Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I have a confession to make. I have been a bad blogger. The past few weeks have been rather busy - Philadelphia, Chicago, birthdays and what not - and the cooking has fallen by the wayside. So, it is time for catch-up! First on the list: delicious vanilla cupcakes with the richest, shiniest chocolate frosting you have ever seen. They were the result of a confluence of events - a horribly stressful interview and the birthday of one of my dearest friends. When stressed, I take to the kitchen. I find something particularly soothing about the methodical nature of baking. You follow the directions, get a fantastic product (hopefully) and feel rather accomplished in the end. The perfect antidote to an odd gallery interview with a would-be megalomaniac.

So. When baking for others, I like to tailor treats to the taste of the individual. After all, you want the birthday boy (or girl) to be happy, right? So, I thought to myself, if he could, hypothetically, have any kind of cupcake for his birthday, what would it be? Vanilla? Chocolate? Carrot cake? Red velvet? Coconut cake with 7 minute frosting? Perhaps a boston creme pie cupcake? Or peanut butter? A homemade hostess ho-ho? Something completely off the wall? (Like the strawberry margarita cupcake I sampled last evening at Kickass Cupcakes? To.die. for.)

In the end, I settled for a not-too-rich yellow cake, with plenty of vanilla, and a decadent chocolate frosting from a much beloved, but now deceased blog. Simple idea, kicked up a few notches. And he loved them! They were, he says, the highlight of his day. The best words a baker can ever hear.

Yellow Cupcakes
from cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski
makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp
2 large eggs, at room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a bowl, whisk togeter the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the sugar and eggs together until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beating on low speed until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat on medium-high speed just until no traces of flour remain, being careful not to overbeat.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake until lightly golden, and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let the cupcake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. Frost with chocolate buttercream (or frosting of your choice!).

You can find the frosting recipe here.


- e

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