Sunday, May 29, 2011
My cousin Jessica got married last weekend in a beautiful ceremony at a lakeside venue in Agoura Hills, California. She looked stunning! Her groom Alex is a lucky guy! And we're lucky to have Alex in our family now.
Family came in from all over and if there's one thing you should know about me by now, it's that sweet tooths and great bakers run in the family. My mom, my cousin Rachael (sister of the bride), a family friend, and I all baked for a dessert party hosted at the hotel the night before the wedding. It was a fitting event for our extended family.
Incredibly (but true), Rachael, with the help of a friend, spent two days in the kitchen and also made a dessert bar for the wedding reception, which featured a whopping 12 kinds of treats, everything from cookies, to truffles, to cupcakes. She outdid herself. And then, the sweet tooth-y relatives, who are used to this sort of over-the-top sugar overkill and would probably never admit something was "too rich," descended upon these treats, giving their inevitable thumbs-up. It was by far the most desserts I've ever seen at a wedding. And I didn't even mention there was a wedding cake, too.
These chocolate-orange cupcakes are really delicious and easy to make. I brought them to the dessert party. The trick to making them elegant is putting the frosting into a piping bag and piping swirls onto the top of each cupcake. It brings a bakery-like quality to them, despite being as homemade as homemade can be!
Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes with Bittersweet Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from a recipe in The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book
3 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 cup hot water
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
For the frosting:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners or 36 mini cupcake cups (which is what I did).
In a small glass measuring cup, heat water until very hot in the microwave and then stir in the cocoa until it dissolves; set aside.
In a bowl, sift the dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Zest the orange and add the zest to the dry ingredients, stir, and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat the eggs and granulated sugar until well blended. Beat in the buttermilk and vanilla, then the cocoa-water. Blend in the melted butter, and then add the dry ingredients.
The batter will be a bit thin, so carefully spoon enough batter into each muffin cup to fill it about half full. Bake until the tops of the cupcakes have puffed up and appear set and a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. For regular-sized cupcakes, this should take about 15 minutes, for mini cupcakes, check at about 9 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in their pan on a wire rack, then gently lift them up and remove from the pan.
To make the frosting, melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler. While the chocolate is cooling to room temperature, beat the butter and confectioners' sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until the mixture is creamy and smooth. This takes about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted, cooled chocolate until thoroughly combined. Fill a pastry bag with the frosting and use a large star tip to pipe a spiral onto each cupcake. Refrigerate the cupcakes to set the frosting, but take out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving so they are not chilled.
Step-by-Step in Pictures
Combine the dry ingredients. Add the orange zest and set aside...
Beat together the eggs and sugar...
Beat in the buttermilk and vanilla...
Add the cocoa-water, then the melted butter...
Blend in the dry ingredients...
Stir just until combined...
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling halfway...
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 min (for regular size cupcakes) and 9 minutes for mini cupcakes. Cool completely before frosting the tops...
To make the frosting, beat the butter and confectioners' sugar...
Add the melted chocolate...
Stir until well blended...
Pipe the frosting into spirals on top of the cupcakes...