February 5, 2014

Chocolate cupcakes with Strawberry cream frosting

This year,  Cupid ❤ decided to show up at our house a little early! With valentine's day just around the corner, is there a better way to celebrate cupid's arrival than baking a delicious "double" chocolate cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese frosting, that too an eggless version?! Pure joy !!!!

My 6 yr old valentine at home have been asking, well "bugging", me to bake a chocolate cake for her and my blogger instincts rightly used the opportunity to bake a cake that can't be more apt for valentine's day. So, here you go, a cake that screams chocolate with every bite and a "pink" frosting that beautifully matches both the cake & the occasion. If your valentine is a chocolate lover, look no more, just knock 'em over with this delicious cake!

Now, about the cake., this is a very soft & spongy cake, with a surprise bite here & there into "heavenly" gooey chocolate bliss (from the chocolate chips that is mixed into batter). Coffee deserves a special mention as it truly helped in elevating the taste of chocolate. If not for coffee, the chocolate cake wouldn't have been so chocolatey!! The aroma of baked cakes was so inviting that I couldn't resist myself from eating two warm cupcakes even before frosting them, before anyone could notice.. shhhhhhh!! 

Tip: Instant coffee powder can also be replaced with freshly brewed, boiling hot coffee.

Due to diet restrictions, I had to replace eggs in the original recipe with something that doesn't spoil the taste or texture. After a lot of reading & research, I decided to give soda pop a try. I replaced eggs & vinegar in the original recipe with regular sprite and it sure helped the cake with a light, airy & moister texture. Eggs acts mainly as leavening agent in cakes/cupcakes and so does the soda pop... easy!!!

As for the cream cheese frosting, don't get intimidated by the amount of butter/sugar being used.. ever!! It is perfectly fine to have a buttery, sugary treat once in a while, unless you think otherwise! Also, make sure to use confectioner's / powdered sugar as it gives a smooth finish to frosting compared to granulated sugar, which takes time to break-down & integrate. The frosting had a lovely pink color and burst of flavor from fresh strawberries.

Tip: Cutting down butter / sugar can only give you a runny icing.

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 1 hr
Cook time - 1 hr
Serves - a dozen standard cupcakes
Adapted from brighteyedbaker.com

Chocolate Cupcakes
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 tbsp instant coffee mixed in 3/4 cup of boiling water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup bread flour, leveled
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup of soda, I used sprite
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, finely chopped

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/4 cups chopped fresh strawberries
2.5 tbsp granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
8 oz soft cream cheese, chilled
3 cups confectioner's / powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
heavy pinch of salt

Sprinkles, optional

Chocolate Cupcakes
Combine the cocoa powder and 1/2 cup of chopped bittersweet chocolate in a large bowl. Pour the boiling hot coffee on top and whisk together until smooth. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line with cupcakes liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, bread flour, salt, and baking soda. Whisk in the chopped chocolate chips. Set it aside.

Add the vegetable oil, soda pop and vanilla extract to the cooled coffee mixture and whisk together until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir together gently just until evenly combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups, about 3/4 full or slightly more. Bake in the preheated oven for 17-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Cool cupcakes in pan for 10 minutes, and then transfer to a wire-rack to cool completely before frosting.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
Sprinkle the granulated sugar over the chopped strawberries in a bowl. Toss together and let sit for 1 hour to allow the sugar to pull out the juices from the strawberries.

Transfer the strawberry mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan. Bring strawberry mixture to a simmer over medium heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally and reducing the heat as needed to maintain simmer. Once done, the mixture should have reduced substantially and be fairly thick. Allow to cool completely.

Using a handheld electric mixer / stand mixer, cream together the butter and cooled strawberry purée in a bowl until completely smooth & mixed. Add the cream cheese and continue to beat until smoothly incorporated.

Add the confectioner's sugar in parts, beating in on low speed until incorporated and then increasing speed to whip frosting until smooth & stiff. Beat in the vanilla and salt.

Transfer the frosting into a piping bag and pipe it away!!!

Share & enjoy!! Happy Valentine 's day  !!!

- Start with the strawberries, and while its resting, bake the cakes and while the cakes are cooling, make the frosting. That way, you can save some time.
- For me, I thought 3/4th of frosting is way more than enough for 12 cupcakes.. though I ate 2 cupcakes without frosting... *wink.. wink* and so, I let you decide that!!
- Use good brand of cocoa powder, chocolates & coffee powder as these are the ingredients that can make (or) break the cake!!
- You could use 2 eggs & 2 tsp distilled white vinegar instead of soda pop.

Check out my other recipes for valentine's day
- Strawberry Shortcake Cookies
- Chocolate & Strawberry Trifle
- Red velvet Cupcakes