Cupcakes galore! I think it's safe to say that this layer-cake bakin' girl has never before made so many cupcakes or used so many sprinkles in such a short span of time. Actually, maybe it's not so much that I haven't made so many in such a short time, but that I've never blogged about so many. The thing is that so often when I bake, I then eat, share, deliver...all with no time left to photograph or write about the recipes. This was going to be one of those times, but then after sharing a few Instagram shots of the cupcakes and receiving a flurry of requests to share what these cupcakes were all about, I thought I'd switch things up and do an all-iPhone shot post and go ahead and share! So, a close friend of mine, Janin, was celebrating her birthday this past weekend, and we had a super-fun girls' night on Friday night at her house (Birthday Cake Shooters, anyone?). Since she's a relatively new friend (I just discovered how incredible it is finding such true friends at this stage in life.), I hadn't yet met several of her hometown friends who were coming in to celebrate, so when trying to decide what birthday treats to make for the occasion, I figured if there's anything that speaks to a gaggle of girls, it's chocolate and sprinkles--lots of chocolate and sprinkles. You know, one thing I've learned over the past few years, is that sometimes keeping things classic and decadent can be as much of a crowd-pleaser as super-fancy, fondant-covered treats. You probably know by now that I am passionate about those as well, but I just feel that it totally depends on the situation. I used to feel that I had to go crazy decorating for days in order for birthday desserts to have wow-factor, but I've since discovered that's not true. So I made two types of cupcakes, the first was Janin's all-time favourite, banana cake with chocolate frosting (I ended up making that frosting a la Nutella), and the second was classic dark chocolate cupcakes with the same chocolate frosting, sans Nutella (an amazing option for the non-Nutella fan). When one of the girls took a bite and said, "Whoa, the frosting is like a chocolate cloud!" I knew I had to put that down on paper. Chocolate clouds? What my dreams are made of. The truth is, it really does have a billowy cloud-like texture, and as a girl very concerned about texture, particularly frosting texture (not to mention enticing baked good names), "chocolate cloud" spoke to my very core. Add the rich, satiny awesomeness that is Nutella to the mix, and I'm blogging an otherwise unblogged delight. The cupcakes themselves are a classic, one-bowl dark chocolate cupcake recipe that never disappoints. It's only slightly different than this recipe, but I love it (love them both--I just have a thing for experimenting). Such a classic birthday treat! Did I mention how well they pair with Chocolate Whipped Cake Martinis & Chocolate Banana Cake Martinis? Oh yes, they do. Just sayin'. Here's the recipe: *Product notes: The Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder - Extra Dark (my favourite) cocoa powder is what makes this chocolate cupcake recipe so incredible.Sweetapolita's Notes on the Cupcakes:
Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting
For the Cupcakes:
- 3/4 cup 95 g all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup 150 g white sugar
- 1/4 cup 30 g dark cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute)
- 3/4 teaspoon 3.5 g baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon 3.5 g baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon 3.5 g cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon 4 g salt
- 1/3 cup 80 mL buttermilk
- 1/4 cup 60 mL brewed coffee or espresso, hot
- 3 tablespoons 45 ml vegetable oil
- 1 egg (room temperature, lightly beaten)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons 7.5 mL pure vanilla extract
For the Nutella Cloud Frosting:
- 1 cup 227 g(2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but cool
- 1-1/2 cups 190 g icing sugar (confectioners’), sifted
- 2 teaspoons 10 ml pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup 125 g premium bittersweet chocolate, chopped, melted and slightly cooled
- 1/3 cup 100 g Nutella
- 1 tablespoon 15 ml milk
- pinch of salt
For the Cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350° F and line a muffin/cupcake pan with your favourite cupcake liners.
- In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch and salt.
- In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg and vanilla.
- Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splashguard that comes with mixer), Divide batter among (2/3 full or just less) liners. Batter will be liquidy, and cupcakes will rise.
- Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs. Try not to over-bake. Carefully remove cupcakes from the pan immediately (it's hot!), and place them on a wire rack until completely cool.
For the Nutella Cloud Frosting:
- In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar and butter and beat on low speed (I use #2 on my KitchenAid mixer) for about 1 minute.
- Add vanilla, and beat on low speed until well combined. Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate and beat on medium speed (I use #4 on my KitchenAid mixer) until smooth, about 2 minutes).
- Add the Nutella, milk and pinch of salt, and beat on med-high speed for another minute.
- For evenly-sized cupcakes, I always use a 50mm cookie scoop (it's a bit trickier with this runnier batter, but it's worth it).
- You can substitute the Cacao Barry Extra Brute cocoa powder, but be sure to use a quality cocoa powder (Dutch-processed).
- To see the Pastel Confetti Sequins (and so many other sprinkle options!), check out Sweetapolita.com!
- Even if you dislike coffee with a passion, please trust me--it simply enhances the rich chocolate flavour!
- For tips for baking better cakes, check out this previous post.
- This recipe is easily doubled or tripled.
- Unlike vanilla cupcakes, these stay incredibly moist for several days, so I often bake them a day before I need them (unfrosted) and frost on the day I am serving them, but you can also frost them and keep them in an airtight container for up to 3 days, for convenience (if they last that long!).
- You can omit the Nutella and you have an incredible "classic chocolate cloud frosting."
- It's ideal to make this frosting right before you need it, because you'll find it's an ideal consistency for piping and decorating, but once it's on the cake or cupcakes, it stays perfectly smooth and fluffy for up to 3 days.
- You can add small increments of more milk, if too thick, and blend until smooth.
- If you find the frosting starts to get air bubbles while sitting (during the decorating process), use a rubber spatula to knock the air out of it, by stirring it with a back and forth paddling motion.
- To frost the cupcakes in the photo, I inserted a large, plain round icing tip into an 18" pastry bag and filled it with the frosting. I piped a large swirl starting from the outside of the cupcake, and, moving in a slow circular motion, worked my way to the center, and gently pulling the bag up and away from the cupcake. Then, using the underside of a small spoon (I used a baby spoon), I put slight pressure on the very top of the swirl and pull the spoon up and away. This creates a well for the sprinkles and gives the cupcake a classic but not-so-perfect look. Top with confetti sequins or sprinkles for a fun birthday finish!