Monday, October 31, 2011

Chocolate-Coffee Cupcakes


Happy Halloween!! Do you have your costume ready and pumpkin carved yet? We like to do things a little last minute so we'll be carving our pumpkins tonight, probably as the trick-or-treaters begin showing up. And I'm not really into costumes because I can never come up with a good one, but I love dressing the kiddo up. We're going to attempt to take him trick-or-treating but first we have to get him to wear his costume. So far we've had no luck getting him to wear his puffy tiger costume. Oh well, we have plenty of Halloween candy (and cupcakes!) at home to eat. 


To celebrate Halloween, my mom and I made these yummy chocolate-coffee cupcakes. They are a little more coffee-y than just a regular chocolate cupcake but they aren't as strong as a mocha cupcake either. You can taste a hint of coffee which helps to bring out the chocolate flavor. The batter was fairly runny but the cupcakes baked up light and moist.

When we tried the cupcake by itself, we thought the coffee was a little strong (probably because I used strong coffee), but it was perfectly balanced by the vanilla buttercream frosting. And of course we had to add a little Halloween twist by dying the frosting orange and adding a spider web. Don't let the spider web fool you though, it was super easy to make! 

Chocolate-Coffee Cupcakes
Servings: ~24 cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk*
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed coffee

Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp. milk
Orange gel icing color or food dye

Royal Icing (for the spider web):
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tbsp. meringue powder (such as Ateco)
2 1/2 tbsp. water
Black gel icing color 

* Buttermilk can be made by adding 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 cup low-fat milk. Let sit for 10 minutes before using. 

For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°. Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix the dry ingredients on low until combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla together. With the mixer on low, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Stir in the coffee until incorporated. Do not over mix.

Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting, beat the butter and confectioners' sugar together with an electric mixer until combined. Beat in the vanilla extract and milk until smooth. Add additional milk or confectioners' sugar to reach the desired consistency. Stir in the food icing color or food dye. Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired.

For the royal icing, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, meringue powder, and water until smooth. Thin out the icing for piping by adding a small amount of water and stirring with a spoon. Add extra water or confectioners' sugar to reach the desired consistency. The  icing should be thick but still able to be easily piped. Add the gel icing color, using a toothpick, and mix with a spoon. Transfer the icing to a pastry bag fitted with the desired tip (I used #2) or a plastic bag with the corner cut off. Pipe 4 circles on top of the frosted cupcake. Drag a toothpick through the frosting and icing, starting at the center and working to the edge of the cupcake, to create the spider web. 

Source: cupcakes adapted from Ina Garten

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