Thursday, May 3, 2012

Southern Decadence Cupcakes

Tonight is the reading for the social action essay class that I took this semester. We are all bringing food for the reception, so I opted to make cupcakes.
I should explain something first: My room is always messy and living in a tiny dorm room this semester didn't help matters. This is due in large part to the fact that I decided to start the baking club and have therefore been the keeper of every supply, gadget, ingredient and implement that we have used for our meetings. Every week, I would take bags and bags of these items back and forth between home, the kitchen, and my quickly filling room. Needless to say, although I will miss the meetings, I am glad that the semester is almost over and I will have a few months off!
That said, since the baking club was drawing to a close, I haven't been bothering to replenish my supplies of interesting ingredients, so I was left with a dwindling pile of basic necessities (which doesn't take up as much room, thank goodness). After agreeing to make the cupcakes, I thought "I need to use up the last few ingredients I have, what do I have left?"The most obvious hanger-on was a large bag of brown sugar.
Brown sugar never seems to get the love it deserves. It is often overlooked for the cloyingly sweet caramel, the flavorful, albeit bitter molasses or the standard, pale, granulated sugar. As for me, I love brown sugar and determined to send this bag of lonely sweetener out with a bang.
A while back, I experimented with a brown sugar frosting recipe and fell in love with it. But this icing recipe didn't include the grittiness of the brown sugar (and I think I may have undersalted it a little). I also really like See's butterscotch squares, so I thought that I would pair my latest attempt at brown sugar frosting with chocolate cake to emulate those delicious confections. The result was absolutely phenomenal if I do say so myself. For such a quick and easy recipe, the result was sophisticated and dangerously addictive. If you do get a chance to try this recipe, please let me know how it goes in the comment space below. Enjoy!


Southern Decadence Cupcakes
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350F. Prep two muffin tins by filling the cups with cupcake papers and spraying the surface lightly so that any spills or "muffin tops" won't stick.  Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, oil, water and vanilla and mix until just combined. Fill your cupcake papers 2/3 of the way and bake the cupcakes for 10-15 minutes or until the tops bounce back up when pushed lightly.
Allow to cool completely and then frost.

Brown Sugar Buttercream
1 cup softened, unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to whip the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar in increments. It will start to look clumpy, like cottage cheese. At this point, add the brown sugar. Be sure to break up any clumps so that your frosting will be smooth. Add the salt and vanilla while you can still see dry patches of brown sugar in the mix. Whip until light and creamy. I used a spatula to frost the cupcakes, to give them a homey look, but it could also be piped onto your cooled cupcakes.