Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Best Chocolate Cupcakes. Ever. Seriously.

Growing up, we always used cake mixes in our family. I distinctly remember my mom telling me that there was no sense going through all the work of making a cake from scratch when it was going to taste better coming from the box. To a certain extent, I agree with her. Cakes from box mixes taste great. Cakes from box mixes are easy. I may never have ventured away from them if I hadn't moved to the Land-Of-No-Boxed-Cake-Mixes. Actually, the more honest title would be Land-where-cake-mixes-require-a-4-hour-commute-and-cost-a-large-percentage-of-my-salary. But then that title is just ridiculously too long. Anyway, desperate places call for desperate measures (Yes, I know I altered the idiom. No, my English is not that poor...yet.). I realized a couple years back that I needed to learn how to make a good cake without a mix. I searched through piles and piles of cookbooks, I searched through hundreds of websites, I interviewed gourmet chefs...

Just kidding. All I did was look at this:

And immediately inspiration hit and I created my own recipe! Ok. Not really. I turned the package around and found this:
"Hershey*s deems this the 'perfect' chocolate cake? That's worth a try!" I mused. Hershey*s doesn't lie. These cupcakes turn out light, moist, and with the perfect amount of chocolate-ness. I've been making these for over two years now, and they never last very long. They are a favorite on the team.

For the first two years, I'd top the cupcakes with Dreamwhip packets (very convenient for those living in the Land-of-no-cool-whip). However, about a month ago to please a chocoholic teammate, I wanted to top them with chocolate icing. Icing from a can is absolutely wonderful. The texture is perfect. Unfortunately, it is as rare and pricey (or more so) as cake mixes. I turned once again to the trusty cocoa package and sure enough, there was a perfect icing recipe to go with the perfect cake. You're thinking: "It took you TWO YEARS to figure that out?" I think I had looked at the recipe way back when I started making the cupcakes, but due to the fact that I didn't have the key ingredient of powdered sugar, I had abandoned all hopes of perfect frosting. However, thanks to a loving father who has shipped me powdered sugar by the pound, I was now equipped. Once again, this frosting is as good as its name claims.

I made up the cupcakes last week for Sarah's chocolate-themed "Kiss me I'm 23" birthday party. I added a slight twist by putting white chocolate stripes on some of them to make the famous hugs and kisses.

I don't know that those of you living in a land of convenience will ever make a cake from scratch...but in case your car breaks down, your bike has two flat tires, you're out of cake mixes and you just have to make something for your second cousin's birthday...here are the recipes:

2 c. sugar
1-3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. cocoa
1-1/2 t baking powder
1-1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/2 c. oil
2 t vanilla
1 c. boiling water

Mix all of the ingredients, excluding the boiling water, on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Stir in the boiling water and don't be afraid when the batter is very runny. Bake the cake about 30-35 min., cupcakes about 20 min. at 350.

1 stick butter
2/3 c. cocoa
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. milk
1 t vanilla

Melt the butter and stir in the cocoa. Alternate adding the sugar and milk, beating on medium speed. If not the desired consistency, add more milk.


Kasey said...

I love that you are such a cooking genius now! There should be a TV show about you - sort of like Hell's Kitchen, but something like "Kitchens without any modern conveniences"...okay, it's a working title...=)

Anonymous said...

Grandmother would love to see this. I am sure she is smiling down on you.


Heather said...

I tried the cake~it's awesome!!

Pru's Corner said...

Thank Father for Hershey's eh? So you'll be needing some more powder I take it. Well, my friend, I've been thinking of you a lot lately...this is partly because Greg and I have spent our last 2 evenings watching So You think you Can Dance auditions and can't wait til you come!

Pru's Corner said...

methinks this is that time of year when katherine posts her "here are all my summer plans" schedule :)