Chocolate Cupcakes and Espresso Buttercream Frosting

There comes a moment in every woman’s life where chocolate ceases to be a food group and becomes medicinal.  I had that moment on Thursday night and started baking.  My favorite cupcakes are those that make you feel tender emotions towards the cake part and a sense of indulgence when you dip your finger in the frosting and come out with something that melts on your tongue in an absolutely sensual manner.  So this recipe is always my medicinal, chocolate go to.

The problem is that once I was finished eating one, I had 11 big cupcakes and 12 little ones left over.  I decided to take them with me to offer to up at my volunteer job and watched as they disappeared faster than a cat being offered a bath.  I enjoyed the fact that everyone wanted to know what bakery I got them from.  My ego convinced me to compromise my secret identity as a baker and I’m hoping that I’m not going to be included in a fund raiser bake sale, but those are the risks one takes to spread a little joy.

OK so I did keep a few little ones, in case of emergencies.  If you don’t frost them, they will freeze for up to a month and still be delicious, tender and awaiting frosting when they are thawed.

Chocolate Cupcakes

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

1/3 c (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa

3/4 c hot coffee

3/4 c (4 1/8 ounces) bread flour

3/4 c (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar

1/2 tsp table salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

5 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp coconut oil (make sure it’s room temperature and liquid)

2 large eggs

2 tsp white vinegar                 

1 tsp vanilla extract                

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. 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, about 20 minutes. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk oils, 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.

If you are at a high altitude, like I am, you don’t want to overfill the baking cups.  If you fill them about half way, they turn out perfectly.  Lower altitudes mean you can add more batter to the cups but I feel a little sorry for those who don’t wind up with enough to make the minis, which are perfect with morning coffee.

Espresso Buttercream Frosting (Not for the calories conscious)

1 cup butter (room temperature)

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp espresso powder

Using a stand or hand held mixer, whip butter until fluffy (about 5 minutes) on medium speed, stopping to scrape the sides.   Reduce the mixer speed to low and add powdered sugar a little at a time.  Scrape the bowl and mix on medium high until fluffy. Add espresso and vanilla and continue to mix until ingredients are all incorporated.

Frost cake or cakes using whatever method works, if you don’t have that baker’s funnel thing (by now I should know the correct name but don’t), you can spoon the frosting into a plastic freezer bag and cut a corner to off of it  to make pretty swirls or in a crisis situation, a knife always works.  Make sure the frosting is at room temperature for optimal spreading!

What in store for me, now? I have a date with the gym and with every minute I spend on the elliptical, I’m going to lick my lips and tell myself that every bite and every calorie was worth it!  Happy Baking!

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