The Big Sigh of Contentment
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
With Heavenly Frosting!You're right that this is a very long title, but I just wanted you to know that I'm sure you will sigh with contentment right after you bite into one of these. You won't even have to chew and swallow it, the taste and fragrance of it IN your mouth alone will be phenomenal. : } These are so light and satisfying, so chocolatey, with creamy, silky frosting, so chocolatey, so chocolatey, sorry I just had to repeat that,
I soooo want you to taste them in your imagination!
This is one of my three favorite gluten free recipes for chocolate cupcakes. Muffins and cupcakes are close, but not the same thing. To me a cupcake should be a moist, small light cake with loads of flavor and a delectable frosting. They shouldn't be overly sweet in either cake or frosting. Overly sweet, cloyingly sweet to me means unpalatable, I just can't and won't eat it. Especially when I know that I can bake them so much better. I have refused to buy store-bought cupcakes even when my children were small and in grade school. I wanted my children not only to eat better by making them at home, but to really experience them as they absolutely should taste. No preservatives, no sugary, syrupy high fructose additives. Just because they are homemade also isn't a guarantee that they are going to be good. I've unfortunately tasted, (I say tasted, because there's no way that I would have finished eating it), cupcakes brought to birthday parties that were basically just colored sugar and shortening. The cupcake was dry, and unpalatable, accompanied with almost a phosphorescent-hued wet, sugar over-dosed nasty lard like icing. I'm positive that I've made my point, thanks for listening!
Sprinkles, sprinkles, and more sprinkles! My family adores sprinkles. What an easy and fun way to decorate finished cupcakes, or to liven up the batter to resemble a kaleidoscope baked into your delicate and perfect cupcake, whatever the flavor. I really love looking for unusual, unique sprinkles. There are many sites online that offer a fabulous array of them. I keep them in a large removable drawer, you know , the ones that you can stack if you want. The drawer slides into a shell of sorts. My Granddaughter Lela loves to look at them. So do I. Sometimes even when I'm not even cooking, I slide the door out and peruse them all for fun, it's something akin to looking at jewels. I can even relate it to looking at all of my Grandmother's home canned goods. All the rows and rows of different colored fruits and vegetables. We even have her antique button collection. Lela loves to go through those, so did her Mama and Auntie Chelsea. We get a large flat egg carton, put it on a jelly roll pan and let her/them pour the buttons out into the pockets, or even onto the tray itself then using the eggs carton for a sorting tool. She started looking at and sorting these when she was just about 3 years old. She's never put buttons, jelly beans or anything in her nose or ears, AND, we never left her alone with them either! So you can judge your own kids and what you think they are ready to do. This kid? She could have been President of the USA at 4 years old. And would probably do a mind blowing better job than the last several!
So, pick out your sprinkles and let's start baking!
These cupcakes are from and inspired by Jeanne Sauvage's website "theartofglutenfreebaking.com", and it uses her flour blend with her permission which I include here:
Jeanne's Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Blend Makes about 4 1/2 cups
1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
1 1/4 cups white rice flour
1 cup sweet rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour/starch
scant 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
Whisk together in a large bowl. Measure out the amount called for in the recipe your using, then transfer the remaining blend into an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place up to 6 weeks, in the fridge for 4 months. (Mine never lasts more than a couple of days)!
The Big Sigh of Contentment Dark Chocolate Cupcakes With Heavenly Frosting!
This recipe makes 24 regular, or 12 regular plus 18 minis, or 48 minis. Approximately.
1-1/2 cups of Jeanne's flour blend
1/4 cup + 2-3 heaping Tablespoons of dry, unsweetened cocoa powder-packed like you would brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, **if using table salt cut the amount if half
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and room temperature
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 large OR 4 medium eggs - this gives them more lift
1 1/2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
1/2 cup very hot water
Pre-heat oven to 350°F
Place paper cupcake cups into a 12 cup regular cupcake pan
Mini muffin papers for 42-48 mini muffins
You will need a candy thermometer
1. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flour blend, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a stand mixer bowl combine the 2 large or 3 medium eggs, melted and cooled butter, brown sugar and vanilla, on medium high speed and mix for about 2 minutes.
3. When egg mixture is thoroughly combined, on LOW speed (so as to not splash hot water out of the bowl and burn yourself), slowly add a third of the dry blend, then 1/2 of the hot water, dry, wet, and ending up with dry blend at the end. Mix well about 1 minute on medium-low, then switch to medium-high and mix for 6 minutes. this give the flours time to rehydrate and thus produces a smooth textured cake without the regular grittiness associated with gluten free baked goods!
4. Fill each cup to 3/4 full. Bake 12 regular sized for 17 1/2 minutes, and minis about 15 minutes, or until a cake tester/toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a little or no crumbs attached. Let cakes cool in the pan for 5-8 minutes. Remove each cup with a thin knife or a fork by dipping either utensil in and under the cake, lifting carefully and place on a wire rack. Let cool for at least an hour before frosting, and filling.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
(this is the vanilla recipe, see the options below)
Makes about 5 cups - recipe can be cut in half or easily doubles - Keep any leftover in the fridge in the coldest section and it keeps for a couple weeks.
You will need a candy thermometer
6 large egg whites (save the yolks to make custard)
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) of unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and room temperature - which is still cool but not melty
**1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a double boiler, or a heatproof bowl of a stand mixer, set over a pan of simmering water, (however the water should NEVER touch the bottom of the top bowl or pan as it will curdle or scorch the egg white mixture. Whisk the mixture by hand until it is warm to the touch and sugar has melted and dissolved completely. This state is easier to accomplish by adding the candy thermometer onto the side of the bowl or pan containing the egg mixture. Stir with a whisk constantly until the temperature registers 160°F. Remove from the heat at once, and rub a small bit between your fingers if you need further proof, it should feel smooth and silky, and then it's done.
2. Immediately place the bowl onto your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low speed, then gradually increasing to medium-high speed. Whisk until eggs whites are stiff but not dry (dry ones will be airy with a lot of holes), you are looking for fluffy, glossy smooth whites that when you pull the beater out and turn it over, the whites stay in place and don't droop, or drip. Continue whipping until the mixture is completely cool, check the outside of the bowl with your hand. Step 2 takes about 10 minutes.
3. Now turn the mixer down to medium-low speed and add the butter a tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition. Once all of the butter has been added, add the vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment and continue beating on low speed until all the air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a flexible spatula and continue beating until its completely smooth. DONT WORRY IF IT LOOKS LIKE ITS CURDLED, just keep on beating it and it will always smooth back out.If you are planning to use it the same day it's made, leave it at room temperature, covered with a clean kitchen towel. I not using the same day, cover with plastic wrap and chill, remove from the fridge at least 1 1/2 hours prior to using. You may need to beat it for a couple of minutes before using.
❥To fill each cupcake: Into a pastry bag fitted with a #6 open tip.
❥To tint the buttercream: First reserve a portion to use to tone the coloring down if needed.
To portions needing to be tinted: add gel-paste coloring a drop at a time, or use a toothpick or skewer a dab at a time. Avoid adding to much tint/food coloring too soon as the hue will intensify with continued stirring. This is great to do with kids as a science experiment. Place your portions into sandwich zip lock baggies with the coloring and let the children gently massage the coloring into the base color. Use a single shade of color or be an adventurist by mixing your own colors - be sure to keep notes on which colors and shades you make. Blend well after each addition of color, using the paddle attachment or by hand with a flexible spatula, until the desired shade is achieved. Add some of the untainted portion to lighten up the tinted portion if needed.
❥Chocolate:**keep the vanilla extract in the frosting directions as it is essential to good chocolate taste!
Combine 2 heaping Tablespoons dry, unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon espresso powder, and 6 ounces of dark chocolate, melt in microwave for 45 seconds, stir, then microwave for 40 seconds. Stir well. Some of the chocolate may not be melted, let it sit about 5 minutes, and using a flexible spatula stir the chocolate until smooth. Let it come to room temperature, then add to the base in step 3, after you've added all of the butter.
❥Add powdered sugar-free Jello in whatever flavor and color you are wanting by adding it in small increments after the butter has been added.
❥There are small envelopes of color and flavor in the baking goods aisle in your local grocers. These are great for adding to homemade frostings/icings. Add after the butter.
❥Add 1 cup smooth peanut butter after the butter.
I hope you have fun experimenting with colors and flavors! Please share with us all!