Friday, August 14, 2009

Forgive me, Maida, for I have sinned...

(something's wrong with my camera; this is the only picture that worked)

I was really impressed by your layer cake, Alicia! It looked great, and I'm sure your lucky recipients were thrilled to get some of it! I, however, was not ready to shell out for extra cake pans and such, and I haven't signed up a cake-eating crew yet, so I scaled this down. Wayyy down...I made a 1/4 recipe and turned it into cupcakes.
Let me tell you--this was not a popular decision among the family. Sami actually took his cupcake apart and then layered it for "the proper effect." I wish I'd gotten a picture of that. Julia informed me that it "wasn't the same." And she's right. But even so, these were darned fine cupcakes. Claire even told me that she wanted the same cupcakes for her birthday (the girl thinks ahead--her birthday's in April!) but with vanilla frosting--"the chocolate frosting is too rich, Mommy." OK, so three voices of complaint. So maybe next time I would just halve the recipe and make a two-layer cake.
The only other change I made was to use more dark than milk chocolate in the frosting (a matter of preference). What kind of chocolate did you use, Alicia? I found Ritter Sport on sale, and then I had some Milka semisweet left over from vacation. I think that chocolate had melted and cooled about 5 times before I used it. I also left out the walnuts. Actually, I was going to put walnuts in a couple of the cupcakes, but I forgot. I think they would have been good, but I have a lot of nut-haters in the family.
What Maida and Alicia point out is that when you're not out buying cake pans or looking for a clean pastry bag, this is a really easy recipe. Once the butter is soft, the batter is made by the time the oven is preheated. The frosting (which I made in the microwave, even though I have a double boiler) can be done before the cake is out of the oven. And it's really good--it's a model of the classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting that so many of us have had for our birthday cake. It's tender, buttery cake with really rich chocolate frosting. How could you go wrong? Well, you could subvert the original intention of the author. At the end of the recipe she writes, "Now, how about that? I salute you." I had the feeling I was getting the finger :-).

Here's the recipe I made:

American Chocolate Cupcakes

1 c. (4 oz.) sifted flour
1 t. baking powder
1 tiny pinch (1/16 t.) baking soda
1 tiny pinch salt
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 t. vanilla
a few drops almond extract
scant 1/2 c (3.3 oz.) sugar
1 large and 1 small egg (1-1/2 large eggs)
3 T. milk

Heat oven to 350 and line 9 muffin cups with papers. Sift or whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda (which you could probably leave out), and salt in a small bowl. In the big bowl of your mixer, beat together the butter and extracts, then slowly mix in the sugar. Let that beat for 2-3 minutes. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating until well incorporated after each addition. That should take another 2-3 minutes. Then very carefully add the flour in three additions alternating with the milk in two additions (so 1/3 flour, beat for a couple of seconds. Scrape down, add half of the milk, beat for a couple of seconds. Repeat until everything's gone.). You should have a nice smooth batter, which you will enjoy licking from the beater. Spoon this into the muffin cups and bake for about 15-18 minutes until they're golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on racks.

Frosting (really a sour cream ganache, if you want to be picky about it)
4 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
3 oz. milk chocolate
Tiny pinch salt
1/4 t. vanilla
1/2 c. (4 oz.) sour cream

Break up the chocolate and put it into a microwave-proof bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and microwave another 30 seconds. It'll be mostly melted but a little clumpy. Just keep stirring and it'll be OK. Get out your hand mixer and add the salt, vanilla, and sour cream to the chocolate and beat it at low speed until it is "as smooth as satin." It really will be. Let it sit on the counter for an hour or so and then go to it. I just swirled mine on with a butter knife. I wish I'd had sprinkles.
Makes 9 delicious cupcakes that everyone will love if you don't tell them it was supposed to be layer cake.

1 comment:

  1. (it's so much fun to listen to your dad laughing while he reads your blog posts)