Project Wedding – Take One

I’ve agreed to make wedding cakes and cupcakes for a good friend who is getting married in December. The wedding is at a winery, and at the beginning of summer (the week before Christmas). The request is for cupcakes and I’ll probably make a cake to cut, and chocolate is top of the list of flavours. Decoration is still open to negotiation.

So – first on the list I need to find a good chocolate cupcake recipe. It needs to be pretty light (to be eaten after a meal in summer), moist (not too many crumbs on the dresses!), but not too delicate (needs to travel well). I also like a cake that has a bit more of a crunchy top rather than a soft spongy one (I find they hold up to handling better). There is a recipe that I’ve been using for years that came from Cupcake Bakeshop, but the last couple of times I’ve made them I have had inconsistent results (probably user error on my part!!). I’ll try that one again soon.

I saw this recipe on Sweetapolita, and seeing as I was using her recipe (and amazing tips) for Swiss Meringue Buttercream, thought it would be a good place to start.

The recipe has no butter, but uses oil to keep the cupcakes moist and pretty fluffy. I guess that would also help keeping them a bit fresher given I will be baking in advance. Not sure whether they would freeze or not (although I would rather not need to freeze but just bake the day before). They also have nice strong coffee which gives them a bit of a kick and really enrichens the chocolate flavour.

The batter was a bit runny, which made it a bit harder to get it evenly into the cases. I normally use a cookie scoop to get cupcakes even but it was a little messy and the cat had a few licks of the floor after I dripped it. If this is the recipe I go with in the end, I will need to find another way to get the batter into the cases (perhaps a squeezy bottle?). I also think I filled them a bit too much – even though I halved the recipe which should have left me with 9 cupcakes, I filled 12 and had quite a bit of batter left over. Next time will make up another tray rather than use the extra batter to fill them up a bit. They didn’t really dome up very well, rather were a bit flat and spread across the pan a bit and were harder to get out of the muffin tray, as you can see in the picture above.

I used my standard Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe for these, as I think it will hold up to the heat better than a standard whipped butter frosting. I used 2 egg whites and ½ cup sugar, and about 150g of butter. I tend to use slightly less butter than most recipes suggest for buttercream – I think it gives a slightly less buttery taste, and doesn’t seem to affect the texture at all. Once the frosting is all whipped up, I added about half a cup of melted dark chocolate. I have yet to find a recipe for SMB that gives a really dark chocolatey colour and taste – perhaps it’s just one of the characteristics of the frosting. If I can’t get the right flavour maybe I’ll try a whipped ganache frosting.

The verdict: these cupcakes had a lovely light and moist texture, and a nice rich chocolate taste. My only worry is that they spread although that may have been my fault for filling the cases too full. Definitely one to think about.

Stay tuned for more chocolate cupcake recipe testing!!!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes – adapted from Sweetapolita (makes 12)

1 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa*
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
½ cup strong black coffee (I make mine in a stovetop coffee maker, but a strong instant coffee would work as well)
½ cup milk**
¼ cup vegetable oil (I use rice bran, but any light, flavourless oil would do)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract***

Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a muffin tray with cupcake cases.
Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl or jug, whisk the wet ingredients together, then add to the dry ingredients and whisk for a few minutes until combined.
Fill the cupcake cases about ½ full (not more like I did!) and bake for between 12-15 minutes (although mine took about 18 mins).
Cool on a tray. When cool, ice with Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting as above.

*Don’t even bother using Bourneville or Cadbury cocoa. When I can stretch my budget, I try and buy Valrhona cocoa (available from Sabato amongst other places), but the Equagold range is available at all my local New World stores and does the trick just as well. It’s definitely worth getting a good quality cocoa – your baking will thank you.

**The original recipe stated buttermilk, but that’s not very common here in NZ and I was too lazy to make my own, would be interesting to see what difference it makes.

*** Like with the cocoa, it’s worth getting a really good quality vanilla extract (not essence). I like the Heilala vanilla extract or Equagold also do a good one. I’ve seen a few recipes around for a homemade vanilla extract, so stay posted and I may try that out on here soon.

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