7.17.2009

Chocolate Cupcake Drama

One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
From Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
Makes 18 (I doubled this recipe and got 36+)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm water

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Reduce speed to low. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and the water; beat until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

2. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.



When it came to picking my 2 flavors for the "Decorate a Cupcake" event at work, I knew I had to do chocolate. What's more classic than a simple chocolate cupcake? It would be my easy choice that left me open to figure out a not so classic flavor. Apparently I learned nothing from my Cupcake Camp drama. I should have known that my easy choice would be the one that gave me so much trouble. And I realized, surprisingly, I don't think I've ever actually made just a simple chocolate cupcake, so I had no go-to recipe. But seriously. How hard could a chocolate cupcake be? Apparently a lot harder than I gave it credit for.


As I usually do when looking for a recipe, I went straight for Martha. Her One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcake in her new cupcake book seemed easy enough, so I thought I'd whip it up quickly before work. It called for buttermilk, which luckily I had bought the night before. Actually, I decided I was done with messing around with my usual buttermilk drama, and picked up a container of powdered buttermilk instead to keep on hand. That would keep me from running to the grocery store every time I decided to make something that called for buttermilk, and then throwing out half a carton each time when I didn't use it all before it went bad. I was excited for the chance to see how it compared to real buttermilk and other buttermilk substitutes. The powdered buttermilk instructions call for a certain number of tablespoons of powder to be added with the dry ingredients of your recipe, and a certain amount of water to be added at the regular buttermilk stage. Well Martha's recipe calls for an equal amount both warm water and regular buttermilk, so by the time I was done measuring out my water for both parts of the doubled recipe, I had 3 cups of liquid. 3 CUPS! My batter was pure liquid. Normally I scoop my batter out into liners with a cookie scoop. This batter I just poured straight in. I ended up with enough batter for my 36 liners, and quite a few more that I didn't have pans for. Somehow I knew this wouldn't end well, but I threw them in the oven anyway.

Taking them out after 20 minutes, my suspicions were confirmed. They looked horrible. Most of them had these big hump looking things that had erupted up through the center of the cupcake. Those that didn't, had spread outward across the pan so much that they ripped as soon as I tried to remove them. They were all really moist and squishy, to the point of falling apart, and the tops were totally sticky and ripping chunks out if they got stuck to anything. It was a disaster. There was no way I could take these monstrosities to work with me to pass out to others. Maybe if I had been able to frost them myself to hide the hideous growths, but the whole point of a "Decorate a Cupcake" event was decorating your own cupcake, so these were no good. With no time left to make another batch before work, it looked like I would be baking well into the night (since we don't close until 11pm and I don't get home until at least 11:30) to have them ready by the next morning to take with me.


Not sure if the powdered buttermilk was the issue, or if it was the recipe itself, I decided to try a recipe that didn't require buttermilk. I picked another Martha recipe, again her One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes, but from the Baking Handbook this time, which was a little bit different, requiring regular milk, and less liquid overall. The batter, while not as runny as the first, was still pretty liquidy. I ended up only filling up my liners about halfway rather than my usual two-thirds, and they rose up to the top without spilling over or having their weird hump in the middle, so it was sort of a success. I could at least take those to work with me. They were still a little too moist and squishy, and a bit sticky too, but at least they looked presentable.

What I thought would be simple turned into a great big mess, and has challenged me to find the perfect recipe for the next "Decorate a Cupcake" event at Halloween and beyond. I'm determined to find a great chocolate cupcake recipe that I can call my go-to recipe from now on, and not have to worry about runny, humpbacked cupcakes ever again. I'll be searching far and wide for the very best, and I'll definitely need some help. So here's your mission, should you choose to accept it: Send me your go-to chocolate cupcake recipes so I can try them out! Email them to me at the.mistress [at] bustybaker [dot] com !

BTW--A few more questions for you:

1. Does anyone else use powdered buttermilk in their baking? How does it compare to regular buttermilk in the same recipes? Do they come out pretty much the same, or are there differences in texture or taste?

2. Has anyone had a really good success with the Martha One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes in either the Baking Handbook or the Cupcake book? Am I doing something wrong? And is it really necessary to have both liquids in the amounts that they're suggested? I assume the warm water is meant to be used to dissolve the cocoa powder, but the amount of liquids seem excessive to me.

3. Are you wondering what I did with all those broken, ugly, humpbacked cupcakes? Since they tasted fine, it would seem like a waste to throw them away just because they were ugly... Stick around for my next post to find out how they turned into something totally tasty!

Pin It

13 comments:

Sweetie said...

oh no! kind of makes you want to buy a betty crocker mix right? i've always added vinegar to milk to make buttermilk so i don't know anything about the powdered stuff.

martha's one bowl has been talked about in other places w/good reviews so i'm not sure it was the recipe. i have some chocolate cupcake recipes bookmarked here:
http://superfinespot.blogspot.com/2009/06/recipe-spotting-cakes.html

a lot of ppl go with hershey's perfectly chocolate cake but be warned that it's a liquidy batter. it makes 30 some odd cupcakes.

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

I like Martha's One-Bowl recipe from her website. Not sure if it's like the one from the cupcake book or the baking handbook, but it works great for me! I also love the chocolate cake recipe on the Hershey's cocoa container!

1. Does anyone else use powdered buttermilk in their baking? How does it compare to regular buttermilk in the same recipes? Do they come out pretty much the same, or are there differences in texture or taste? I've never actually compared results, but I do use powdered buttermilk and I get consistently good results. Sometimes I use 1% milk instead of the recommended water! :D

2. Has anyone had a really good success with the Martha One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes in either the Baking Handbook or the Cupcake book? Am I doing something wrong? And is it really necessary to have both liquids in the amounts that they're suggested? I assume the warm water is meant to be used to dissolve the cocoa powder, but the amount of liquids seem excessive to me. Like I said, I don't know which recipe is the same as the one on marthastewart.com, but whenever I make it, it IS very liquidy.

3. Are you wondering what I did with all those broken, ugly, humpbacked cupcakes? Since they tasted fine, it would seem like a waste to throw them away just because they were ugly... Stick around for my next post to find out how they turned into something totally tasty! Ohh I'm excited!!

oneordinaryday said...

Hmm. Those are some interesting cupcakes. Can't wait to see what you came up with to use them.

I've used the powdered buttermilk too, for the same reasons you bought it. I've never had any problems with it. Do you think you could have mistakenly added too much liquid? Weird. I hate when I spend time and money on ingredients and the results disappoint me. : (

bigchief said...

Cupcake Nipples!

Danae - The Busty Baker said...

Sweetie: I'm definitely going to check out the link, and not just for chocolate! Although I did like the sound of the one from Cupcakes Take the Cake. Thanks!

Cassie: I'll have to try milk next time and see how that works out. And I'll have to check out the back of my Hershey's box too! I don't think I've ever noticed there was one back there!

One: I checked a few times to make sure I had it right, but I could have messed it up. I've definitely done it before. I seem to get my 1/3 and my 1/4 dry measuring cups mixed up all the time, so I wouldn't put it past myself to check and recheck and STILL get it wrong somehow.

Boyfriend: Glad you could impart your wisdom on all of us... but.. cupcake nipples? Really? lol You couldn't have just yelled that out loud so only I could hear it?

Kiesha Jenkins-Duffy said...

I've always had great luck with the chocolate cupcakes from "More from Magnolia", but then again, I am biased.

bigchief said...

no.. what fun would yelling be

Sweetie said...

d, this one was a "no fail" recipe and many bloggers have considered it just as good as the non-vegan equivalent. it says super super super moist and it's the easiest batter to put together ever:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/magazine/08food-t-001.html

Anonymous said...

I just made these cupcakes today!!! What a coincidence! I had the opposite problem, my cupcakes sunk in the middle, and were very dry and not very tasty. I was sooooo disappointed! I am not sure what I could've done wrong either.

Ingrid said...

Busty I'm sorry about your humpback cuppies. I don't care for chocolate so haven't much experience with chocolate cupcake recipes. :( BUT can give you a helpful tip about buttermilk. You can buy a container and use what you need. You can then freeze the rest in 1/2 to 1 cup portions in freezer baggies. Hope that helps!
~ingrid

Jennifer said...

I second Sweetie's suggestion of using Hershey's chocolate cake off the back of the Hershey's unsweetened cocoa box. I really doubted that it would be good at first, but it is the most moist, delicious, fairly simple chocolate cake recipe I've ever used.

ML Penner said...

We go through similar baking problems! I have this problem also with a one-bowl chocolate cupcake recipe from Martha. However, it's from her Baking Handbook and the recipe varies slightly (no buttermilk; uses warm water). Same result though. Strangely shaped, bulbous, slanty cupcakes. I've tried adding pudding mix hoping to make them rise more evenly, but that didn't help the end-shape much.

Have you tried the hershey chocolate cake recipe yet?

Kelly said...

Hi-
I KNOW!!! I've tried those very cakes from the baking handbook- and they were a MESS too! I did not use the powdered buttermilk- I make my own instead, if you take regular milk (I use 2%), and add about 1 tblsp. white vinegar per cup of milk- stir and then let sit and get thick for like 8-10 minutes.

Any hoo- I remember the batter just being a runny mess- I tried adding more flour- and- if I'm thinking of the right recipe there was quite a bit of oil in them too (Note: a really really good cake recipe should NEVER have oil in it...)they were very dark, but flavorless when they came out- And I remember them being really sticky on the surface too....

My heart was broken- Instead- after 4 weeks of research I made my own FABULOUS chocolate cake recipe- I'll give you hints- theres 3 kinds of chocolate, butter, crisco AND 2C sour cream in the recipe- and it turns out fabulously (smooth with some cracks).

Best of luck on the chocolate cake recipe- It took me 4 weeks of research and trial and error to get one that is beautiful.

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails