For small but serious chocolate cake emergencies.
According to The Stores Out There, the holiday baking season is already upon us—and we are woefully ill-equipped to handle it. We all have our weaknesses. Some girls fall prey to expensive clothes. Others own 45 pairs of totally impractical shoes. And there are those who cannot live without 'just one more' designer handbag. I lose control in the kitchenware section.
This is a dangerous time of year for me.
Captivating displays of shiny accessories stacked 12 feet high shimmer in the blazing glow of overhead flourescent lights. I stand there mesmerized, mid-aisle, blocking traffic, swept up into my own little fantasy world full of all the Wonderful Things I could make if only these items were part of my culinary arsenal.
They beckon to me. And then they begin to look vaguely familiar. I'm knocked out of my mouth-watering reverie by the realization that I bought half of these things last year. (Or was it two years ago?) They're sitting, never used and, until this moment, completely forgotten, in the dark recesses of my pantry.
Everyone knows that it's difficult to rationalize buying more of whatever it is you desire when you don't even use what you already own. There are, of course, sneaky ways around this, but the virtuous thing to do is to simply put your previous purchases into action. This means, though, that you must have the knowledge, not only of their existence, but of their location in your home. I'm not real good at this part.
I'm constantly amazed by the things I come across tucked here and there that, at some time or other, I bought (and obviously thought I needed). And so it was with great surprise that I recently found myself assisted in this area by yet another of my weaknesses.
I was in a state of Chocolate Cake Emergency. Unlike a generic chocolate emergency—when anything from a Snickers Bar to a spoonful of fudge sauce will do—nothing will cure this one except a piece of chocolate cake. I wrote all about this condition in this post, which also includes a lifesaving recipe.
Usually in a situation like this, one loses all ability to think clearly. Actually, one loses all ability to think of absolutely anything except getting one's hands on some chocolate cake. But the other day was different, and I must give credit to The Chocolate Force. It is out there, and it is real.
Its influence usually has me frantically tearing into a bag of chocolate chips and practically pouring them down my throat because they are the quickest source of chocolate I can get my hands on. But not this time.
I already had my simple Emergency Chocolate Cake recipe and my newly purchased (not on impulse) electric hand mixer at the ready. But I was craving more than just a plain hunk of cake.
Suddenly I remembered the mini muffin pan still in its original wrapper in the pantry. Then while blindly grasping around the cupboard for the cocoa powder, an unopened package of mini muffin papers decorated with cute little flowers jumped into my hand. And when it turned out I had extra cake batter left after filling the muffin pan, I walked straight over to yet another never-before-used pan languishing on a dusty shelf in the pantry.
I was obviously acting under some influence other than my own. The Chocolate Force was with me. On the spur of the moment, I created a delicious new buttercream frosting and even managed to scrounge up a few tablespoons of mini chocolate chips that had miraculously been spared during some previous chocolate crisis.
Ta dah! Ten minutes in the oven, and the delicious little darlings pictured above were born—and immediately shot straight to the top of my favorites list.
And not only that, but when I head Out There tomorrow for a day of running around, I know that I'll be able to hold my head high and my hands out as I enter the kitchenware section. I have put my previous purchases to good use, and I have plenty of extra space in the back of the pantry.
I am ready.
Farmgirl Susan's Easy Chocolate Babycakes with Mocha Buttercream Frosting
Yield depends on size of pans used
Makes 24 baby cupcakes & 3 mini loaves (3½"x2½") or 14 to 16 standard size cupcakes (or 12 cupcakes and a baby loaf)
**Click here to print this recipe**
February 2012 updates: I recently came across a still new Calphalon dessert bar pan hiding in the pantry (a birthday gift from a few years ago), and it makes really cute little square cakes that—for those of you who are interested in this type of information—gives you a higher frosting to cake ratio per bite. (Makes 12 cakes plus a little extra batter).
Click here to see what else I learned about this cupcake batter after making six batches of it in three days.
This is the same recipe I used to make my Emergency Chocolate Cake; I just baked it in different pans and added frosting.
The frosting does add a little extra work, but you could always make it ahead of time (perhaps a double batch), keep it in the fridge or freezer, and just spread individual cupcakes with frosting as necessary. You can omit the espresso powder if you prefer plain chocolate buttercream.
I think these taste better the next day; the cake has more flavor, and the frosting is mellower, but you can eat the cake warm if you need to. The mini muffin cups measure 1¼" across the bottom, 2" across the top, and are about 1" deep.
The cake batter is thick, so I used a stainless steel cookie scoop to fill the cups, and it worked really well. As you can see, I also baked some without the paper liners. I wasn't sure if the cake would stick to the papers or not. They didn't stick at all, and they came out taller and cuter using the papers. Although this is a nonstick pan, I greased the cups without the papers; they popped right out.
Not quite as adorable, but just as yummy.
This recipe made 24 mini cupcakes and three of these baby loaves. They measure 3½" x 2½" and 1½" deep.
Serves one to three, depending on size of emergency.
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 ounces) organic butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup organic all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup organic yogurt or sour cream (or a combination)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. With an electric hand held mixer, cream butter and sugar 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla. On medium low speed, add dry ingredients to creamed mixture (you can combine them first but I never do), alternating with yogurt. Beat just until smooth.
Turn batter into prepared pans. Bake mini muffin size 10 minutes and baby loaf size 15 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Bake standard size cupcakes about 17 minutes. Do not over bake.
Cool in pan. Frost cooled cakes and top with mini chocolate chips or sprinkles if desired.
Mocha (or Chocolate) Buttercream Frosting
Makes about 1 cup (may be doubled)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) organic butter, softened
1/4 cup (about 3 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted (or not)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
About 1 to 2 Tablespoons milk (or coffee)
Mini chocolate chips for sprinkling on top, optional
Melt chocolate chips and a small dab of the butter (just enough to help stir the melting chocolate chips) in the microwave and stir until smooth.
In a small bowl, beat remaining butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in vanilla, then cocoa powder, espresso powder, melted chocolate, and enough milk (or coffee) to make desired consistency.
Can't live on cupcakes alone? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.
© FarmgirlFare.com, the chocoholic foodie farm blog where we sometimes eat chocolate cake for breakfast.