Tuesday, February 9th, 2010
February is my favorite month of the year, mostly because it’s home to both Valentine’s Day and my birthday in short succession, but partly because it seems to be one big excuse to eat chocolate. I mean really; chocolate is everywhere you look!
As the first of these holidays (and probably the only one you’re celebrating) draws near, you just might need a little something for your valentine. Or maybe your best friend, sister, bitter girlfriend, or office grouch. It doesn’t really matter.
And so I offer this, a simple, perfect cupcake recipe. It’s chocolate-y and moist, with only the slightest hint of a coffee flavor. You could certainly amp up the coffee (which I’d do next time in a heartbeat) if the recipient is a coffee lover, but I’d venture to say that even those few coffee haters out there would enjoy this cupcake. If such people exist, that is.
The original was topped with freshly whipped cream, but I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of this. I grew up eating the artificially sweetened, fat-free Cool Whip, and I like it that way. If you do choose to go the cream route, a bit of vanilla (as noted below) does wonders for the flavor. The point is that this cupcake is perfect for just about anything you’d like to put on it. Buttercream would be great here, as would frosting out of a can if that’s how you roll. We kind of like them just plan topless. They’re that good.
Baking & Desserts: The Essential Recipe Collection
2 tbsp instant coffee
6 tbsp butter or margarine
scant 1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp honey**
scant 1 cup water
generous 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup whipping cream and 1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line muffin pan with paper liners or spray muffin pan.
Combine the coffee, butter, sugar, honey, and water in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. Pour into a large heatproof bowl and let cool.
When the mixture has cooled, sift in the flour and cocoa. Dissolve the baking soda in the milk, then add to the mixture with the egg and beat together until smooth. Spoon the batter into the pan.
Bake the cupcakes for 15-20 minutes, or until well risen and firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store the cupcakes in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
If using, whisk the cream and vanilla in a bowl until it holds its shape. Just before serving, spoon teaspoonfuls of cream on top of each cake.
High-Altitude Notes: Reduce the baking soda to 3/4 tsp and bake at 375°F. Spraying the paper liners is a good idea, as well.
*The original recipe says that it makes 20, but I’m not sure how they came to this conclusion. Nonetheless, I suppose you could end up with more than 12.
**I typically use agave nectar in place of honey and did so here.