Are you in need of a favorite, 100% guarantee, always turns out, amazing chocolate cupcake (or cake) recipe? Then search no longer, you have arrived. I have made this chocolate cake recipe more times than I can count over the last year, and it always turns out perfectly. I don’t know why I’m amazed every. single. time. I take them out of the oven, but I am. I almost always do a little happy dance while pulling them out of the oven. Go ahead, you can laugh at me, but great baking brings me great joy!
This time, I chose to top a perfect chocolate cupcake with an equally amazing Vanilla Latte Frosting. Here’s the thing, I don’t like coffee. I am not one of those people that need caffeine to function in the morning. Crazy, right? I sometimes wish I liked the stuff because so much of it smells so good. What’s a girl to do? If it ain’t yo thang, it just ain’t yo thang. This frosting, however, is a-maz-ing! It’s not your typical over-the-top, sweet buttercream frosting. This is an ultra-smooth, just-sweet-enough, silky Swiss Meringue Buttercream, with a hint of cinnamon and coffee.
A Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC) does take a bit longer to make. But for me the end result is more than worth the effort, especially for a special treat. You can expect to stand over a double boiler whisking egg whites for a little while as they attain a safe temperature. You can also expect to stand over a mixer slowly adding bits of butter while wondering if the curdled mess in your bowl is ever going to turn in to something edible. But I promise that your patience will be rewarded.
The chocolate cupcake recipe below yeilds 36 cupcakes or 3-8″ layer cakes. I know that is a lot of cupcakes for most people. I need to work on tweaking the recipe to make fewer. In the meantime, make the whole amount and share the love with your neighbors ♥ And I always double the frosting recipe because SMBC freezes beautifully. So the next time I have a hankering for something super special, the frosting will already be done.
adapted from Annie’s Eats
¾ c unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, I use Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder
¾ c hot water
3 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1¼ tsp coarse salt
1½ c butter
2 c sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tsp vanilla
1 c sour cream, at room temperature
Heat the oven to 360. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
In a medium saucepan, combine butter and sugar over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally to combine, until butter is melted. Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-low speed, 4-5 minutes, until the mixture is cooled.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Mix eggs into butter/sugar mixture, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and then cocoa mixture and beat until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the sour cream, beating just until combined.
Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling them about ¾ of the way full. Bake 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Vanilla Latte Frosting
adapted from Sweetapolita
6 (180 g) egg whites
1 c (200 g) granulated sugar
1½ c butter, softened but cool, cut into cubes
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbls instant espresso powder, dissolved into 1 tsp boiling water
Pinch or two of cinnamon, to taste
Pinch of salt
Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with vinegar to remove any trace of grease. Make a double boiler by bringing about a ½” of water to boil in a saucepan and placing the mixer bowl into the saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Add egg whites and sugar to the mixer bowl, whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 160 degrees F. This will take much less time if you start with room temperature egg whites.
Remove mixer bowl from heat and place onto stand mixer. With whisk attachment, begin to whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and cool – making sure the bottom of the mixer bowl is neutral, not warm, before you begin adding the butter. This will most likely take at least 10 minutes. Switch to paddle attachment and begin mixing on medium speed. Add softened, but cool, butter one piece at a time. Make sure each piece is well incorporated before adding the next piece. Continue until all butter is added and frosting has a silky, smooth texture. If it curdles, keep mixing and it will become smooth, you may have to give it several minutes after adding all of the butter. Add vanilla, espresso powder, cinnamon and salt; mix well.
*You will definitely have better results with this recipe if you weigh the ingredients, especially the egg whites and sugar.
**As stated previously, I doubled this recipe and froze the leftover to use another time.