I recently found a really fantastic recipe for chocolate cupcakes in an unexpected place: a spice catalog.
Penzey's Spices in Arlington, Massachusetts, in addition to selling what I've heard multiple people say are the best quality spice around, give out catalogs with recipes that feature their products. I still wouldn't have expected to find a recipe for chocolate cake, but apparently Penzey's deals in things like vanilla extract and cocoa powder as well. The following recipe is my own de-cornified version.
These cupcakes have a dense, moist consistency. The light, airy, and not-too-sweet frosting is a great balance against the richness.
Ingredients for the Cake:
- 2 cups flour of your choice (I used 1 1/2 cups all-purpose and 1/2 potato flour, which adds moisture and Vitamin B, and cuts down on the gluten.)
- 1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
- dash salt
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 3/4 cups white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder (but check the ingredients list for icky stuff. Penzey's and Ghirardelli are two corn-free options)
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 "free range, " "pasture raised," or "humanely raised" eggs.
- 1/2 cup water
Ingredients for the Frosting:
- 1 cup grass-fed whipping cream (I like Organic Valley brand, available at Whole Foods)
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon starch such as potato or tapioca.
(The recipe calls for powdered sugar, which usually contains corn starch. You can make your own with regular sugar and a substitute starch, but if don't feel like buying a whole bag of starch just to use 1/2 teaspoon, it's totally fine to just omit that ingredient.)
1. Preheat over to 375. Grease two cupcake trays or line with papers.
2. In a large bowl, sift together flour(s), baking soda, and cream of tartar.
3. Combine dry ingredients with salt, oil, sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder, and the first 3/4 cup of water.
4. Add vanilla, eggs, and the other 1/2 cup of water. Beat until creamy and smooth.
5. Fill each well about 2/3 of the way, and then bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cupcakes feel springy, and a toothpick comes out clean.
6. Combine frosting ingredients in a bowl. If you've never made your own whipped cream before, this is the fun part. It's easiest if you have an electric mixer, but if you don't, a whisk will also do the trick. Just beat on high or stir as rapidly as you can until your frosting magically takes on a fluffy, spreadable consistency. It happens more quickly than you might think, so make sure you quit while you're ahead, unless you want to end up with butter.
7. Wait until the cupcakes cool to frost and enjoy.
Yield: 2 dozen