Monday, September 20, 2010

project wedding cupcakes – one-bowl chocolate cupcakes

dark (and brooding)

Let me not beat around the bush and just be out with it – I’m making a hundred cupcakes for a friend’s wedding. One. Hundred. Cupcakes. Deep breaths. I’m clearly trying to challenge the notion that only home-scale baking can come out of a home-scale kitchen. We’ll just see about that. Deb has already successfully tackled a wedding cake, and she’s proof that you can create a large-scale, beautiful cake in a tiny New York kitchen. This is a test of will, patience, and excellent math skills. We’ll see how well I can multiply.

i keep my eggs in a bowl now

In case any of you are wondering how I managed to get involved in this project (because a demanding job in finance and maintaining this blog clearly aren’t keeping me busy enough), let me give you a brief history. Tight budgets are something that are familiar to most of us, especially, those of us living in New York, and particularly in light of the recession. Never mind that the second you mention the word “wedding” to anyone providing a service, they automatically charge you at least twice the regular amount. Want to get a hundred cupcakes from a bakery? That amount alone will probably spike up the price as you’re putting an additional constraint on a bakery that operates to capacity in what is most likely to be a tiny kitchen. Flower arrangements are pricey enough, but wedding flower arrangements are in a pricing category of their own. It’s hardly fair, I think, given how expensive weddings can run. In short, when I found out that my friend India was looking to do a wedding on a shoestring budget, I decided to make these cupcakes for her as a gift.

whisk the dry ingredients...

The advantage of cupcakes over cake is that because there is no cake to cut, guests (that means you, potentially) get their dessert faster. And given my views on dessert, I’m always in favor of eating cake sooner, always looking forward to the cake portion of the meal, in hopes that it will blow me away, and make me believe that really great tasting wedding cake is out there, somewhere. But so far, nothing has stood out, and perhaps that is because most weddings cakes are draped in loathsome fondant (seriously, am I alone in hating the stuff?), offering little besides cloying sweetness. Cupcake, on the other hand, don’t have any fondant (imagine having to drape a teeny cupcake in it) – and thus automatically, the problem falls away.

So, in the next few weeks, you’ll see the project unfold before your eyes. I’ll tell you of my butter-cream woes, and how I learned to “tame the beast”. If nothing else, at the end of this, I will emerge a better baker, and India will get her hundred cupcakes. Hopefully, they’ll be pretty, though my last buttercream adventure has left me nervous freaking out. Practice should, in theory, make perfect.

one. bowl. no. gimmick.

I had to, first, decide on what kind of cupcakes I was going to make – that was the easy part. Almost immediately I decided upon dark chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream frosting. I ran the idea past India and she loved it. The next step was to decide which chocolate cupcake recipe was goingt o win out in the end? I started to look for recipes for testing, making calculations of what ingredients I might need to have enough for recipe testing.

And just as I was ready to start playing around with recipes, I received a tweet from a lovely friend who generously offered to send me some Scharffenberger chocolate so I could test my chocolate cupcakes to my heart’s delight. An amazing coincidence, as I was going to be using Scharffenberger anyway!! Every week, I buy a few dark chocolate Scharffenberger bars at Whole Foods, and Andrew and I devour them. We’re nothing if not fiercely loyal to the brand. I love eating it and cooking with it. And I certainly didn’t expect to get a windfall of the very product on which I’m very happy to spend my own money. A few days later fifteen (fifteen, people!) pounds of chocolate showed up at my apartment. I expected a few chocolate bars, maybe a can of cocoa, but fifteen pounds!!

chocolate one-bowl cupcakes - wedding

I tested a few batches, from various recipes, adding and subtracting some ingredients, and finally settled on Martha Stewart’s “one bowl” recipe, which I have to say, is downright perfect. Martha really got this recipe down. Outside of scaling down a bit of sugar, you should change nothing here. And it’s got some serious dark-chocolate taste. Oh and the one-bowl part? One bowl cake recipes are New York apartment bakers’ wet dream. Don’t own a mixer? It’s okay – the one bowl cupcakes are mixed by hand with a spatula! Don’t have any counter space? No problem – you just sequentially add ingredients one by one into a, you guessed it, one, single bowl. Can I get an amen?

salted caramel buttercream experiment

And really, the one-bowl thing left with only fewer dishes to wash, for which I am endlessly grateful. If that’s not a thing of beauty, I don’t know what is. And the best part – when the time comes to make nine batches of these babies, I’ll be grateful I have fewer dishes to wash.

Stay tuned for adventures in frosting mishaps. And if any of you have any practical frosting advice to give, please do! I’ll share whatever I learn from my mistakes, but if you have any pointers, I’m all ears!

cooling

Oh, and I’m sorry for making you look at washed out, crappy pictures! The original ones have vanished, somehow, and all I got stuck with were rejects! To make matters worse, Picnik totally broke this morning, and I couldn’t even edit the baddies. Forgive me, it won’t happen again.

One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:
3/4 (4 1/2 oz) cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 oz or 180 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 oz or 200 grams) white granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.

Into a large bowl, sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. If you don’t have a sifter on hand (I don’t!) use a fine-meshed sieve and shaking it into the bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract, and mix until smooth, roughly 3 minutes. While mixing, scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to ensure that the batter is well mixed. Mix gently, and be careful not to overmix – which could yield you a dense, tough crumb.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until tops spring back when touched. I would rotate pan once midway through baking to ensure even baking. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely before frosting.

Makes 18 cupcakes.

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34 Comments

  • 1
    Martha Joy said:

    Best of luck!

    Here’s a blog that shows you how NOT to do it. Mostly. Some sweet and cute cakes there too.

    September 20, 2010 9:09 am
  • 2

    I am cheering you on, Olga!! You can do it!

    Also, finally someone who understand my hatred for nasty fondant. I mean, what’s the point of the cake if I have to eat through a chalk-y tasting layer of crap (please excuse my word choice).

    Well, good luck- and I can’t wait to see the whole project- I know your friend, India will be one happy camper! :)

    September 20, 2010 9:18 am
  • 3
    bridgit said:

    I’ve had plenty of good wedding cakes, but all but one of them were made by a loved one of the bride and groom, so you’re in good company. Thanks for the cupcake recipe, I’m looking forward to trying it.

    September 20, 2010 9:29 am
  • 4

    I agree store bought fondant tastes terrible. I have been making the marshmallow fondant for my brides that really want the look of fondant on their cakes. It tastes much better. I also have been having luck with this particular buttercream.
    Vanilla Buttercream
    Ingredients
    Makes about 15 cups
    • 6 large eggs, separated
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 2 cups whole milk
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 6 cups (12 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
    Directions
    1. Put egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on high speed until pale and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
    2. Bring milk and vanilla to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Whisk about one-third of the liquid into yolk mixture. Pour mixture back into pan with remaining custard; whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture registers 185 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from heat; strain. Refrigerate until cool.
    3. Put butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in chilled custard.
    4. Heat egg whites and remaining 1 cup sugar in the clean heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
    5. Add egg-white mixture to butter mixture; beat on medium-high speed until smooth. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days; bring to room temperature, and beat before using.
    Marshmallow Fondant
    
16 oz bag plain marshmallows (the small ones, not the jumbo ones)
2 Tbsp water
shortening, for greasing bowls
1-2 tsp flavoring (lemon,vanilla,coconut)
2 lb confectioner’s sugar, divided
pinch of salt
    Grease a microwave safe bowl, a spoon, the dough hook, and the bowl of your stand mixer with shortening (grease it well).
    Place the marshmallows and water in the greased microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 60 seconds. Stir with the greased spoon. If all the marshmallows have not melted, microwave for 30 seconds more. Stir in flavoring.
    Place confectioner’s sugar and salt in the stand mixer bowl, reserving 1 cup, and make a well in the center. Pour in the marshmallow mix and turn the mixer on to the lowest setting. When it sounds strained, increase the mixer speed up one setting. Turn off the mixer once all sugar has been incorporated. If the fondant is sticky, add the reserved confectioner’s sugar 1/4 cup at a time.
    Turn fondant out onto plastic wrap. Rub a bit of shortening on the outside of the ball. Wrap in plastic wrap, place in a ziploc bag, and let rest for at least 2-3 hours. Keep unused portions covered when not using. If the fondant becomes stiff, place in microwave for 20 seconds at a time until pliable.
    Roll out on a greased mat/fondant circle to the desired thickness.
    Good Luck!

    September 20, 2010 10:31 am
  • 5
    Sharon said:

    I have had great success with Deb’s swiss buttercream, from the wedding cake she made. It pipes really well, and holds up. I mad a batch in the afternoon, and left it, covered, in my room temperature kitchen overnight. It was perfect and ready to go in the morning. Good luck!

    September 20, 2010 12:26 pm
  • 6
    Christine said:

    I have absolutely no words of advice on frosting, but thank you for the cupcake recipe! Now that it’s getting cooler I was just thinking of making some vanilla cupcakes with some lemon zest cut in and filling them with some blueberry jam that never quite set.

    Will you be freezing them and then frosting the day before or doing a big en mass bake off before the wedding?

    Good luck!

    September 20, 2010 1:05 pm
  • 7
    Liz @ Blog is the New Black said:

    Good luck. Loving the one bowl dirty thang!

    September 20, 2010 1:54 pm
  • 8

    An ambitious project, indeed! But what a wonderful gift for your friend.

    September 20, 2010 1:59 pm
  • 9
    Radish said:

    Christine – am still debating. I might. I’m in London the week before and get back 2 days before the wedding. Which I’ve dedicated to baking and frosting. I think one day to bake, one day to frost should work out fine. But I first need to do some math on how much of everything I might need. Wish me luck! :)

    September 20, 2010 2:15 pm
  • 10
    Dana said:

    A friend of mine had the same undertaking this summer for her sister’s wedding. So many cupcakes! Good luck!

    September 20, 2010 2:33 pm
  • 11
    Jacqui said:

    I recently had my wedding on a tight budget and was initially going to make my wedding “cakes” (we had 12 different flavors of bundt cake), but when a few friends stepped up to the plate, I was more than grateful. No matter how your cupcakes turn out, I guarantee your friend will be beyond happy as well as well the guests who get to eat some cake that actually tastes good too!

    Great choice on the dark chocolate with salted caramel buttercream frosting!

    September 20, 2010 3:24 pm
  • 12
    kickpleat said:

    I have total faith in you! I made cakes & cupcakes & did most of the catering for our own wedding, so I’m sure this will be a breeze. Just have a coffee pot on standby!

    September 20, 2010 6:25 pm
  • 13
    Adrienne said:

    Ah, that is so amazing! What a great gift! Plus I love the salted caramel buttercream, that stuff is so amazing.

    My wedding is in three weeks and I JUST ordered the cake – but no fondant. You are not alone in loathing the stuff. We picked the bakery based on how delicious the chocolate frosting is :)

    September 20, 2010 6:34 pm
  • 14
    Delishhh said:

    Oh how much fun! And i can’t belive you are doing this. I know how it is blogging and cooking with a full time job. Will follow along here.

    September 21, 2010 12:17 am
  • 15

    Good-luck, I am sure they will turn out wonderful! The recipe looks great ;)

    September 21, 2010 8:24 am
  • 16
    Anna said:

    Kudos to you! with all my friends getting married I keep thinking I ought to offer but just not daring enough yet! Good luck, I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

    September 21, 2010 10:41 am
  • 17
    Maja H. said:

    I will point out one thing about the cupcakes. Make sure you have enough means of transporting them. It’s all great when you’re at home and they are all lined up on your table and counter space, but when you need to get them down to the lobby and to the location they will jostle and fall over. I am sad to even say it at the risk of making you sad at having to make more cupcakes, but usually bakers make extras in case some fall down or just don’t make it as pretty as they should to the location.

    If you need some help please let me know. I am happy to help bake and frost. I’m a long time reader, Courthouse resident and lover of your recipes and photographs.

    September 21, 2010 3:20 pm
  • 18
    Radish said:

    Maja – we’re neighbors! Well, thank you for offering to help. I think between me and a friend who enlisted to help, we should be okay. Good thinking on the transportation, but I think I figured out a way to get them transported – the kitchenware store by us has a GREAT cupcake box. Also, as I’m not attending the wedding I won’t be able to determine how they do get transported. I’m supposed to make 80, but I’m getting my friend a 25% increase :)

    September 21, 2010 3:35 pm
  • 19

    Love that you’re doing it as a gift, and I can’t even imagine 15 lbs of chocolate! I felt like a freak buying over 2 lbs for a massive chocolate truffle cake I recently made. Can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

    September 21, 2010 3:41 pm
  • 20
    Carol Walikangas said:

    Good Luck with all your cupcakes. I’m getting ready to make 50 Pumpkin rolls , and I’m trying to figure out all the stuff i need. And what to charge. I’m only asking $10.00 for each.

    September 21, 2010 8:35 pm
  • 21
    molly said:

    You go, girl!! These look awesome.

    September 22, 2010 9:46 pm
  • 22
    Sarah said:

    I hate fondant, too!!! Although I love marzipan. :)

    I worked at a European pastry shop back home for about a year and their Italian buttercream was divine.

    That being said, I think my wedding will have old-fashioned cakes like gingerbread/spice cake, lazy daisy cake, from-scratch yellow cake, blue ribbon chocolate cake (the hot water kind) and old-fashioned oatmeal cake. Possibly also lemon pound cake and/or pumpkin or carrot cake. YUM! Topped with nothing, or fruit, or whipped cream, or both! And maybe ice cream.

    I know, right? A little ambitious, but soooooo good! I don’t think I could ever decide between them all, so I’ll just have to make a couple of each cake. I can just imagine one frosty fall day baking the whole effing day, then the next morning getting up and getting married. Fantastic.

    September 23, 2010 9:18 pm
  • 23
    Radish said:

    Sarah – love your plan for your wedding. it’s your wedding so make whatever cake you want. I am hoping that when I get married, I’ll get to make my own cakes too. I think it would somehow be weird not to, you know?

    September 24, 2010 9:02 am
  • 24

    You can do it! When I lived in New York I baked a wedding cake for a friend in my tiny New York kitchen. It was a three tier orange cake covered in chocolate ganache (as was my tiny New York apartment). Our biggest problem was transportation from our UES apartment to the reception location in Tribeca, but cupcakes are easy! (We ended up renting a Honda Element Zipcar)

    September 24, 2010 1:51 pm
  • 25

    Oh, and there is a salted caramel buttercream frosting recipe on my blog — You make the caramel, then let it cool and whip it, then beat in salted butter.

    September 24, 2010 1:52 pm
  • 26
    Radish said:

    Kate – actually, thank you for the recipe suggestion. I will try yours as the previous recipe left me wanting a bit more. Thanks :)

    September 24, 2010 1:57 pm
  • 27
    Rach said:

    Long time lurker here….Looking forward to following your progress! I’m making my best friends wedding cake next June, a 3 tier affair, and then the very next day I’m making 80 cupcakes for another friends wedding. Possible meltdown on the horizon?!?! Going to give the Martha recipe a go for the cupcakes, and I will await the trial of the frosting!! Very exciting, you’ll be fine! :)

    September 28, 2010 3:41 am
  • 28
    Tanya said:

    Oh, I’ve done this several times now– cupcakes and cakes for weddings. My favorite frosting to use is the aforementioned Swiss Buttercream from Smitten Kitchen– you can leave it out in the hot sun if needed without disaster, too– but I’ve also used white chocolate cream cheese frosting with great success. Hope I’m not too late!

    December 28, 2010 1:28 am
  • 29
    Radish said:

    Tanya – you’re not… But I never wound up having to make the full batch. Long story, but I still plan on giving the frosting a whirl when life calms down a bit! I do like Deb’s recipe for the SB… it’s wonderful!!

    December 28, 2010 4:25 pm
  • 30

    […] These one bowl chocolate cupcakes are perfect as a wedding gift to your family or friends who are planning to tie the knot. But this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to enjoy these sumptuous cupcakes without a wedding. The cupcake is made out of cocoa and extracts of vanilla, which makes it more delicious than other chocolate cupcakes out there. This one bowl cupcake can be eaten with or without frostings because the cupcake itself can satisfy your cravings. Match these delicious chocolate cupcakes with your hot espresso to bring out the taste. Source Sassy Radish […]

    April 13, 2013 12:32 pm
  • 31

    […] These one bowl chocolate cupcakes are perfect as a wedding gift to your family or friends who are planning to tie the knot. But this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to enjoy these sumptuous cupcakes without a wedding. The cupcake is made out of cocoa and extracts of vanilla, which makes it more delicious than other chocolate cupcakes out there. This one bowl cupcake can be eaten with or without frostings because the cupcake itself can satisfy your cravings. Match these delicious chocolate cupcakes with your hot espresso to bring out the taste. Source Sassy Radish […]

    April 13, 2013 8:01 pm
  • 32

    […] These one bowl chocolate cupcakes are perfect as a wedding gift to your family or friends who are planning to tie the knot. But this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to enjoy these sumptuous cupcakes without a wedding. The cupcake is made out of cocoa and extracts of vanilla, which makes it more delicious than other chocolate cupcakes out there. This one bowl cupcake can be eaten with or without frostings because the cupcake itself can satisfy your cravings. Match these delicious chocolate cupcakes with your hot espresso to bring out the taste. Source Sassy Radish […]

    April 13, 2013 10:37 pm
  • 33

    […] These one bowl chocolate cupcakes are perfect as a wedding gift to your family or friends who are planning to tie the knot. But this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to enjoy these sumptuous cupcakes without a wedding. The cupcake is made out of cocoa and extracts of vanilla, which makes it more delicious than other chocolate cupcakes out there. This one bowl cupcake can be eaten with or without frostings because the cupcake itself can satisfy your cravings. Match these delicious chocolate cupcakes with your hot espresso to bring out the taste. Source Sassy Radish […]

    April 14, 2013 12:10 am
  • 34

    […] Recipe courtesy by Sassy Radish […]

    December 7, 2013 10:20 pm

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