Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Though I made many delicious dishes before Halloween, I also need to tell you about the cupcakes that I made for my sister Kimberly’s party last Saturday. For a few reasons. First, these were hands-down the best chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever made. Uber chocolatey with a Devil Dog-like texture, they were decadent and delicious. They were perfectly topped with a sweet vanilla buttercream, the perfect balance to the rich and not entirely sweet cake.

Second, I need to take a moment to recognize Ina Garten, who has officially solidified herself in my permanent go-to collection of recipes. Anything I’ve ever made of hers has been nothing short of perfection. If in any dish you’ve ever thought, wow that’s good but could use a little more... Well Ina goes for that little more. And ooooh mama does it show in taste, quality and presentation. I think this article should really be called Ode to Ina with a giant thanks and pledge to worship her cooking and baking skills until the end of time. The genius of Ina is that while her recipes may call for some extra steps (like alternating the addition of buttermilk and flour into your batter) or a laundry list of ingredients (this one includes 2 sugars, sour cream, buttermilk, coffee, among others), she chooses the right inclusions despite the caloric intake that a dish may incur. Would you think that 2 tablespoons of coffee would make a world of difference in your chocolate cake? Well it does. So don’t skimp on it.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
*Adapted from Ina Garten
For the cake:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 C granulated sugar
2/3 C brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 C buttermilk
1/2 C sour cream
2 tbsp brewed coffee, cooled
1 3/4 C all purpose flour
1 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
For the frosting:
2-3 C confectioners’ sugar (to taste)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
red and yellow food coloring
sprinkles

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners. In a stand mixer (or in a giant mixing bowl with your hand mixer), cream the butter and both sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, sour cream and coffee. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Back in the stand mixer, add the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla, mixing well. With the mixer on low, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture, alternating between the two in 3 parts. Start with the buttermilk and end with the flour. Mix just until combined and if necessary, use a spatula to complete the mixing. Fill the muffin cups about half way. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack and frost.

To make the frosting, beat the butter in your stand mixer (or with a hand mixer). Add in the sugar, one cup at a time until completely combined. Add the heavy cream, vanilla extract and almond extract and mix well. Add food coloring to the color of your choosing (I used red and yellow to make orange). Frost cupcakes (I used a piping bag and metal tip from my brandy new Wilton cupcake decorating kit that I snapped up at Party City) and douse with sprinkles or decoration of your choice.

Enjoy and be prepared to never be on the hunt for a chocolate cake recipe again! 

So there you have it. My favorite chocolate cupcake recipe to date. Not bad, huh? These could easily be adapted for any holiday or party by changing out the color of the frosting or the sprinkles. In fact, this exact version could easily work for Thanksgiving as well! So what I want to know is: What's the best cupcake you've ever had? One that you made, or one that you bought?