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Friends, you might want to give this cupcake recipe a try. The cupcake itself has a classic vanilla-almond flavouring. The icing is a variation on a classic buttercream. But friends? Don’t use black food colouring in the icing. Don’t.
You might be thinking: but movita! That cupcake looks pretty good all dressed in greyish-black. And then I would have to tell you that copious quantities of black food colouring might change the texture of your icing. It won’t pipe out well. I’d also have to tell you that the black food colouring changes the taste of your icing, and that though it doesn’t turn the icing a true black, it will turn your teeth blue. And sure, you can brush your teeth a few times, but you’re still going to have a dark purple tongue. And then I’d have to tell you that though I was inspired to get into the spirit of Halloween, a holiday that generally makes me want to push people in the face, this was a mistake.
This cupcake recipe is a variation of Oliver’s Cake. Both the cupcake and frosting recipes passed a taste-test foisted on some of my students last week – they make a good and varied group of test subjects. They, like I did, found that the cupcakes had a nice texture and flavour. And that the icing, though sweet, reminds you of the icing you ate when you were a kid. And guess what? I’m bringing them these cupcakes today. These cupcakes with the black icing. And as I watch them happily munching on their surprise treat, I’ll be thinking: hey, doofus, you’re teeth are really frickin’ black. But I won’t tell them. (Shhhhh…)
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Classic Cupcakes – inspired by many - print and bake
Yields dozen cupcakes + 3 to 6 more.
- 3 cups cake flour, divided into 1 cup measures
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake wells (2 standard muffin pans) with cupcake liners.*
In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the flour, the salt and the baking powder. Set aside.
In a stand mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes).
Add the milk and hot water (no need to mix). Add 1 cup of flour and 1 egg, and mix on medium speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and around the bottom to make sure everything is combined.
Then add 1 cup of flour and 1 egg, and again, mix on medium speed until well combined. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.
Finally, add the flour/salt/baking powder mixture and the one remaining egg, and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add in the vanilla and almond extracts. Mix well to combine.
Fill each muffin well about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Rap the pans on the counter a few times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
* note: I find this recipe makes an additional 3 to 6 cupcakes (over and above 2 dozen). I only have two pans, so I allow one pan to cool before lining an additional 3 – 6 cupcake wells and baking the extra cupcakes.
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Yields enough to frost a 2 layer cake (2 x 9-inch round baking pans). If planning a lot of embellishing, I’d recommend making a double batch so you have enough to crumb coat, frost and add piped designs.
- 1 cup shortening
- 4 cups icing/confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons clear imitation vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons heavy cream
In a stand mixer on medium speed, cream the shortening until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add 2 cups of icing sugar, mixing first on the stir setting (to avoid plumes of icing sugar blowing throughout your kitchen), and then increase speed to medium. Mix until well combined. Add the remaining two cups of icing sugar, and mix until well combined. If your mixer is struggling to combine the shortening and sugar, add a tablespoon of heavy cream (but be sure to add only 5 tablespoons in the next step).
Add the salt, vanilla and heavy cream, and blend until well combined. Then beat on medium speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Add additional cream or icing sugar to adjust to desired consistency. When adjusting consistency, add the cream or icing sugar in very small quantities – it is easy to over-correct.
Note: you can make this recipe substituting butter for the shortening and pure vanilla extract for the clear imitation, but the frosting will not be white – it will be cream/off-white coloured.