Golden Yellow Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

It’s cake season around here…we have several birthdays in January and February in our family, so I’m basically making cake after cake for about two months. This is one of my favorite cake recipes…I typically make it as a 9″ layer cake, but my sister-in-law wanted cupcakes for her birthday party, and they turned out really great.  I’ve posted about the frosting before, on a similar cake that I’ve made often, and also love, but since I discovered this Cook’s Illustrated version I may just make this one from now on whenever I’m wanting a yellow cake.  Because of science-y Cook’s Illustrated details, this cake is fluffier and has a finer crumb.  And the frosting is silky and delicious…you have to try it!

Fluffy Yellow Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Fluffy Yellow Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting

from Cook’s Illustrated

2 1/2 cups cake flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon table salt

1 3/4 cups sugar (12 1/4 ounces)

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 large egg yolks, room temperature

3 large egg whites, room temperature

1. Adjust oven rack to middle and heat to 350 degrees.  Place 27 cupcake liners into cupcake tins (or grease two 9″ round cake pans and line with parchment paper, then grease and flour).  Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl.  In 4 cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and yolks.

2.  In clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds.  With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, continue to beat until stiff peaks form, about a minute or so.  Transfer to another bowl and set aside.

3.  Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment.  With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds.  Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl.  Return mixer to med-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10-15 seconds.

4.  Using a rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain.  Fill each cupcake liner evenly, about 3/4 full.

5.  Bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 17-19 minutes.  Let cool on rack in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely.  Frost with milk chocolate frosting.

Milk Chocolate Frosting

While cakes are cooling, prepare frosting.

20 tbsp butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder

pinch table salt

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1 tsp vanilla

8 oz. high quality milk chocolate, like Ghiradelli, melted and cooled slightly

In a food processor, process butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, about 30 seconds.  Add corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, 5-10 seconds.  Scrape sides of the bowl, then add chocolate and pulse until smooth and creamy, about 10-15 times.

Fill a pastry bag with frosting and either cut the tip off so that there’s about a 1/2″ round opening, or fit with a piping tip.  Swirl frosting generously on cupcakes.  Eat and be happy!

 

Margaux says…

I bought a lavender plant last summer just to make this recipe (well, and I really like lavender in general, but that’s what really motivated my purchase), and am just now finally getting around to it! Luckily I was able to take all my herbs in for the winter, and they stayed alive. My mother-in-law brought me a bag of Meyer lemons last time she visited, which lit a fire under me to make these. The recipe is from the “Three Aunts and a Mom” cookbook that Aunt Suzy gave me, and this recipe is from my Aunt Judy.

The original recipe has a glaze on it, but I was concerned that they would turn out more muffin-like than cupcake, so I made a basic lemon butter frosting.  If you’d rather do the glaze, just mix 1 cup of powdered sugar with 5-6 tablespoons of lemon juice, and add a few teaspoons of zest.  But I thought they were really good with the frosting.

The Meyer lemons made the cupcakes sweeter than they probably would be with regular lemons.  They were very delicious, but unless you’re a major sweet-tooth, you’ll probably only be able to eat one.  They would be perfect for an early spring birthday party, while lemons are still in season.  If you don’t have fresh lavender available, rosemary would work as well.

Fresh Lavender and Lemon Cupcakes

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup extra fine granulated sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tsp finely chopped lavender or rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, lavender, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the buttermilk, vanilla and lemon juice.

In a large mixing bowl beat butter on medium high for 30 seconds; add sugar and beat on medium high for 2 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping bowl often. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture in three parts, ending with flour. Beat on low after each addition until just combined.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups to 3/4 full. Bake 22-25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from muffin pan and let cool.

Lemon Frosting

4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until combined (will look crumbly). Add lemon juice and zest, and beat until smooth. Add more powdered sugar or more lemon juice to desired consistency.

Spiced Chocolate Torte

January 30, 2011

Margaux says…

It’s my birthday!! My husband asked me if I wanted him to get me a cake, or if I wanted to make it myself. I’m a total cake snob, and have yet to really find a bakery in Chicago that has cake as good as homemade. I’ve found decent ones, but still not good enough, so I usually make my own cake. This year was no exception, and I’ve been really wanting to make the cake that was featured on the December cover of Bon Appetit…it looks heavenly!! Maybe a little labor-intensive, even when not making the white chocolate and milk chocolate ribbons to wrap it up in, but hey, it’s my birthday!  Totally worth the work.

The cake part is actually pretty straightforward and easy.  The batter was a little weird before you put in the egg whites…it was more like cookie dough.  But once you put in the egg whites, it’s much more what I’m used to for cake batter.

The buttercream was another story.  I’ve always wanted to make a real French buttercream, but always put it off because it seems too tedious.  It took me two tries, but the second time around I had the hang of it, and it actually turned out pretty perfectly.  I don’t have any photos of the process because you really have to buckle down and stay focused on the task, but if you follow the instructions carefully, it’s actually not that hard.  I added one note to the recipe…the first time around, I used my stand mixer, and I definitely advise against that.  I was pouring the cooked sugar mixture into the eggs with the mixer running, like you should, but because the syrup hardens immediately as it cools, it was splattering into hard crystals on the sides of the bowl.  It was pretty, and looked like spun sugar, but almost half of the syrup didn’t end up in the eggs like it should have!  So the second time around, I used a hand mixer, which was more labor intensive but did the trick.


The glaze was very easy.  The only thing is that I don’t think I stirred it enough to thicken it, so a lot more than I wanted slid off the cake.  So make sure you follow the instructions, and not get too antsy to eat the cake.  🙂


Spiced Chocolate Torte
(without the chocolate ribbons)
from Bon Appetit, Dec 2010 issue

I made this as a 6″ cake, since I wasn’t serving 12-14 people like the original recipe states.  You can halve any recipe for a 9″ cake to make a 6″ cake.  Some of the division is a little tricky, so you’ll have to use a calculator or conversion chart on the internet.

cake
1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
8 eggs, separated, room temperature
10 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), melted, lukewarm
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour, sifted (measured, then sifted)
pinch of salt
pinch of cream of tartar

buttercream
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
4 jumbo egg yolks
1 1/2 cups butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), melted and cooled (but still pourable)
1/4 cup dark rum
pinch salt

glaze
12 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate(do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 tbsp honey
3/4 tsp instant espresso powder or instant coffee powder

cake
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter three 9″ cake pans with 1 1/2″ high sides. Line bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks one at a time. Blend in melted chocolate. Slowly mix in pecans, vanilla and spices. Gently fold in flour in 4 batches (batter will be very thick and dense).
Using an electric hand mixer, beat egg whites with salt and cream of tartar in another large bowl until medium peaks form. Gently fold 1/4 of the whites into batter to lighten, then fold in remaining. whites. Divide batter among prepared pans, spreading evenly. Bake until tooth pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Run knife around sides of each cake. Let stand 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks. Cool to room temperature. (Cakes can be made up to 2 weeks ahead. Wrap tightly and freeze.)

buttercream
Stir sugar and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil 1 minute. Meanwhile, using electric mixer, beat egg yolks in medium bowl until pale and thick. Gradually beat in hot sugar syrup; continue beating until mixture is completely cool, about 5 minutes. (I used a hand mixer for this because with a stand mixer, when adding the syrup mixture half of it ended up on the sides of the bowl like spun sugar. I had to scrap a batch and start over.) Beat in butter one piece at a time, incorporating each piece completely before adding next. Blend in melted chocolate, then rum. (If buttercream looks broken or curdled, place bowl with buttercream over medium heat on stove burner and whisk 5 to 10 seconds to warm mixture slightly, then remove from heat and beat mixture again on medium speed. Repeat warming and beating as many times as needed until buttercream is smooth.) Chill buttercream for 30 minutes to firm it up before spreading it on the cake layers.
Reserve 1/2 cup buttercream. Set 1 cake layer, flat side up, on rack; spread top with half the remaining buttercream. Top with second cake layer; spread with remaining buttercream. Top with third cake layer; use reserved 1/2 cup buttercream to fill in seam where cake layers meet. Freeze cake until buttercream is firm, about 2 hours (I wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap so that it wouldn’t dry out).

glaze
Place strips of waxed paper under the sides of the cake to catch extra glaze when it runs down the sides.
Stir all ingredients in top of double boiler over gently simmering water until mixture is smooth. Remove from over water. Stir until glaze is thickened, about 5 minutes (do not allow glaze to set). Pour 3/4 of the glaze over the top of cake. Carefully and quickly tilt cake back and forth so glaze coats sides; smooth sides with spatula, adding some of remaining glaze where necessary. Chill cake until glaze is set. Remove pieces of waxed paper.

Cake can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.