I can’t even began to explain how very much I dislike cupcakes. I think it comes from my time working furiously at my online bake shop: Eat Your Plate. I churned out so many of these midnight chocolate cupcakes, that the mere sight of them makes me want to have a seizure. I can’t deny it, they are remarkably decadent and delicious. They certainly don’t taste and feel like your average cupcake….and they are not meant to. I use really rich, really fresh products which make all the difference in the end result. And beyond, hating the taste of a cupcake, there is an even deeper disdain for the creation of them. However, every once in a while I feel that little flicker. Someone will inspire me and I’ll feel inclined to whip up a batch. Or, in this case, I like someone so much that just the idea of their face while consuming these, drives me to make them. This batch was made for a very special birthday girl whom I feel really blessed to have in my life. We had a bit of a bumpy start. Pretty much my fault. She raised all sorts of red flags in my book: she’s sensible, she’s quiet, she makes perfect sense all the time. But then it dawned on me that the world can only handle so much Jenny and that people like Casey really balance things out. She’s the heat to my balsamic reduction, takes the bitter edge off just enough to keep things enjoyable.
The past year has been really great for our friendship because I finally shut my mouth and gave her the opportunity to talk. The majority of my friends have been almost as over the top as I am and to be honest, I don’t think that’s always a good thing. Casey is really mellow, she listens extremely well, has dozens of truly amazing qualities and capabilities and has the ability to surprise and delight often. And, beyond all that, she has a huge heart, which is always a plus. It’s a rarity that I give the Casey’s of the world a chance and frankly, I don’t know why. There is no reason to be suspicious of a perfectly normal personality. Perhaps I am just concerned it will really show people my slightly neurotic strange side. 😉
The point of all this rambling: yesterday I thought about her and I wanted to make these cupcakes for her birthday, just to say, hey, you were on my mind. I spent the afternoon cooking in a frenzy and couldn’t have been happier when I brought over the dozen for her to eat and share. People like Casey bring the baker out of me and I kind of dig that. So here’s to you Casey, you are indeed a pretty special lady.
MIDNIGHT CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH VANILLA FROSTING
1/2 cup raw cocoa powder
1.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
1 cup boiling water
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp, cut into pieces
1/4 half & half or heavy cream (your preference)
2 egg yolks
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line your cupcake tins. In a small heatproof bowl, combine your cocoa powder and unsweetened chocolate. Pour the boiling water on top and whisk until smooth. Allow to cool for at least one hour. (You can place in the freezer to speed things up a bit)
2. Using a mixer with the paddle attachment combine the following: flour, brown sugar, sea salt and baking soda. Add your butter a few pieces at a time, mixing on medium speed just until it begins to resemble a dough. Beat an additional minute, just to make sure the butter is well incorporated, scraping down the sides if needed.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks and half & half, until well mixed. Turn your mixture up to medium high and add the mixture slowly. Whip the mixture into a frenzy for about a minute. It will start to look light and fluffy.
4. Slowly add your chocolate mixture and mix again, on medium high-speed for about a minute, until light and fluffy once more. Scoop into your cupcake tins and bake until a toothpick comes out clean. They will still feel soft to the touch but the toothpick won’t do you wrong.
5. Allow to cool before frosting.
2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
4 sticks (yes, 4!) unsalted butter, room temp, cut into cubes
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
1. While your cake is cooling, combine the flour and the milk in a saucepan, whisking constantly, over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to thicken and is noticeably different in texture, whisk only thirty additional seconds and then remove from heat. Set aside to cool COMPLETELY. I usually place it right in my mixing bowl to speed up the process, sometimes sticking it in the fridge if really in a time crunch.
2. Fit your mixture with the paddle attachment and on low-speed add the sugar to the cooled milk and flour mixture. Mix until combined. Continuing on low-speed, add the butter, a few cubes at a time until it is all incorporated, then mix in the vanilla and salt.
3. Turn the mixer up to medium high-speed and allow to go for 8-10 minutes. The mixture will look curdled and strange but don’t worry, it just needs time to come together. Be patient, let it mix and eventually you will get smooth, light, delicious frosting. Use immediately or store at room temp covered for up to 8 hours.
4. You can pipe these or just use a knife. Whichever method you prefer is fine, they still will taste wonderful.
Enjoy my friends! And of course, Happy Birthday to Ms. Casey.
Soon to be Mrs. Casey. 😉