|Decadent Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream|
Growing up, my mom was a cupcake rockstar! She made so many different kinds of cupcakes with so many different icings and frostings that when my friends would come over, they’d stare at my mom’s cake stand, eyes glazed over, jaws on the ground. No one made as many different versions of cupcakes as my mom and not one of the neighborhood mothers could live up to her legendary status.
I had many favorites, from her peanut butter cupcakes frosted with a penuche like confectionary that I still dream about, to her banana cupcakes frosted with spiced cream cheese icing and topped with chopped walnuts to a simple yellow cupcake done with a thick, buttery orange buttercream. My mom was rocking cupcakes long before cupcakes were cool.
Once, when I had a lead role in the school play, my mom whipped up dozens of cupcakes for the cast members. It was right before Easter and she made white marbled cupcakes swirled with pastel pinks and yellows and greens and blues and then frosted them with pale green icing and topped them with coconut she’d dyed with food color to resemble Easter basket grass. Finally, she topped each one with three perfect jelly beans. My acting may not have been Hollywood quality, but those cupcakes made me the star of the show.
Perhaps, my adoration of cupcakes comes from those early years of my life when my mom’s many cupcakes were on weekly rotation. They were easy to make, portable and each one had the perfect ratio of cake to frosting. My mom would have never used a box mix, but when cupcake cravings hit, sometimes there’s no other means to the end. I add a few tablespoons of booze and some really good finely chopped chocolate to fake homemade, but when it comes to the frosting, well, nothing will do but homemade buttercream.
Here’s a quick buttercream frosting that’s a snap to make and will calm the chocolate beast who just won’t let you sleep without being fed!
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup good quality cocoa powder
1 pound powdered sugar
1 tablespoon good vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
1. Cream butter and cream cheese together in a medium bowl until creamy and light.
2. Sift cocoa powder and powdered sugar together in a bowl.
3. Slowly add the cocoa powder/powdered sugar mixture to the creamed butter and cream cheese, blending well after each addition.
4. Add the vanilla extract and blend.
5. Add enough milk or heavy cream until you reach the desired consistency.
6. Refrigerate for 20 minutes and then spread onto cooled cupcakes.
7. Freeze any leftover frosting, or stash it in the very depths of the refrigerator where only you know its location—it’s delicious spread onto graham crackers.