Friday, March 11, 2011

Chocolate and Beer Cupcakes

I am a fan of Fridays (hello, weekend!), of chocolate, of beer, of rom-coms and snuggling. I also love puppies, especially squishy ones eating ice cream, but who doesn't?! But what I really like is a recipe that feels fussed up, but actually requires a very minimal effort on my part.

Patty's Husband, Vince, asked for chocolate cake for his birthday and I was inclined to oblige him last Sunday. If you've never met Vince, you should know three things: He has a great smile (infectious really), he cried like a baby watching Big Fish, and he is a good drinker (this is also an infectious trait, but that would be its own post). I wanted to give this special guy a special cake. We have had a lot of cake baking in our house recently, and as Brian is the resident dish-doer, I wanted to give him a break too. So the mission became a chocolate cake with beer, for Vince, and without a fuss, for Brian.

I read a lot of recipes for chocolate cake with beer and, I have to tell you, it can get quite complicated, and wordy, and fussy, and messy - like three bowls messy. I was not happy. And what I tend to do when I'm not getting what I want from a search is go to the pantry and grab a box. I know, I know, I have a library of brilliant baking books, a vast resource of baking knowledge, the entire web-ernet at my fingers. But listen, the back of the box (or bag) is where the gems hide. Think of Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies, I am particularly fond of Swan Down's 1-2-3 cake and these guys were inspired by the Moist Chocolate Cake on the back of King Arthur's Unbleached Cake Flour.

Chocolate and Beer Cupcakes

makes about 20 cupcakes

2 cups cake flour, I'm a fan of King Arthur's unbleached, obviously

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 cup dark beer or cooled coffee or water (wimp!)

1/2 cup whole milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 large eggs, beaten

Heat the oven to 350˚F. Line two standard muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

In another bowl (or large measuring cup), whisk together the butter, beer, milk, oil and vanilla. Add the eggs and whisk to combine well.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently combine with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Scoop by the quarter cup full into the prepared muffin tins and bake until set, 15-18 minutes. Cool in the pans 10 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

I made my favorite vanilla buttercream for Vince, but in the future these guys with this frosting would be like a 1-2 punch!

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