classic cupcakes

. . .

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…)

. . .

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. 

. . .

Buttercream Icing - adapted slightly from i am baker, who adapted it from Rick Mazzuca (icing colour inspired by Chocolate Chili Mango) - print and frost

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.


52 Responses to classic cupcakes

  1. A Tablespoon of Liz October 26, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    These cupcakes look so pretty… and sound tasty as well! I can agree with you on the black food coloring… red is the same way, it takes so much!

    • movita beaucoup October 26, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

      Red, black, and apparently orange – though I haven’t had much trouble with orange. But did you see Ellenberry’s comment? I’m going to make black icing out of chocolate buttercream. You can’t keep a good woman down!!

  2. glutenfreezen October 26, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    They may have been a hassle to frost, but the pictures turned out gorgeous! Make sure you save an extra black one for the schedule complainer. It will probably be extra satisfying seeing her blue teeth. ;)

  3. Ellenberry October 26, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    They are amazing looking cupcakes. When I have to make black icing (which is a lot this time of year) I start with a chocolate buttercream icing. Takes a lot less of the nasty black gel colouring and bonus is it tastes like chocolate.

    • movita beaucoup October 26, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

      I wondered about that! This is fantastic, and makes perfect sense. Thanks so much for the tip… I’ll be trying it out this weekend!

  4. carlyloves October 26, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    Haha! That’s too bad about the food colouring. But the photos are GREAT!

    • movita beaucoup October 26, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

      Thanks! Just goes to show a picture is worth a thousand words, but won’t tell you if your lips are stained purple…

  5. emmalina73 October 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    These look like the coolest, classiest and, quite frankly, Britishly aristocratic cupcakes ever. You could serve these at a really chic funeral, on silver trays carried by minions moving silently through the room on quiet feet. Then you could watch everyone being EXTREMELY polite as they tried to ignore the fact that their teeth all turned black.

    A cheery end to a sad occasion no matter how you look at it.

    • movita beaucoup October 26, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

      Man. You’ve summed up my vision for these cupcakes completely.

      We are one.

  6. hello lisanne October 26, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    these are beautiful! love the idea of a dark cupcake… spooky and yet it want it all the same. inspires me practice my icing skills… and maybe i’d even refrain from eating too much because the evidence would surely show… :)

    • movita beaucoup October 26, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

      Huh. I hadn’t thought about that. So, basically you’re saying these are diet cupcakes.

      Genius!

  7. Kim Bee October 26, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    These are gorgeous. Totally worth walking around with black teeth. I mean I wouldn’t, but it’s okay if you do. Lol!

    • movita beaucoup October 26, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

      I just watched two professional dancers talking to each other after a rehearsal, teeth black as liquorice.

      Mission accomplished.

  8. Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen October 26, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    Too funny about the black icing…I usually try and stick to pastels when I dye my icing for that reason alone!

  9. movita beaucoup October 26, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    I usually use pastels as well – but it just seemed fitting go black for Halloween. Next year, baby blue. If people don’t like it, they can jam it!

  10. Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen October 27, 2011 at 12:52 am #

    have i told you i love you?

  11. iamsarabjeet October 27, 2011 at 4:06 am #

    Do you cook and deliver? :) These look delicious!

  12. Plateful October 27, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    Wow, this is stunning. I’m loving the flavors and especially how beautifully you decorated it. Amazing.

    • movita beaucoup October 27, 2011 at 6:30 am #

      Thanks so much. And I’m starting to warm to the idea of blue teeth…

  13. Anna October 27, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    Gee! Movita, I’ll be obedient to your tip…I’d rather stick with the dainty white or pale pastel colors for frosting. Don’t want to spend the whole day brushing my bluish tongue…Thanks for sharing this cupcake post!

    • movita beaucoup October 27, 2011 at 8:37 am #

      I suppose we could eat black icing and then call in sick to work. That way we could have our cake and eat it too…

  14. Tina@flourtrader October 27, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    After seeing a post regarding the vivid colors that dried fruit powder produces, I am considering getting some for Christmas. The raspberry would be great to use to get a red color. Unfortunately there is nothing out there in the fruit world that is black.
    Your cupcake pictures are stunning and thanks for the tip regarding black food coloring.

    • movita beaucoup October 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

      Thanks, Tina! My students said their teeth hardly looked stained shortly after eating the cupcakes, and that their tongues returned to normal after a couple of hours!

      • Chocolate Chilli Mango® October 27, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

        aha! see? too quick to diss on the black icing! Haha…frankly the only person who freaked out over it is my father, but he got over it as soon as he wanted another cupcake
        *small price to pay for deliciousness my dear* rofl

        They look fab…

  15. Ignorant Bystander October 27, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    Movita’s cupcakes…now with Bluetooth®

    Technology makes everything better.

  16. Sarah October 27, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    I’ve never seen black frosting before, but I’m a huuuuge fan

  17. Russell at Chasing Delicious October 27, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    I love the seductive look of that frosting! Yum!

  18. Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) October 27, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    I know you say not to follow suit and make that frosting black/blue–but it is GORGEOUS! I wish it could actually taste ok/frost well, because it would be incredible. Never seen anyone pull off a color like that before…

    These look very tasty!

    • movita beaucoup October 27, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

      Okay, I should help you out. The girls LOVED the icing yesterday. So, while it changed the original flavour of the icing, it was clearly a hit! And, they did say their mouths were only blueish for a short time. I say: go for it! They really are pretty, and you can always warn someone before they head to a job interview with a purple tongue… right?

  19. Chocolate Chilli Mango® October 27, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    Well of course the black frosting will make your tongue etc black…as does licorice or anything else black that you might eat!!

    Your buttercream recipe is clearly unsuited to being coloured with black colouring. The cream cheese buttercream on my cupcakes piped beautifully, kept a lush creamy pipeable texture and was perfect.

    When colouring or adding anything to your buttercream, you really should consider the type of buttercream you are using and adapt to get a good and delicious result.

    • movita beaucoup October 27, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

      I agree with your comment up above – turns out people don’t mind stained mouths when the cupcake tastes so damn good! I also liked Ellenberry’s suggestion – she uses chocolate frosting, and it takes the colour marvellously. I’m trying that this weekend. Mostly so I can stain some more mouths…

  20. Dee at Deelicious Sweets October 27, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    Your being a ballet teacher and all you should call these Black Swan Cupcakearina’s. Whew, I totally made that cupcakearina’s up. It came out of nowhere.

    My sister-in-law uses chocolate buttercream and dyes it black. That way she doesn’t have to use as much food coloring to get it so dark. It looks as if you have already been told that now that I scroll up and peek at the above comments. Let’s just pretend you heard it from me first.

  21. Chocolate Chilli Mango® October 27, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    That’s an excellent plan…yeah, chocolate means you need to use way less colour.
    I kinda like the staining…it’s quite nostalgic …. reminds me of when i was a kid and we’d get all excited by foods that would stain your tongue and lips… LOL

  22. melfrommass October 28, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    You are too funny! I love cupcakes, this is great. I never thought about the black food coloring before, though. Food for thought.

    Mel
    massachusetts-is-wicked-awesome.com

  23. Heather Mulholland October 28, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    These photos are so unbelievable gorgeous you made cupcakes elegant – like velvet dripped in diamonds elegant.

    And I won’t tell ;)

  24. katipunanjournal October 29, 2011 at 3:07 am #

    I’ve always been a fan of old school cup cakes, Thanks so much for this recipe! :)

    It would be a huge help if you visited my blog, I’m new to Word Press. :)

  25. Jen at The Three Little Piglets October 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    My kids think that a colored tongue and teeth are the best part of a cupcake! The crazy heads!

  26. torviewtoronto and createwithmom October 29, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

    yummy looking cupcakes

  27. Vanilla Moment November 5, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    Your black icing apparently turn out to be a beautiful mistake!

  28. Mama's Gotta Bake November 25, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    Wow, gorgeous! I love your photos. I can’t wait to make these.

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