UPDATE: If you don’t know what a “hipster” is (mentioned below) here is a handy reference article for you.
So I’m sure by now you’ve noticed that I use an iPhone camera and this really nifty app that makes it look like you have talent (sorta, if you use it right, and I don’t always), for my photos. No? You didn’t notice? That’s really sweet of you, your eyesight must be worse than mine. Well the app is called instagr.am. If you haven’t heard of it, go punch a hipster in the face, steal his iPhone (‘cuz there isn’t a hipster around that uses anything but an iPhone) and scroll through it. I bet you $20 he has instagr.am on there. Basically you take a photo and then mess with it using these pre-approved filter types to make your picture look marginally less shitty. It’s not so bad actually.
That being said, I guarantee you most of the food I make looks better than the photos. But I live in a basement apartment (which isn’t so bad as it sounds, it opens right onto the backyard. Oh yeah, did I mention I live in New York City and have a mother-effing-backyard? Well technically I live in Queens, but the nice part, where it only takes 20 minutes to get to Times Square on the local, but I digress) so the light levels are poor; and speaking of poor, I’m poor too. Quid pro quo, I don’t own a camera. So for now, until I save up, I’m using my iPhone. Please bear with me.
(On a completely unrelated side note, I named my iPhone iPhizzle and my iPod iPizzle, so that’s what comes up when I plug them into my computer. Pretty cool huh? I know, I’m a genius.)
I’ve actually made these cupcakes twice now, once for shits and giggles and another time for a party I went to in Jersey. They’re delicious and have this really great cookie flavor – I know, totally bizarre. They get a little dry after a few days, so I might tweak the recipe to try to keep them moist without losing the flavor (I’m pretty sure booze would help rectify that situation).
But here is what makes these cookies cupcakes extra delicious: the chocolate cream cheese icing. Hellz-to-the-yeah. I am a HuGe fan of cream cheese icing. And who wouldn’t be when it’s so durn easy to make? The basic recipe I use comes from this carrot cake recipe my dad loves from some now-defunct restaurant in Philadelphia (leave it to my dad to love something that is impossible to get anymore). It’s so simple, I don’t know why I never figured it out before, and it offers the perfect base for endless variations. Add a little orange or lemon zest for a citrus flavor, add puréed strawberry goo for strawberry flavor, add cocoa for an insanely awesome chocolate flavor. As Emril likes to say, BAM!
So if you’re bored of regular vanilla cupcakes but don’t want something that’s crazy in the flavor department, this simple twist on a vanilla cupcake with chocolate icing is exactly what you’re looking for.
Oh and that awesome flower swirl on top is so easy to make. Go buy yourself a 1M tip (from what I understand it’s the basic go-to piping tip in the icing world). If you’re fancy get a coupler and a piping bag too, or just snip the end off a heavy-duty ziplock bag, stuff the tip in and fill with icing. Starting in the middle of the cupcake pipe the icing with even pressure swirling the bag in a concentric rings to cover as much of the top of the cupcake as you want, slowly easing off pressure at the end and flicking your wrist so it ends in a little tail that you can tuck under the other swirls with your finger or a toothpick. Violá, you too can make fancy looking cupcakes in a pinch. And let me tell you a secret: piping on icing is 100 times faster and easier and less messy than using a knife and trying to spread it on smooth. Trust me, I’ve played that battle, you’ll always lose.
- 3 cups cake flour (you can make a substitute that I'm pretty sure I've used before for this, 1 cup cake flour = 1 cup regular flour - 2 tbsp and replacing those 2 tbsp with 2 tbsp cornstarch)
- 2 cups sugar
- 1¾ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, softened
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp almond extract (optional)
- ½ cup melted white chocolate (I used the Godiva bars with vanilla bean paste)
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 lb powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp milk
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder (I used Hershey's)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake tins with liners.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile whisk together your remaining dry ingredients. Add the eggs and extracts to the butter one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add your flour mixture in three additions alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour.
- Meanwhile, place your white chocolate (either chips or a bar that's been chopped) in a heatproof bowl and place in the microwave to melt in 30 second increments, stirring between each time interval until just melted. Do not over heat the white chocolate, it WILL burn and that is the worst smell ever. Not to mention a total pain in the ass to clean.
- Add the melted white chocolate to the batter and mix thoroughly. Immediately scoop batter into cupcake tins, ⅔rd to ¾ full (depending on how much of a puff you want).
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until just golden on top (this is a pale cake) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cream together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar until the icing has reached a spreadable consistency.
- Add the cocoa and vanilla. If you want a more chocolate flavor add more cocoa, if it's a little too strong for you, add more vanilla to balance the flavor.
- If the icing is too stiff thin it with the milk, if it's too runny add more powdered sugar.