Monday, April 26, 2010

Black Tie Cupcakes

Normally I do not support the use of vegetable oil in cake recipes because I find that it produces a cake that lacks body and flavour. If not made properly, it can result in a very bland, almost empty-tasting cake. Does that make sense? Can something taste empty? Well, in my world it can and maybe you can relate to that. Sometimes when I eat cake made with oil instead of butter, it leaves this empty feeling in my stomach because it tends to lack sustenance. The absence of mouth-feel and body translates to “boring” in my brain and makes me believe that I’m eating nothing more than a cheap Dollar Store sponge.

Most of the time, when I’m developing recipes, there is no question about it – the choice is always butter. Butter is magnificent! All things dairy are magnificent! That’s because butterfat is one of the most flavourful fats I know. It contains a wide range of fatty acids, namely short-chain fatty acids, which all produce different flavours and have various melting temperatures, creating a complex taste experience combined with a sensational mouth-feel. However, there are exceptions to rules now and then.

Sometimes I like using vegetable oil when making cupcakes since these dainty, petite-sized cakes are meant to be lighter and more airy than layer cakes. Unlike butter which is solid at room temperature, vegetable oil is liquid at room temperature, lending a less heavy and fluffier texture to cake. Since butter is composed of about 80-82% milkfat and vegetable oil is 100% fat, less oil is required to keep the cake moist. This also depends on the recipe, though, since there are other ingredients that can add and retain moisture.

This recipe for Black Tie Cupcakes only requires 1/3 cup of vegetable oil to keep them tender, which equates to approximately 7 tablespoons of butter. It uses quite a bit of cocoa powder, which helps to add body and mouth-feel. They are jet black through and through, with a texture that is moist and soft. The low sugar content helps to keep the intense cocoa flavour at center stage.

Need a great recipe for Vanilla Buttercream? Let me know!
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