Monday, March 7, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

Originally posted 1/11/11

Today is my birthday!  Did I make my own cake?  Yes.  Did I take pictures while I made my own birthday cake?  You betcha. Did I just move from Fargo, ND?  No, I just talk like it.  I figured nobody else in my house was going to make me one.  My husband probably doesn’t even know how to turn on the oven.  Truth be told, I don’t mind that.  I don’t like him in my space….up in my business;)  Yes, he could have gone to the store, but I don’t like grocery store cakes that much.  Plus, he would have taken the girls, who would have picked out some rainbow sprinkled mess.  I like chocolate….dark chocolate to be specific.  And if you want something done right, ya gotta do it yourself. 
Today I am going to share with you my recipe for dark chocolate cherry cupcakes.  They have an unexpected hint of almond, which I think makes them even better.  These cupcakes are rich and almost pound cake like….just the way I like ‘em.  And it’s my birthday, so we are makin’ what I likeJ
I start with a whole lot of butter, softened.  I told you, these are pound cake-ish.  There is no oil in this cake.  Butter is my fat of choice.  I also use sugar, eggs and almond extract to round out my wet ingredients.
I creamed together, with a hand mixer, the butter and sugar, until the mixture was light and smooth.  I could really just have that for my birthday…..butter and sugar.  I then add the eggs and beat that.  And finally, the almond extract.  I chose almond extract instead of vanilla because later we will be using dried cherries…..and almonds and cherries are best friends.
Once the wet ingredients are blended…time to move on to the dry ingredients.  I used flour, dark cocoa powder, baking powder, instant espresso, and salt.  Dark cocoa is available in the grocery store.  You can totally use regular cocoa powder, but I really like dark. 

I whisk together the dry ingredients.  This is easier then sifting, trust me.  It does the same thing.  The whole idea is that you won’t want to bite into what you think is a delicious cupcake, but what you taste is a big ‘ol lump of baking powder.

The next step is to add the dry ingredients, slowly, into the wet.  To help this process along, you will need buttermilk. 
Mix in some dry ingredients, add buttermilk, repeat.  Do this until it is all well mixed.
Once the batter is blended, I stir in dried cherries.  I chop the cherries first.  I want them teeny-tiny.  These little buggers are sticky, so they are hard to chop.  Hang in there;)
I scoop the batter into mini-muffin tins.  You can use regular sized or even go crazy and bake it as a cake.  I like mini sized.  I have said this before, but I feel better about eating more when they are mini.  Who gets fat off anything mini?;)

I bake the cupcakes in a not-too-hot oven.  Because the oven isn’t smokin’ hot, they cook for longer then you would think, about 25 minutes.  These little guys need to cool for a couple of hours before they get frosted.
I know I often used store-bought items, but one thing I always make from scratch is frosting.  I really don’t think frosting out of a can is anywhere near as good as homemade frosting.  Plus, it doesn’t take that long at all.  So completely worth it in my opinion. 

Anyhoo, I use butter (softened), powdered sugar, dark cocoa, more almond extract and a smidge of milk.  This is basically a buttercream frosting.  Some people use shortening in their buttercream…..Weird.  Pretty sure it is no longer a “butter” cream when you use shortening.  I know why they do, it is easier to decorate a cake when the frosting has shortening in it.  I am not so interested in the decorating….I am more interested in the taste.
Super easy….I beat together the butter, sugar, and cocoa.  I use milk to loosen it up.  Once it is the consistency I like, I beat in the extract.  It’s that easy.  Boom-frosting;)
Who wouldn’t want that on her birthday?  Plus, I can eat 50 of ‘em because they are mini.  Mini cupcakes=mini calories;)
Yum!  So glad I could share this recipe with you on my birthday.  It kind of makes me feel like I am celebrating my birthday with you all!  I hope that somebody makes these for you on your birthday….if not, make them yourself!  Or call me-I will make them for youJ

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes
1 ½ cup butter, softened
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 cups flour
¾ cup dark cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup dried cherries, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line mini-muffin tins with paper liners.
Beat together, with a hand mixer, softened butter, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and almond extract.  Set aside.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and espresso powder.  Slowly beat dry ingredients into wet, alternating dry ingredients and buttermilk. 
Once batter is well blended, stir in dried cherries. Scoop batter into muffin tin using a mini ice-cream scoop.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes.
The cupcakes will not raise much, this batter is dense.  Will make about 72 mini cupcakes.

Dark Chocolate Buttercream
½ cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ cup milk

Beat together, with a hand mixer, softened butter and powdered sugar.  Slowly beat in cocoa powder and milk.  Finally, beat in almond extract.  Continue to beat until desired consistency is reached.

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