Sunday, March 17, 2013

pot o' gold cupcakes

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! Now I imagine that St. Patrick's Day is a crazy fun day everywhere right? Not just in Boston? Of course, if I have to be biased (and I will) what better place to celebrate the luck o' the irish then in Boston?! Boston bleeds green all year round and St. Patrick's Day is no exception.

To celebrate I made these pot o' gold cupcakes. You will want to make these regardless of what day it is.  It is a super moist chocolate cupcake with a hidden surprise of caramel in the middle topped off with a light and fluffy vanilla buttercream. Basically, it is to die for.

 It uses my go to chocolate cake recipe, which is really just Hershey's "perfect chocolate cake" recipe. What can I say Hershey got this cake right. Sometimes I find chocolate cake to be dry and lacking in flavor. Not so with this cupcake. It is moist and a breeze to throw together. The batter will be very, very thin. Don't fret! It is suppossed to be like that. It has a cup of boiling water added in as the last ingredient making it thin but super moist.  I actually ran out of vegetable oil (yup, I know I did.) I added what I thought was canola oil to only find out after I poured it in it was peanut oil. I panicked thinking I would have to throw it out and start over. After a quick google search, I found that peanut oil is fine for baking (not just frying) and can be substituted equally for vegetable oil. Phew! I actually somehow forgot to add in my baking powder, too! I didn't realize until it was too late. Oh well, a happy accident. I still liked the way these came out.

After baking I let them cool and hollowed out the center.  (It took great will power to not eat all the crumbs!) I then added about a tablespoon (or two, but who's counting) of really good caramel sauce into the center. You can definitely make your own if you would like, but since I made these last night at 8:30 p.m.  store-bough caramel would have to suffice. I used a caramel sauce from Fran's caramel sauce. If you are lucky enough to come across a jar of this, trust me, it is worth the extra dough.

I topped off these cupcakes with my favorite vanilla buttercream from Annie's Eats. It is a simple buttercream, but it is perfectly light and fluffy. It is not coyingly sweet. You know the frosting kind. That cavity sweet frosting that gets you right in the back of your teeth. This is whipped up for a good 4 minutes in the mixer which creates an airy light texture. It has the perfect blend of butter to confectioner sugar keeping it at the perfect balance of sweet and rich. I didn't have heavy cream, so I used fat free milk. Not as rich, but still provided that liquid I needed to thin it out.

So there you have it. Pot o' gold cupcakes. Perfect for any St. Patty's day celebration..or any day of the week!

Pot O' Gold Cupcakes

Chocolate cupcake recipe (slightly adapted from Hershey's Perfect Chocolate Cake)

* 2 cups sugar
* 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
* 3/4 cup cocoa powder
* 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (not afraid to admit my mistake here..I forgot to put this in!)
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 eggs
* 2 teaspoons vanill extract
* 1/2 cup peanut oil (this is what I had on hand, feel free to use vegetable oil)
*1 cup milk, skim
* 1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners.
2. In your mixing bowl, sift together your dry ingredients.
3. Add in your eggs, vanilla, oil and milk and beat for two minutes.
4. Stir in the boiling water (batter will be very thin!).
5. Pour into your prepared muffins filling each cup about 2/3 full.
6. Bake about 16-18 minutes. (I set my timer for 15 minutes and kept a close eye on them. I also gave them a rotation at this time too. One side was cooking a little faster than the others. Every oven is a little different, so keep an eye on yours and take them out when the middles are set).

Vanilla Buttercream Recipe
slightly adapted from Annie's Eats (originally from Cook's Illustrated)

2 1/2 sticks butter, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbs. milk or heavy cream

1. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.  Add in confectioners's sugar and salt, beat at medium-low speed for 45 seconds, until most of the sugar is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl at this point, then beat for another 15 seconds.  Scrape down the bowl again, and add in your vanilla and milk (or cream). Beat at medium speed for 15 seconds until incorprated.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat the mixture for 4 minutes until it is light and fluffy (you may need to stop during this time and give the bowl a good scrape).

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