Earlier this week, it was my friend/coworker/boss Sarah’s birthday. Conveniently, she was going to be out of the office on her birthday, which made for an excellent opportunity to bring surprise cupcakes. I also took the opportunity to learn a new frosting technique!
I am so happy with how they turned out. I would be a total liar if I claimed to be anything but stoked. So pretty! Good thing I had that Disney Princess sprinkle pack with the nonpareils. Also, they tasted good. And there was leftover frosting. A long list of wins.
I put together two recipes for this endeavor. Martha’s recipe for chocolate cupcakes and Sweet Savory Life’s chocolate frosting recipe.
For the cupcakes:
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sour cream
For the frosting:
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (she specifies NOT melted)
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 tablespoons heavy cream
Start by putting cupcake papers in your tray and preheating the oven to 350 degrees.
Cream the butter and sugar together with a mixer, and then add the eggs in one at a time. Beat until the mixture is fluffy. If you have a shield for your stand mixer, now is the time to put it on. If not, be careful! J You may wish to get an apron.
Mix the dry ingredients (the first four) together in an easily pourable vessel such as something with a spout. With the mixer on, add half of the dry ingredients to the eggs/sugar/butter at first, followed by the sour cream, followed at last by the remaining dry ingredients. Fold in the vanilla and fill the cupcake pan so that the cups are ¾ full (for me, this made exactly 12 cupcakes). Bake for 20 minutes, then test. You may need an additional five minutes or so, but mine were perfectly done in 20.
Begin the frosting while the cupcakes are baking – ideally it will spend a little bit of time in the fridge so it is chilled but not too solid by the time the cupcakes are cool.
This frosting concept confused me a little at first, but it works, I promise. Use your mixer to cream the butter by itself for two or three minutes. Then, with the mixer on low, add the sugar and cocoa. For a while, this will seem weird because it just looks like it makes a weird powder. But eventually, the butter will absorb the cocoa and sugar and it will come together in a few large, buttery chunks.
Increase the speed to mediumish and add the remaining ingredients. Mix until totally smooth and chill for a bit (but not too long).
To make the rosette top, put the frosting in a piping bag fitted with your largest star tip. A regular one will not do. I used a 1M Wilton tip. It is ridiculously enormous and was perfect for the job.
After squeezing the frosting to the front of the pastry bag (make sure to avoid air bubbles in the frosting!), start in the middle of the cupcake and draw a spiral that goes toward the outside of the cupcake. Each circle should overlap the one just inside it by about half the width of the frosting being piped out. For me, this meant 3-4 circles in my spiral. I used an excellent tutorial I found on a blog called Our Best Bites.
I sprinkled my cupcakes with nonpareils and kept them in the fridge to make sure the beautiful rosettes kept their shape.
Did I mention that these were incredible?