ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! I don’t know about you, but I always look forward to ALL THINGS chocolate! These cupcakes are a scaled-down version of my chocolate blackout cake. They’re perfect for classroom treats, a girls night in, or a romantic dinner.

If you know me, you know I’m pretty particular when it comes to cupcakes. They have to be moist, rich and perfectly sweet. These cupcakes check all of the boxes. They’ve quickly become my go-to recipe. I’ve used them as a base for raspberry buttercream topped cupcakes, salted caramel buttercream topped cupcakes, and mint chocolate chip buttercream topped cupcakes. They’re the best!


INGREDIENTS
FOR THE CUPCAKES:
1½ c. all-purpose flour
1½ c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. quality unsweetened cocoa powder*
1½ tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. coarse kosher sea salt - not fine
2 large eggs
1/4 c. sour cream
½ c. buttermilk
3/4 c. warm water + ½ tsp. espresso powder - espresso is optional
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 oz. finely chopped semisweet chocolate
FOR THE FROSTING:
3/4 c. 1½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 oz. ½ block cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3½ c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. whole milk or heavy cream
FOR THE GARNISH:
1/3 c. chocolate curls - mini chocolate chips or chocolate jimmies (sprinkles)

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one standard size cupcake pan with 12 liners, and an additional pan with four liners, set aside.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer using a low speed until combined.
Add eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, warm water, oil, vanilla, and chopped chocolate. Beat on a medium speed until smooth, about a minute.
Divide batter evenly between the liners (I prefer using a #20 scoop which is approximately 1/4 cup of batter).
Place in the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 8 minutes. Remove and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
For the frosting: in a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
Carefully add in the cocoa powder, vanilla and salt, beat until combined.
With mixing speed on low, gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. When all of the powdered sugar has been added, beat in heavy cream, then add more if necessary to create a spreadable consistency. The frosting should be on the thicker side.
Using a piping bag fitted with an extra large piping tip (see NOTES below for suggestions), pipe onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with desired garnish.

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