Sunday, March 11, 2007
I'd never made a birthday cake that I like. They are usually edible (particularly with some ice cream), but a little too dry or too dense for my taste. I almost started to think that perhaps it wasn't my baking, but that I just don't like cake (I rarely like cake at restaurants either). But finally, I made a cupcake I adore and that was also a hit with my guests. So much so that I immediately made a second batch. To get evenly sized cupcakes, I put the muffin tin on the scale as I portioned out the batter to make sure each cup got the same amount. I discovered that exactly 2 ounces of batter created the perfect cupcake that didn't spill over, thus avoiding an unsightly lid that is difficult to frost.
I even loved the frosting (it looks a little dry in the picture, but it was creamy and delicious!), which is usually the worst part since I hate buttercream and every cookbook I own seems to think that buttercream is the only and/or best choice for a birthday cake. The frosting needs some adjustments to improve the glossiness, but it's certainly on the right track. I used about 65% dark chocolate for the cake and about 50% dark for the frosting (it was for my 3rd old's birthday so I didn't want to go too dark).
I used the Cook's Illustrated Dark Chocolate Cupcake recipe with their Chocolate Ganache frosting. There are two important elements of this cake: a) a small addition of sour cream, giving a little tang and more moistness and b) melting together the cocoa powder, chocolate, and butter before adding to the batter - releases more chocolate-y goodness!