As a kid I never really liked candy. I would not touch tootsie rolls or sugar cereal. Onions and brussel sprouts and sushi were great, but one honey-nut cheerio in my bowl of plains was a big bummer. While sugar has grown on me in recent years, a lot of the time I’d rather have another appetizer for dessert.
Cupcakes. They look cute but I was not a fan until some salted caramel and spicy Mexican chocolate ones from a food truck changed my mind last week. At the CupKates truck at Berkeley’s Off the Grid I was changed. These cupcakes were freakishly good. I might even choose them over pie- which is a big deal.
For Grants 2nd birthday, I felt inspired to make cupcakes. Since the little bug is obsessed with trains, I cut out some marshmallow fondant trains for each one. While I made rich dark chocolate cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting for the adults, he is gluten and nut free so I made some vanilla bean cupcakes with coconut flour (my favorite GF ingredient).
It’s really fun to be an aunt.
Oh and I also had a coffee-toffee cupcake from Cako Bakery in SF a week later. I’m hooked.
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes.
1 3/4 c. unbleached flour
2 c. cane sugar
3/4 c. cocoa powder (I used Scharffen Berger)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. light olive oil (NOT extra virgin)
2 room temperature eggs (run cold eggs under hot water for a minute to warm)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. hot coffee (I didn’t have any freshly brewed coffee on hand, so I made a hot cup of instant VIA from Sbucks that I had in the junk drawer with all my horded taco bell hot sauces)
Set oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin tin with unbleached paper liners.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and powder, and salt twice to mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
With a paddle spoon, fold the wet ingredients into dry and stir until there are no lumps. Add hot coffee slowly and stir just to combine.
Fill each liner 3/4 full and bake for 15-23 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Adapted from Ina Garten
GF Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
Make sure you put your empty vanilla bean pods in some sugar! They are too expensive to waste.
Makes 12 cupcakes
1/2 c. coconut flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
6 eggs at room temperature
1/2 c. light olive oil
1/2 c. honey
1/2 vanilla bean pod, scraped.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with unbleached paper liners.
In a large bowl, sift together the coconut flour, salt, and baking soda twice to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, honey, and the scraped vanilla beans.
Whisk wet ingredients into dry until they are smooth.
Fill each liner 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes (don’t overcook!)
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Frosts 36 cupcakes
24 oz. cream cheese (three 8oz. packages)
3/4 c. butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1/4 c. + 2 Tbs. real maple syrup
3 c. powdered sugar
In a standing mixer, cream together the cream cheese,butter, and syrup until smooth. Turn the mixer on low and add the powdered sugar a little at a time until all incorporated. Spoon into a pastry or ziplock bag and chill for 1 hour. Frost each cupcake with a dolop by using the pastry bag or by snipping the corner off the ziplock.