Chocolate Cupcakes

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I know a lot of people love cupcakes, but I have other cakes that I enjoy more. However, sometimes, you just need a cupcake. Rich frosting, fun decorations and of course, if you’re me, lots of chocolate.

I found this recipe on JoyofBaking.com. I found lots of different cake recipes by doing a quick search, but not too many frosting, and to me the frosting is what sets a cupcake apart, and a bad frosting means a cupcake is just a cake with a heap of unappealing sugar on top. This recipe had a frosting included and it looked promising, and it was. The use of unsweetened chocolate really made very chocolaty rich without being too sweet.

I also went a got a small cake decorating set cake decorating set from Wilson, and I was glad I did. It made it really easy to decorate and make them look good, and I have been missing having some nice way to use ganache and similar for other cakes so they look prettier.

Ingredients, cake: (original recipe on JoyofBaking.com)

  • 50 g unsweetened cocoa powder (1/2 cup)
  • 240 ml boiling water (1 cup)
  • 175 g all purpose flour (1 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 113 g unsalted butter, softened (1/2 cup / 1 stick)
  • 200 g sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients, frosting:

  • 120 g unsweetened (100% cocoa) chocolate (4 oz)
  • 150 g unsalted butter, softened (2/3 cup)
  • 160 powdered sugar (1 1/3 cup)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F/ 190° C and line a 12 muffin tin with cupcake liners.

2. Pour the boiling water over the cocoa powder and stir until smooth.

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3. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt.

4. Use an electric mixer to mix the butter and sugar until fluffy.

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5. Add the eggs one by one, mixing after each one.

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6. Add the vanilla extract

7. Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt mixture, taking care not to over mix. You can switch to hand mixing at this point.

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8. Add the cocoa mixture and stir until you have a smooth batter.

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9. Pour the batter into your prepared cups.

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10. Bake for about 16-20 minutes, until firm and springy on top, and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

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11. Cool on a wire rack. Do not frost until they are completely cool.

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12. To make the frosting, start by  chop and melt the chocolate. You can do this in a double boiler, or like I do in the microwave. If you use that method make sure to do short intervals and stir the chocolate as you go along.

13. Beat the butter until smooth with and electric mixer.

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14. Add the sugar and mix until very fluffy. Then beat in the vanilla extract.

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15. Mix in the melted chocolate on low speed.

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16. Now you can either use a knife or spoon to spread the frosting on the cupcakes, or use a piping set. If you are, choose a tip and fill a piping bag. I used Wilson 1M star tip.

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17. You can either decorate by making a top down ‘star’ or by swirling a round pattern, I prefer the latter. It was very easy to swirl it around the cake.

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18. Top with sprinkles, if desired. Sprinkles are fun!

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It was very easy to decorate the cakes with the piping tip, I was please with how they looked. The frosting was really great, even my husband who usually find cupcakes too sweet liked it. I think the cake itself could be more interesting, but I also did not use Dutch processed cocoa as the original recipe called for, maybe that would make the chocolate taste more powerful. However, there are lot of other cake recipes around, I might try this one next time.

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Mazarin Torte

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A Mazarin torte is a cake made with marzipan, or almond paste. It is a common type of torte in Denmark, where you can get cheap versions prepackaged in the supermarket (of dubious quality) to fancy little tarts at your bakery. It is a soft, moist cake with a strong marzipan flavor, topped with some sort of chocolate or chocolate frosting and usually baked in a sweet or flakey pie dough (pate brisee or pate sucre).

This recipe is baked without a pie shell, and I really don’t think this type of cake needs it, usually I think the shell ends up tasting bland and serving no purpose, the almond flavor is not a ‘strong’ flavor unlike a fruit tart that needs some balance.

I found this recipe in a fun little cookbook from Henrik Boserup, a Danish celebrity chef. The book is more inspiration than anything else, a lot of the recipes contain approximations rather than measurements or timings – and for many things that is actually all you need. For cakes like this, measurements are given though, that is nature of pastry baking. The book is simply called ‘mad‘ (food), and he made two different ones, a black and a white. They are one of my favorite cookbooks, everything is so inspiring and simple, and the format is actually quite different from a usual cookbook. This recipe is from the black ‘mad’.

This is made with orange, but other fruits can be used. I doubled the recipe to fit it in a spring form, but not the amount of orange (I only had 1 in the house), which I think was a mistake, it could have used more orange flavor.

I made a chocolate ganache to go on top, and that was great choice. That basic recipe came from On Baking.
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Ingredients, torte:

  • 200 g almond paste (marzipan – the higher almond percentage the better) (7 oz)
  • 200 g sugar (7 oz)
  • 200 g butter at room temperature (7 oz)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 oranges

Ingredients, ganache:

  • 160 g dark chocolate, min. 60% cocoa (5.5 oz)
  • 150 ml heavy cream ( 0.6 cups)
  • 3-6 tbsp orange liquor, such as Grand Mariner (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 C/ 355 F and lightly grease a 20 cm across spring form.

2.  Peel and chop the oranges, removing as much of the bitter white membranes as you can.

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3. Simmer the oranges in pot until almost dry and let cool.

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4. Meanwhile, work together the marzipan, sugar and butter until smooth and homogenous.

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5. Add in the eggs.

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6. Add the flour (and a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter) and mix lightly. The consistency should be like a thick cream.

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7. Add the orange.

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8. Pour your batter into the prepared tin.

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9. Bake for 40-60 min. The cake should be golden brown, springy to touch and set all the way through when a toothpick is inserted.

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10. Let cool on a rack.

11. Make your ganache while the cake is cooling. Chop the chocolate very finely and heat the cream gently, until just boiling.

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12. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and mix  with a rubber spatula until smooth.

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13. Add the liquor and mix some more. Let cool slightly.

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14. Spread the ganache over the cake and down the sides. Make pretty swirls for decoration if desired.

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This turned out really, really well, except it could have more orange flavor. I really don’t think this cake need a shell, it worked out very well.

Chocolate Cake with Grandma’s Chocolate Frosting

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This chocolate cake is very basic chocolate cake, something that my mom used to make when I was a kid. It is not as soft as a sponge cake, and not as rich and gooey as a brownie, it is somewhere in between, and a very standard cake texture for Danish cakes.
My mom used to bake a whole pan filling the entire oven for cake fundraisers and similar when I was kid, she would decorate it with colored icing, usually a landscape with a rainbow. The rainbow pieces always got sold first :). Sometimes, she would use Grandma’s frosting, which is richer than icing, and not too sweet. I love it, and it reminds me of being a kid.

Cake Ingredients (recipe translated and adapted from God Mad Let at Lave, a basic Danish cookbook)

  • 200g sugar ( 7 oz)
  • 150g soft butter (about 1.5 stick) (if using unsalted butter, add a little salt with the flour)
  • 3 eggs
  • 50g melted chocolate
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar*
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 200g all purpose flour (7 oz)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • *Note: Vanilla sugar is often used in Danish recipes, it is powdered sugar with some vanilla seeds in. The sugar absorbs the flavor wonderfully. You can make this by scraping vanilla seeds into some icing sugar and keep in a patent jar, or you can simply substitute liquid vanilla essence about 1 to 1.

Method

1. Grease a cake pan (9×13 inches or a little smaller, 9×9 is probably too small) and preheat oven to 175 C.

1. For this one, an electric mixer gives the best result.  Mix the softened butter with the sugar until smooth.

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2. Add one egg at a time and mix after each.

3. Add the melted chocolate, and vanilla (if using). The add the instant coffee.

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4. Add the cocoa powder, baking powder, flour and orange zest.

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5. Scrape everything into you pan and spread in an even layer.

I used a 10x14 pan, and it was definitely too big, making them come out as bars more than cake

I used a 10×14 pan, and it was definitely too big, making them come out as bars more than cake

6. Bake for 45 min or so, less time for a bigger pan. When I toothpick inserted comes out clear it is done, start checking around 2-30 min mark in using a 9×13 pan.

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7. Let cool completely before frosting.

You can eat it without frosting too, use icing sugar frosting or any other kind of favorite frosting. Below is Grandma’s frosting, and you need about 2 portions for this cake.

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 4 tbsp melted butter (unsalted)*
  • 1- 1.5 tbsp pasteurized egg or egg substitute (or 1/2 egg)
  • *Note: The original recipe calls for 2 tbsp of melted butter, and 2 tbsp of melted solid coconut oil. I don’t see coconut oil in the stores here in the US, and besides it has very high level of saturated fat. It was used for frying a lot when I was little, but I am not even sure you can get it easily in Denmark today. Vegetable shortening might be a better substitute than butter if you keep it around.

Method:

1. Mix everything together, it should create a shiny, not too thin frosting.

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2. Spread on your cake and enjoy!

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Due to the eggs and dairy in this one, it doesn’t keep for that long, but as long as you are using pasteurized eggs I personally don’t think you need to keep the cake in the fridge.

Of course, growing up we just used eggs, and no one seemed to get bad even if we ate it a few days later.

The cake and frosting are both very easy and fast to make, and a sure crowd pleaser. It is easy to double and bring along to an event.