Come to the dark side... we have cupcakes!
Let's talk cupcakes.
More specifically, moist chocolate Star Wars cupcakes with vanilla and chocolate buttercream frosting.
That's right, I said it. MOIST. My friends hate that word haaha!
But these cupcakes truly are moist and delicious! I made these for my son's 7th birthday because he wanted chocolate and more chocolate. After he tasted his, my son (decked out in his Kylo Ren costume) said "mommy, you're such a good cooker!" I'll admit, that's the best compliment I've ever received.
I knew I wanted to share the recipe that my son loved so much, but I'm new to this blogging thing. So when the time came to make these I was so wrapped up in birthday party preparation that I didn't take any pictures of the process. Not even one. Next time I make a batch, I'll update and add some. But for now it'll just be a recipe and a few tips.
Anywho, this is basically a doctored cake mix recipe that I found online, which I then doctored some more. This is kind of a big deal for me because, for the longest time, I was afraid to mess with baking recipes. I only deviated by adding extra vanilla to pretty much everything. I feel like baking is so precise, whereas cooking leaves a lot more room to play around with ingredients and measurements. If I screw up a cake, it'll fall. If I screw up a cheesecake, it'll be half cooked in the middle and overcooked on the edges. If I mess up frosting, it doesn't pipe right and my flowers look like stupid globs of stupid. Then I end up cursing loudly and the boyfriend laughs at me and tells me I'm cute. So I get more irritated and curse more, till he pours me a bourbon and pets me and tells me I'm still a good girl. This has happened once or twice. Maybe.
But for the past several months I've started messing with recipes. Nothing big - I'm not ready to invent my own recipe or anything. But little changes here and there have turned into bigger changes. I'm beginning to enjoy living dangerously.
For years, I've been a staunch "from scratch" baker. Except for the boyfriend's birthday cakes... he's a Rainbow Chip man. But last April I had to break my rule. I had a butter cake recipe turn out horribly disgusting just a few hours before my dad's birthday party. I panicked and quickly checked Pinterest, which is where I found this:
It's called "WASC," which stands for "White Almond Sour Cream." This recipe is MAGIC! I made a white cake for dad's party and it was soooo good. But the nice thing is that you can use it to doctor any flavor of boxed cake mix. Every variation I've tried has ended up tasting better than the vast majority of from-scratch cakes I've made or tasted. Also, with all of the extra ingredients, it ends up making 35-40 cupcakes instead of the standard 24, which is fantastic for parties.
The recipe from the website calls for:
1 box of cake mix ((the recipe and I agree - Betty Crocker is best))
1 cup flour ((I use All Purpose))
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 cup water
generous dash of salt
1 TBSP flavoring (vanilla, almond extract, etc)
I followed this recipe exactly for dad's white cake. For the kid's chocolate cupcakes, I decided to add a few things:
1/4 cup-ish unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 box-ish chocolate pudding mix (not instant)
2-3 tsp-ish espresso powder
1 bag Ghiradelli semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
I was afraid that all of the extra flour and sugar would dilute the chocolate flavor if I didn't add some of these in. I could be wrong, but who doesn't want a bunch of extra chocolate flavor? If you're wondering why I added espresso powder, it's because it enhances that chocolate flavor big time. It's a great trick I learned years ago from Ina Garten when I made her amazing brownies. And no - it does not make your cake taste like coffee.
For the liquid flavoring, I used strictly vanilla. I may play around next time and try the chocolate extract stuff I've seen around, but honestly the vanilla tasted perfect. I'll post links on the bottom for the espresso powder and vanilla I use. Trust me when I say that the vanilla makes all the difference. It's called Neilsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. It smells intoxicating, it will rock your world and it has turned me into a complete and total vanilla snob.
For the frostings, I used a standard buttercream frosting on half of the cupcakes and a chocolate buttercream on the other half. I used my favorite cupcake decorating bag and tips to pipe them (I'll link to those too) and topped them off with homemade Star Wars chocolates. I'll be blogging about the chocolates in the next week or two - I'm obsessed with my new Star Wars candy molds! Anywho, I alternated the chocolate candies - milk chocolate and black candies on the vanilla buttercream and white chocolate and Yoda on the ones frosted with chocolate.
I've linked to the frosting recipes I used. Other than adding some espresso powder to the chocolate frosting, I didn't really deviate from the recipes as they're written. These bakers do a great job of explaining their technique. Plus... they have PICTURES!!! Because they don't FAIL!
My very favorite vanilla buttercream recipe
My very favorite chocolate buttercream frosting
My very favorite vanilla
My very favorite cupcake decorating kit
Star Wars cupcake liners