Monday, October 31, 2011

Chocolate Mummy Cupcakes

       Happy Halloween! Happy Haunting! Happy Eat-So-Much-Candy-You-Get-Sick Day! Whatever you do today, I hope it's happy. I enjoyed my Halloween excursion a little early this year and went out last Saturday, it was just easier that way. These cupcakes, however, are not from Saturday. They are from the Thursday before (the 27th). Every Thursday night this semester I have a two hour class called "Visionaries of the Past" where we discuss the great minds of old. (Don't worry, I won't go into depth about the discussions.) Being that the 27th was the last Thursday before Halloween it was only right to bring something "spook-tacular". Since in this class we discuss old, dead people, mummies were the natural choice. I remembered looking at various people's mummy cupcakes last year and decided it was my turn to give 'em a go. I think they turned out kinda nice, what do you think?
       I chose chocolate cupcakes for two reasons: we hadn't eaten anything chocolate yet in class (I know, right?) and I liked the symbolic aspects, like darkness, death, and evil. Because I didn't have much time to waste--darn homework pile--I just chose a cupcake recipe that I had seen a couple days earlier on a blog I sometimes follow called Annie's Eats. It was a pretty tasty cupcake, though I felt it was somewhat crumbly. I followed her recipe exactly except for one thing: I used unsweetened cocoa powder instead of Dutch-process cocoa powder. Honestly, I did this because I only had the unsweetened cocoa powder. What is the difference? Instead of my gabbing, I'll send you here. The author of this blog did some investigating so we don't have to, and she gives the facts in a clear and concise way. I like that.
       For the frosting I used a recipe (at the bottom of the page) that i am baker used, so I figured it had to be good. Well, if I was only frosting a flat layer of cake then the frosting would have been delicious. But because I had to add more powdered sugar to make a stiff frosting, I found it to be a bit too much on the sweet side for my liking.  I will consider using this recipe once more just to make sure my observations were correct, but the search for my favorite buttercream frosting--that I can pipe with--is still underway.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe from Annie's Eats

Yield: 24 cupcakes

  •  1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used unsweetened cocoa powder)
  •  1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water
  •  2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus one tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

--Preheat your oven to 350˚F

--Combine the butter and sugar in a saucepan, over medium heat, until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir occasionally.

--Once thoroughly combined, transfer your butter/sugar mixture to your electric mixer and stir on medium-low speed until cooled.

--While the butter/sugar mixture is combining and/or stirring, line your cupcake pans with some cute cupcake wrappers.

--In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and hot water until smooth.

--In a separate (medium) bowl, get your dry ingredients ready: whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

--By  now, your butter/sugar mixture should be cooled. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, mixing well after each is added.

--Mix in vanilla and coca mixture until smooth.

--On low speed, add the flour mixture and sour cream, alternating between the two. Be sure to start and end with your flour mixture. (ex: 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 sour cream, 1/3 flour mixture, rest of sour cream, last of flour mixture) Mix until just incorporated. You will have a nice, airy batter.

--Using a scoop, fill the cupcake wrappers approximately 1/2 - 2/3 the way full. Just try and have all 24 cupcakes to have the same amount of batter for even sizes.

--Bake 18-20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out almost completely clean. (A famous pastry chef once said if it comes out completely clean you risk having a dry cake. So one crumb or two small crumbs is okay.)

--Let cool a little bit before removing the cupcakes from the pans. Let completely cool before icing.

Vanilla Buttercream
As used by i am baker

Yield: enough for 2-9inch cake rounds, or approximately 24 cupcakes

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 6-8 cups powdered sugar (Tasted really good with only 5 or 6, but 8 was too sweet)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (if you have lesser quality vanilla, add a little more)

--Place softened butter and 4 cups powdered sugar into mixer bowl, stir until somewhat combined

--Add milk and vanilla

--On medium speed, mix until creamy

--Add remaining sugar, a little bit at a time, until icing is at desired spreading thickness. You may not use all of the called-for sugar.

--Keep at room temperature for use

--Can be stored for up to 3 days, in an airtight container

To create the mummy look, use a basket weave tip (smooth side up) to pipe random strips of "bandages". For the eyes, use m&m's, and piping gel for the pupils for a more realistic effect. I only used red because the store was out of black, but I still like the "evil" effect it gives.

Happy Baking!

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