Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fluffy Chocolate Cupcakes

Fluffy Chocolate Cupcakes? Oh, yes...

Here is the recipe for one of the most moist chocolate cakes I have ever had.  Truth be told, I'm not a huge fan of chocolate cake.  It tends to be either too dense or too bland. So why do a blog on something that I don't love? Because I'm never happy until I've searched across the world to find a recipe for everything baked that tastes wonderful. Now, with peace of mind, I can say that I found a chocolate cake recipe that I actually love.  Adapted from Bake Happy, I altered it a little because I prefer a little egg in my cakes.

I love making cakes (or cupcakes in this example) because there usually aren't too many steps.  It's very simple and yet turns out so yummy. But, for those of you that don't enjoy reading every OCD step I do to make a cake, here is the printable version of the recipe.

Prep-Step 1: Get Organized! Print out the recipe and tape it to your cupboard or fridge.  Look over the ingredients to make sure you have everything you need.

Prep-Step 2: Prepare your pan.  If you are using a cupcake pan, then line them with paper.  But if you are using a 8" or 9" pan to make a round cake there is a very simple way to ensure a perfect way to remove the cake from the pan after baking.  First, spray the pan with a nonstick spray such as Pam.  Then line the pan with parchment paper, but make sure not to use wax paper.  Wax paper can't stand the heat like parchment paper so never use it in an oven! Finally, spray the pan once more with Pam after laying the parchment paper on the bottom.  Don't worry about the parchment paper lining up perfecting in the pan, it doesn't need to be perfect.  Just have it cover most of the bottom and your cake will flip out of this pan so perfectly after it has cooled!

Ok, let's get started!

1 ½ C. Sugar
½ C. Mayonnaise*
1 Egg Yolk**
2 C. Cake Flour***
½ C. Cocoa
1 tsp. Baking Soda
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 ½ C. Water
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Step 1: Combine sugar, mayonnaise and egg yolk in mixing bowl. If you need a tutorial on an easy way to separate an egg, here is a video I made. Beat together until smooth.

Step 2: In separate bowl, whisk together cake flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder. Whisking simply breaks up the clumps of cocoa and flour, plus mixes in the baking powder and baking soda evenly. See how fluffy it looks!

Step 3: Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the water into the sugar mixture.  Don't over mix the batter.  You want to have the dry ingredients just starting to blend in before adding part of the water.

Tip:  Make sure you are measuring your water accurately.  You need to let the water settle, then get eye level with it to make sure it is the correct amount.  Often times, people miss measure because they are looking from above.  I've posted three different shots of how to view the water.  The picture on the left shows viewing the water from above…looks like its a bit more than 1 ½ cups, right? Well the top right picture is the same amount, only viewed from eye level.  If you look closely, it is actually less than 1 ½ cups.  You want the line of water to be just above you measurement line.  The bottom right picture is an accurate measurement of 1 ½ cups of water.

Step 4: Add vanilla extract and blend together. Don't worry if your batter looks a bit "soupy", that is normal.

Step 5: Pour into prepared pan.  I prefer to use an ice cream scoop because it keeps each cupcake evenly filled and prevents drips between cupcakes. 

*Ignore the orange sprinkles in some of the liners.  I wanted to see if they
would evenly melt to the bottom of the cupcake…they didn't.  
See how even they are!
Step 6: Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes for cupcakes (less if you are making mini-cupcakes) or 40-50 minutes for round cakes. To see if they are fully baked, try gently (and I mean gently) wiggling the pan to see if any cupcakes jiggle…nobody likes jiggle so stick it back in. If it doesn't jiggle, then do the spring back test. For a video tutorial, click here. But basically, you gently press your finger down on the top of the cupcake and if it springs back then it is done. If it doesn't then you need to put it back in the oven for a couple more minutes. It's always a good idea to start with fewer minutes and testing it, than to bake the full time and end up with over done cake (which will also dry it out).

Try to let it cool in the pan before tasting them….if you can! This will finalize the baking process since the hot pan will continue to bake the cake.  Make sure the cake is completely cooled before frosting it.

So I wanted to try a whipped chocolate ganache frosting, but lacked ingredients and time to go to the store.  So I made a basic chocolate buttercream, not my favorite but it is ok.  I'll do a blog for the frosting if anyone is interested, but really it isn't worth it.  It is simply butter, milk, cocoa powder and a bunch of powdered sugar.  What I didn't care for is that it tastes too sweet with all the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder left tiny clumps and tasted too "cocoa powdery".  You know the taste; unsweetened, little fake and not really blended into the frosting. 

That said, frosting is still frosting on a cupcake and it looked pretty yummy. I just would have preferred a more sophisticated frosting.  Perhaps I will make the whipped ganache or maybe a swiss meringue chocolate frosting next time and will blog about that experiment.

Seriously, how cute is this?
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below! I love hearing from you all and answering any questions. Happy Baking!

*Why use mayonnaise? Mayonnaise is made up of oil (which moistens a cake), egg (which gives it structure) and vinegar (which will enhance the chocolate favor of the cake). So to sum it up, mayonnaise will perfect your cake by making it moist, spongy and really chocolatey. 

**Why use just the egg yolk? Because an egg is consisted of two types, fat and protein.  The yolk holds the fat, which makes a cake moist. The white is the protein, which will actually dry out your cake, but it gives it structure.  If you have a recipe that calls for a few eggs, you can use just the yolk of one egg to help moisten your cake. For more information on how to moisten up a cake, this is a good site for helpful tips and why.

***Why use cake flour?  There are many different kinds of flour and what makes them different is what they are made from; either hard wheat or soft wheat. Cake flour is made mostly from soft wheat and is high in starch, allowing your cake to be more fluffy than when using all-purpose flour.  All-purpose flour is made with a more even combination of hard and soft wheat, which changes the amount of gluten levels and makes your cake more elastic.  It gets confusing fast, so just remember that cake flour makes it fluffy and all-purpose flour makes it more chewy.

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