Cupcakes, cupcakes and more cupcakes

My Great Aunt Maryanne (I call her Zia Maryanne) turned 80 recently. We threw her a surprise party and invited family we rarely get to see (some I had never even met, and I’m 2 now!) and lots of old friends. It was a great party and I think Aunt Maryanne was even surprised (if not by the party then by the people who were there to celebrate with her!)

We didn’t do a lot of fancy food – it was just a cookout – but rather than ordering a boring store-bought sheet cake Mommy and I made cupcakes. And we made a lot of cupcakes (6 dozen, to be exact.) Okay, if you’re a serious baker maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot. But, Mommy is not a professional chef and I am only 2, so it was a lot for us. We decided to do cupcakes so we could have some variety and we didn’t have to worry about anyone cutting a cake or needing plates and forks and all that. Cupcakes are really pretty *green* if you think about it.

We made 3 varieties: lemon with lemon frosting decorated with a raspberry, chocolate with vanilla frosting decorated with a mint sprig and vanilla/yellow cake with blackcurrant (creme de cassis) frosting decorated with blueberries. They were all yummy and I had no problem being the taste-tester (quality control is very important) for all of them. When they were finished, we arranged them in a big “80” on the table.

I think it was really pretty – and looked good enough to eat!

But… 6 dozen cupcakes is a lot and Mommy says she doesn’t ever want to make that many cupcakes at one time ever again. I guess that means no big birthday parties for me… Maybe she’ll change her mind if I give her enough time (to forget.)

This is only pans and papers for 4 dozen cupcakes – we only had two pans.

Here’s the recipe for the chocolate cupcakes. It’s adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (In this case we used Hershey Special Dark)
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa (we used Nestle because it was what we had, but we usually use Hershey SD here too)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300°F. and place cupcake papers in pans. If you are going to make a layer cake, this will make enough batter for 2 10-inch pans (most pans are 9 inches, but this is too much batter for them, so beware – we made 24 cupcakes with enough batter left over for a thin, one-layer, 8 inch cake.) Also, beware this is an incredibly moist cake, so if making a layer cake you will want to do the grease pan, line with parchment, grease parchments and dust with flour (or cocoa!) routine. Otherwise this cake WILL crack as you remove it from the pan. Actually, it might crack anyway. It will still taste good, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Break chocolate along perfectly convenient lines on the bar and combine with hot coffee in a bowl. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Try to refrain from drinking it.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. *In the interest of full disclosure, we forgot to add the cocoa here, so we sifted it in at the end without any problems.*

In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored.

Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.

Adding cocoa at the end – oops.

We found the easiest way to get this thin batter into the cupcakes papers was to ladle it into a large, liquid measuring cup and then pouring it into the papers.

Bake on the middle rack. They are done when a tester inserted into a cupcake in the center of the pan comes out clean. I started checking on them after about an hour and they probably took an hour and half.

Cool slightly before removing from pan and then allow to cool completely on racks before frosting.

These cupcakes stayed moist for at least 4 days – then they had all been eaten, so I can’t speak to beyond that. We made them on a Thursday and frosted and served them on Saturday.

Happy birthday, Zia Maryanne. Surprise!

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