Sunday, August 10, 2014

Chocolate cupcakes with fluffy marshmallow frosting

As much as we'd all like to deny it as we savor our kale salads and homemade yogurt, there's a part of our brains that occasionally lingers on those oh-so-unspeakable treats from our childhoods. You know, the kind that came in boxes on grocery store endcaps, with a shelf life of at least 2 years.

But you can't actually go back there. It's like going back to a childhood home... it's never quite the same way you remembered it.

So you recreate what you remember, but you make it better. No shortening. No chemicals. No artificial ingredients. Nothing that could sit forgotten for a few years in the back of the pantry, and still look exactly the same as the day you picked it up for 2/$1.

So today, I bring you the recipe for light, spongy chocolate cupcakes with a fluffy marshmallow frosting that melts in your mouth. The cake is springy, moist and flavorful; the frosting is dense enough to be sinful but light enough that it doesn't overwhelm the cake.

Here is the recipe, and a picture of them topped with a single chocolate wafer:

and as an alternative, sprinkled with mini chocolate chips instead:

Chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow frosting
(this recipe makes 2 dozen with a few extra for placating your hungry family, who apparently cannot wait all of one day until the party)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder; I used Ghirardelli
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup hot coffee
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

For marshmallow frosting:
1.5 cups butter 
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tubs of marshmallow fluff

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease your muffin tins, or use liners.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa and sugar. 

Mix in oil, coffee, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Mix just until blended. Batter will be thin, and rise high, so fill cupcake tins halfway only. With this recipe, I would recommend filling and baking your pans ASAP - don't pre-make this batter and let it sit out on the counter.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through if necessary, and just until cupcakes spring back when pressed with a finger. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans to cool completely.

At this stage, I usually vacuum seal the cakes and then freeze them in our chest freezer until the day of the event. I believe they are actually better after a freeze and thaw than they are fresh out of the oven... but that's just me. They do have to be fresh when you put them in the freezer though... no freezing is going to bring back stale cupcakes! If you do freeze them ahead of time, unwrap them completely and let them thaw before you decorate. It won't take long... never takes mine more than an hour.

To decorate these, I used a marshmallow buttercream frosting that tastes of marshmallow but is sturdy and pipeable like a buttercream. Simply whip together 1.5 cups (3 sticks) of butter, 3 cups of sifted confectioner's sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract on medium-high speed. When it's fluffy, add in 2 tubs of marsmallow fluff and gently whip on low speed until completely blended together and no large air bubbles remain.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Finding beauty

Irish Boxer Husband claims that for the longest time, I wasn't much of a fan of cut flowers... he might be right, as I have no doubt his memory may occasionally be more reliable than mine, but I have decided that I love flowers and can't have too many of them around the house. Attached to a plant and living or in a vase, I see their glowing colors their delicacy, and that subtle iridiscence... and it makes me happy.