Cupcakes: two ways!

So yesterday was one of those unbearable long days. And what’s the perfect way to end a day like that? Cupcakes, of course!It's so pretty!

Now I know not everyone enjoys the thought of coming home and sifting, mixing and measuring for three hours, but for me it’s one of the most relaxing things possible. Plus it was my day off from the gym? AND roomie Ben is coming back for the weekend?? Talk about a perfect storm of time, motivation and someone to eat all my baked goods. As a single girl, this really did seem to be the best possible way to spend my evening. And it was, it really was.

I do, however, have a confession to make. With all the baking I’ve done in my lifetime, I’ve never made a cake from scratch. I know, it’s heresy! How could this girl who makes her own bread – heck, makes her own gnocchi! – use a box mix? It’s been a shameful secret of mine for years. Now I will say, I don’t use the box recipe. I have some fun on that part, but I’ve just never had the want-to on making my own cake.

Last night changed all that. I ventured into uncharted territory, and I think it was worth it. With the exception of some inexplicably crispy cupcake tops on the red velvet, I made good cake.

I did adapt these recipes slightly – the red velvet to fit cupcakes, and the icing on the mocha. As much as I wanted buttercream (I did! I really did!) I underestimated the amount of butter I needed and really didn’t want to head back to the store. So espresso cream cheese it was!

A row of cupcakes? Like edible hurdles!

Possibly the best coffee table decorations ever.

In making my baking plan for the evening, I figured one recipe wouldn’t suffice. After all, one could stink and it not be my fault at all! Luckily, both of these were excellent. Thanks to my inspirations from Alpineberry (for the red velvet!) and Collaborative Curry (Mocha yummy!). After reading probably 150 cake recipes, those two sounded the best. And I wasn’t disappointed in the least.

My lover

My baby was tired after all that work.

Red Velvet Cake
(from marthastewart.com)
(one 2 layer 9-inch round cake)

Adapted from: Alpineberry

I made 24 cupcakes from this recipe with a little batter to spare. The recipe translates well to cupcakes!

2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising) **I didn’t have cake flour, so I used AP. Would have definitely been better with cake.
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups flavorless oil **I used vegetable. Would probably go to soy next time.
2 large eggs
2 tbsp red food coloring (one 1-ounce bottle) **I didn’t use quite this much and it still turned out very red.
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vinegar (white or apple cider)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Generously butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans or line your cupcake tin. Sprinkle with flour, and tap out the excess. Set your pans aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside your dry ingredients.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the sugar and oil on medium speed until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add food coloring and vanilla, and beat until well combined.

Add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add vinegar to batter, and beat for 10 seconds.

Evenly divide the batter between your prepared pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from the pans, and return to the rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting
(enough to fill and frost a 2 layer 9-inch round cake)

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temp.
12 ounces (1.5 bars) cream cheese, softened at room temp.
1 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium speed. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until combined, about 2 minutes.

Mocha Cupcakes with Espresso Cream Cheese Frosting

Preparation Time: 15 min
Cooking time: 18-20 min
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Adapted from :Brown Eyed Baker
Re-Adapted from: Collaborative Curry
Ingredients:

For Cupcakes:
All purpose flour- 1 1/3 cup
Unsweetened cocoa powder- 1/3 cup
Baking powder- 1 tsp
Baking soda- 1/2 tsp
Salt- a pinch
Strong brewed coffee- 1/2 cup
Espresso powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Whole milk- 1/2 cup
Pure vanilla extract- 1 tsp
Unsalted butter- 1/2 cup
Granulated sugar- 1/2 cup
Light brown sugar- 1/2 cup
Egg- 1 large

Method:
1.Brew the coffee and mix the espresso powder in it.Set aside to cool down.
2.Preheat the oven at 350 degree F and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
3.Whisk together the flour,cocoa powder,baking powder,baking soda and salt.
4.Mix the coffee with milk and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. (I added a touch of buttermilk. Never a bad idea!)
5.Blend together the butter and sugars until creamy and fluffy.
6.Add the egg and beat well until mixed in.
7.Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately,starting and ending with flour mixture.
8.Spoon into muffin pan and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean.
9.Cool down a wire rack before frosting the cupcakes.

For Espresso Cream Cheese Frosting:
For: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:
Cream Cheese- 1/2 package
Unsalted butter- 1/2 cup
Confectioner’s sugar- 2 1/2 cup
Pure vanilla extract- 1 1/2 tsp
Espresso powder- 1 1/2 tsp

Method:
1.Mix espresso powder in vanilla until dissolved well.
2.Whip butter and cream cheese on medium speed for about 5 minutes,scraping down the sides in between.
3.Add powdered sugar,a little at a time and mix on slow speed.Add more sugar when everything is mixed well and continue the process until you mix in all the sugar.
4.Add vanilla espresso mixture and mix well.
5.Frost the cup cakes.

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