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.
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
- Preheat oven to 350*F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
- Mix together the cocoa and boiling water, stir until smooth, and then allow to cool
- Stir together dry ingredients (except cocoa) and then add the wet, saving the cocoa mixture for last.
- The batter will be quite thin, but don’t worry! Mix until combined and then allow to sit a few minutes
- Scoop into cupcake tins, filling no more than half full. The cupcakes rise a LOT.
- Bake about 20-24 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
- 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
- 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!)
- 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).
- Stir in the vanilla and set the mixture aside to cool completely to room temperature.
- 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.
- 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.
- Set aside about 1 cup of the frosting to enjoy with a spoon.
- 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: