My favorite thing about these cupcakes is that they are rich and dense and chocolatey. My least favorite thing is that making them involves lots of waiting.
They’re not difficult. It’s just that something always needs to warm up or cool down, and there isn’t a way to hurry that along. Read through to see where you have to let something sit, and definitely make them a day ahead.
Adapted from the excellent recipe on Joy of Baking.
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a small bowl, stir together the boiling water and the cocoa powder. Let it cool to room temperature, and set out a stick of butter if you haven’t already.
- In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. (No waiting here, thank goodness!)
- In a third bowl, with an electric mixer or a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Put it all together — add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.
You have two choices now:
For regular-sized cupcakes, I use 5 1/2-inch parchment paper squares to line the cups, since they look artsy and it doesn’t matter as much if the cupcakes aren’t perfect. If you go this route, you’ll end up with 12-16 cupcakes and they’ll bake for 14-18 minutes.
These are wonderful, but they can be messy and sometimes you don’t want a whole one, and there’s no one around to share with. Sometimes mini-cupcakes are what you need. Use cupcake cups (the paper square would be a gooey mess). These bake for only 8-12 minutes, and you’ll end up with about 48 cupcakes.
I usually make a half batch of each. In either case, when they’re done, a toothpick will come out mostly clean, with just a tiny crumb or two stuck to it.
As soon as you can stand the heat, take the cupcakes out of the pans and let them cool on wire racks, and set out another stick of butter, and melt the chocolate for the frosting…see below for specifics.
I should start by saying that my frosting has never come out looking anything like the pictures on the original recipe. I don’t own a pastry bag or offset spatula, so I just kind of glob it on with a knife. It isn’t quick, but it still tastes very good.
The texture always varies quite a bit, too, depending on the temperature of the butter and chocolate and the brand of powdered sugar.
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Melt the chocolate by microwaving it on low power for 20-30 seconds at a time, stirring in between firings. Let it cool to room temperature.
- Beat the butter until smooth and creamy.
- Add the sugar to the butter and beat until it is light and fluffy. For me, it always looks like it’s not going to come together at all, and powdered sugar flies everywhere, but it eventually works. I keep meaning to try adding the sugar a little at a time, which I’m sure would make less mess.
- Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the chocolate and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is smooth and glossy — or so says the original recipe. That has never happened for me, but beating it longer does make the texture nicer.
When you’re done frosting the cupcakes, it’s ideal to refrigerate them for several hours before serving them. This makes the frosting set and taste even richer.