Mmm. It’s like a sea of cupcakes.
I have fantasies of making beautiful layer cakes with perfectly scalloped edges made from smooth, creamy poofs of buttercream frosting. In my head, they are the most exquisite cakes you’ve ever witnessed, rivaling the creations of professional bakers on Food Network’s Challenge shows. And my cakes have perfectly formed layers and the most level tops you’ve ever seen. Of course, that is all in my head. In real life, my cakes have curved tops and uneven frosting (sometimes even frosting used to fill in gaps. A professional baker I am not.
But, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy baking. I do. I love the science of it. Unlike cooking, where you can mix, match and experience, there is a formulaic method to baking. It’s scary and challenging and exciting all at once.
These cupcakes were a recent discovery for me from the Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition, a book that the publisher recently mailed to me (thank you!). I actually first learned to bake from scratch with a recipe from an earlier edition of the Joy of Cooking. It was a recipe for drop sugar cookies (still in there!). I made it year after year after year as a teen. The cookie adapted well into thumbprints, sugar coated, and other applications.
Anyway, when I offered to make dessert for a recent birthday celebration, I didn’t realize it was going to be dessert for 15. Daunting, indeed. So I immediately turned to this book for help. I toyed with the idea of a sheet cake, but since I don’t own the requisite sheet necessary to bake one, that was out too. Plus, would that really be an aesthetically pleasing dessert? (Yes, call me absolutely insane, but I did think about that.)
Finally, it hit me. Cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes. With cream cheese. And to add a complication, it had to use only ingredients I had on hand. Nothing can be simple, can it?
Fortunately, I discovered a recipe for Black Bottom Cupcakes. They were delicious and worth every ounce of effort. The base is a rich, moist chocolate cake and it’s topped with a layer of cake-y cheesecake. I decided to forgo frosting and instead just sprinkled them with confectioner’s sugar. The party guests loved them.
(This recipe is verbatim from the Joy of Cooking, hence the different style than my recipes.)
Black Bottom Cupcakes
Yields about 18 cupcakes
Recipe from the Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition
Have all ingredients at room temperature, about 70°F. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat in a medium bowl until smooth:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
Add and beat until smooth:
1 large egg
1 cup chocolate chips
Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup nonalkalized cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Stir with a rubber spatula just until smooth. Fill the muffin cups about half full. Place a heaping tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture in the center of each. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the cakey part of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely on a rack before frosting or sprinkling with powdered sugar.
Other Delicious Cupcakes from Around the Web (click on blog name for the link):