Cupcakes are a recent favorite of mine. Seattle has a plethora of cupcake shops: Cupcake Royale has a shop in West Seattle and one in Ballard and Trophy Cupake (which wins HANDS DOWN in the best cupcake competition in my circle) is in my old neighborhood of Wallingford.
My friend Maren and I used to joke that we would rather open our own cupcake boutique on the San Juan’s called “A Cupcake a Day” when we’d had our fill of Law.
Lis and I also introduced cupcakes to our friend Canaphon who was from Indonesia — we often called him “O” upon his request because so many of us Americans struggled with is name. He was a foreign student studying for his PhD at law school and for some reason, he thought it was prudent to study with us. Our mastery of the English language likely deceived him of our mastery of Biz Orgs. He had never had a cupcake and had a hard time imagining what one was, so we make him some too for his birthday. No, there was nothing about cupcakes in any case we were reading for class, but it was a much happier subject and a good diversion. That evening of cupcakes is best described as a “misadventure” — too many alterations of the recipe because of previous missteps and Lis’s mother’s cupcake trays that were bent terribly out of shape. But, they were still tasty!
Now, being new to “the Valley,” I often joke that I can count all of my friends on one hand. Having so few friends, it becomes even more important to keep them! Accordingly, when birthdays come around, I try to make a good impression. They are also a good opportunity to try new sugary treats because there won’t be 23 cupcakes to tempt me if I give them away!
My friend Jodee’s birthday was this past week, and upon being invited to a good sloshing of margaritas and chips & salsa I immediately asked the all important question: chocolate or vanilla? Yes, there are many, many other options, but I find it can be overwhelming for people to choose from so many so a choice between two or three helps the person feel in control without making me let go of the reins, so to speak. Jodee’s response: CHOCOLATE. Google worked its magic and I found the recipe on the Hershey’s website
It was a fairly easy recipe to follow. The batter is very very thin.
I’ll give you some proper forewarning. It’s very tempting to overfill the cupcakes, especially when the batter is thin. Also, I only had two cupcake trays and since the recipe can make up to 30 I thought “what the harm” and filled them a little too much.
It was an internal stuggle with the following options: only bake 24 perfectly formed cupcakes and throw out the rest of the batter or bake 30 cupcakes by doing two rounds of baking.
I think I tried to split the difference but created a huge mess. The lazy side won over the practical and wasteful side. Rather than only filling 2/3 full and throwing out the rest, I filled them a little too full. This was the less than attractive, though still delicious, result:
And this was the mess at the bottom of the oven — it could have been worse.
But of course, frosting can just about solve any problem. How many of you remember the Cosby Show episode in which Cliff cuts a hole in the center of the cake to devour a piece and covers up his theft with a napkin to fill in the hole and frosting on the top?
This wasn’t exactly the same cause but certainly it works on the same theory. I simply cut around the cupcakes, trimming off (and devouring) the unsightly edges and slathered on the thick icing. A few sprinkles of candy-colored goodness, and voila!
- 2 cups sugar
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
- “PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” CHOCOLATE FROSTING(recipe follows)
1. Heat oven to 350°F.
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter.
3. Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely. Frost with “PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” CHOCOLATE FROSTING. About 30 cupcakes.
PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” CHOCOLATE FROSTING
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.