Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Yummy, yummy, yummy.
As amazingly decadent and delicious as these cupcakes are, they are no simple feat. But are they worth it? Oh yes. Yes they are.
Let me break down this sweet chocolate goodie for you. It begins with my personal favorite chocolate cupcake recipe. So moist and full of rich chocolate flavor (courtesy of my favorite people over at Cooks Illustrated). On top of this perfect chocolate cupcake are TWO really great chocolate frosting recipes. The first is probably my favorite when I am in search of something thick and fudgy. It comes from Martha Stewart who mentions it as also being a favorite in their test kitchen too. It’s a simple mixture of cocoa powder, boiling water, butter, confectioners’ sugar, and melted semi-sweet chocolate. Once made it is fairly thin in consistency. I always refrigerate it to thicken it up, which is how I suggest spreading it on these cupcakes. The last piece of this recipe is the milk chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. A hefty dollop of this light, fluffy frosting is perfect to top off these cupcakes. The delicate chocolate taste is exactly what is needed to balance out the flavor- the other two components are already so deeply rich in chocolate flavor, another rich frosting would really be overkill.
Fortunately for me these cupcakes were actually a culmination of leftover frosting that I had in the freezer. I really couldn’t bare the thought of throwing out perfectly good frosting… and I couldn’t be more glad that I didn’t- from my leftovers I was able to create one incredibly delicious cupcake! The milk chocolate swiss meringue buttercream recipe came from the AMAZING Banana Whoopie Pies I made a little while ago and the chocolate frosting was leftover from a really fun chocolate cake that I have yet to share with you. I had the perfect amount of frosting in my freezer for 12 cupcakes, but if you make the full amount of frosting called for in the recipe than you will have more than enough for 2 dozen, if not 3.
And I’m not ashamed to say that I ate two cupcakes a day, every day, until these puppies were gone. They were that good. Just put them in the fridge, well covered, and then take them out and let them come to room temperature (about 2 hours) before you serve them- they keep super well.
- For the Chocolate Frosting:
- ¼ cup plus 1½ tsp unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder
- ¼ cup plus 1½ tsp boiling water
- 1¼ sticks (5 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tb confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- pinch of salt
- 12 ounces quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
- For the Cupcakes:
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
- ⅓ cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa
- ¾ cup hot coffee
- ¾ cup (4⅛ ounces) bread flour
- ¾ cup (5¼ ounces) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the Milk Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- 5 large egg whites
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cool but not cold, cut into ½-inch cubes
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 6 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, melted and cooled
- For the Chocolate Frosting: Combine cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved. With an electric mixer on med-high speed, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the cocoa mixture. Cool in fridge until thick, about 1 hour.
- For the Cupcakes: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°F. Line standard-size muffin pan with baking-cup liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside. Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
- Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour.
- For the Milk Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream: In a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg whites and sugar together. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water (do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl). Heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved and the color is milk white, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and, starting slowly, increase the speed to med-high. Beat until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and beat on med-high speed (again starting slowly at first) until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. If the buttercream looks like it is separating, don’t worry; it will eventually come together. Add the salt and vanilla and beat for 5 seconds to combine. Gently fold in the chocolate until the mixture is even in color.
- To Assemble: Spread a good heaping tablespoon of chocolate frosting on each cupcake. Pipe or spread the swiss meringue buttercream thickly on top of the chocolate frosting to finish.