I wanted to make something cute to take to an in-law family function this weekend. I didn’t want to go with the usual flag cake or frosted cookies. I wanted something easy, yet tasty. So I decided on making cocoa (I think my brain is a bit chocolate-centric) buttermilk cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. The “cute” part comes in with the red, white & blue frosting. 😛 Conceptually, not bad. Actual execution? Bleh. I haven’t played with food coloring much, so I didn’t realize it was going to be such a task to get RED. As you can see by the photo above…it’s more pink-ish. Same thing for the BLUE.
For the frosting, I wanted to use these star tips I bought – to be patriotic of course. But, again, not so much. The flavor of both the cupcake and the frosting were good, but the visual needed a little work. I modified Sherry Yard’s Buttermilk Birthday Cupcake from The Secrets of Baking. It’s the second time I’ve made a genoise batter and I think it turned out pretty good. It definitely makes for a very moist cupcake. I also decided to go with the mini-cupcake, since I’m currently obsessed, and it makes people feel better about putting more than one on their plate. 😉
Cocoa Buttermilk Cupcakes
Adapted from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard
Yield: 2 dozen 2-inch cupcakes (I ended up with 24 mini and 4 regular)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
6 ounces unsalted butter, melted
½ cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare two mini muffin pans by coating them with pan spray and inserting paper liners. Set aside.
Triple-sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking power and salt. Set aside.
Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Combine the sugar and eggs in the bowl of your stand mixer (or another large bowl) and place it over the simmering water, creating a double boiler – being careful that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Insert a thermometer. Whisk continuously until the temperature reaches 110F, about 2-3 minutes (took me a little longer, about 4-5 minutes).
Remove from heat and transfer the bowl to a sand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer. Whip on high speed for 5-8 minutes, or until the eggs are three times their original volume, are thick and pale yellow in color and form a ribbon when drizzled from a spatula (only took about 2-3 minutes with my mixer). Turn down the mixer to medium speed and whip for 2 minutes more. This stabilizes the foam. On low speed, stream the warm melted butter into the batter and mix until incorporated.
Fold in 1/3 of the dry ingredients using a balloon whisk. Be careful not to deflate the foam. Add 1/3 of the buttermilk and continue to fold carefully. Continue adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk alternately in thirds, until all ingredients are incorporated. Add the vanilla.
Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups, leaving about ¼ inch of space at the top of each cup. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops spring back from the touch of a finger. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pan and set on the rack to cool.
The cupcakes are ready to be glazed, decorated, and served when cooled, or they may be stored, unfinished, at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks, if wrapped airtight.
Red, White & Blue Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Red & blue food coloring
In a stand mixer, blend the cream cheese and butter together until creamy. Add the vanilla and blend until combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and blend until all the sugar has been incorporated.
Divide the frosting into thirds. Add 5-10 (I think I added about 10 and still didn’t quite get the color I was looking for, maybe a color gel or paste may have worked better?) drops of red food coloring to one third and 5-10 drops of blue food coloring to another third.
Frost or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.