I don’t know any female who hasn’t, at one time or another, wanted a princess-themed birthday party–which is how I found myself throwing said party for my roommate. And, as any self-respecting princess would, she demanded home-baked birthday goodies. Lucky me, the guest list was only six princesses long. Small enough that baking wasn’t a huge endeavor, but long enough that I wanted to do more than provide snacks and a cake. Hence—a cupcake decorating contest was born.
With the exception of yours truly, all those attending were chocaholic princesses, so I turned to Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes to help me find an easy but delicious chocolate cupcake recipe that even I would like. The Devil’s Food cupcakes were the winners.
A trip to the store yielded the necessary ingredients, including princess cupcake papers, pink sugar crystals, frosting (shhh . . . I only made one batch from scratch), and chocolate nibbles.
It’s a fairly easy recipe. Except for the step that said to turn the cupcakes upside down on the cooling rack—I didn’t understand why, so I inverted some and kept other right-side up. When I compared cooled, upside down cupcakes with cooled, right-side up cupcakes I found no difference.
For the frosting I used lovely store-bought vanilla cream cheese frosting (I dyed half of it pink) and a homemade chocolate fudge frosting (recipe from JoyofBaking.com).
Princesses, commence decorating!
A few princesses were decorating novices (I’m somewhat challenged in that area), but we all had a blast. The winner created a masterful work of art with swirling chocolate peaks, pink highlights, glitter, and chocolate nibbles. Yes—the birthday princess was the winner.
Devil’s Food Cupcakes from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes:
• 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
• 3/4 cup hot water
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
• 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
• 2 1/4 cups sugar
• 4 large eggs, room temperature
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cocoa and hot water until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-
quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature and garnish with chocolate curls just before serving.
Chocolate Fudge Frosting from JoyofBaking.com:
• 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
• 2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1 1/3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
• 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until it is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the chocolate and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is smooth and glossy (about 2-3 minutes).