Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chocolate on Chocolate Cupcakes

There's a rather simple joy that I indulge in when I have the time. It may not be as productive as jogging but I find it relaxing and ultimately comforting.

Stepping onto a bookstore excites me all the time, although with a slight whimper of longing. Here around me are a variety of books I only hope to read and own. I love the physicality of books. I love the smell of old parchment as much as newly printed books, the ragged edges of an over-read, over-turned book and the smoothness of gloss-embossed hardbound covers. As much as I love books do I love the idea of books. The idea is that, reading a book, you enter a world entirely different from yours. You see things in a different perspective, the author is sharing a piece of their soul to a stranger, or to millions of strangers, with or without knowing how much they touch their lives.

My indulgence lies in the bookstore, or in a library, sitting on the floor pondering on which book to get. It's addictive - like chocolate.

I have been meaning to make a chocolate cupcake for a while, but I haven't the slightest idea how. I wanted to make a chocolate cupcake that was decadent, indulgent but not too dense, closing in on a brownie texture. I decided to make do with a tried and tested recipe and let me tell you, they are to be trusted indeed.

I went with Hershey's Black Magic Cake and oh Merlin were they good. They were incredibly fluffy and decadent. Perfect.

Black Magic Cake
adapted from the Hershey's recipe here

1 cup caster sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened, good quality cocoa powder 
2 eggs
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk*
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup strong black coffee or 1 cup boiling water plus 2 tsp powdered instant coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cocoa Cream Cheese Frosting
1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sifted confectioner's sugar (add more if you like your sweeter)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cocoa powder

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line the muffin pan with your liners.

2. Stir together all the dry ingredients, the sugars, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Instead of using 2 cups of caster sugar, I decided to switch half to brown sugar. You might notice that I prefer using brown sugar, it has a mellow, caramel-y essence to it which I really like.

3. Add the eggs, oil, vanilla, buttermilk and coffee. To those of you who don't regularly consume coffee, don't cringe at the addition of it to the batter. Coffee is the secret ingredient to incredible chocolate cakes. It brings out the wonderful flavor of the chocolate and you don't get a hint of coffee when you bite into it - believe me. 

*I doubt the lot of you reading this would have buttermilk ready at hand but don't fret, buttermilk is easy to make. Just measure a little under a cup of milk and add 1 tbsp of vinegar and let sit for about 5 minutes. You heard me, yes, vinegar. 

4. Unlike the previous batters I have made for cupcakes, this will be incredibly thin and this is how it's supposed to be. Use a pitcher or a bowl with a spout and carefully pour the batter to the liners until 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when poked.

5. Let your cupcakes cool before adding the frosting. 

I asked on my Twitter whether for my frosting, it would be cream cheese on chocolate or chocolate on chocolate. The majority couldn't decide either, so I went with chocolate on cream cheese on chocolate. That was delightful. 

6. To make the frosting, simply mix all the ingredients together and beat until creamy. If you want your frosting to be a little more stiff, add more confectioner's sugar, a tablespoon at a time. 

7. Pipe in your frosting and top with whatever decoration or candies you fancy. I added sprinkles on mine, to add pops of color on a brown on brown concoction.

As I write away, a bite on this cupcake and I had to stop and focus on enjoying it. These cupcakes are so soft and so chocolate-y, they were insane. They have the right amount of gooeyness that you have to smack your lips to get all the chocolate that sticks the moment you go in for a bite. Yum. Indulgent craving fulfilled? Yes, definitely. 

Oh how perfect a day would be if I could just munch on these while sitting on a bookstore floor, looking for a new characters, a new world to venture in. So won't you share a smile, share a seat for someone in front of a bookshelf, reading the brief description on the back, deciding on which journey to take next? I think it's absolutely lovely, something I leisurely indulge in. Something I think that you should definitely try.

As ever,

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