Friday, March 8, 2013

One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes

Unlike many people, I don't have a clear memory for many things. Most of my childhood memories are fuzzy at best, with odd patches of clarity here and there. I wish I could remember more from me growing-up years. But, I remember enough. Enough to tell you a little about my Mom.

I remember her favorite color has always been dark green. She wore this perfume called White Musk, which still reminds me of her whenever I smell anything remotely similar -- even though she hasn't worn it in years. I remember the feeling of snuggling up under her rose-patterned bedspread, the smell and comforting feel of the clean, cool sheets.

She hates baking. Loves spicy food, British mini-series, and children of all ages. She wakes up early in the morning and goes to bed early, too. A trait I seem to have inherited, like it or not.

I remember her always being on my side -- if someone was inviting me out but I wanted to stay home, she would tell me to blame her and say that she wouldn't let me. Thanks, Mom! I remember napping on her lap during church, long after is was probably socially acceptable to nap in public. But she would smooth my hair and rub my back, and ignore the wet spot on her skirt from where I had drooled on her. (TMI?) I remember her enthusiasm and exuberance. I remember being so embarrassed by it as a teen, but now I admire it. (Wait, don't tell her I said that. It's a secret, okay?)

I see her through new eyes now that I , too, am a mother. Cliche, I know, but true nonetheless. I see how she wanted everything good for me and for my brother. How she hoped we would make good friends, good grades, good choices. How she fell into bed exhausted at the prospect of doing it all again the next day, but excited for it all the same. She has always told me that she loved being home with us when we were babies. And among the many things she could have done with her immense talents, she chose to be a teacher, in part so that she would have summers with us. I am so proud that she is my mom, and I feel so lucky to be her daughter!

I find myself calling her up so often just to chat. I know she will understand how overwhelmed I sometimes get, or the irrepressible excitement over some little thing the baby has done, like, I don't know, breathe and bat his ridiculously long eyelashes.

She is dearer to me then she ever has been.

So, Happy Birthday (on Sunday), Mom! I know you would love these cupcakes as much as I do. They remind me of that "Favorite Chocolate Cake" recipe you love so much. I'm actually quite obsessed with these and take any opportunity to whip them together. And since I know you don't like a big fuss made about you, I'll tell you how simple they are. One bowl for the whole kit and kaboodle. With the simplest, yummiest frosting ever. But don't worry. I'll do the baking.

Brycie wants you to have one!

Provided that you're prepared to share, of course.

No-Occasion-Needed, One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe from The Sophisticated Gourmet, copied almost exactly, as it needed no changes. The only things I have changed are a few points of technique to suit my style and preferences. Head over there to see Kamran's stunning photos! Seriously.

1 c. sugar
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder (I used Penzey's natural/non-dutched/dark, but Dutch process/regular cocoa powder will do for a milder cocoa flavor)
3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. buttermilk, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
1/4 c. oil (canola, etc.)
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/2 c. boiling water

Preheat oven to 375º
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, cocoa, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sift it, if you like, or just run your fingers through it to break up any lumps, especially lumps of cocoa -- so pesky!
Make a well in the center, and whisk in egg, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla until just combined smoothly. Pour in boiling water, and whisk in carefully, working from the center out to avoid splashing.
The batter will be very runny, but never fear.
Divide among 16 greased and lined muffin cups in 1.5 oz./3 Tbsp. portions -- my standard-size ice cream scoop works perfectly. The muffin cups should be only about 1/2 full. Try not to fill them up much more than this, as the batter does not dome as it bakes, but spreads and makes a mess if it overflows. Place pan on center rack, or two pans evenly spaced on two racks.
Reduce oven to 350º (after the pan is in the oven), and bake for 15 - 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out cleanly. Let cool in pan for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting:

Simplest Chocolate Frosting

6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/4 c. milk
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. light corn syrup
2 1/4 c. powdered sugar

In the bowl of your mixer, combine melted butter with the cocoa powder. In a liquid measuring cup, measure out milk, and mix in vanilla and corn syrup. Add this mixture alternately with the powdered sugar on medium speed until combined. Increase speed to high and whip until it lightens in color just a shade -- about 1 min.

To frost the cupcakes, dollop a couple Tbsp. of frosting on top of each cupcake and smooth in a circular motion from the center out with a small spoon. I turn it around once or twice with my spoon in the very middle to make a little dip. Sprinkle with shaved chocolate (just take a vegetable peeler to a chocolate bar) or sprinkles of your choice.

I defy anyone who says they can resist these!

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