Let me tell you something you shouldn’t try to do in a hurry. Bake.
Friday at about 5 pm, I suddenly realized that we were getting together to celebrate my friend Liz’s birthday….and I had not baked anything! She was coming over at 6pm. I could make cupcakes in an hour, right? What was I thinking?
Luckily, my pantry has the makings for cupcakes at all times. I decided on a simple chocolate cupcake- with a frosting yet to be determined.
This is a classic cupcake recipe I have used successfully many times…today was just not one of them.
Super soft chocolate cupcakes:
3 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sour cream
1 cup strong coffee, cooled
yields 3 1/2 dozen cupcakes
Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients (this is important people, sifting really does make a difference in your end product). Add the dry mixture to the creamed butter and sugar alternately with the sour cream. Begin and end with the flour mixture. Beat to incorporate. With your mixer on low, slowly pour in the cup of cooled coffee. Scrape down sides and blend until smooth.
Fill cupcake liners 1/2 full and bake for 15 mins at 350 or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Done and done. Cupcakes in the oven, now what type of frosting should I make? A simple buttercream? Vanilla bean? Salted Caramel? Oh the possiblities! YUM those cupcakes smell good, I should turn on the oven light and check how they are doing………..
The centers of the cupcakes are totally sunken in.
Now, this could have resulted from a number of no-nos that happened during the baking process, including:
1. Cutting a recipe in half that is not meant to be divided…and doing so somewhat haphazardly. Such as: the 2/3 of a cup of cocoa powder which I more or less guessed on the measurement of, or the 1/2 of the 1 1/3 cup of sour cream that was also guesstimated. Baking is a science, and while I know this, I ignored it.
2. Substituting greek yogurt for sour cream in this recipe. While I use greek yogurt in place of sour cream in cooking all the time, I had never tried it in baking. This may or may not have contributed to the failure…but was probably something I should have researched before winging it.
3. Slightly cooled coffee. I brewed a pot of coffee while making the rest of the batter, poured a hot cup, put it in the freezer and waited patiently for about 1 minute. Shockingly, it was not cool. So, I added an ice cube and swirled it around…with my finger no less (sorry Liz). Needless to say, this may have been a major contributor to my cupcake fail. Most likely the warm coffee melted the butter, which would have indeed caused them to fall.
WELL let me tell you what I don’t do…and that’s give up on baked goods (I have been known to stay up all hours of the night to perfect an item for a simple backyard BBQ).
Thinking quickly, I decided to whip up some butterscotch to “fill” the holes with. This would have been a great idea had I let either the butterscotch-or the cupcakes- cool. The butterscotch just absorbed into the cupcakes. Damn it.
Next plan: top with frosting and no one will notice. I have a lot of excellent frostings in my repertoire, many of which include whipped egg whites, caramelized sugar, etc. (read: they take a lot of time). So I opted for the easiest frosting ever (is anyone else noticing a trend), simple buttercream. Cream 2 sticks of butter. Add powdered sugar until it reaches the desired consistency (about 2-3 cups). Add a splash of milk and tsp of vanilla and TA-DA you have buttercream frosting. I had some remaining butterscotch, so I put in a splash of that too (why not at this point?). I also remembered the heavy cream I had left over from making the butterscotch, so I whipped that and folded it into the buttercream. Somehow, against all odds, the frosting turned out to be delicious.
I slathered it on top of the cupcakes, making sure to fill the massive craters in the middle of course and topped them off with a little drizzle of butterscotch.
Liz came, she was excited, she loved them. Nick (the boyfriend) took this picture….while laughing at my disaster.
They were tasty…eventually…but lesson learned. Baking is not meant to be done on a whim. Luckily, most of the people who ate them at the party were drunk and thought they were the best cupcakes ever.