Cocoa Cupcakes

Spring gatherings always necessitate a wow! dessert and the bigger the crowd, the more obvious it becomes that the perfect solution is cupcakes.  Cupcakes are easy to make, can be decorated in a variety of ways (or not at all), and allow the eaters to remain mobile (and social).

This particular cupcake is rich and dense, chocolaty, and has a tight crumb.  It strikes the perfect balance of sea salt, cocoa, vanilla and coffee.  If you ever ate Drake’s Cakes Devil Dogs as a kid, these cupcakes will take you right back to that special place in your memories (hopefully you eat it a little slower though, and savor it with a cup of coffee or a nice glass of red wine).

The options for toppings are endless, but primary candidates include fresh whipped heavy cream, whipped coconut cream, or a light buttercream.  You could also get really crazy and go for a peanut butter frosting for over-the-top decadence.  For my latest function I topped about half of the batch with coconut cream and left half plain.

Ingredients

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose gluten-free flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon finely ground coffee

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup flax milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 12-cup muffin pan with baking cups.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a medium sized bowl.

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, then sprinkle in the coffee granules. With the mixer on a medium speed add the eggs one at a time, beating until each  is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla. At low speed, alternately beat in the dry ingredients and the flax milk.

Use a number 2 scoop to transfer the batter into the baking cups. Bake the cupcakes for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for five minutes, then remove them from the muffin tin and transfer to a cooling rack.

Carrot (and so much more!) cupcakes

A stand-up carrot cake recipe is always a good thing to have in one’s repertoire, in my opinion.  This recipe is stand-up.  It’s flavorful without being over-done.  It’s moist without being heavy or greasy.  It’s loaded with fruits and, therefore, fiber (which must mean that it’s healthy-right?).  And to top it off, it gets frosted with goat cheese.  Yum!

What I will also point out is that this recipe is easier on the tongue than it is on the eyes.  The cupcake is not necessarily what I would call gorgeous, but it is damn tasty.  It holds its shape well, but the frosting on top is definitely what makes it look more appealing.

Cake Ingredients:

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

¾ teaspoon salt

3 cups grated carrots

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

½ cup moist, plump raisins*

2 cups sugar

1 cup safflower oil

4 large eggs

re-constituting raisins, chopped walnuts & coconut- oh my!

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and grease & flour your muffin tins
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt

flour, leavening & spices

  • In another bowl stir together carrots, nuts, coconut and raisins (and/or dried cranberries, currants, cherries, etc.)
  • In a stand mixer beat together the sugar and oil until smooth
  • Add eggs one at a time
  • Add the flour mixture and don’t over-mix
  • Mix in the chunky ingredients

this is one chunky batter

  • Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake for 25-35 minutes

be sure not to over-fill your tins

*Note: if your raisins are a bit on the dry side, re-hydrate them in a dish with some warm water (or rum, if you prefer) for 10 minutes before using

Frosting Ingredients:

6 oz cream cheese, at room temp

2 oz goat cheese, at room temp

1 stick butter at room temp

1 pound confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  • In a stand mixer beat together the cream cheese, goat cheese and butter until smooth and creamy
  • Gradually add the sugar and beat until super-smooth
  • Beat in the lemon juice
  • Frost your cooled cupcakes

*Feel free to change the cream cheese/goat cheese ratio or omit one or the other altogether

You could top the frosted cakes with shredded coconut, or toasted coconut, or chunks of walnuts, or even lemon zest

J

Recipe adapted from this cookbook authored by Dorie Greenspan