Sunday, January 10, 2010

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

When someone makes a baking request, I'm always happy to oblige, no matter how tedious the project. I always welcome a challenge, especially a baking one. So when a friend asked me to make vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting, I jumped right in. Obviously, I turned to the chapter devoted to baby cakes in Rose's Heavenly Cakes. I selected the yellow butter cupcakes. Made with her trademark technique, these were easy to whip up. My batch yielded an even dozen instead of sixteen but that was no big deal. They browned nicely and the tops turned out nice and smooth, an ideal surface for frosting. The frosting was where I spent a lot more energy. As per the request, I made chocolate frosting. I opted for the chocolate egg white buttercream. Rose describes it as easy and foolproof. There were no temperature issues to anticipate, so with that in mind, I forged ahead. The frosting began with egg whites stabilized with cream of tartar (which my roommate insists is tartar sauce, and cant imagine why I bake with it..) and beaten with sugar until stiff. Then the margarine goes in. The point is to emulsify the two, but at first all you're going to see is a curdled mess. Keep beating until all the fat is added. I was nervous that it would never pull together, as I've never made this kind of frosting before, but once I thought it was as smooth as I was ever going to get it, I added the melted chocolate and all was okay; the mixture immediately smoothed out. It turned out creamy and uniform. The only problem was the flavor. It didnt taste anything like chocolate. My guess is because the cacao percentage of the chocolate I used wasn't the percentage Rose called for. As an intervention, I kept melting and adding more chocolate until the frosting finally tasted chocolatey. Success. So I began frosting. I didnt like the look of the frosting just smeared on so I whipped out the piping bag and tips and piped out some pearls and stars. Time consuming, yes, but worth it. And the flavor? I was pretty much sure they were delicious and my girls confirmed that as well.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream
from Rose's Heavenly Cakes

2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream, divided
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine

Chocolate Frosting:
5 ounces dark chocolate, make sure it has a high cacao percentage
2 sticks butter or margarine
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat your oven to 350. Line a muffin pan with cake liners. Set aside.
Combine the dry ingredients,
whisk and set aside.
In a bowl, place 3 tablespoons of the sour cream, the eggs and the vanilla.
Whisk thoroughly to blend. Set aside.
Add the margarine or butter and the remaining sour cream to the flour mixture.
Beat until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Turn up to high and beat for about a minute.
This is what it should look like.
Add the egg/sour cream mixture in two parts.
Beat thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. This is how the batter should look.
Evenly distribute the batter among the wells. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before removing the cakes to a rack to cool. Begin making the frosting.

Melt the chocolate and set it aside to cool.
Place the margarine or butter in a bowl and using a clean beater beat it until smooth.
Place the egg whites in a clean bowl.
Beat until foamy and then add the cream of tartar.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks are formed.
Gradually add the sugar until firm peaks are formed.
Add the margarine or butter about a tablespoon at a time beating thoroughly after each addition.
This is what my mixture looked like after it all was incorporated. The liquid from the egg should mostly be absorbed. If it still looks curdled, beat on high until it smooths out and be patient.
Add the melted chocolate and beat until the mixture becomes uniform in color. It should look like milk chocolate. Taste to make sure that it has flavor!
Frost as desired!!

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