Merry Christmas everyone! It’s been a crazy week of baking and I was feeling rather down over a couple of baking mishaps. For the most part, I think it’s because I always set out wanting to do so much. My to-bake list for a day was 32 chocolate cupcakes with a salted caramel frosting, 2 log cakes with a whipped cream filling and the same salted caramel frosting. Well, I ended up with 53 cupcakes with a dark chocolate frosting & salted caramel caps, frosting problems which took me a while to realise it was because my tips were clogged with some solid chocolate bits, two log cakes that fell apart when I rolled them and a whipped cream filling with nothing to fill. I was crying and laughing inside at the same time.
Went to bed with a tired and achy body and woke up on Christmas eve and tried my cupcakes. Well you know what, it was the very best chocolate cupcake I’ve ever had! It tasted okay the day before when I was flat out tired but it tasted amazing the day after. It was soft, moist, fluffy and chocolaty. I love them!
Credits for the cupcake itself goes to the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake recipe from Cupcake Project. When I stumbled upon this recipe, I was amazed; the site tested 7 rounds of chocolate cupcake recipes on 50 bloggers and finally settled on this recipe. It definitely paid off because I’m so happy with the result! For the frosting, I adapted this swiss meringue buttercream recipe from Bakers Royale. Adapted recipes and tips below.
Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake
Note: I doubled the recipe below which yields 53 cupcakes. I added the conversion from ounces to grams since that’s the metrics I use. My adaptations and notes are in brackets.
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces, 113.5 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
- 2 ounces (56.7 grams) of your favorite chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet baking chips)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 fluid ounces) vegetable or canola oil, measured in a liquid measuring cup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup (2 3/4 ounce, 75.35 grams) full-fat sour cream (I used Bulla sour cream)
- 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) cocoa powder (I used Hersheys Cocoa 100% natural unsweetened)
- 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) room temperature water, measured in a liquid measuring cup (the site said to replace this with coffee if preferred and I replaced it with room temperature Nespreso brewed coffee, Fortissio Lungo capsule, but I’m sure any coffee will do)
- Preheat oven to 350 F. (I preheated it to 170 degrees Celsius since my oven doesn’t have the 175 option)
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix butter and sugar until fully combined. The end result should look like wet sand.
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler.
- Once the melted chocolate is cool enough to touch, add it to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until just combined.
- Mix in eggs and egg yolks one at a time until just combined.
- Mix in oil, vanilla, and sour cream until just combined.
- Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder into a separate medium-sized bowl. Use a fork or a whisk to ensure that the ingredients are mixed well after sifting.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in three additions, mixing until just combined after each addition.
- Mix in water until just combined.
- Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and put in the oven. (I filled 2/3 of the cupcake liners in the first batch and it rose pretty high so I reduced it to a little less than 2/3 for the rest)
- Check for doneness at 18 minutes – a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake should come out clean. If they are not done, check again every three minutes until they are done.
- Immediately remove cupcakes from the cupcake tin and place on a cooling rack or on the counter to cool to room temperature. Although they are really good when they are hot, be sure to wait until they are room temperature to give your evaluation.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
- 5 large egg whites
- 11/2 cup sugar (I reduced it to 1 cup of sugar because this is always too sweet for my liking)
- 4 sticks (453 grams) unsalted butter, sliced and softened
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Combine egg whites and sugar in a stand mixer bowl and place it over (not on) simmering water. Heat mixture to 160 degrees F (71 degrees Celsius) while whisking constantly.
- Transfer mixer bowl to stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium high speed (speed 8 on a KitchenAid stand mixer) until mixture cools, doubles in volume and forms stiff peaks; about 10-12 minutes.
- Add butter in one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. The mixture may appear clumpy and almost curdled looking at first—this is normal. Keep mixing and it will become even and smooth again.
- Add salt and flavoring, mix to combine. (I added about 150 grams of Hersheys Cocoa 100% natural unsweetened)
For the salted caramel caps, I bought Marks and Spencer‘s Salted Caramel Sauce and you can see pictures and read a review of it here. It’s light and soft but doesn’t have enough salt in my opinion and also lacks the deep heady taste of caramel that’s been cooked a little longer. Anyway, I tried making salted caramel frosting by mixing this into the plain buttercream but the taste didn’t come out very strongly. In the end, I spooned them onto the top of the cupcakes and sprinkled a bit of sea salt over the top.
I actually attempted to make my own salted caramel three times but wasn’t very successful. It was a pretty traumatic experience because it’s a fine line between lovely caramel and burnt caramel but that’s a story for another day. Maybe by then, I’ll have succeeded in making it!