100 Cupcakes

by Mara @ What's For Dinner? on February 6, 2011

in Baking, dessert, friends

Many months ago, in what feels like another lifetime at this point, I got an email from my friend Mal. You may remember her as the person who started the A to Z Literacy Movement, and I talked about her throughout September when every one of your clicks was a donation to A to Z.

Anyway, this email from Mal said “Hey girl, I’m planning a benefit for A to Z in February, would you be able to make some goodies for it?” Of course I agreed.

Months passed, and then we got a flier in our mailboxes at school reminding us all about the benefit that was happening in a few weeks, and suddenly it dawned on me: I had to make a ton of cupcakes, and I had to make them SOON!

The consensus among coworkers going to the benefit was that whatever I made needed to be chocolate. And I knew the frosting I made had to be stable enough to stay out for hours at a time, so that recipe was a no-brainer. I knew the decoration needed to be classy, since the theme of the event was “On the Vine: Celebrating Books and Wine”.

You just want me to get to what exactly I made, don’t you. Alright, fine… behold:


Let’s start from the bottom, shall we? That’s a lovely Sutton Gourmet cupcake wrapper (who is sponsoring a giveaway very very soon!) filled with my version of the Hershey Chocolate Cake recipe, topped with “The Best Buttercream” from Pioneer Woman’s recipe site, topped with a ganache drizzle, topped with a raspberry.

Commence drooling.


I’ll be nice and give you the recipes. I actually found the Hershey’s cake for the first time on my friend Recipe Girl’s site, and of course couldn’t leave well enough alone. First of all, I had to make a quadruple recipe. QUADRUPLE! Do you have any idea how HUGE a quadruple recipe of cake batter is? I didn’t either. It’s really a good thing I made two double batches instead of one quadruple batch because my mixer would’ve overflowed.

The cake recipe is as follows, my changes are in parenthesis in the ingredients, and the process is what I did.. The instructions are for cupcakes.

Hershey’s Perfect Chocolate Cake

makes 2 9-inch cakes or 30-36 cupcakes


  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa (I used Ghiradelli’s unsweetened, because I’m cool like that)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water


  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  2. Mix together the cocoa and boiling water, stir until smooth, and then allow to cool
  3. Stir together dry ingredients (except cocoa) and then add the wet, saving the cocoa mixture for last.
  4. The batter will be quite thin, but don’t worry! Mix until combined and then allow to sit a few minutes
  5. Scoop into cupcake tins, filling no more than half full. The cupcakes rise a LOT.
  6. Bake about 20-24 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool completely before frosting.


The glorious frosting on top is among my favorite recipes that doesn’t involve cooking sugar. It does take a bit of time due to the relatively odd process… I’ll just let you read the recipe. Keep in mind, I made a QUADRUPLE recipe of this too.

The Best Buttercream

from TastyKitchen


  • 5 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter (I used salted)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (not powdered sugar!)


  1. In a small saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk and then heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will get very thick (like brownie batter).
  2. Stir in the vanilla and set the mixture aside to cool completely to room temperature.
  3. While the mixture cools, cream together the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. You want there to be NO sugar graininess left. It takes longer than you think it will.
  4. Then, mix the cooled flour/milk/vanilla mixture into the butter/sugar mixture. Mix on high speed until very light and fluffy. The texture will be like whipped cream.
  5. Set aside about 1 cup of the frosting to enjoy with a spoon.
  6. Use the remaining frosting to ice your cupcakes or cake.


There’s one more recipe that goes into these lovelies: rich chocolate ganache. My original plan was to dip the tops of each cupcake into shiny ganache, then frost them on top of that. I then thought that I might be better off if I keep it simpler. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I had already made a vat of ganache (remember, QUADRUPLE recipes!) It’s by far the best ganache I’ve ever made though, thanks to a little help from my sister.

In order to keep the texture fudge-like and shiny, she suggested to use 1 part cream and 1 part chocolate by weight. So, 32 ounces of cream and 32 ounces of chocolate turned into this:


Which, when cooled to just a little warmer than room temperature, was the perfect texture to Jackson Pollack my cupcakes.


And the same photo, a bit more artistic:


Now I have a huge bowl of ganache in the fridge.


Any suggestions on what to do with it?

The cupcakes were a hit at the benefit, and I got a little boost every time I saw someone eating one and smiling. I loved seeing people with their wine tasting glasses in one hand, and one of my cupcakes in the other, and sometimes, a bit of frosting on their lips.

I’m amazed I pulled off the 100 cupcakes without a hitch. Granted, 10 of them sank in the middle, and a few overflowed and stuck to the pans, so of the 120 that I made, 100 made it to the benefit. We left a little early, so I don’t know if they were all eaten last night, but more than two-thirds of them were gone!



And now I want one, and of course, I didn’t save any for myself. Oh well.

Since the cupcakes were for a benefit for a cause I love, I just want to take a minute to tell you all that you can read more about the cause and donate by visiting the A to Z Literacy Movement website.



P.S. In case you’re wondering what 100 cupcakes looks like:


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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori @ RecipeGirl February 6, 2011 at 12:08 PM

They turned out so pretty!
Lori @ RecipeGirl´s last blog post ..Bacon &amp Cheese Wrapped Tater Tots with Tabasco


Melissa @ TryingToHeal February 6, 2011 at 12:11 PM

oh, my goodness. my imagination was good when we were talking on the phone about these, but man, it does them no justice. holy tasty!
Melissa @ TryingToHeal´s last blog post ..Pizza Salad


Kim at Coffee Pot Chronicles February 6, 2011 at 12:16 PM

These turned out so beautifully! In my small kitchen there would be no feasible way to quadruple any baked good. It would look like the bakery exploded if I tried. When the hubby and I were doing cupcake experiments just before our wedding last year that’s exactly what happened. On the plus side, we had fun.

I have to say I love, love, love your Jackson Pollack reference here. Well done! I studied his work briefly 7-8 years ago and was fascinated so any chance I get to read or mention his work gets me excited. Not in a creepy way, mind you.

Now I want one of those cupcakes. If only I could decorate as well as you do. =)
Kim at Coffee Pot Chronicles´s last blog post ..Madness at the Grocery Store…with pics!


Amanda February 6, 2011 at 12:48 PM

100 cupcakes sound like a dream come true. They look fantastic, Mara!


Ally@Sweet & Savory February 6, 2011 at 1:32 PM

Wow! These are beautiful! I no what you could do with that extra ganache….I just posted a second ago about my Nutella Peanut Butter Cups, so very easy and simple…just fill them with that ganache instead!
Ally@Sweet & Savory´s last blog post ..Nutella Peanut Butter Cups gluten free


Lauren February 6, 2011 at 2:09 PM

What a wonderful thing. This just made my day. :)
Lauren´s last blog post ..Insanity to the Max


Tracy @ Commit to Fit February 6, 2011 at 2:59 PM

Oh my, decedent and delicious. Perhaps I will tinker with them for the Vegan Challenge this week!
Tracy @ Commit to Fit´s last blog post ..Vegan for a Week Challenge


Heather February 6, 2011 at 3:07 PM

They look absolutely delicious!!…and great job on making 100+ cupcakes for such a great cause!
Heather´s last blog post ..Creamy Taco Mac


CampingGirl February 6, 2011 at 3:32 PM

They are so beautiful!!
CampingGirl´s last blog post ..Puppy Kindergarten- Day 2


Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) February 6, 2011 at 4:30 PM

Oh myyyy… I’m drooling here! These sound insanely rich and delicious.
Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat)´s last blog post ..I Love Food Bloggers


Christine @ Merf In Progress February 6, 2011 at 4:36 PM

I think I just died and went to Heaven, and I didn’t even get to taste one!
Christine @ Merf In Progress´s last blog post ..Weekly Menu Planning 2-5-2011


Rhonda February 6, 2011 at 5:46 PM

Stunning cupcakes, I love the papers. The background color on your photo is so beautifully perfect, sets off your raspberries exquisitely!
Rhonda´s last blog post ..North Carolina Pulled Pork


Sara @ Running In Pink Project February 6, 2011 at 7:33 PM

I L O V E cupcakes and those look amazing!
Sara @ Running In Pink Project´s last blog post ..Party On!


VeggieGirl February 6, 2011 at 7:55 PM

Make MORE cupcakes with the ganache (or that Phish Food ice cream cake I’m bugging you about ;) )
VeggieGirl´s last blog post ..Mission- NYE in NYC – Part 5 final trip video alert!


Christina February 6, 2011 at 10:13 PM

They are so beautiful looking and I’ve been meaning to try that buttercream recipe!

Can you freeze ganache? If so, I’d say freeze it in small batches so you can take one out ea. time you make cupcakes in the future. That way you can chip away at the stash over time.

Such a great cause! :) You’re awesome!
Christina´s last blog post ..Salmon in Lemon Brodetto with Pea Puree


Marianne February 6, 2011 at 11:30 PM

I see nothing wrong with a leftover vat of ganache. Should be good on everything – oatmeal, fruit, ice cream, in a cup, ladle, spoon…it’s all good. Maybe whip up some more buttercream to go with it? HA! Beautiful cupcakes, as always.
Marianne´s last blog post ..The Best Homework


natalie (the sweets life) February 7, 2011 at 9:37 AM

Mara you are amazing! What a feat!!! These look sooo good :)
natalie (the sweets life)´s last blog post ..Banana Coconut Muffins


Roz February 7, 2011 at 11:23 AM

Lucky, lucky folks who get one of these amazing looking cupcakes. (the pictures will have to go on Cute Food Saturday soon!!) Have a great week Mara.
Roz´s last blog post ..The Floodgates opened…


Biz February 7, 2011 at 1:57 PM

Those turned out really good Mara! I have no idea what to do with leftover ganache, other than to keep a spoon in it and take a bite every time you open the fridge! :D
Biz´s last blog post ..Best News!


janetha February 7, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Love that you are so involved with a good cause and LOVE how gorgeous those cupcakes are. Um, YUM.

I am going to Chicago this month.. I need to get some suggestions from you for where to eat–and what kind of clothes to pack this time of year. I hear it is COLD!
janetha´s last blog post ..WOOHOO!


Amy at TheSceneFromMe February 7, 2011 at 8:20 PM

Oh how beautiful did the top of your cupcakes turn out!
Rasberry and chocolate is a great combination :)
Amy at TheSceneFromMe´s last blog post ..Where I Bake and Cook


DianaHayes February 7, 2011 at 9:17 PM

You are such a hard worker. Lovely job on those cupcakes, they look delicious.


Jackie February 8, 2011 at 2:13 AM

Leftover ganache = chocolate truffles!

Sure, not the most inventive idea, but form little balls and roll in cocoa or crushed nuts.

Or dip some strawberries in warmed ganache and allow to cool.

Or make a chocolate tart. When we had to make crostada crust for our daring bakers challenge, one of the people made a banana and salted caramel tart with chocolate ganache. It sounded SOOOOOO GOOD!!! (Here’s the crostada recipe: http://food-ology.blogspot.com/2010/11/crostada-con-crema.html)

Jackie´s last blog post ..Joconde aka- the best chocolate dessert Ive made in ages


Amanda @ The Artsy Kitchen February 8, 2011 at 6:48 AM

Those cupcakes look AMAZING! I am scouring the internet right now looking for dessert recipes for a church get together this coming sunday, these are definitely going on my list of possibilities! Yum!!
Amanda @ The Artsy Kitchen´s last blog post ..Super Sliders!


Sweet Pea February 8, 2011 at 5:28 PM

Can u b more specific about how long to beat the butter and sugar? I would say this frosting would be impossible without a good quality stand mixer. I’ve been at it for 5-10 minutes and it’s still grainy. Maybe sending the sugar for a spin in the food processor first would help.


Mara @ What's For Dinner? February 8, 2011 at 9:51 PM

If you don’t have a kitchen aid type mixer, and you’re using an old-school mixer, I’d expect it to take upwards of about a half hour to completely cream together butter and sugar. A hand mixer may take longer, and by hand… I wouldn’t even try!


Sweet Pea February 9, 2011 at 9:43 AM

The recipe seemed so simple and the end result so beautiful, I didn’t even contemplate failure. 1/2 pound of butter and an hour later, what went wrong? My visions of piping this buttercream onto my cupcakes has turned into a nightmare:9( Any chance you can post a link to the original recipe?


Mara @ What's For Dinner? February 9, 2011 at 9:55 AM

The link to the original recipe is in the post, directly under the title of the recipe. In case you can’t find it, here’s the link again: http://thepioneerwoman.com/tasty-kitchen/recipes/desserts/thate28099s-the-best-frosting-ie28099ve-ever-had/

I think you probably just overwhipped it. If the butter/sugar separated, there is really no way to have the frosting come together. Please, let me know how it works when you try again. You want a very light/fluffy creamed sugar and butter mixture and then add the flour mixture. Make sure the butter is at room temp when you start. I’m not doubting your skills, but sometimes stuff just doesn’t work!


Dina February 8, 2011 at 10:35 PM

they’re so cute!
Dina´s last blog post ..Spanish Smoked Paprika


Sweet Pea February 9, 2011 at 9:39 AM

I’m sorry to say the frosting was a complete bust. I wouldn’t consider myself a kitchen novice. I’ve made a thickened flour mixture and buttercream MANY times before. Here’s what happened – Using my kitchen aid, on medium high speed, I beat the butter and sugar to the point where they actually separated somehow – and it still was grainy. I pretty much knew the entire batch was toast at that point, but decided to add the thickened milk, flour, flavoring that had been cooled in anyway. As soon as I added the flour mixture there was no more grainy sugar crystals, but the frosting never came together. It was a separated, curdled, weepy blob. I am sad today that my cherry pie cupcakes are still just in my imagination. I will try again, because that’s just how I am, but unless you have other advice, I will stop when the butter and sugar are very light and fluffy rather than wait until all the granules have dissolved.


Sweet pea February 9, 2011 at 3:03 PM

You surely don’t have to doubt my skill. I’m doing enough of that for both of us:). Cupcakes and frosting seem to have me beat these days-lol. Perhaps I am not enough of a cake lover and need to show more respect. I will succeed. Thanks for the replies and the encouragement. How can I send you a pic when I get it right?


Mara @ What's For Dinner? February 9, 2011 at 6:10 PM

It’s always way harder to get things like cake and frosting right than I think it is! You can email me a pic at mara@imadedinner.net


Sweet Pea February 10, 2011 at 3:29 PM

facebook.comYes. The second time around the frosting worked and it was exactly what I have been looking for. I’m not a fan of super sweet buttercreams, buttercream that forms a crust, buttercream that melts or buttercream that tastes like butter! Picky, picky, I know. Here is a link to pics of my end result: https://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2067830&id=1252446901&l=94531748c7 This time I beat the room temperature butter and granulated sugar for about 4 minutes on medium high speed, scraping down the bowl every minute. Once I added the cooled flour mixture I only had to beat it for about 2 or three minutes. I’ve refrigerated it with no difficulty at all. It was not enough to frost/decorate an entire two layer cake, but I just used chocolate ganache for the filling and top of the cake and was very happy.


Nichole February 12, 2011 at 12:42 PM

Thank you Mara! These were soooo good! I can’t wait to make them myself.


okac February 13, 2011 at 12:13 AM

I made these today! I had them pinned on my pinterest.com list and was at my moms house and was like “Making cupcakes sounds like a great idea!” so she let me use all her stuff.
I let the sugar/butter mix for a LONG time on a fairly high speed, scraping down every few minutes.
It was SUPER fluffy!
Both mom and I were shocked at how light it is, its not very sugary which was so weird! but good weird (for a nice change)
I didnt do the chocolate topping though.
I had never used the stove for making anything cupcake related before so it was exciting to try something new!
Thanks for posting these!
okac´s last blog post ..8-50 – Kitchen Cabinet Hardware


Charlyssa February 19, 2011 at 9:13 AM

So Ninjaing the buttercream recipe for the cake i’m making tonight. Thanks!


Ricia August 4, 2011 at 7:21 PM

I’m making the buttercream recipe for the first time and it does not say if it needs to be refrigerated. My cupcakes are all done and I’m not sure whether I should make the icing tonight and ice the cupcakes before I go to bed or if I should wait until the morning to make it and then ice them. I don’t want to wake up in the morning and find a disaster!!
Thank you!!


Mara @ What's For Dinner? August 4, 2011 at 9:17 PM

Hi ricia! The buttercream is good on the counter for up to 2 days. After that, fridge it!


Ricia August 5, 2011 at 9:33 AM

These cupcakes were amazing. I have now achieved rock star status at my kid’s summer camp. The counselors went kinda crazy!!


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