My oldest child wanted to take something for her AP Chemistry class on the last day of school before spring break. After several of her class mates asked her if she could bring mom's cupcakes I agreed to make a batch of Devils Food Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream to send along.
According to the empty cupcake container I'm guessing the cupcakes were a hit. I had made a few extra to keep at home for my younger two and they really enjoyed them as well. The cupcake part is chocolaty without being too sweet. The cake is moist with a light crumb. This is definitely one of my very basic cupcake recipes that I keep using over and over as it is so accommodating especially once you add frosting.
You have so many options when it comes to a basic chocolate cupcake. Anything from chocolate ganache to a buttercream will work with this versatile cupcake. This time though I decided on a simple Swiss Meringue buttercream. I prefer this buttercream over traditional buttercream that is made with butter and powdered sugar. The Swiss Meringue is not nearly as sweet and because of the method used it tastes fluffier and smoother to me. Another plus of this buttercream is that it holds up very well to piping. If you've never had this kind you need to give it a try and I wouldn't be surprised if you never go back to plain old buttercream.
Devils Food Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream
~makes approx. 24 cupcakes~
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup buttermilk
Swiss Meringue Buttercream (Recipe follows)
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper or foil liners.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the water and buttermilk, beating on low speed until just combined; scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat on medium-high speed just until no traces of flour remain, about 30 seconds; do not over-beat.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin ups, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely. Spread or pipe on frosting.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
~makes about 5 cups~
5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.
To tint buttercream, reserve some for toning down the color, if necessary. Add gel-paste food color, a drop at a time (or use the toothpick or skewer to add food color a dab at a time) to the remaining buttercream. You can use a single shade of food color or experiment my mixing two or more. Blend after each addition with the mixer (use the paddle attachment), until desired shade is achieved. Avoid adding too much food color too soon, as the hue will intensify with continued stirring; if necessary, you can tone down the shade by mixing in some reserved untinted buttercream.