Death by Chocolate

EXTREME. Chocolate.

If you are looking for a very moist cupcake with a lot of chocolate flavor, this is IT. The recipe comes from Hershey's, and I used a simple chocolate ganache recipe for the icing. I simply cooled the ganache until it set and I was able to pipe the decorations.

These will be the cupcakes I make next week for my daughter's birthday, she LOVED them. I was actually surprised she did, because for the ganache, I used a combination of semi-sweet and bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate, so it wasn't overly sweet, just pure chocolate. I think she has a much more refined palate than most soon-to-be 9 year olds, since I would think most kids would think this cupcake wasn't "sweet" enough. But the chocolate really shined in this one!

I made a half batch this time which came out to exactly 12 cupcakes (perfect!) - so next week, I will probably make half with a vanilla buttercream or cream cheese instead for those who don't like chocolate as much as others. My soon-to-be-foodie (or wait, is she already there!!??) will like them either way, I'm sure.

I also tried one with flaked sea salt sprinkled on top. YUM! That tiny bit of savory salt made the flavors soar!

Black Magic Cake
Source: Hershey's Kitchens


2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa (I used Dutch processed)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
1 cup strong black coffee OR 2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee plus 1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (Batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost as desired. Yields 10 to 12 servings.

* To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.

**For cupcakes, full batch should make 24 - filling each 2/3 of the way. I baked them 15-18 minutes until tops spring back and toothpick came out clean (or a couple of crumbs on it).

Chocolate Ganache Glaze / Frosting
Source: Savory Sweet Life

8 ounces of chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
*optional 3 tbl. of flavored liquor

Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat heavy cream on medium high until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate and stir until completely mixed and glossy. Allow ganache to cool before pouring over cakes as a glaze. The longer you allow the ganache to cool, the thicker it will set. Typically I stick mine in the refrigerator so it is slightly cold before whipping. For piping or frosting, allow the ganache to completely cool and set up. When you are able to spoon the ganache and it can hold its texture, it is ready for piping.

As a glaze, you can easily pour ganache over cakes for a nice smooth finish. If you are looking for a chocolate whipped filling, look no further. Just whip the ganache as you would heavy cream, making sure you mixing bowl and beater are nice and cold. And whatever you do, not put your ganache in the freezer with the hopes of whipping it. It will not whip and have a curdly like texture. For a thick frosting or decorative piping, allow the ganache to cool for a truffle like texture. Anyway you decide to eat it, this ganache will satisfy your sweet tooth and chocolate cravings. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cupcakes

My daughter has requested chocolate cupcakes for her upcoming birthday. I'm trying a few recipes out to see which one I like best. I made a half batch of the recipe below. This one was really good, but it was more like German Chocolate, and I was looking for a richer chocolate flavor. I was not a fan of the icing. It was the first time I'd made "Neoclassic" buttercream, but it was just too buttery for me, and not sweet hardly at all. It was really smooth, but I had to add powdered sugar to it so it would be eaten.

Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake
(from Cooks Illustrated)

To make cupcakes instead of a layer cake, divide batter between 24 muffin pan cups. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. I only bake one pan at a time. (Because I only have one pan. Also, I only made half the recipe.)

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1½ sticks), very soft, plus extra for greasing pans
1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8¾ ounces), plus extra for dusting pans
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa (¾ ounce)
½ cup hot water
1¾ cups sugar (12¼ ounces)
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

1. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch-round by 2-inch-high cake pans with softened butter; dust pans with flour and knock out excess. Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in medium heatproof bowl; set bowl over saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water and stir with rubber spatula until chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup sugar to chocolate mixture and stir until thick and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.

2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in small bowl. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk eggs and yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds. Add remaining 1¼ cups sugar, increase speed to high, and whisk until fluffy and lightened in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Replace whisk with paddle attachment. Add cooled chocolate mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30 to 45 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition. Add about one-third of flour mixture followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds). Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture (batter may appear separated). Scrape down sides of bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans; smooth batter to edges of pan with spatula.

3. Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack. Cool cakes to room temperature before frosting, 45 to 60 minutes.

I'm not going to include the icing, because it really wasn't worth the hassle. I recommend using your favorite icing recipe on this one!

Coconut Cupcakes

For my first cupcake, I decided to make Coconut Cupcakes using Paula Deen's Coconut cake recipe. My plan was to make these and using Paula's filling on top (which sounded like it was going to soak in, because you poke holes in the cake) - and then ice them with the 7-minute frosting.I had some issues with this cupcake, however.

First off - when making the batter, I opened my can of coconut milk, and it smelled "funny"... not rancid, but just not what I expected, and not sweet at all. Second, I poked holes in all the cupcakes and the filling didn't soak in. So my extra-moist (or so I thought)... weren't - and not anything in the cake to make it taste like coconut. The cake was very airy, light and spongy - but maybe it was best for layer cakes after all.

If I make this again, I would use cream of coconut instead of coconut milk (or a combination of regular milk and cream of coconut). For the filling, I would use less sour cream and maybe some cream of coconut to make it more thin to soak in the cupcake.
The frosting turned out great. I had never made a 7-minute frosting before, and it was much easier than I expected. I also chopped up about 1 cup of flaked coconut into the frosting to have more coconut flavor (which it why it looks lumpy - the frosting was SMOOTH and nice by itself).

Coconut Cake
Source: Paula Deen -


2 sticks butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups sifted self-rising flour
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut (left out for "soaking" into cupcakes)

7-Minute Frosting:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 to 3 cups flaked sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and coconut milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed.

Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4-inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake.

(NOTE: As cupcakes, I came out with exactly 30, and they baked for about 14-18 minutes - depending on the type of pan)


Stir together sugar, sour cream, milk, and coconut in a bowl until well blended. Place the first cake layer onto pedestal. Using the wrong end of a wooden spoon, poke holes approximately 1-inch apart until entire cake has been poked. Spread a third of filling mixture on cake layer. Top with second layer, repeat process. Top with last layer and repeat process again.


Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle top and sides of cake with coconut. (NOTE: I added 1 cup flaked coconut, finely chopped to icing after it was complete.)

• notes from a self-proclaimed baker •

For quite some time now, I have been thinking of starting my own little cupcake bakery "babycakes" in my town. It's something that is much needed and I'm sure it would do very well... but with things so hectic in my life already, I don't really see it happening... at least not any time soon. With that said, I thought maybe a little blog would help me organize my cupcake recipes, pacify the need to bake and create a bakery without all the actual overhead that would come along with it.

I have been cooking and baking for many years - but over the past few years it has really started to interest me more. I also cook a lot at home, but I still would call myself a baker. I feel that cooking involves less "thought" - many times ingredients can be thrown into a pot and something wonderful comes from it - but BAKING ... you have to know what you're doing, take the time to do it right or disaster can strike. I'm not saying cooking doesn't take thought, of course it does - but for me personally, I find baking more of a challenge, which is why I enjoy trying new recipes and new techniques. I've also started using (and loving) better, richer, "more adult" type of ingredients - like dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. My taste buds have changed with age, and my baking is changing along with it. I believe all of these make or break a baker... Technique, patience (wait, did I just say I have patience!??), and good ingredients is a must for any baker.

Stay tuned for the cupcakes!