These are my go-to chocolate cupcakes. Rich, tender and chocolatey. A classic cupcake that never lets me down. And though I should probably keep ’em top secret, I’m not going to. Because I want you to succeed. I want you to win at baking. I want you to feel like you can be almost nearly as great as I am.
These cupcakes take only minutes to throw together and no stand mixer is required. Got a whisk? That’s all you need. Heck, you could use a spoon in a pinch. This recipe is easily doubled if you need extras, and you can top ’em with whatever sort of frosting you might like. So when you’re going through your kid’s backpack at 10 pm, and find that note requesting a buttload of cupcakes by 8 am tomorrow? MAKE THESE.
Need a frosting recipe? Don’t fret. I’ve got you covered. Hows about a soft, sweet, chocolatey number? It’s got a little gloss to it, and though it’s not suitable for piping, it is easily spread over the cupcakes with a palette knife or spoon. It, too, is extremely easy to throw together, making it a great last minute option. (Got a large pan of brownies that needs dressing up? This will work!) I’d recommend using a hand mixer to whip this frosting into a smooth, spreadable topping, but if you’ve got arms like Hulk Hogan? You could probably do it by hand.
Some of you keeners will be wondering about the fondant hearts. Well, they aren’t an exact science. You’ll have to play around a bit, and you’ll get different results every time. I’ll give you an idea of what I did below. I made the hearts two days ahead of time so they’d be nice and hard for standing up in the cupcakes. Buy some fondant if you don’t want to make it. (Seriously. Don’t be a hero. Just buy it.)
To make the striped hearts (this is merely a guideline):
1. Knead and dye some fondant with gel paste food colouring. Any colours you like. I’d recommend making four complimentary colours, but go ahead with that sports team tribute if you like. I don’t have quantities for you – it depends on how many hearts you need. You’ll be rolling the fondant out thin, so don’t make a pound of the stuff – a large handful of fondant will probably be enough – make a little extra if you’re unsure. I use shortening on my hands and counter to prevent sticking – just a thin coating.
2. Work quickly, as this stuff has a tendency to dry out – keep the portions you aren’t working with tightly wrapped until you need them. Roll a small portion of each colour into strips/snakes, each about the same length – 5-6 inches long. If you want one colour to be more dominant, use a larger portion of that.
3. Lay the strips beside each other, nice and snug, and pinch the ends together.
4. Twist a few times up the length of the rope.
5. Fold in half.
6. Twist again. Don’t worry if some of the strips break. You’ll be rolling it all out.
7. Roll out. Work from the centre out. Small cracks can be smoothed with your fingers. Roll to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut in desired shapes. (Again, I use a thin coating of shortening on my counter to prevent sticking.)
To make the tie-dyed hearts:
8. Use the scraps from the striped hearts. Gather the scraps into a ball.
9. Squeeze gently together (I only squeezed twice).
10. Roll and cut out.
If you want to skip the striped hearts – making only the tie-dyed – you could follow steps 1-6 from above, and then gently squeeze a few times before rolling/cutting.
2.0 and I don’t really believe in Valentine’s Day (we know it exists, we just think it’s dumb), so we’d like to suggest that you make these for Saint Patrick’s Day to throw people off.
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Easy Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mise en place – start by getting organized. Read through the entire recipe before beginning. Measure out all of your ingredients.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tins with cupcake liners – paper or foil.
Place the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, instant espresso (if using) and salt in a bowl, and whisk well to combine.
In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sugar, canola oil and vanilla extract until well combined. Add the flour mixture and whisk until well combined and no large lumps remain. (Tiny lumps are fine.)
Divide the batter evenly between the 12 cupcake wells. An ice cream scoop makes this easier. Don’t fill more than 3/4 full.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
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Simple Chocolate Frosting
Yields enough to frost 12 cupcakes – this is a soft, spreadable frosting, not suitable for piping.
- 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (you can use chocolate chips)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mise en place – start by getting organized. Read through the entire recipe before beginning. Measure out all of your ingredients. This frosting can be made with a stand or hand mixer.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a stainless steel bowl placed over a pot of simmering water, stirring until completely melted and smooth. You can also do this in the microwave – use a low power setting, and heat gently to melt.
Place the sifted icing sugar, salt, heavy cream and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the melted chocolate and butter and mix with an handheld mixer (you can do this in a stand mixer as well). Mix on low speed at first, and then increase speed to medium and beat until well combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl at least once during mixing to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
Use a palette knife or spoon to spread the frosting onto cupcakes.