multiplying the recipe so that it comes out how it should?

Cakebrain said...

Jennie,
In the original recipe, in the introduction, it is mentioned that this particular recipe doesn't double well. Let alone multiply for 20 dozen. I am afraid it won't turn out! I haven't tried it because of the disclaimer...
The ratio of leavener is often the culprit when recipes are doubled. Often the leavener doesn't proportionally increase with the other ingredients. You often need less. How much less I don't know. You might end up with fallen cupcakes. If I were you, I'd find a recipe that works in bulk. Check out Beranbaum's Cake Bible book for recipes that yield 20 dozen cupcakes.
Barring that and if you love the recipe, get started early baking separate batches...then freeze the unfrosted cupcakes! When you've collected 20 dozen, defrost and pipe your buttercream.

Anonymous said...

For those who say they prefer their cupcakes more moist, double the flour and add 3oz water, worked for me! Does make them very crumbly though, so not good for serious decorations.

Wolf said...

The best cupcakes I have ever tasted :) I decorate cakes for a hobby and the icing recipe that was with the cupcake recipe looked gorgeous on the cupcakes! Absolutely delicious.

Wolf said...

The best cupcakes I have ever tasted :) I would love to see more recipes from you! Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I have made these for the past three valentine's days (including today - including right this minute!). I will only make them once a year because they are so amazing and special - too special to make all the time.

Thank you for the recipe.
They are really, literally the best chocolate cupcakes I've ever made and I will keep making them.

Anonymous said...

I just made these twice. Very dry. We liked the dark chocolate flavor and they were not too sweet. I felt that they may be over baked. So I tried again at 335. I tested them each minute 14, 15, etc. they were ready at 17. Better and cooked correctly but still not moist enough for our liking. Still looking for the "best" recipe. This isn't it.

Cakebrain said...

hey anonymous,
i never said these were moist, did i?

did you eat it with the buttercream that I suggested? the balance is perfect.

these are not to be eaten plain out of hand. indeed they would be comparatively dry. for the best moist cupcake, try the quinoa chocolate cupcake.

The Charming Gourmet said...

Hiii Cakebrain,
I don't know you but I love you! LOL....love you for blogging this recipe and sharing those beautiful cupcake pictures! I, too, have been on a long quest to find a CHOCOLATEY and delicious cupcake. With all due respect to those who did not think so may have missed out on some important notes that were mentioned (I.e. positioning the oven rack to the lower middle and spooning the dry ingredients as to avoid "over-packing"). Overall, the taste was fantastic. A few modifications that I made; I added 1 tsp of instant espresso and due to the fact that you stated the moisture level wasn't comparable to some, I added 1tbsp of canola oil...I didn't exactly want them extremely moist but just slightly "basted!":) An additional tbsp may not hurt but I didn't want to compromise the whole premise of this cupcake's important function...to be a solid standing decorator cake. And that it was indeed.

Beautiful pictures and love your blog! Thanks again for resolution of my chocolate cupcake search. Blessings!

Cakebrain said...

Hey Charming Gourmet,
You made my day :)! That, and I don't think I could handle another comment about what to do about dry chocolate cupcakes! and how wrong I am to mislead my good readers in thinking that it is indeed the best chocolate cupcake ever! LOL!
thank you for actually reading through the recipe and accompanying post and following instructions as stated...and following them too!
I'm so glad the recipe worked for you. Do try the Quinoa Chocolate Cupcake recipe too because it's my current favourite to eat out of hand!

Anonymous said...

I just love these wonderful chocolate cupcakes! I have made them three times now and they are so easy, are moist and taste soooo good! These are my favourites. Thank you for sharing :)

Cakebrain said...

Hey Anon,
So glad you like them! You think these are easy? The quinoa chocolate cupcakes are even easier! (as long as you have cooked quinoa!) give them a try next and compare. They're different but equally good!

Anonymous said...

Hi from Port Orchard Wa!
Thank you for sharing this recipe! I made three dozen for my 3 year olds birthday party. All the comments on the supposed dryness scared me into trying Ina's recipe first but the nearly soggy, flat, far too delicate results were too disappointing. In fact It seemed identical to a box mix. I took a picture of this recipe next to the first and there was no comparison. This is the best chocolates cupcake for decorating purposes, which is mainly what you do with cupcakes right? :-)

For this recipe I weighed instead of measured. I cheated by pouring the chocolate into one corner of my egg mixture, flour mixture in opposite corner and sourcream in another corner and mixing everything together at once instead of alternating. I baked at exactly 350 in a paper lined nonstick pan for 15 min. Let cool in pan five min and removed. They are beautiful! And so tasty!!! I was so excited by the results that I actually attempted the SMBC and it came out flawless. So happy with the results! Thank you for the very detailed instructions. Now I will have to give those quinoa cupcakes a go...

Cakebrain said...

Hi Port Orchard!
I am so happy that you like the recipe and realized success with it. Ya know, taste is so variable. Cupcakes that are moist enough to eat out of hand without frosting are impossible to decorate properly with good ol' buttercream. Plus, moist cupcakes do not look beautiful. I think this world has plenty of room for different types of cake. Yes, the SMBC is perfect with this chocolate cupcake recipe. Ovens are variable, but if the ingredients are weighed like I instructed, and you did, and the times watched carefully, everything will work out fine. I love it when my readers realize success. Sometimes, I also think reader preference for moistness is cultural. I notice Asians don't like desserts that are sweet (in general); nor do they love creamy things or buttercream. The cake crumb texture I see in Asian bakeries are always chiffon or sponge-based...usually made using oil. The textures are light and whipping cream frostings and fruit play more of a role. A compliment to an Asian baker "The dessert wasn't sweet at all". So that gives you an idea of what they like. I however, think there's room for sugar and butter! I welcome all types of cake in my palate and though some may think this recipe dry, I think that it suits its intended purpose for cupcakes and SMBC. Thx for the validation! sometimes I need it because it's discouraging when readers think it's dry.

Diani Lopes said...

I've been looking for the perfect Dark Chocolate cupcake and this is it! I just made these today and they are absolutely the best I've ever had. They were not at all dry. I ate a couple with no frosting and they were moist and delicious. This will always be my go-to recipe for Dark chocolate cupcakes. Perfection! Thanks so much for sharing! I love your blog

Diani Lopes said...

These are absolutely hands down the best Dark chocolate cupcakes I've ever had! They were not dry at all. Moist, strong enough to hold frosting, intense flavor...I've been looking for the perfect Dark Chocolate cupcakes and this is it! Thank you so much for sharing, I love your blog.

Cakebrain said...

Diani,
Thanks for letting me know you made them and thought they were moist & yummy! happy baking!

Her said...

My cupcakes were honestly heavy and dry. They were fun to make, the batter looked awesome, but they did not turn out.

Sorry, but in my opinion, they are not the best chocolate cupcake recipe ever. My Ideal chocolate cupcake would bake the same way in all parts of the world. For example, like how a recipe might work for some one in California, wouldn't turn out the same if made in Colorado. I want a recipe that will bake the same everywhere.

To me, they were chocolate cupcakes, that's all. The tops cracked beautifully, but I wish the texture were better. I don't want a heavy cupcake, nor a dry one. I'm looking for a somewhat airy, rich chocolate cupcake.

Cakebrain said...

Her,
lol! then go and buy a boxed cake mix. That'll give you consistency, a texture that is airy and suitable to your palate.
If you are aware, a cake baking the same way in all parts of the world is practically impossible with the different flours and altitudes. Colorado and California? You realize of course that Colorado is at a much higher altitude than California and every baker knows you have to adjust oven temps and times for that.
Commercial boxed cakes like Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker are economical and suitable for many people's tastebuds...and I think this is what you're looking for. However, boxed cakes will also direct you to adjust for altitude; otherwise the cakes won't turn out the same way.
Good luck on your quest to find the best cupcakes. I'm fine with my Chocolate Quinoa Cupcake recipe. For those who can eat gluten, it seems as if plenty of other commenters are happy enough with this particular recipe above. To each his own.

onlyme said...

I've been using your buttercream recipe (found here) for YEARS and I just had to tell you how much of a go-to it truly is for me. (As I make it for the 43rd time).

Cakebrain said...

onlyme,
yah, that SMB rocks, doesn't it? so glad you like it too! thanks for sharing!

lovelemons said...

I never leave comments, but I had to this time. These are amazing, they rise beautifully and are delicious, I followed exact directions, I weighed ingredients, the only thing I added was expresso powder. The batter was thick, I almost added water, but decided to go with the recipe. Thank you, anxious to see how they taste tomorrow, chocolate always taste better a day letter!

lovelemons said...

Not sure if I'm double posting, but thank you so much for this recipe, they are beautiful and delicious.
Love the rise on them. Followed exactly but added expresso powder. I follow CI, don't think i've ever come across this recipe. Thank You again

Cakebrain said...

Hey Lovelemons,
Thank you so much for your kind words! The cupcakes with this particular buttercream are picture perfect and indeed yummy, aren't they? If you liked this, you may want to try my Quinoa Chocolate Cupcakes too (different but equally yummy and without the gluten) :)

LinkWithin

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin