Sunday, January 21, 2007

Wherefore Art Thou Cupcake?

My teenage sister and her little boyfriend call each other "Cupcake." I feel like surely this is a fact that she would've shared with me eventually, even if I hadn't read those text messages she sent him and then started calling her "Cupcake" until she came after me with a sharp object.

Last week on Ugly Betty, Hilda's brief stint in the cupcake business drove her to the brink of madness and left her sobbing and re-examining whether she had ruined her life. Next time, Hilda should try Martha's One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes. Because seriously, you only need one bowl, girl. When I finished mixing this batter, I was flat confused. Was that it? Just dump everything into this giant bowl? I read the recipe several times to confirm. This is, after all, the same woman who had me spend two hours wrapping paper-thin slimey fruit slices around one another to form a tart full of tiny nectarine rosettes, a task she described as "simple."

These are the perfect chocolate cake bases for any deliciously sweet frosting you can dream up. For the Cupcake Bakeshop and Vanilla Garlic Cupcake Roundup, I frosted one batch of these little chocolate vehicles with a quick orange white frosting. I was using the spoon seen here to frost, honest. Not to eat myself into a semi-conscious state of sugar intoxication.

As pleasing as these were to me, I was even happier with the second batch, which were frosted with Brown Sugar Toffee Buttercream. Let's's January 21? It's about time for you to break those resolutions anyway. Now get to it, Cupcake.


One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
Makes 24

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 large whole eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup warm water

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 standard 12 cup muffin pans with paper liners.
Into the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Attach the bowl to mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; add the eggs and yolk, the milk, oil, vanilla and warm water. Beat on low speed until smooth and combined, about 3 minutes; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter evently among the muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake come out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool slightly.
Cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 day.

Quick Orange White Frosting Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Combine in a medium bowl and beat together until smooth:
5 cups confectioner's sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened

Add and beat until smooth:
Juice of 1 orange
Zest of 2 oranges or to taste
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat the frosting until it's smooth. Add milk or more sugar to correct the consistency to your liking.

Brown Sugar Buttercream With Toffee Adapted from Martha Stewart Baking Handbook

2 large egg whites

1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
3/4 cup toffee chips

1. Put egg whites and sugar into the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch (about 160°).
2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue beating until mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.
3. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter, several tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. (If the frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Reduce speed to low ; mix to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes. Stir with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth.

4. Stir in 1/2 cup toffee chips if desired, or top each cupcake with a sprinkle of toffee chips.