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Musings. Family. Food. Stories. Cooking. Recipes. Eating. A recipe journal. From simple Filipino dishes to challenging recipes and exciting gastronomical failures. This is for my girls to look back on for comfort, memories, laughs, love and lots of food!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Chocolate cupcakes and a cake in one

For the much anticipated 888 birthday, it was once again time to road test some old recipes that will stand the test of little masterchef critics.

We have had a few different recipes tried and tested in the past, but not one has stuck like glue in mum’s memory bank. A lot of them needed revisiting the recipe when its time to bake, and a favourite convenient one was the Hershey’s Cocoa recipe printed on the back of the container. I’ve tried looking back at previous birthdays and recipes and sighed at the effort on most of them. Some required sour cream, some needed buttermilk. This is one recipe that needs basic stuff already in the pantry without having to do last minute rush to the grocery. Needless to say, we struck a gold mine in cupcakes! Dark, chocolate and moist.

When we tested the recipe during the school holidays (a week and a few days before the actual birthday), the first batch of 18 cupcakes was wiped off the face of the earth in a whoosh! Yeah. That good. (What chocolate creation isn't?!) I thought, now we have a good recipe to keep and make for those fetes, birthdays and just about any day when we want to eat cupcakes! Birthday came and what a great recipe this is, that mum used the same recipe to make the cake! Using a 20inch round spring form tin, this cupcake recipe turned into a dark moist cake in 45-50 minutes. Double whammy! Fantastic!

This was the 888 cake for the day on your birthday. The same recipe used for the cupcakes on the weekend of your movie date with mates, and the same cupcakes made you brought to school on the Monday after, for the whole 2L class (including a batch of 18pcs of blueberry muffins for those not keen on chocolates).

The photos here were so inviting that friends started asking for the recipe. Here it is – the tried and tested and eaten recipe for chocolate cupcakes, and cake in one.

1 ½ c (170g) plain flour

½ tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

¾ c unsweetened cocoa

50g unsalted butter, softened

1 c caster sugar (fine white sugar)

2 eggs (I used 60-75g eggs)

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line muffin tins with cupcake cases.

2. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cocoa in a medium bowl and set aside.

3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

(It is best when butter is soft and of room temperature before starting the creaming process, as this makes it faster and easier. How soft? Just soft enough that when you press the butter still with its packaging, you can make a soft dent with your fingers. The butter and sugar will incorporate together faster and will make for a fluffy texture. The creaming may take about 5-10 minutes using a hand held mixer. A stand mixer may be used but I find it easier to cream with a hand held as I can move it around the bowl when necessary. Or you can also opt to use some elbow grease and use a wooden spatula and cream away the day).

4. Add the eggs one a time, beating after every addition making sure batter is mixed well. Stir in the vanilla.

5. Add the sifted flour mixture, alternating with the milk in 3-4 additions

(A tip is to warm the milk in the microwave prior, maybe while in step 3, especially when the milk came from the fridge. I found this really made a difference as it did not make the butter clump up together again. Adding cold mixture to a batter will create lumps as it cools the fat content such as butter)

6. Spoon mixture into the muffin cases

(I used a ¼ measuring cup and poured away into the cases. As a general rule, ¾ of the way will create a slight plump top and will not overflow into the sides)

7. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes.

(In the past, I often wonder why sometimes the cupcakes don’t have that dome shape like those pictured in recipe books. I realised that I have been peeking in the oven too much that my cupcakes often deflate creating that flat top look. So, by virtue of patienc e and self control, avoid opening the oven door too much!) You may use this time to wash the utensils used during the messy process, or our case, my best washer uppers always makes washing up easier. Or prepare the cooling tray on the table in the dining room, or watch a bit of TV, do some bit of laundry, read a book, browse in FB, get the icing recipe that’s next, prepare the ingredients for the icing, etc. etc… In short, do something so you distract yourself from peeking in the oven!

This recipe was downloaded from allrecipes.com. The recipe is for chocolate cupcakes, but the turn out is a very dark chocolate cupcake. Something that is a favourite at home. In our first try, we used our pantry stock of Hershey’s Dark Cocoa (specially bought from USA Foods online, and another container from an office colleague’s trip to the US). But when we ran out, we used the locally available Nestle Cocoa which turned out the same – dark chocolate cupcake. I read this as a tip from the hundreds of recipe books, that baking soda (or bi-carbonate of soda in Australian groceries) when added to chocolate cake batters, results in a darker coloured chocolate cake as it causes reddening of the cocoa powder.

This is from joyofbaking.com, “Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda (alkali) is about four times as strong as baking powder. It is used in recipes that contain an acidic ingredient (e.g. vinegar, citrus juice, sour cream, yogurt, buttermilk, chocolate, cocoa (not Dutch-processed), honey, molasses (also brown sugar), fruits and maple syrup). Baking soda starts to react and release carbon dioxide gas as soon as it is added to the batter and moistened. Make sure to bake the batter immediately.

Baking soda has an indefinite shelf life if stored in a sealed container in a cool dry place. Too much baking soda will result in a soapy taste with a coarse, open crumb. Baking soda causes reddening of cocoa powder when baked, hence the name Devil's Food Cake.

Read more: http://www.joyofbaking.com/bakingsoda.html

Proof that this recipe is easy? I’ve written this down without looking at the actual recipe! That’s how easy it is to remember. A few times you make it, it becomes a part of your inner

soul. I’m such a cupcake, right? Chocolate cupcake, that is!

To make the cake, I used the same quantities in the recipe and used a 20inch spring form round cake tin. Almost to the rim, I thought it was going to flow over like lava from a volcano. But it didn’t and the turn out was a fantastic dark chocolate cake.

To contrast the dark hues of the cake, mum decided on a quick and easy frosting and consulted Margaret Fulton (a book that I have been referring to on most days for just about anything!) and decided on the 7-minute icing. To make the icing, you’ll need:

1 cup caster sugar

1 egg white

½ tsp cream of tartar

2 tbsp water

1/4 tsp vanilla

Using a double broiler or in our case, over a sauce pan with simmering water, mix the sugar, cream of tartar, water and egg whites (a hand held mixer comes in handy) in a bowl making sure the bottom does not touch the water. Beat until the mixture can hold itself, or as the recipe is called, for 7 minutes.

Cool for about a few seconds, then fold in the vanilla.

Use the mixture immediately as this frosting hardens quickly.

Toss some hundreds and thousands and other sprinkles for decoration. Voila! A dark chocolate cake with a sweet complementing icing!

We kept the iced cake (and cupcakes!) in the fridge before the day, and found it doesn’t affect the taste and the texture.

Happy 8 8 8 birthday to my gorgeous masterchefs - J A S! <3

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