Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

Mr. Blue Eyes (yes, my husband cooks!–Thankfully!) and I made these earlier this month for my birthday. They. were. DELISH! You must try them! The frosting was a little complicated for us, being our first time using a meringue-type, but it was worth it! I don’t generally care for frosting. I’m the weirdo at all the parties who scrapes the frosting off the cake to eat it plain. But I’m telling you I REALLY liked this frosting. Very light. Truly worth every minute!

Chocolate Cupcakes

18 Paper Cupcake Liners (plus a few extra…we needed them)
1 1/2 Cups all-purpose Flour
1/2 Cups Dutch-processed cocoa powder (we used Hersey’s Cocoa Powder)
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp, cut into small pieces
1 1/3 Cups Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs
1 Cup Milk, at room temp
*3/4 – 1 Cup Fresh Raspberries (or frozen, thawed and well drained)–OPTIONAL

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners in all wells of Cupcake Tins (we used one 12 cup tin, and one 6 cup tin.)

2. In a small bowl, sift together Flour, Cocoa Powder, Baking Soda, and Salt. Set aside.

3. In a Large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy–about 2 minutes. (We used our Kitchen Aide for this.) Add sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Be sure to scrape the bowl once or twice. Beat in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time until they are each mixed in well.

4. Alternating about 4 times, mix in the flour mixture and the milk. Beat briefly between each add-in to make sure it’s well incorporated and the batter is smooth.

5. If you’re using Raspberries, this is where you fold them into the batter. We only did 3/4 Cup, but next time I think we’ll do a full 1 cup.

6. Divide batter evenly among the cupcake wells. Bake for 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center shows a few moist crumbs.

7. Cool on racks for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes to cooling racks to cool completely.

Italian Meringue Butter Cream Frosting

Scant 2/3 Cup, plus 3 Tbsp Sugar
1/4 Cup water
4 Large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 Cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp, cut into small pieces
*3/4 Cup Raspberries (OPTIONAL)

1. Place 2/3 Cup Sugar and the water in a small saucepan. Stir to wet the sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Dip pastry brush in cold water and wash down the sugar crystals from the sides of the pot once or twice. Turn down the heat to simmer gently.

2. Place the egg whites in a clean, grease-free mixing bowl and whip until frothy on low speed using balloon whip attachment to your standing mixer. Add cream of tartar and turn speed to medium-high. When soft peaks form add remaining 3 Tablespoons sugar gradually. (This is the meringue part of the butter-cream, and the frosting may be used at this point for low-fat, marshmallow-like frosting; it must be used immediately.)

3. Bring the sugar-water mixture to a rapid boil and cook until it reaches 248 – 250 degrees F. (We don’t have a thermometer *GASP!* and so the following directions were vital.) As syrup cooks, look for visual clues to assess temperature. It starts out thin with many small bubbles over the surface. The water will begin to evaporate and the mixture will become thicker. The bubbles get larger and sticky and pop more slowly. At this point the syrup looks thickened, but it has not begun to color. If you drop a bit of the syrup into a glass of cold water it will form into a ball. This is the firm-ball stage, and the syrup is ready.

4. Pour a thin, steady stream over meringue, without pouring any on the rotating whip or the sides of the bowl. (Be quick! We didn’t do it fast enough and had to make the syrup a 2nd time.) Whip meringue on high speed until cool. When the bowl is no longer warm, stop the machine and touch the surface of the meringue with your finger to check that it is cooled. With mixer on medium speed, add the butter, a couple Tablespoons at a time. Keep beating until the buttercream is completely smooth. It is now ready to use. Any flavorings or variations can be added at this time.

5. This is where you beat the raspberries into the frosting. Just keep the beater going and add the berries. The buttercream will turn pink and you will see bits of fruit (YUM!) suspended here and there. (Beautiful!)

6. Frost cupcakes smoothly using an icing spatula or a spoon. Top with garnish, candles, or whatever you prefer!

*You don’t have to use Raspberries. Use the cupcake and frosting recipes as is, or with your own variation. That’s what I love about these recipes! Make them your own.

Yield: The recipe says 18 cupcakes, but we got 18 big cupcakes + 10 small ones, and we weren’t skimpy when filling either!

     ~Like I said before, the frosting was a little more difficult than we expected and we had a few hiccoughs in the procedure. Mr. Blue Eyes was in charge of the syrup, while I did the meringue. Having four hands worked well for us first-timers.

Source: A Baker’s Field Guide to Cupcakes: By Dede Wilson


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