Lush, yet simple, chocolate cupcakes

May 22, 2014

These have to be the simplest, most decadent chocolate cupcakes I have ever baked.

Once, when I was having a bad day, Ze Husband, some friends, and I went to Cafe La Tartine in Redwood City to grab some pick-me-uppers. I had a slice of the chocolate strawberry cake and I knew then that I had to make my own version. We scored some really sweet, fresh strawberries while driving home from Yosemite last weekend so I knew that I had to do some baking pronto. Cake or cupcakes? I was undecided. But I did not want to mess this up so I went with the easier one - cupcakes.

This is my go-to, fail-proof recipe for chocolate cake/cupcakes - rich, soft, moist and oh-so-chocolatey. Little cups of comfort and happy. And the frosting only has three ingredients. Yes, THREE! Did I already say simple and decadent?

Since there are only 3 ingredients in the frosting, you have to have the best quality you can get your hands on. I still had a large block of Teuscher 66% dark chocolate in my baking cabinet so I used that up. This chocolate gave a rich and dark counterpoint to the sweet and juicy, red strawberries. A little bit of this frosting on a bed of moist chocolate cake will send you to dessert heaven, I promise you. No fancy piping of frosting on these babies. Just spoon a little frosting on top, garnish with sliced strawberries and you have a modest work of art.

So without further ado, here are the recipes. Enjoy!

The Best Chocolate Cake
Recipe adapted from I Am Baker, makes 24 to 30 cupcakes, depending on the size of your liners
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder)
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk*, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee

*If you don't have readily available buttermilk, you can use a cup of milk less one tablespoon, with a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice added. Let rest for at least 5 minutes.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line your cupcake pans.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl and mix until combined.
  3. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  5. If using dark colored cupcake pans, bake fore 13 to 15 minutes, until a cake tester (or toothpick inserted into the cupcake) comes out clean. Do not pull tray out of the oven while doing this. If using light colored cupcake pans, bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  6. Cool in the pans for at least 5 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes onto a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.
Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache with Strawberries
My first ever original frosting recipe, makes enough for 24 cupcakes
  • 8 oz very good dark chocolate (I used Teuscher 66%)
  • 1 cup (8oz) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (or more) finely diced fresh strawberries
  • (optional) sliced strawberries for garnish
  1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl.
  2. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan just until it simmers (do not let it boil).
  3. Pour hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for at least 2 minutes before whisking the cream and chocolate mixture. This is the chocolate ganache. Whisk until smooth and shiny, without any lumps of chocolate left. But do not overmix!
  4. Cool the ganache and then place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Once the ganache is cool enough, whisk until light and fluffy. Fold strawberries into the whipped ganache.
  6. Make sure cupcakes have cooled before frosting. To frost cupcakes, spoon whipped ganache mixture onto cupcakes - frosting does not need to be smooth. Garnish with sliced strawberries if you like.

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