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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One-bowl Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

Today's a very special day for me, because it's my mom's 50th birthday =D Happy Birthday Mummy - may you look younger as the days go by and have less worries because I'm going to start work soon and you'll have more pocket money (from me) soon hehe ;p

Although reaching the big five-oh is a pretty big deal, we didn't celebrate much, because it was a weekday and with one brother in the army and absent, and the other going to have exams and me having exams, we didn't really bother with a celebration. I also did not have the time to make anything (cake or otherwise) for my mom's birthday, because I'm in the midst of having exams (final exams in my life, before I begin work), and because these are really important exams, I banned myself from baking and excessive internet-usage during these two weeks. In fact, this blog post is the product of many 'short breaks' I took while studying, heh. However, that being said, I will endeavor to make something for my mom once my exam ends, just so I can play in the kitchen once more. 

Nevertheless, my brother's birthday is also around the corner, on 10 December, so we are definitely going to feast once my brother and mine exams end. I have some pretty grand ideas in mind, so hopefully I'll be able to execute them! 

I actually drafted those two paragraphs in the morning, but hey hey, things change and change they did! By a stroke of luck, my brother managed to get a day out from army, having done duty over a festive holiday; the other brother came home from school early; my dad took leave, and why - I took time out to make a cake for my mommy dearest =D

This is the photo I took, via instagram, hastily taken again, because we were all hungry and I was SO happy to see that the cake turned out so well. This is my first time making a 4-layered cake, and I must say that dreaming about it helps - it didn't turn out too bad. Yes I know the layers aren't equal and there are huge holes in my cake, but hey - it's my first try okay! In fact, for the first 2 layers, I used natural coloring (strawberry powder), and had to resort to red coloring only for the last two layers because the strawberry powder wasn't intense enough. And you know what's the most awesome part about the cake? It's made using my 3-ingredient sponge cake.

Yes, I'm not kidding you - I used just eggs, flour and sugar, with some coloring for this cake. And whipped cream of course. Hopefully I'll find time to blog about this cake soon-ish, because I completed the entire cake in less than 90 minutes. The cake layers take 15 minutes to bake each, so everything was chop-chop. And best thing of the day was, the cake was finished by everyone. Like how rare is that? I've mentioned previously that my brothers don't eat my cakes because they think they are horrible, but they finished this cake :] My mom had seconds and my dad too. WHEE :] And I'm the happiest person of all. I think my mom was pleasantly surprised because all her children are home and she got a double surprise birthday cake (it was an all-white cake and I told her that there's a surprise inside) hehe.


Now, onto these cupcakes. Over the past year, I have experimented with more than enough chocolate cupcake recipes - in fact, I think I have experimented with close to 20 different recipes! I have a few favorites, but I always forget to take photographs of the cupcakes, so the recipes are not posted yet. These cupcakes are the result of last week's experiment, and the recipe is in my top-three chocolate cupcake recipes. The original recipe received over 600 rave reviews, and having made it a few times (to experiment and for my cousin's baby shower), I have simplified the method to a one-bowl recipe. This is perfect, because the other recipes I have use the creaming method, and since I'm usually very lazy, one bowl is definitely the way to go. 

One-bowl Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
Very loosely adapted from BBC Good Food’s Ultimate Chocolate Cake
Makes 6-9 standard cupcakes, depending on how much you fill the cupcake

50g     dark chocolate, of at least 50% cocoa solids
50g     unsalted butter, cubed
¼ tsp  instant coffee granules, dissolved in 25ml water
45g     all-purpose flour
½ tsp   baking powder
⅛ tsp   salt
⅛ tsp   baking soda
35g     soft brown sugar
40g     fine granulated sugar (or castor sugar)
7g       cocoa powder
1         egg
20ml   buttermilk


  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C (fan-forced) or 160°C (conventional).
  2.  Place the coffee granules in a large metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Add in the cold water to dissolve the coffee granules. Add in the chocolate pieces, together with the butter. Add in the cocoa powder to dissolve as well. Stir gently until everything is melted and well combined. Alternatively, you can microwave the mixture on low for about 3 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool. 
  3. Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugars. 
  4. Stir in the buttermilk into the melted chocolate mixture and mix well. Test the mixture to see if it is warm (should be slightly warm to your finger). Then, crack in the egg and mix well. The mixture should not be too hot otherwise the egg will cook. 
  5. Once the egg is fully incorporated, add in the dry ingredients and mix well. 
  6. Spoon the batter into prepared cupcake liners, filling to about half full only. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, testing at the 18 minute mark with a cake skewer. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack. 
  7. Once the cupcakes have cooled, you can proceed to decorate them with a ganache or buttercream frosting. 

Janine's jots: 
  • Note: Do not worry if for the first 8 minutes you do not see the cupcakes rising. The cupcakes have a slow rise, but once they do, they go crazy. My less than half filled cupcakes gave me the results you see here. They all have domed tops. 
  • Taste: Just a tip, if your chocolate has a lesser cocoa content but you still want that bittersweetness to come through, increase the amount of cocoa powder to a maximum of 15g – this will mimic the bittersweet chocolate, but make sure your cocoa powder is of good quality. Also make sure you use good quality instant coffee, because the taste of coffee (very slight but is discernible) and chocolate will linger on in the mouth after eating the cupcake. 
  • Texture: The cupcakes are sufficiently moist, with a fine crumb. They are not too crumbly, which is what I prefer. 
  • Serving size: This is the quartered version of the original recipe, and I have tweaked the baking agents proportions to reflect that. I have tried this recipe and it works very well. Depending on how much you fill the cupcake liners, you can get a maximum of 10 cupcakes (filled about 40% each), with the cupcakes doming slightly above the cupcake liner, or if you want a huge naked cupcake, fill it to 75%, and you will get 6 huge domed cupcakes/muffins. 
  • Modifications: The original recipe called for buttermilk, but I didn’t have that, so I substituted it with milk and vinegar. I used the proportions of 18ml milk with 5ml vinegar, which is more vinegar than usual, but it worked well. I also drastically reduced the amounts of sugar required (50g each) to 35g and 40g. I tried this recipe another time, further reducing the sugar to a total of 60g and it was still okay for me, but some tasters (ie family members) thought that it should be a tad sweeter since the chocolate taste was rather intense. I originally used less water and milk in the recipe, but I have found after trying this a few times that you can use quite a large amount of liquid in this recipe – it is pretty forgiving – to get a more moist cupcake. I have used a total of 60ml liquid instead of the 45ml total. 
  • Storage: The cupcakes keep well at room temperature for a week, although the tops get a little sticky towards the end of the week. You can also keep them in an airtight container in the fridge, they do not dry out dramatically. 
  • Would I make this again?: Definitely! The reviewers and the title did not lie, it really is an 'ultimate chocolate cake' recipe. I made this for my cousin's baby shower and many people liked them, preferring them to the ordered cupcakes which had shortening frosting :X That being said, I still have another favorite chocolate cupcake recipe which I have yet to share. I prefer the texture of that recipe.  

Tiny dome from filling the cupcakes to 50%

Left: BBC; Right: Taste recipes

In this picture, you can see a comparison of yet another chocolate cupcake recipe I tried. It is meant to be a normal cake recipe, but I made them into cupcakes instead. There are very very slight differences to both recipes - even as I look at the photo above, I can't really tell which is which. As you will see, proportions are almost similar, with very slight variation, but as will be explained in my jots below, I preferred the ultimate recipe to this recipe below. 

Classic chocolate cupcakes
Very loosely adapted from, first sighted at Ju's
Makes 6 standard cupcakes

50g     all-purpose flour
¼ tsp   baking powder
⅛ tsp   salt
⅛ tsp   baking soda 
5g       cocoa powder 

50g     dark chocolate, of at least 50% cocoa solids
56g     unsalted butter, softened
55g     castor sugar
¼ tsp   vanilla extract
1         egg
32ml   milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. 
  2. Melt the chocolate over a bain marie or in a microwave oven and let it cool. 
  3. Sift the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder together. Set aside. 
  4. Beat the softened butter together with the sugar, until creamy and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract, followed by the egg. 
  5. Add in the cooled melted chocolate. Next, add in half of the dry ingredients, making sure to incorporate all the dry ingredients before adding in half of the milk. Add in half of the remaining dry ingredients (25% of the total), alternating with the final half of the milk and ending with the addition of dry ingredients. Beat until everything is well incorporated. 
  6. Spoon the batter into prepared cupcake liners and bake for 18-25 minutes, checking at the 20th minute to see if the cupcakes are done. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack. 
  7. Once the cupcakes have cooled, you can proceed to decorate them with a ganache or buttercream frosting. 

Janine's jots: 
  • Note: For both recipes, I used the exact same butter, chocolate and cocoa powder, as well as weight of eggs and other dry ingredients. This was to make sure that this mini taste test would be a fair one. 
  • Taste: I felt that the chocolate taste was not as strong in this recipe, perhaps because there was no coffee to enhance the flavor of the chocolate and because there was 2g less cocoa in this recipe. I thought the addition of brown sugar in the BBC recipe helped enhance the chocolate flavor as well, bringing a slight maltiness which is very slightly discernible (I used Muscavado). 
  • Texture: I thought that this recipe was slightly more crumbly than the BBC's one, which I didn't like. The cupcakes did not rise as much as the BBC ones as well, probably because of the smaller amount of baking powder used. 
  • Would I make this again?: Not really, because I far prefer BBC's recipe. Also, although crumb might be finer for this recipe, this recipe is troublesome if you consider that you can get equivalent or better results with a one-bowl recipe. I don't have to wash extra beaters ;p Nevertheless, this is not a bad tasting recipe, but I would definitely use homemade buttermilk, and add coffee to the recipe the next time, to up the flavors a little. 

I'll be submitting these two recipes to Min for Aspiring Bakers #13: Enjoy Cupcakes! (November 2011). If you do try these recipes, do drop me a comment and let me know how you like them! 


Anonymous said...

Hi Janine,

Your photos are simply gorgeous! And both cupcakes look equally tasty to me (: May I ask where did you get the cupcake stand? It's really pretty (:


muimui said...

Noted. Will leave you a comment, when i these out. Can i make it into cake?

Janine said...

@jasline: heh the cake stand isn't really a cake stand. I used a candle holder and a wooden board (you can see that they are two colors) together :X

@muimui: yes you definitely can! the portions will be sufficient for a 6 inch cake, but if you want to make a larger cake - I'll advise you to follow the original recipes which are both 8/9 inch cakes originally.

Awayofmind Bakery House said...

Lovely chocolate cupcakes and nice clicks :)

Joyce @ Chunky Cooky said...

I love your cupcakes ! They look really nice and I am quite sure they taste good too just by eating on its own.

Cuisine Paradise said...

Lovely cakes you have over there. I love the "Sponge Cake" with that instagram photo. It look so yummy especially with those beautiful layers of pink.

Angel @ Cook.Bake.Love said...

Happy belated birthday to your mum!

The title of this blog post is so attrative. Awesome set of photos and cupcakes you have.

Unknown said...

ohhh gorgeoussss!

Amelia said...

Delicious cupcake and lovely presentation. Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

Really gorgeous styling there on the hessian! I bought some for the very same reason-everyone thought that it was a strange material to buy but it's very photogenic as you've shown!

ann low said...

Happy belated Birthday to your mum :)
The birthday cake and cupcakes.. both look very delicious. Nice clicks too!

kitchen flavours said...

Happy Belated Birthday to your mom! So sweet that everyone gets to celebrate together. You did a great job with the cake, it looks wonderful, so soft and fluffy! Both cupcakes look equally good to me!
I would be happy to receive either one, or one each! Have a nice day!

Zoe said...

Every time I visit your blog, I can't admiring the way you presented your cooking. Your photography skill is excellent and you made everything look so good.

These cupcakes are lovely. My family loves chocolate cakes and will take your advise to use the BBC recipe rather than the other one.

Anonymous said...

Oh is it? That's really creative! I think the contrast of the colours make the "cake stand" really unique! -Jasline

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

Hi Janine!

I think I'm first time here and I really love the look of your chocolate cupcake pictures. Love the woods texture in the photo and the fish fork is SUPER cute as well as the wood cake stand! The cupcake seems so fluffy and delicious. Happy birthday to your mom! :-)

Swee San said...

oo ur mom's birthday cake looks like raspberricupcake's purple ombre sprinkles cake..

Lisa Ho said...

Happy 50th to your mom...
She is blessed to have a very talented daughter who baked her a beautiful Birthday cake...

pssst.... love your idea of the cake stand... genius :D

Michelle said...

happy birthday to ur mom, i love the layered cake colours! can i ask where u got ur strawberry powder from? :)

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday to your mummy!! I'm making a layer cake today, guess who will be trying out your recipe? I will have to make it a four ingredient cake though, with cocoa powder! Your cake looks gorgeous and I'm glad everyone finished it- it's always a good feeling! Good luck for your exams! :-)

Janine said...

to everyone: thanks :D

@lorraine: I never knew it was called hessian! I thought it was just a burlap sack heh

@Nami: you're really observant to tell that it is a fish fork!

@Swee san: Yeah I think she and I got the same inspiration from the same source ;p

@Michelle: I got the strawberry powder from UK!

@qiting: do let me know how it goes :) just sub 10g of the flour with cocoa powder!

lena said...

you know what, on that layered cake you made for your mum, it looks awesome, Even though the layers are different in colors becos of the additional colouring you used, i thought that actually looks very pretty, giving them 2 colours! and i excited to read about your post on this cake later!

Anonymous said...

Hi Janine! I tried the recipe! Its so moist and soft! I used cake flour because I didn't have all purpose :-)

shaz said...

Happy belated birthday to your Mummy! And the cake is so pretty. The chocolate cupcakes look lovely too. If you ever get a chance to try a recipe from The Cake Bible, try the "Chocolate Bread" which is really cake, and make them into cupcakes. They are my favourite :)

Unknown said...

Hi, your cupcake looks and should taste great too, thanks for sharing the recipe after experimenting. May I ask for the buttermilk substitution where you added vinegar, which type of vinegar did you use? Thanks in advance!

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