Flour’s Chocolate Cupcakes with Crispy Magic Frosting
My son tuned TWO years old yesterday! Yes, two whole years old. Everyone always tells me that when it comes about parenting, or raising kids, the days are long, but the years are short. And boy, this weekend, as I frosted these chocolate cupcakes for his birthday, I couldn’t agree more. For the past several months, I have noticed a huge difference in how much he talks and rambles off his colors, shapes, numbers, and animals, he also strongly voices his preferences, showing his independence, and he plays pretty hard with his almost five-year old sister. One of the disadvantages of having families who live far away, our birthday parties are small, and intimate, and they are often combined with visit. On the other hand, I get absolutely no pressure of throwing parties where extended families expect an invite of an elaborate birthday parties. Since my folks were coming to visit for this upcoming holiday weekend, I thought that we can just push back his birthday celebration to next weekend; so I can bake a nice layered cake, and have him open all of the gifts at the same. My husband and I also took Friday off to do some major de-cluttering in our garage and basement, so we were pretty pooped.
But get this, as most moms can relate, as I laid down on my bed (on Friday night) thinking about his upcoming birthday on Sunday, I decided that while yes, he’s only two years old, and I’m not sure even sure if he would care or even remember. I thought, I would celebrate it on the actual day. Even if it’s a small-ish one, with balloons, cupcakes, and a gift that he can open. After all, this wasn’t only a celebration for him, it is a celebration for all of us in the family, a tradition in our family that I hope that both kids remember. My daughter is convinced that she recalls her two-year old birthday, when she cried as soon as she saw her Elmo-shaped cake. So maybe he will remember anyhow, who knows! So at the last minute, I decided to make cupcakes, and my daughter thought that chocolate sounds good. She’s pretty convinced that her little brother loves chocolate cupcakes. I had been eyeing this new chocolate cupcake recipe that I thought sound so fantastic. And if the frosting has magic in its name, it’s got to be good, right? I told my husband that we absolutely should do something to celebrate him on his actual birthday. And I am so glad that we did.
He woke us up bright and early yesterday, and we wished him a happy birthday. He kept on saying that he was two years now (see, I think he gets it!). We fed the kids a quick breakfast, and we all went to get balloons, which he gladly picked out himself. Then I hung a Happy Birthday banner on our fireplace mantle, his balloons, and a gift bag nearby, smack in the middle of our living room. We told him that I was baking him birthday cupcakes. He waited pretty patiently, for a two-year old. He couldn’t keep his eyes off his gift bag the whole time. When we finally finished the cupcakes, along with the ah-mazing frosting, my daughter led us to a chorus of Happy Birthday, then she blew his candle for him, gave him a huge kiss, and helped herself to a cupcake as he was tearing up the gift bag. And oh, let’s talk about the cupcake. The chocolate cupcake was probably the best one yet that I have tasted. And trust me, I made and ate a lot of chocolate cupcakes. I also love that it has simple ingredients that I normally keep around the house, and no coffee (I really don’t need my kids to stay up any longer than they already do!) But that frosting! I have now declared that frosting to be the birthday frosting at our household. Yes, THAT good. It’s not very sweet, but it literally melts in your mouth. This meringue frosting reminds me of this version that I made a long time ago, but this one tasted better than I recall, and felt a lot sturdier and much more stable (great for piping), much more satiny, and feels more delicate. Either way, I will surely be making this frosting again for another birthday in the near future.
Flour's Chocolate Cupcakes with Crispy Magic Frosting
Yield: 12 cupcakes
2 oz (56 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine (find the best one you can)
1/4 cup (30 gram) Dutch-process cocoa powder (find the best one you can)
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
1/2 cup (one stick/114 grams) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (80 gram) water
1/2 cup (120 gram) milk
1 yolk (Tip: Save the white for the frosting)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (140 grams) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup (140 grams) granulated sugar
2 egg whites
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) of room temperature butter, very soft, cut into 2 inch pieces.
1-2/3 cups (230 grams) confectioner’s sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Line your muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners. In a large heatproof bowl, combine chocolate and cocoa powder. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the sugar, butter, and water, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves (3 to 4 minutes) . Pour the butter mixture over the chocolate and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly and whisk the milk, egg, extra yolk, and vanilla into the chocolate mixture until combined.
In a bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until blended. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Let the batter sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour to thicken. Or, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling until at least 3/4 full. Bake for 30 minutes or until the tops spring back when pressed lightly with a fingertip and they pass a toothpick check. Cool completely on a wire rack.
In a heatproof bowl (such as Pyrex), whisk the granulated sugar and egg whites into a slurry. Fill a saucepan about 1/4 full with water and bring to a simmer. Set the bowl over the water but do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the water. Whisk for 3 to 5 minutes or until the mixture is hot to the touch (note: your bowl may get hot as well, so handle carefully). It will thin as the sugar melts and becomes more white in color.
Pour the mixture into a mixer bowl or with a hand mixer, whip on medium-high speed for 6 to 8 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick and white like meringue and is cool to the touch. At medium speed, add the butter a few chunks at a time, beating for 3 to 4 minutes or until it is all incorporated.
Add the powdered sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla and beat until smooth and satiny. You should end up with 3 1/2 cups of frosting- way more than is needed for 12 cupcakes. If not using immediately, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or, you can store it up to two weeks in the fridge, allow it to soften at room temperature and then beat in the mixer for a few minutes until smooth.
Source: “Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe” by Joanne Chang. Copyright © 2011 by Chronicle. All rights reserved.