Jul 7, 2009

little chocolate cupcakes

My apologies for being a bit absent lately. Matt and I took a wonderful road trip last week through Colorado and Utah and got back late Sunday after a long 14 hour drive from just outside of Salt Lake City.

The trip was fantastic, full of visits to family and friends. We hiked almost every day, spent an afternoon at Glenwood Hot Springs, and saw an amazing fireworks display surrounded by mountains in Utah. I'm still sorting through all of our photo's but the scenery was spectacular and inspirational. I'll be sure to share some of them with you once I've emerged from the pile of stuff to do that is always awaiting after a vacation.

A week before our trip we had a little birthday bash to celebrate my 30th. I had a blast pulling together a menu and cooking for a wonderful group of friends that came over to celebrate with me. Instead of a cake this year I decided to make mini-cupcakes. I'm a huge fan of cupcakes! I love how easy they are to make and how, especially with the mini-cakes, I feel like I can have a couple and not worry too much about it.

These little cakes were delicious. Perfectly moist and with an excellent chocolate flavor that everyone seemed to love. So much so that by the end of the night they were all gone, with only a few stray wrappers left in their place.

Recipe for Little Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated March 1st 2005 edition

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup high quality cocoa*
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup sour cream

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a mini-muffin** pan with baking cup liners.

Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk to combine (alternatively heat in the microwave and whisk to combine). Set aside to cool until just warm to the touch.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in small bowl to combine.

In another medium sized bowl whisk eggs; add sugar, vanilla and salt until fully incorporated. Now add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until well combined. Sift about one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mix and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined, then sift remaining flour mixture over and whisk until batter is homogenous and thick.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until a skewer inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean, approximately 18 to 20 minutes.

Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes.

To frost I used a classic vanilla buttercream frosting.

Local Ingredients:
When it comes to baking desserts I am still working out the details of finding local ingredients, especially the basics like chocolate, flour and sugar. I do source butter from Clover Organic Farms, a Northern California dairy, and I get my eggs from Glaum's Organic at the farmer's market.

I'm currently researching other local ingredients I can use in baking. If you have any suggestions please let me know.

Alison's Notes:
*I used Green & Black's Organic Cocoa Powder, a high quality cocoa made with Fair Trade cocoa beans.

**Originally this recipe was for regular sized cupcakes, however I tend to like mini-cupcakes for reasons explained above. The recipe made 24 mini-cupcakes and should make 12 regular size cakes.

(photography by: alison clayshulte)

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