Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Super Simple Vanilla Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Icing

There are those days when I just want something simple. 

I'm a doer of creaming butter and sugar, sifting dry ingredients, alternating the wet with the dry and delicately folding. There is definitely a place for that in the lovely world of baking. There is definitely a need for that in many many recipes. These steps ensure lightness, soft texture and happy endings with cakes that bake full of love. No doubt about that.

But, (yes, there's a but) sometimes I just want pure simple. I need something I can make with a glass of wine in my hand on a late Saturday night and still manage not to screw up. Oh and washing too many dishes will kill the mood so just one bowl would be great.

I figured there are people out there just like me so I made this recipe.

Really Super Simple Vanilla Cupcakes with banging chocolate icing. You can't screw these up. Maybe if the wine is actually Scotch....there may be issues. I'd have to test that first and let you know how that goes.

If you like soft vanilla cake; if you like dead easy, brain-not-necessary recipes, and if you like CHOCOLATE, then you will like these.

Even the icing is simple. Chocolate + butter + milk in a saucepan. Apply low heat and stir until glossy. Done.'s that fuss-free. No piping bags required. And this is coming from a Scientist! Shocker.

Just follow the instructions and you'll be golden. Have all ingredients at room temperature so that the batter comes together quickly, smoothly and homogeneously.

Mixing time should not exceed 2 minutes. Mix just until the batter is smooth, and this usually takes between 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Over-mixing in a recipe like this where there are no structure-building steps or opportunities for aeration will create a less-than-tender cupcake.

The initial step of rubbing some butter into the dry ingredients will attempt to prevent toughness by coating the flour particles with fat and interfere with gluten development. Think of this as tenderness insurance - you put in a little time but you'll get light and fluffy in return.

Fancy words for a not-so-fancy cupcake. It's basic and traditional, and it will always be delicious.

Super Simple Vanilla Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Icing
Makes 12 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
2/3 cup (90 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 g) cake flour
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup (75 g) soft butter
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the icing:
125 g (4.5 oz) semisweet chocolate (50% cocoa solids), finely chopped
2 tbsp butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp whole milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

To make the cupcakes, whisk all dry ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and rub it into the mixture with your fingertips and between the palms of your hands until it is well distributed. Add the remaining butter, eggs and milk and beat on low speed with an electric hand mixer for 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium until smooth, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes longer. Divide batter among cupcake wells and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To make the icing, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over very low heat and stir until smooth and glossy. Let cool for 5 minutes and then spread on cupcakes. Ta-Daaaaa!
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